I have to say it–God, I love beating Pittsburgh. Yeah, it screwed up our draft order, and we slipped a few spots. But who cares! Beating Pittsburgh will never get old and will always leave me in a state of euphoria.
It really does feel good to finally experience a win after two and half months of defeat. October 14 vs. the Rams was the last time the purple and black tasted victory. It is good to be done with all the questions about the losing streak so that we will not have to hear about it all off-season and next preseason.
Sunday’s win was gratifying, especially if it is Jonathan Ogden’s last game and ditto for Mike Flynn. J.O,. if this is goodbye, thank you for 11 great years, for your grace and dignity, and for all you have done for this community. Next stop Canton, Ohio and the Pro Football Hall of Fame as the first Raven inducted. Flynn, thanks for being a rock in the middle; you are a true professional and, most importantly, a class act. These guys epitomize what it means to be a Raven.
As for the game, here are a few thoughts and observations: First, I don’t want to hear how the Steelers were missing key parts. The Ravens played with a fourth string tight end, fourth string running back and our third string quarterback and reserve cornerbacks. Oh yeah, some guy named Ray Lewis didn’t play as well.
Troy Smith: The rookie really played well. He made some very poised throws in the second half, and he has really come a long way since training camp. He has very good natural instincts in the pocket. I’m not sure if he is ready to be given the keys full time in 2008, but at the very least, he has justified the Ravens drafting him. He deserves to have the organization’s faith and resources as a continued development project.
Thunder & Lighting: Musa Smith and Cory Ross did a great job in the running game. Smith ran hard and got some tough yards inside the tackles. Ross proved to be a great change of pace back and may warrant a look as a third down back in ’08, especially if the Ravens don’t resign Smith. Ross is super quick and really hits the hole nicely. Coming out of the backfield, he could add a real dimension to this offense.
Greisen and Pittman: Nick Greisen had a hell of a game in the middle replacing Lewis; he was all over the place (11 tackles) and was very strong in the second half. David Pittman, who has shown very little since being a first day draft pick last year, had a very good game yesterday as well with two interceptions. Hopefully he gains some confidence from this game and really works hard in the off-season. Right now, his work ethic, not his talent, is holding him back.
Congratulations Derrick: Congratulations to Derrick Mason on becoming the first Raven with 100 catches in a season; the old pro really had a wonderful season with 103 catches and still showed he can be a big time receiver. The Ravens need to develop a consistent deep threat to augment him and hopefully, with the return of Todd Heap, Mason should be able to keep up his productivity.
Goodbye Rick: Ravens offensive coordinator/QB coach Rick Neuheisel coached his last game for the Ravens yesterday. We never got to see him as a play caller or truly what his system could do, but I credit him with helping in Troy Smith’s development this year and for helping Kyle Boller make some small positive strides. Neuheisel is an excellent teacher for young quarterbacks.
Speaking of Offense: Give Brian Billick credit for his play calling yesterday; he kept the Steelers off balance with his selections. Especially creative was the addition of Ross in the backfield. The Ravens had a wonderful balance and held the ball for more than 36 minutes.
Fans: Thanks to all the fans who showed up, braved the bad weather, and didn’t sell their tickets to Steelers fans. But why did so many leave at halftime when we were winning? I think I can vouch for all of you in saying it was really fun in the stands.
Seven and half months until the first exhibition game.