With the improvement in the Ravens’ passing game since the installation of Jim Caldwell at offensive coordinator, Joe Flacco has made his presence felt. However, lost in the big plays Joe made is that Ray Rice had an impact on the game last week too, rushing for over 100 yards in a playoff game for the first time since the 2009 Wild Card game against the New England Patriots. For the very first time, the Baltimore Ravens offense is leading the charge for the football team in the playoffs. The offense has played well at times in the playoffs before, but not like this. The question of whether Joe Flacco or Cam Cameron was holding the offense back has been solved. It was Cam Cameron. Enough said.
Running the football this week may be even more important than last week. The Ravens defense is coming off two straight weeks of being on the field for 87 plays. Yes, it’s good that the Ravens won, but that trend can’t continue. They have played well, but the defense needs to be as fresh as possible. Bernard Pierce is an underrated aspect to this game, given that he quietly left Saturday’s win against the Denver Broncos with an injury. He is, however, expected to play in Foxboro.
The passing and running attacks were equally effective and critical in the Ravens’ Week 3 win over the Pats. Still, the Ravens have to be smart. Don’t throw deep too early in the game. Keep New England off balance and guessing – that’s where Rice and Pierce come in.
The offensive line has been a great unit in these playoffs, playing better than they have done any postseason in Ravens history (yes, that even includes 2000). Let them do their thing and play aggressive, move forward, and push the Patriots around in the run game.
The Patriots want a high scoring game. The Denver Broncos did not. They Broncos had a great defense coming into that game, so they were expecting a dominant performance from that unit. The Patriots, on the other hand, do not have that. They have a defense that bends but doesn’t break, and forces a lot of turnovers, and an offense that can capitalize, especially on short fields. High scoring games work in their favor.
If the Ravens play Baltimore football, the Pats can’t win.