As the Ravens squeaked out a 13-10 victory on Sunday night, many expert predictions were washed away. The game unfolded as the old fashioned cage match that is the Ravens – Steelers rivalry.
Many believed that the Ravens would roll over Pittsburgh and in fact score 21+ points for the 8th time this season. But it wasn’t that easy for the Ravens offense as points were very hard to come by.
It wasn’t a flashy game, but in the end, a 13-10 win was enough to give the Ravens a two game lead and the tie breaker over the Steelers.
Defensively, the squad has continued to improve. Sure, Pittsburgh still notched over 125 rushing yards but the defense did what they needed to do, holding the Steelers TD-less for the last 59 minutes.
Most of the game was indeed U-G-L-Y, but there were many bright spots that coaches ought to recognize when watching game film this week.
A few players contributed tremendously to the success of the D, and Dannell Ellerbe is in that conversation.
Ellerbe, who has stepped in with the injury to Ray Lewis, has played with a vengeance. He has compiled 33 tackles in the last three games, and seems to have stepped in to the #1 LB role ahead of Jameel McClain.
Ellerbe has added a good amount of speed to the game plan, and has showed continuous improvement.
Corey Graham had one of the better performances by a Ravens DB that we have seen all year. Graham was all over the field making plays that were Lardarius Webb-like.
Graham showed up huge with 9:27 left in the 3rd Quarter as he read a Byron Leftwich pass, dropped into coverage and made a tremendous grab out of the air to set up a Justin Tucker FG.
John Harbaugh also alluded to the fact that Chykie Brown played solid coverage all night long. Brown has stepped into an expanded role due to the depleted Secondary.
(Quick Hit: Although he tweaked a hamstring, newbie Chris Johnson opened eyes with his forced fumble on WR Mike Wallace.)
There wasn’t too much to chat about when it came to the Cam Cameron-led offense. The offense slumped yet again after a big outing against Oakland.
Joe Flacco was not great, or even good for that matter, but he didn’t turn the ball over. Flacco protected the ball, which was huge in a game like Sunday Nights.
Joe wasn’t forced to make quick decisions as the offensive line showed up to at least pass protect. The running game was BAD but the big guys up front gave Flacco a decent amount of time to throw.
Guys like Kelechi Osemele and Jah Reid are starting to hit a hot streak just in time for the brunt of the schedule. Their play could decide a few games coming down the stretch.
Special Teams guru Jerry Rosburg showed again that he could be the best coordinator on the team. Jacoby Jones had a punt return TD that was set up BEAUTIFULY by the Special Teams Unit. Jones was hardly touched and ran in for his 3rd return TD of the season.
This does not bode well for Deonte Thompson as he will most likely be the next odd man out for an upcoming roster move.
Staying on the note of Special Teams- Justin Tucker deserves some recognition. Tucker is 100% BEAST and anyone who objects is crazy.
After one missed kick, people erupted on Twitter asking things like “Who is this guy?” and “Who misses that? What a bum”.
Let me just say that Tucker could already be one of the better kickers in the league. He has made some kicks in games and practices that have wowed everyone.
With J-Tuck going 2-3 yesterday, he only has two misfires all year. Harbaugh made an excellent decision keeping Tucker, and he will only continue to improve.
8-2 feels good. Let’s keep the momentum rolling over on the West Coast next weekend!