After a pre-season filled with doubt, the Baltimore Ravens claimed the sixth seed in the AFC playoffs today with a dominating performance over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
After a 5-11 season, a rookie quarterback and a rookie head coach have led the purple birds to “The Tournament,” sealing their fate and the fate of the New England Patriots with a 27-7 win today. And after witnessing their dominance in this game, I don’t think there is a team in this conference, not even the Steelers, who want to see purple jerseys lining up on the other side of the ball in January.
Defensively, Ed Reed led the way for Baltimore. His Defensive MVP stock continues to rise, as he is playing his best football when it counts the most. His two interceptions tonight give him nine on the season, which leads the NFL, and also marked his seventh interception in the last six games. Talk about coming through in the clutch…
On the other side of the ball, Joe Flacco turned in his most impressive performance of the season, completing 17 of 23 passes for 297 yards, including several big down-field plays that set up touchdowns. In between the end of the 1st quarter and halftime, Flacco orchestrated three touchdown drives. Given the way the defense was playing, the lead was almost insurmountable at the start of the second half.
By the way, does anyone in the league run harder then Le’Ron “Get Off Me” McClain? I doubt it…
Despite the absence of Fabian Washington, the Ravens secondary played lights-out tonight. A few dropped balls by Jags receivers helped, but Jacksonville amassed exactly zero passing yards in the second quarter.
Ray Lewis performed as expected, recovering two fumbles and leading the team in tackles. It still amazes me how savvy this defense is in regards to creating turnovers. If a ball is up for grabs or on the ground, the Ravens will make a play.
The Ravens have their swagger back, something that was missing from the team last season. The confidence this team exudes is borderline arrogant, but can you blame them? Not only are they playing well, but if they don’t believe in themselves they won’t make it out of Miami next weekend…but something tells me that Ravens fans will get their much-desired rematch with the Tennessee Titans in two weeks.
Happy Festivus! Bring on the Dolphins.