Baltimore Ravens: Things We Learned from the Ravens' 31-30 Win over the Patriots
It was a game that was more than a game. There were so many back stories that it was hard to keep count.
But in the end there was only one winner, and it ended up being the Baltimore Ravens.
Of course, there was more to the game than just a winner. There was a quarterback who led a big drive, a coach celebrating his 50th birthday, a team seeking revenge and redemption and a receiver playing his heart out after losing his younger brother.
In summation, this was a big game with many elements. What did we learn?
Some Things Are More Important Than Football
It may come as a shock to some, but football is just a game.
But sometimes a game can do so much. It can elevate you, it can take pain away even if it is just for a moment. And sometimes, it can honor someone.
But he channeled his inner Brett Favre and played his heart out. Smith had six catches, 127 receiving yards and two touchdowns. No matter what happened in the end, Smith deserved the game ball.
Dennis Pitta Looks Like an Elite Tight End
Last week, Dennis Pitta moved ahead of Ed Dickson on the Baltimore Ravens' depth chart. Dickson may be the better athlete, but Pitta just seems to do nothing but make big plays. That is why he is one of Joe Flacco’s favorite and most reliable targets.
In case anyone was questioning Pitta’s elevation on the depth charts, they only need to see his touchdown reception where he leaped over one defender and juked around another before running into the end zone.
If Pitta continues to make big catches and touchdowns like that, he may have a Pro Bowl season.
Ravens Defense Needs Improvement
The 2012 Baltimore Ravens defense will not be getting too many comparisons to the 2000 Super Bowl defense.
It is somewhat lost in the result of a big win, but the defense looked bad for the vast majority of the game. Sure, this was against the Patriots, who always seem to have a formidable offense, especially with Tom Brady in the mix, but few times have we seen a Ravens defense look so outmatched.
The defense needs to be more aggressive and tonight's game was proof of that. When they went into zone coverage, their secondary got torched. But when they blitzed and got into the backfield they were able to make things happen.
So the moral of the story (Mr. Pees are you paying attention?) is blitz, blitz, blitz.
Dannell Ellerbe Is Making the Most of His Opportunities
It just seemed like Dannell Ellerbe was always around the ball tonight. When the Ravens lost Jarret Johnson to free agency and Terrell Suggs to an Achilles injury, few mentioned Ellerbe as a solution.
Ellerbe finished the night with eight total tackles and 1.5 sacks. With Paul Kruger not living up to expectations so far (although he did make some plays against New England), Ellerbe may find himself on the field even when Suggs returns.
Maybe Ellerbe is finally out of John Harbaugh's doghouse.
The NFL Needs to Reach a Settlement with the Actual NFL Referees
This is not breaking news, but the replacement refs are just not cutting it. They seem to lack respect from coaches and players, their calls are inconsistent and it will not be long before someone gets hurt or a game is decided on a blown call (if it has not happened already).
A settlement needs to be reached and fast.
Joe Flacco Is a Good Quarterback
Breaking news...Joe Flacco is not Kyle Boller. He's good, no really, Joe Flacco is a good quarterback. How many times have Ravens fans been treated to Flacco running a successful two-minute drill at the end of the game?
Two of the three games this season, Flacco has thrown for over 300 yards and led offenses that scored over 30 points twice. Twenty points against the Philadelphia Eagles isn't too shabby either.
Flacco is poised, accurate and has a big arm. He isn't perfect, but neither are Brady, Brees and Manning.
Flacco is a good quarterback, believe it.
Justin Tucker Is the Right Choice
There was some concern whether going with a rookie kicker over a veteran kicker was the right decision. It would seem that picking the rookie was the right choice.
Justin Tucker exorcised some demons in the win over the Patriots when he eeked out a short field goal as time expired. It was the AFC Championship Game all over again with a different ending.
Tucker is a perfect 7-for-7 in field-goal attempts, including two from more than 50 yards away. He has a big leg and ice in his veins. Tucker may be one of the best roster decisions for the Ravens this season.