The Ravens desperately needed this win and they got it with a lot to spare Sunday. The offense awoke after a dismal few weeks to erupt for over 500 yards of total offense. That paced the defense, keeping them fresh enough to shut down the Giants for a final score of 33-14. With the victory the Ravens sealed the AFC North over the Bengals and Steelers, leaving their week 17 matchup in Cincinnati a little less exciting. Ravens fans won’t complain though. The three game losing streak is over and Baltimore made a statement leaving the Giants close to hopeless for postseason contention.
It started early for the Ravens, and they kept pouring it on all throughout the game. Torrey Smith who was just a week removed from a concussion hooked up with Joe Flacco on several occasions, including a first quarter TD to start the scoring off. The offense kept it going and Flacco finished with over 300 yards passing a couple of scores. He out-dueled Eli Manning who had only 150 yards and completed only half of his passes. Ray Rice got back in the fold after a quiet month, and had 107 yards on the ground. He added 51 yards through the air, including a 27 yard catch and run for a score. Bernard Pierce also had a big game, finishing with 123 yards, including a 78 yard run late in the game while milking down the clock.
The defense was just as impressive in many ways. They were not able to create any turnovers, but they kept the entire Giants offense on their heals. New York had only a little over 200 yards of total offense with both the running and passing game struggling. They compiled three sacks and several more pressures to keep Eli from ever being comfortable in the pocket. Despite a laundry list of injuries the Ravens defense looked good, at least for one week.
As I mentioned before, the Ravens sealed the AFC North with this victory. Their opponent next week, Cincinnati, also sealed a playoff spot with their win over Pittsburgh. The only thing Baltimore has to play for next week is the #3 seed over New England. That seems doubtful with the Patriots playing Miami next week, and it may not even be favorable. With their current position, the Ravens would play Indianapolis the first week of the playoffs. The other scenario would be Cincy, who they would have to beat two weeks in a row. That is a very difficult task no matter who you are facing. The Colts are a less experienced team that is already playing well better than expected. They won’t let down easy to the Ravens, but should be a slightly easier matchup on paper. Of course, Baltimore has higher hopes than just one playoff win, so whoever they play will be only a small step in what Baltimore hopes to be a long playoff run.