The Ravens sure can talk a tough game about how they would match the physicality of the Giants running game but unfortunately the only tough thing the Ravens brought was their talk. The Ravens defensive front did not deliver the push they normally serve up and that prevented their linebackers from getting clean shots at ball carriers.
The holes were gaping and the Ravens inside backers Ray Lewis and Bart Scott had to shed blockers often while in pursuit of Messrs. Jacobs, Ward and Bradshaw. The Ravens looked tired and sloppy defensively and abandoned gap assignments regularly. Jacobs’ big first quarter run and Bradshaw’s fourth quarter gallop were made possible in large part by over pursuing LB’s Jarret Johnson and Lewis.
John Harbaugh made an interesting statement after the game. When asked about his team’s defensive performance the rookie head coach said, "The Giants had three big runs [Jacobs, 36; Bradshaw, 77; Ward, 22]. You can take away anybody’s run and say it would’ve been a tight football game."
Gee, that’s like saying Jeremy Guthrie could have won a game for the Orioles if you take away those three big home runs.
Speaking of Harbaugh, he’s done a great job so far this season yet he continues to be hesitant to use the red flag and he’s made some questionable decisions to punt when a fourth down attempt in an opponent’s territory was the more logical choice.
During the fourth quarter with the Ravens down by the score of 27-10, Harbaugh opted to punt from the Giants’ 39 yard line instead of attempting to convert on fourth and 10 with 14:42 left in the game. The punt landed inside the Giants’ 20 but bounced forward. The Ravens ultimately downed it at the 21 for an 18 yard net punt. The punt looked like it hit the ankle of one of the Giants’ players before Brendan Ayanbadejo downed it. The officials stopped play during the change of possession for a TV time out and given the game situation, the Ravens should have challenged the ruling on the field that the Giants player did not inadvertently touch the ball.
Among the Ravens’ inactives were Antwan Barnes and Marcus Smith. The coaching staff is apparently losing confidence in the once promising Barnes. As for Smith one has to wonder if he’ll ever be active again this season. The receiving corps seems very thin yet Smith still can’t sniff the field.
The Ravens left Giants Stadium with more than just their pride wounded. The team’s offensive line took a few nicks. Adam Terry tweaked his recovering left ankle while Jared Gaither hurt his shoulder and is questionable for the upcoming game against the Eagles. Insiders were impressed with Gaither’s gutty performance, playing most of the game with the injured wing against a tough Giants’ defensive front.
Gaither’s focus and determination have been questioned often but his efforts Sunday left observers hopeful that the former Terp’s maturation process has begun to accelerate.
Terrell Suggs was MIA for most of the day. Suggs has had a very good season to date and has certainly made a strong case for a lucrative contract extension. That said, Suggs will be a very interesting offseason topic. Clearly the Ravens could use a No. 1 receiver and the Arizona Cardinals have two of them in Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. Plus they have a developing speedster on the outside in second year receiver Steve Breaston who has 48 catches for 642 yards and a score.
The Cardinals could use a defensive stud like Suggs and the two-time Pro Bowler would probably welcome a tag and trade scenario that would return him home to the Phoenix area provided he could reach agreement on a new contract. Given the probable contract squabbles that lie ahead for Boldin particularly when considering the team’s investment in Fitzgerald, there could be some very strong synergies between these clubs to make a Suggs for Boldin deal.
The Ravens have been reluctant to part with their home grown players yet they will have to do some serious off season soul searching if the Cards will entertain such a trade. The Ravens will have to ask themselves if accepting a lesser player than Suggs on the outside of the Ravens defensive front seven is worth improving the offense dramatically with the addition of Boldin. Boldin could make Derrick Mason more effective and eventually he could pave the way for Mark Clayton to eventually pay dividends on the Ravens’ investment in him. And without a doubt, Boldin would make Joe Flacco far more dangerous in the passing game and possibly help to unleash Todd Heap.
As much as I like Suggs, I’d drive him to the airport if the Ravens could pull off that deal.
This week the Ravens host Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles. In the Eagles’ 13-13 tie against Cincinnati this past Sunday, McNabb was unaware that the game was over when the Bengals failed to kick the field goal as time expired in overtime.
"I didn’t know that," said Philly signal caller. "I’ve never been part of a tie. I never even knew it was in the rule book. I was looking forward to getting the opportunity to get out there and try to drive to win the game. But unfortunately with the rules, we settled with a tie."
Let’s hope that McNabb masters the Ravens defense the way he has the rule book.