“Revenge is a dish best served cold” – Ray Lewis before Sunday Night
The stage was set. It was almost the exact same scenario we saw last year in the 2012 AFC Championship matchup. Joe Flacco’s offense has the ball with just less than two minutes to go. A touchdown would win the game, but this time, a FG would too. And it did! Finally, we beat the Pats in the regular season.
Revenge is what it was; a game to silence every New Englander that says they out played our Ravens in the AFC Championship. It wasn’t pretty by any means. In fact, it was a pretty ugly cage-match. But all that matters is we are 2-1 and are set up to go 3-1 on Thursday Night, again at M&T.
But we just can’t overlook playing Cleveland on Thursday night.
While the Ravens have been known to win big games, they also have been known to choke against the softer teams. Just take a look at last year’s losses: Seattle, Jacksonville, and Tennessee. On a normal day, we win those games. But all of those games came after a crucial win and we really let up big time.
So what are we going to have to do to avoid another slump, like we had in Philadelphia in week 2? Here are the 5 things that if we do effectively, WILL let us go 3-1!
1: Force Brandon Weeden to make mistakes.
Undoubtedly the most evident thing that happened Sunday night was the lack of pass rush on Pretty Boy Brady. If there is one thing that will stop an attacking offense, its pass rush and we just couldn’t accomplish that. Dean Pees must dial up creative blitzes and stunts against Cleveland. With guys like Haloti Ngata, Pernell McPhee, and Paul Kruger, there is absolutely NO reason why we shouldn’t put Weeden on the ground all night long!
2: Jimmy Smith should move ahead of Cary Williams on the Depth Chart
Not only did Cary Williams play dreadful against New England, he played just as bad in the entire preseason, and the previous two weeks. Sure, he had a pretty good year last year but he can’t stay in there much longer when the receiver he is up against has more than 100 yards on a weekly basis! Jimmy Smith, who we invested a FIRST ROUND PICK on, needs to be the guy that steps it up and jumps above Williams and takes his spot.
3: Continue to utilize every weapon we have
Sunday Night, Cam Cameron had his ups and downs, but the one thing he excelled in was using all of his weapons. Flacco spread the ball around to 8 different receivers and back-up RB Bernard Pierce was used properly. Remember though, the genius in Cam Cameron (clearly sarcasm), did this in Week One and then in Week Two, only had 2 guys with more than 2 catches. We have guys that do the job, so let’s use them!
4: Don’t be afraid to keep using Dennis Pitta
There are many people that are complaining that Joe Flacco is targeting Dennis Pitta way too much and that he needs to start using Ed Dickson. But why should we stop using him? With 18 receptions, 188 yards and 2 TD’s, he has been a great reason why the entire offense has had so much success. He never drops a ball and he and Joe have great chemistry on and off the field. If it aint’ broke, don’t fix it! If we can get him going against a very weak Browns LB corps, he is certain to break out yet again.
5: Touchback, Touchback, Touchback
Justin Tucker, better known as Mr. Perfect, has arguably the most important key to this game. We know we can stop this young and ailing Browns offense, and their defense is very sub-par. But it’s the special team’s play of Josh Cribbs that we have to stop.
As it was shown in the pre-season, we have a very tough time stopping kick returns. With a guy like Joshua Cribbs who can take it to the house every time, Tucker has to make sure that the Browns start at the 20 every time!
Remember that feeling you had when Justin Tucker’s kick squeaked by the right upright to beat New England?
Let’s make sure we get that same feeling after this one!