Ravens Win Thriller


ray_rice

Photo by: Zuma Press/Icon SMI

It wasn’t always pretty at times, in fact it got down right ugly, but the Ravens escaped San Diego with another victory.  Baltimore always struggles against the Chargers, and today was much the same, but in the end they did just enough to get the win.  We saw a first half where the Ravens offense could do absolutely nothing.  They managed less than 100 yards of total offense and saw punt after punt after punt.  Luckily, the defense played pretty solid, holding the Chargers to only 10 first half points.  They were even better in the second half, allowing only a third quarter field goal to Nick Novak.  Both defenses had plenty of sacks with 11 overall on the day.  Art Jones totaled two on the day filling in for McPhee and Antwan Barnes terrorized his former team once again with 2 sacks of his own with one causing a fumble that Baltimore recovered.

Baltimore’s offense finally got it going in the second half, but still managed only 13 points.  Tucker hit 2 field goals and Flacco hit Pitta in the back of the end zone after a long drive.  That TD made it a 3 point game with just over 4 minutes to play.  Baltimore forced a punt on San Diego’s next drive, leading to their final drive of regulation.  They started off hot, moving down field with relative ease.  However, they hit a roadblock just across the 50 yard line.  A penalty and an Antwan Barnes sack led to a 4th and 29.  That is when the biggest play of the Ravens season occurred.  Flacco swung out about a ten yard pass to Ray Rice and he did the rest of the work.  cutting across field with a trail of defenders Rice was able to just reach the first down line after a huge block by Anquan Boldin.  After about 10 minutes of review (seriously it was about 10 minutes), and a respot, the Ravens held onto the first down.  A few plays later, Justin Tucker hit a FG to force the game into OT.

The OT period went to the very last minute.  San Diego started with possession but ultimately punted.  Baltimore followed with a punt, then San Diego punted once again.  Baltimore looked like they may punt once again with just over 2 minutes left until Flacco threw a beautiful back shoulder throw to Torrey Smith for the first down.  They then drained the clock to just one minute and let Justin Tucker drill the game winning FG.

Baltimore played a solid game throughout.  Their road woes looked like they would continue, but at the end they pulled it off.  Flacco took a while to turn it on but ended up having one of his best games of the year.  He completed 30 of 51 passes for 355 yards.  Biggest of all, he didn’t turn the ball over once.  He really started clicking in the second half when he targeted Torrey Smith more often.  Smith was probably the player of the day on offense if it weren’t for Rice’s big play.  Torrey had 144 yards on offense including at least 3 giant first down saving catches that involved some great runs after the catch.  His sensational OT catch will be overshadowed by Rice’s play, but if he doesn’t make that catch the best the Ravens can do is tie.  Rice himself had 97 on the ground and 67 through the air.  He was clearly the focal point of the offense early despite the Chargers solid run defense.  It worked out in the end, even if it took a while.

With the victory, the Ravens improve to 9-2 on the year.  Pittsburgh fell to Cleveland and Cincy dominated the Raiders leaving both teams at 6-5 on the year.  That is a dominating 3 game lead in the AFC North.  They are still chasing Houston for top spot in the Conference, but are keeping up every step of the way.  Baltimore will head home riding a 4 game winning streak when the take on Pittsburgh for the second time in 3 weeks.  They lost with Charlie Batch this week and there is no certainty in who will be the starting QB next week.  If Ben is healthy, which is a big if, it will obviously be him, but don’t be surprised if they pick up someone from the street to compete with Batch.  Either way, Baltimore should have a good shot at keeping up their winning ways.

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