The Baltimore Ravens defeated the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, 33-14, in Baltimore Sunday. It was a completely dominating game from a reeling Baltimore squad desperate for a win and the AFC North Division title.
The Ravens attacked on offense and on defense, looking nothing like a team that was riding a three-game losing streak while limping into the playoffs. The Giants, fresh off of a 34-0 pasting at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons, were looking to move closer to a postseason berth of their own.
Baltimore looked to have solved much of its offensive woes this week against the Giants. The battered defense held them in check as well, holding a high-powered attack to only 186 total yards.
With the final week of the regular season on the horizon, the Ravens could be getting their act together at the perfect time.
Let's take a look at the Baltimore winners and losers of Week 16.
The love-hate carousel that Joe Flacco is on took a turn for the better this week, but is everyone really back on the bandwagon?
Flacco's execution of the offensive game plan was nearly flawless. Zero turnovers, zero terrible decisions and playing within his means gave Flacco a solid day on the field and on the stat sheet. Flacco completed almost 70 percent of his passes for over 300 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Keeping the game managed while Baltimore kept the game out of reach isn't as easy as it sounds. Flacco will keep the boo-birds at bay for at least another week, but has he turned the page on the inconsistent play?
He's a winner...for now. We'll stay tuned.
I know that Terrell Suggs is not 100 percent healthy, but he is a non-factor right now. The most impressive thing he did all day was in the picture above. He nullified his own sack by jumping offsides and finished the day with only two tackles that both occurred in the first eight minutes of the game.
Baltimore needs to sit "T-Sizzle" next week and let him get rested up for the playoffs. The Ravens have been playing hurt on defense for most of the year and yet seem to have found an effective combination. Bringing a healthy (-ish) Ray Lewis, Bernard Pollard and Suggs back to the lineup for the playoffs can only make the defense better. All three need another week to get ready for the postseason.
Ray Rice is the center of the Baltimore offense. When he touches the ball, good things happen. Sunday he touched the ball 30 times and collected 158 total yards and a touchdown catch. As the most dangerous man on the field, Rice also opens things up for other players.
When the running game is effective, everything else seems a little bit easier. Another angle that Ray Rice is a winner is that he has a fantastic and almost equally explosive backup in Bernard Pierce, who happened to be Baltimore's leading rusher on the day.
Anquan Boldin had a solid day statistically as the most consistent Baltimore receiver, but he left the game in the second half with a shoulder injury. With Baltimore comfortably ahead, there was no rush to get Boldin back to the game, but his status moving forward is unknown.
With the division crown sitting comfortably in the Raven's nest, there is literally no reason to push Boldin into service with the playoffs around the corner.
In the world of "what have you done for me lately," Jim Caldwell seemed to hit all the right buttons to make the Baltimore offense go. Everything looks better when the players execute the game plan, but Caldwell attacked the Giants immediately with the no-huddle offense.
The Baltimore offense scored on its first two possessions and maintained control of the game throughout. It was able to attack effectively in the air and grind out yards and clock when it needed to on the ground.
This was the type of game the the Ravens are capable of at any time. Hopefully, it is a sign of great things to come at exactly the right time of the year.
I'm not trying to nitpick after an impressive and decisive win, but it seemed that of the Giants' 119 passing yards, the bulk of that number came at Cary Williams' expense. He was beaten and turned around on a long pass to Rueben Randle and immediately after by Domenik Hixon for another nine yards.
Though Williams led the team with five tackles, that low number had more to do with Baltimore controlling the ball for two-thirds of the game.
Just how effective can Joe Flacco be when he isn't running for his life or manages to stay upright for more than two seconds? Of course, New York was missing defensive captain Justin Tuck, but the Giants still have plenty of guys who can get to the quarterback.
The Ravens offensive line looked nothing like the porous, lethargic pylons that took the field last week against Denver. New York finished the day with zero sacks and only put two hits on Flacco all day. Throw in 224 yards rushing and it's fair to say that the Ravens owned the line of scrimmage from start to finish.
Poor Ed Reed can't get a break. On what looked like a textbook hit on Victor Cruz, Reed was flagged incorrectly for a 15-yard personal foul. Fox announcer Troy Aikman also claimed that Reed led with his head even after the reverse angle replay showed that Reed clearly drove his shoulder into Cruz.
If there was any contact from Reed's helmet, it was incidental after the impact of Reed's shoulder drove Cruz into the ground. Hopefully, the "Lords of Discipline" in the NFL see what the rest of us saw and Baltimore's safety doesn't have to shell out any more cash for the holidays.
The rookie tailback got plenty of touches Sunday and showed why the Baltimore coaches think so highly of him. Pierce broke what was the longest run from scrimmage this year with a 78-yard run in the fourth quarter. He carried the ball 14 times for 123 yards and was effective throughout the game when he was called on to spell Ray Rice.
Fresh legs off the bench helped the Ravens control the ball for long stretches of the game. Pierce has a pretty explosive first step and only a last-ditch shove from Jayron Hosley kept Pierce out of the end zone.
Torrey Smith erased any doubts about his concussion recovery early in the game as he helped stretch the Giants defense. Smith made life miserable for Giants corner Corey Webster, victimizing him for most of his catches and yardage.
He finished with five catches for 88 yards and a first-quarter touchdown. The Ravens would turn to the run after building a sizable lead, but Smith showed his value to the Baltimore offense by having his way in the New York secondary.