Another win in the books for the Ravens – and a tough task to compile the Tuesday Top 7 because so many players made a contribution. Two players who did make a contribution, though, are NOT on the list, mainly because their accomplishments were small…meaningful, but small: Jameel McClain and Troy Smith both showed good signs in their brief participation in the game but neither makes the list. I did want to mention them, though – call it “honorable mention”, if you want.
Here’s the list:
7. Haloti Ngata – “Hawaii Ngata” as I’m now calling him had another big game and even added a new twist to his Pro Bowl season – he played offensive line on the Ravens’ 2nd quarter TD run by Willis McGahee. On the defensive side, he had 3 tackles, a sack and was, as always, a big reason why the other team didn’t run the ball on the Ravens.
6. Jarrett Johnson – He won’t get Pro Bowl consideration but J.J. is having one helluva year. Three tackles and a sack of his own on Sunday, plus excellent work in short yardage pass coverage. Quietly emerging as one of the defense’s steadiest performers.
5. Ed Reed – A Ravens’ staffer told me Reed’s “grade” on Sunday was the 2nd highest of the season for a defensive player. Tough to argue with that, I guess, when you watch him buzz around like he did on Sunday with 5 tackles (2 solo) and a couple of bone-jarring hits that should show everyone he’s not afraid to lower his shoulder and get in there.
4. Joe Flacco – His stats were a little misleading because exactly half of his passing yards (140) came on one throw to Demetrius Williams, but DON’T be misled by his improvement. It’s there. Took good care of the ball, made a bunch of good intermediate throws and, yes, he even CAUGHT a pass, too. Jerry Rice he’s not – but he sure is a good athlete. And he’s going to be a very good quarterback. Finally, we have one.
3. Corey Ivy – Quietly had his best game of the year on Sunday. Led the team with 6 solo tackles and even though Oakland’s passing game wasn’t too dangerous, Ivy’s “man” only caught one pass for eight yards. With CMac out, Ivy needed to step in and have a big game and he did.
2. Terrell Suggs – Just keeps earning his money – and making a big statement for a fat contract for ’09 and beyond. Had a sack and was terrific in run support on Sunday, helping to keep the Raiders running game to a minimum. There’s an argument he’s been the team’s best player through 7 games so far.
1. Ray Rice – Had his best game as a pro, with 64 yards rushing and 37 yards receiving. Was extremely effective on 3rd down, converting on three passes for first downs. Willis who?
Season-to-date point leaders
7. Jared Gaither — 13 points
6. Le’Ron McClain – 15 points
5. Jarrett Johnson — 16 points
Derrick Mason – 16 points
3. Joe Flacco – 19 points
2. Ray Lewis – 21 points
1. Terrell Suggs – 22 points