It seemed the Ravens offense had everything going against them as they entered their Week 6 matchup against the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
They were starting two rookies on the left side of the offensive line, one of their starting wide receivers had been struggling mightily all season, and they were playing in high temperatures that the team hadn’t seen since the lazy days of summer during training camp. Throw in the fact that it was a road game and, in short, it was one of those games that seemed to spell disaster on paper.
Of course, as we saw, the nightmare scenario couldn’t have been further from the truth.
In a game when the Ravens had the Buccaneers fans heading for the exits by halftime, they did exactly what needed to be done in beating a bad team on the road. Instead of playing down to the competition, they stepped on them and went back for more.
Flacco had a monster day, and as Elias Sports Bureau pointed out, it took Joe Cool exactly 16 minutes and three seconds to throw five touchdown passes and make history.
Flacco dropped dimes all over the Sunshine State with accuracy and precision. The former Super Bowl MVP threw for 300+ yards for the third time in just six games this season and the 19th time in his career. More impressively, not only did Flacco tie Tony Banks’ team record for touchdown passes in a game, he recorded his third triple-digit QB rating of the season, while completing 21 out of 29 passes (72.4%).
The Ravens improved to 14-5 when Flacco throws for 300+ yards, not to mention 11-2 when he throws three-plus touchdowns. They are an astounding 42-7 when the former Deleware Blue Hen doesn’t throw an INT.
The offensive line was rock solid in front of Flacco and deserves a heap of credit for keeping the franchise quarterback upright.
After being destroyed in week five against a Colts relentless pass rush, undrafted rookie James Hurst improved ten-fold in pass pro and rookie guard John Urschel held his own in his first NFL start. Something I truly wasn’t expecting to go nearly as well as it did.
It didn’t stop there.
The run game was off and running, literally, and all three running backs performed well when called upon.
There may not be a better comeback story in the NFL this season than journeyman running back Justin Forsett.
Not only was Forsett the first running back to record 100 yards rushing this season, his 111 yards put him over the 2,000 yard mark for his career. Going from unsure where or even if he would play football in 2014, Forsett now sits as the NFL’s 12th best rusher with 408 yards and a 6.4 yards per carry average.
Wide receiver Torrey Smith ate well on Sunday, notching his first two-touchdown game of the season (TDs #2 and 3 overall).
It was also record-setting day for Torrey’s counterpart, Steve Smith Sr.
With Smith Sr.’s 110 receiving yards against a bad Tampa secondary, the veteran passed Art Monk (12,721) for the 17th most receiving yards in NFL history with 12,770.
Smith Sr’s play speaks volumes and at age 35, while being in the purple and black for just six games, he now is tied for the Ravens’ single-season record of four 100+ yard receiving games held by Mark Clayton (2006) and Michael Jackson (1996) – a mark he should easily surpass with the Ravens upcoming schedule.
With the team sitting at 4-2, Harbaugh and the Ravens can enjoy this purple Monday before turning their attention to the Falcons, whom they host Sunday, their only home game in October.
While every game won’t be a skull dragging like the one in Tampa, it’s a scary thought for opposing defenses if yesterday was a sign of things to come from an offense that looked refreshed and dialed-in.
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