In the season opener, the offense, defense and even special teams exceeded expectations, opening the eyes of the other 31 teams in the NFL with a dominating performance. The 31-point win would not have come without exceptional performances from some key Raven players.
Here are a few Ravens players who were the top performers on Monday night:
The top performer for the Ravens on Monday night was undoubtedly fifth-year quarterback Joe Flacco. Using the new no-huddle offense for the first time in a regular season game, it was uncertain how effective Flacco could be. However, he was more than effective.
Running primarily out of the shotgun, Flacco completed 21-of-29 passes for 299 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Flacco also showed a new dynamic to his game, as he audibled and made adjustments at the line of scrimmage more than he ever has in his career.
Flacco certainly looks like a whole new quarterback, as his passing has improved and he has a much more confident and vocal demeanor. If Flacco can maintain this success throughout the season, he will burst onto the scene as one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL.
In his NFL debut, rookie kicker Justin Tucker certainly looked comfortable. After beating out veteran Billy Cundiff in training camp for the kicking job, Tucker preceded to convert on all three field goal attempts against the Bengals. He also had touchbacks on six of his nine kickoffs, which is an above average rate of touchbacks.
He will likely experience some growing pains this season on high pressure kicks, but for the most part it appears the Ravens have found their first franchise kicker since the departure of Matt Stover.
One of the key reasons why the Ravens beat the Bengals was because of the pressure up the middle from defensive lineman Haloti Ngata.
While he only recorded three total tackles in the game, two of them were sacks. With an inconsistent pass rush from the outside, pressure up the middle will be key for the front seven of the Ravens this season. Ngata and the rest of the defensive line must provide consistent pressure in order to make up for the temporary loss of outside linebacker Terrell Suggs.
In his 17th year in the NFL, linebacker Ray Lewis sure doesn't look like he's lost a step. After losing a considerable amount of weight in the offseason, Lewis looked much faster than last year, as he was able to make several key open field tackles in Monday's game.
In total, Lewis recorded a team-high 14 tackles, with 11 of those being solo tackles. He also recorded a sack and forced a fumble. If Lewis plays like this the whole season, it could be a career year for the future Hall of Famer.
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