The Ravens' victory over the defending champion New Orleans Saints on Sunday was an old style Ravens win. A win that was reminiscent of Ravens teams from the early to mid part of the outgoing decade.
The Ravens proved many things in their win, a win that all but assures them of a third straight trip to the playoffs. A feat not done in Baltimore since the Baltimore Colts did it in 1974, 75 and 76.
The Ravens played a complete game in defeating the New Orleans Saints 30-24 yesterday. The Ravens controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football and played a smarter game in terms of controlling their emotions.
The Saints came into M & T Bank Stadium with a swagger, having won six in a row. The Saints seemed to be looking past the Ravens to their match-up with the NFC leading and divisional rival Atlanta Falcons next Monday night.
New Orleans tried to be the bully on Sunday, they talked after every play and were constantly face mask to face mask pointing and gesturing towards any Raven that would engage. It did not work, the Ravens were not going to be bullied and were not even in a mood to talk, which for this Ravens team is unusual.
In fact New Orleans took several costly personal foul penalties allowing drives to continue or advancing big gains by the Ravens even further.
The Ravens were 1-3 under John Harbaugh following Monday night games and after getting back to Baltimore at 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning from Houston, were a day and a half behind in preparation for one of the best offenses in the NFL. Things did not look good heading into Sunday.
Even though the Ravens won their road game in Houston last Monday, it still felt like a loss as fans and media crucified the Ravens for blowing their eighth four quarter lead of the season. The Ravens even blew their ninth fourth quarter lead Sunday after Lance Moore made one of the best catches you will ever see in the corner of the end zone, tying the game at 24. The Ravens did not panic and stuck with what was working.
The Ray Rice 50-yard run was the first play following the kickoff after Moore’s acrobatic touchdown catch. The Ravens from last week would have went three and out.
The football gods rewarded them for their efforts as Pittsburgh would lose to the Jets later on Sunday. The Ravens are now tied with the Steelers at 10-4. Pittsburgh still holds the tie breaker with a better divisional record but at least the Ravens have a shot to still win the division.
Each team will play the Browns in the last two weeks, the Ravens this week and Pittsburgh next week to close out the season. The Ravens will play Cincinnati at home in the final regular season game. The Ravens were swept by Cincinnati last season and beaten earlier this season by the Bengals. Joe Flacco had his worst game of the season, throwing four interceptions back in September. Pittsburgh travels to play the 2-12 Carolina Panthers on Thursday night.
The Ravens were the more physical team yesterday, controlling the game whenever they needed. Had Lance Moore not made that touchdown catch, the Ravens would have probably won this game 30-20.
The Ravens needed to prove a lot, not to the fans, who were calling for the coaching staff to be fired after last Monday night, but to themselves. They needed to prove that they were a team that can overcome adversity in late December and get a big win against a quality team. The opponent doesn't get any more quality than the defending Super Bowl champions, which until yesterday looked poised to repeat.
It's amazing how much swagger a team develops after winning a Super Bowl. The Ravens would have none of it. The talking that is. The Ravens just shut-up and played smash mouth football. They lined up and punched Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints right in their Cajun mouths.
Here are five things the Ravens proved in Sunday's game.