Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens did their best to squander their 17-point lead. With all zeros on the clock, Baltimore allowed a Hail Mary completion that tied the game, pictured below via SportsCenter. Luckily, for the Ravens and safety James Ihedigbo, Baltimore was able to pull out an overtime win.
ICYMI: A.J. Green caught this hail mary, on a tip drill, at end of regulation from Andy Dalton. Ravens won in OT. pic.twitter.com/gYDQ5p0HMy— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 10, 2013
That victory showed that the Ravens aren't letting the AFC North go easily. The Ravens were able to overcome their inability to run the ball and Flacco's inconsistency to keep their season alive—thanks in large part to their elite pass rush and overall heart.
Here are five takeaways from the the Ravens' Week 10 win over the Bengals.
1. The running game is severely lacking
The win helped the Ravens in the standings, but it didn't answer any questions about the running game.
After a combined 30 carries for 75 yards, the Ravens' rushing attack ranks dead last in terms of yards per carry at 2.8. The biggest red flag is Ray Rice, who had just 30 yards on 18 carries. Above all else, the key takeaway here is that Eugene Monroe is not the answer that the Ravens were hoping for.
Flacco did lead some great drives and put the team in position to win in crunch time, including a nice final drive as ESPN's Mike Greenberg noted:
2. The passing game is wildly inconsistent
But while the Ravens' running game has been consistently bad, Flacco and the passing attack have been consistently inconsistent. Flacco did throw for two scores that pushed the Ravens into the lead, but his two interceptions were grand attempts to give momentum and the game back to the Bengals.
Luckily, as ESPN's Skip Bayless points out, the Bengals were just as content to give the game away:
Justice: Ravens pull it out in OT thanks to disastrous 4th down try by Cincy. Division still up for grabs - even Steelers still breathing.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) November 10, 2013
This game illustrated just how dearly Flacco needs an offensive line.
Every quarterback does, but Flacco is rendered mediocre without a strong O-line. It won't help that guard Kelechi Osemele was put on injured reserve to have season-ending back surgery, according to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun.
So there's no running game and the passing game is inconsistent. How did the Ravens win?
3. The pass rush is the difference-maker
For that we must look to the Ravens' elite pass rush. Lead by Elvis Dumervil's 2.5 sacks, the Ravens' pass rush recorded five total and pressured Andy Dalton into tough decisions all day. Decisions that resulted in three Baltimore interceptions.
As Baltimore's Assistant Director of Public/Media Relations Patrick Gleason discovered, the pass rush is record setting:
The #Ravens have now produced at least 2 sacks in 17-straight games, the NFL's longest such streak.— Patrick Gleason (@PMGleason) November 10, 2013
Baltimore has seen some great defenses, but this pass rush is the best the Ravens have had.
4. The Ravens are fighters
More than anything, this game showed that the Ravens still have some fight left in them—as well they should. The Ravens trail some very beatable teams in the AFC playoff picture and only trail the Bengals by one in the loss column.
A loss in Week 10 would have been all but a death sentence for the Ravens playoff hopes, but they showed a lot of heart in puling out the victory. Here's John Harbaugh after the game:
5. The Bengals aren't in control
The fifth and final takeaway from this game is regarding the Bengals. This loss made it clear that they aren't ready to run away with the division. After a loss to the Dolphins last Thursday and a long week, they came out flat when they had a chance to separate themselves in the AFC North.
The Bengals' struggles don't directly relate to the Ravens. It is, however, certainly a good sign to have the division leader in a downward spiral.
Will this win propel the Ravens to another division title? That remains to be seen, but it's a small start to something that could be big. At least, Lardarius Webb and the Ravens think so:
Lardarius Webb on yesterday's win: "Oh yes, it can start something." http://t.co/wuU5taKhpT— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) November 11, 2013
We don't yet know if this win will turn the Ravens whole season around, but it has undoubtedly turned the mood in the right direction.