For those who have been waiting for an aesthetically pleasing performance from the Ravens, you got it on Sunday (in the second half at least). For those just looking for things to be gloomy about, there was plenty for you on Sunday too. Whatever your feelings about it are, the Ravens picked up the only lopsided win of this NFL playoff weekend, and forced 5 takeaways in doing so (even if they gave one right back). In honor of that performance, here are my 5 takeaways from Sundays 30-7 win over the Chiefs in Arrowhead.
1. Great fight match ups are defined by trilogies, Ali/Frazier, Leonard/Duran, Gatti/Ward just to name a few. In that way, Ravens/Steelers III (and Jets/Patriots III for that matter) just feels right. It will be the Ravens 5th trip to Heinz Field in the last 3 years, and unlike the AFC title game 2 years ago, this is an actual rubber match, and also one in a season where the Ravens might rightfully feel that they should have won each of the first 2 games instead of feeling like they could have won them, as in 2008.
2. As I said, for those looking to be gloomy, there was plenty of fodder for you too. The Ravens came out with a flat first half effort. You could certainly question whether what you saw in Sunday’s second half was more Ravens dominance, or Chiefs panic. They are after all the Chiefs, who haven’t won a playoff game since Joe Montana was at their helm. Still, given what happened to New Orleans on Saturday at the hands of the Seahawks, any playoff win should be considered a good one.
The offensive line looked shaky, albeit against a stout KC defensive front, the running game struggled to get established early, and the Ravens’ inefficiency in the red zone was nothing short of alarming. They’ll have a lot to work on before facing the Steelers next week. But on the flip side, they’re still playing football. Put that in your half empty glasses.
3. The Ravens made some of their own luck on Sunday too. Whether the result of the Siragusa-like flop by Terrence Cody on Jamaal Charles, or the hit on him by Josh Wilson at the sideline on his next carry, Charles was finished early. After giving Ravens fans a healthy dose of reasons to be worried early, Charles carried just 2 more times for -5 yards after the Wilson hit. If not for that, it could have been a far different game in the second half.
4. You’re kidding me with the Donte Stallworth thing right? Or maybe trying to kid everyone. At this point the Stallworth end around has become so predictable that it’s hard to remember him doing much else. The Ravens have to be trying to set something up with this, don’t they? Look for that action to lead to a big play sometime soon…maybe.
5. Although nothing can compare to the gravity of the Brian Reed situation or the gamut of emotions that his brother Ed must be experiencing right now, it is a solemn reminder that anytime you see those that you count as close to you could be the last time. In that way, it serves as a reminder too, that the careers of Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, Kelly Gregg are quickly winding down, and any chance to enjoy them on the field could be your last (especially with no football promised yet for 2011).