So I am up here for the weekend in the Great White North so I haven’t been able to do my usual calling around to my Ravens cohorts to chat about the HUGE win in Dallas last night but my Canadian friends up here, who are big NFL fans, think that the Ravens win last night was the biggest for the franchise since the Super Bowl win, and I have to agree. What do you think?
To go into Texas Stadium on the last game in that building and smash the Cowboys in the mouth, and that is what the Ravens did, in a CRITICAL game for the purple and black should silence all critics of this football team. Last week I wrote that the Steelers loss really hurt and that our Ravens faced a tall order having to beat pretty much the pre-season Super Bowl favorites in their back yard with their season in the balance as well as ours (although the Cowboys got some big help today and still can make the playoffs if they win in Philly next week). I didn’t think the Ravens would win on Saturday but did blog that the Cowboys were beatable. I also wrote last week that I was proud of this team and this week obviously I am even prouder. Who expected 10-5 and one winnable game away from making the playoffs this year? Certainly not me. Clearly the players and coaches have all come together and learned to overcome adversity, primarily injuries, for the first time in several seasons for this organization. There is lots of credit to go around so to start naming players or coaches would be unfair because this has really been a TEAM effort and to see this football team REALLY pull together, arguably for the first time since 2000, is great. This is a special group with a mix of veterans who might feel that their Super Bowl window is closing due to father time and several young players who seem to have no fear and just want to go out and play with passion. This has been one fun season.
As for some analysis of Saturday’s game. I think the Ravens won the game in the first half with their defense. The only points the Cowboys scored in that half were a gift from the Ravens offense. After that early touchdown Tony Romo and the Dallas offense were totally frustrated by the Baltimore defense until very late in the game and the entire Ravens team fed off of the defense’s outstanding play and gained confidence that they could win the game as it progressed. Romo never really looked comfortable and it wasn’t until late in the game that he was able to start picking on a badly banged up and not real strong secondary. Credit also needs to go to our rookie QB, Joe Flacco, who made a bad decision holding onto the ball too long on his early fumble, but once again, the seemingly unflappable #5 shook that turnover off and played a very good game from that point on. Derek Mason also continues to amaze me at how he can continue playing with one arm. On his TD he ran his route with his left arm seemingly dangling from his body yet managed to break free and gather in the most crucial TD of the game that made it, 16-7, Ravens.
So how many of you thought that this game was going to play out like last Sunday’s Steerlers loss or the early Titans loss where the Ravens let a lead slip away late in the game? I know I could feel it coming once or twice but luckily the players did not let it happen again and we have to give credit to the Ravens offense for answering the bell and throwing a daggar into the hearts of the Cowboys seemingly every time Dalls tried to pull off a late comeback. I have been a big critic of Willis MacGahee this season but obviously he stepped up and made a huge play at a huge time when the Ravens needed it most. Let’s hope Willis can stay healthy and help this offense in the playoffs because Flacco, Mason, and Le’Ron McClain are going to need it.
After today’s play, it now looks like the Ravens are going to play either Miami or New England in the first round if they beat Jacksonville on Sunday. Also, if the Ravens do manage to win that game they will not face Pittsburgh because Ben Roethlisberger laid an egg in Tennesse today in a 31-14 loss to the Titans giving Jeff Fisher and his crew the #1 seed in the AFC. So the only way the Ravens and Steelers can meet for round three this season would be the AFC Championship Game. I’m not trying to get too far ahead of myself but let’s hope it comes to that because I sure would like another shot at those guys. Can anyone say “The third time is a charm?” But step #1 is Jacksonville and I have confidence in John Harbaugh’s team to focus solely on that this week and bring on Festivus for the rest of us.