The Best are those that stand out for excellence, importance or a combination thereof. The Worst are those that stick out like sore thumbs for inability to execute, come through in the clutch or both.
The offensive line @ Patriots, Wild Card Playoff Game, January 10, 2010 ~ The Ravens threw only 10 passes, ran it 52 times and shoved it right down New England’s collective throat. Bill Belichick has a reputation for taking away the strength of an opponent and forcing them to win in an unconventional way. Cam Cameron and the entire offense with their actions on the field simply said, “I don’t think you can!” And they were right, largely because the offensive line won their match ups individually and collectively while dominating the Patriots’ front seven. They set the tone immediately on the game’s first play from scrimmage. It doesn’t happen often when your opponent is defending the run, you call a run play off center and your back goes 83 yards UNTOUCHED! But that is exactly what happened just 17 seconds into this playoff game. The sequence of downs at the end of the first half when the Patriots had the Ravens pinned in at their own four with just over 2 minutes left was a microcosm of the O-line’s dominance. The Ravens weren’t going to throw, the Patriots’ knew the Ravens weren’t going to throw but could do nothing to stop them from grinding out the clock.
Joe Flacco & Ray Rice @ Minnesota, October 18, 2009 ~ Trailing 27-10 in the fourth quarter, this tandem from the 2008 draft class put the Ravens offense on their backs and carried them to a 31-30 lead late in the game. Steve Hauschka’s missed FGA as time expired kept their efforts from the headlines but they didn’t escape our notice. Flacco despite being repeatedly harassed and knocked to the ground was 28 for 43 for 395 yards and 2 scores without an interception. Ray Rice had 194 yards from scrimmage plus two touchdowns, all but 39 yards coming in the second half.
Willis McGahee @ Raiders, January 3, 2010 ~ Willis “Smokin’ Joe” McGahee’s 77 yard run for a score was electrifying, punctuated by that left hook of a stiff arm he delivered to Raiders’ defensive back Hiram Eugene which was one for the ages. Eugene will need to make several highlight reel plays to erase that indelible mark upon the minds of NFL fans everywhere. McGahee looked fresh, determined and extremely physical on his way to a three touchdown, 167 yard afternoon on just 16 carries.
Ray Lewis @ Chargers, September 20, 2009 ~ Ray Lewis…12 tackles, 10 solo, 3 for losses, game saving tackle, tackle on Sproles at the 4 for a loss on a swing pass, pressure on Rivers to force the interception by Dawan Landry, play that simply belies his age.
Ed Reed v. Bengals, October 11, 2009 ~ Albeit in a losing performance, Ed Reed looked like the only Raven who was ready to play on this picturesque Sunday afternoon. He supported the run with reckless abandon, made a tackle for a loss, stripped Chad Johnson to force a turnover as the Bengals were driving late in the second quarter and he had a pick 6 off Carson Palmer. the game.
Cam Cameron @ Colts, January 16, 2010 ~ The offensive game plan was ridiculously conservative after the initial drive. They ran the ball on every first down play after that drive right on up to their first, first down in the fourth quarter at which time Flacco delivered a very dangerous 1 yard pass to Ray Rice. The last time the Ravens scored a meaningful touchdown against the Colts, Kyle Boller was a senior at Cal.
Oniel Cousins @ Steelers, December 27, 2009 ~ LaMarr Woodley beat Cousins so bad that I’m surprise the second year tackle wasn’t given a standing eight count. Not only did Woodley and his merry band of pass rushers regularly whip Cousins, they baited him into losing his mind and costing the team 15 yards and a field goal attempt after he was hit up with a senseless personal foul. Let’s call this one a lesson at the woodshed.
Joe Flacco @ Packers, December 7, 2009. A deer in headlights looked like a vicious Great White shark compared to the look of horror on Flacco’s face at Lambeau. He made poor decisions, poor throws and his sense of urgency was on par with the clerks at the MVA. He predetermined his throws repeatedly and all three interceptions were very rookie-like. His swing pass to Ray Rice in the right flat for a loss of 7 was just so ridiculous (he said in his best Ed Murphy voice).
John Harbaugh @ Browns, November 16, 2009 ~ The team’s use of their timeouts in the first half was purely amateurish as was John Harbaugh’s challenge on Cleveland’s first play from scrimmage following a 13 yard run by Jamal Lewis. Harbaugh thought Lewis fumbled and it wasn’t even close. Coach’s decision making on this night would make Brian Billick’s sideline ingenuity look like Bill Walsh, relatively speaking of course. Harbaugh was fortunate in that they were playing the Cleveland Crash Test Dummies during this game, one that put viewers to sleep faster than you can say Tylenol PM.