Ravens win at Oakland: Not pretty, but pretty enough

January 03, 2010 | Drew Forrester

The Ravens started the road portion of their 2009 season with an impressive road win at San Diego way back on September 20.

They ended their road schedule today in Oakland with a wobbly 21-13 victory over the Raiders.

Yes, indeed, the West Coast was good to the Ravens in ’09.

The regular season ended the way the Ravens needed it to end today — with a win.  And even though it was never really over until Willis McGahee scampered for 36 yards with a couple of minutes left in the game, the Ravens were always in control of this one.  Barely.

The Ravens won today because they dusted off a veteran running back who still has a lot of pride, as Willis McGahee scored three times including a huge 77 yard TD run in the 2nd quarter that helped stake Baltimore to a 14-10 halftime lead.

They won because, when it mattered most, the other team’s quarterback couldn’t get the job done.  In year’s past, the Ravens were bit with that bug. But not anymore.  Even though Joe Flacco wasn’t Joe Montana today, he was good enough to get the “w” in Oakland and extend his personal playoff streak to two straight seasons.  JaMarcus Russell, meanwhile, threw the ball to the wrong team at the worst possible moment, late in the 3rd quarter when it looked like Oakland might on the verge of driving for the go-ahead score.

The Ravens won today despite another bungled 2-minute drive on offense to end the first half.  And what on EARTH was John Harbaugh thinking about in the 4th quarter when he had Billy Cundiff try a 51-yard field goal?  Page 81 of the Coaching Manual:  You PUNT the ball there, pin the Raiders and their pedestrian offense inside their 10 yard line and make them go 90 yards to tie the game.

Come on John.  We know the players are going to have to step up next weekend in New England, but so are you and the rest of the staff.

The botched 2-minute drive at the end of the first half was made possible by a horrible play call; a throw to Kelly Washington in the middle of the field that resulted in a must-call time-out and yet another hurried attempt at a score.  When Joe Flacco scrambled past the line of scrimmage and pushed Billy Cundiff five yards back, it was only natural to have that bad feeling as Cundiff lined up for the 37 yard field goal — which, of course, he promptly missed when Matt Katula’s snap was low and inside to Sam Koch.

You wanna win in New England?

Well, for starters, try fixing the 2-minute offense this week.

The Raiders gave a decent account of themselves today, mind you, but the Ravens did what they had to do in Oakland.  They won.  And even though it wasn’t pretty, it was good enough to get Baltimore an invitation into the AFC’s 6-team post-season dance.  Yes, 9-7 isn’t anything to write home about, but just remember that last year’s NFC Super Bowl representative went 9-7 too.

It’s a new season next weekend in New England.

For the Ravens to win, they’ll need to play their best game of the season.

One thing for sure, they didn’t use that card on Sunday in Oakland.

Survive and advance.

That’s what the Ravens did today.