Well, that went from one of the most dreadfully boring games of football to an entertaining home team blowout in no time. Here’s a few thoughts running across my head as the game winds down…
- Talk about rebounding. The Ravens defense had perhaps its most dominating effort in recent years. They totaled five turnovers (four interceptions and a fumble), a defensive touchdown, a safety, and several sacks. Not only did the Ravens completely shut down Brian Westbrook and the Eagles running game, but they beat up on both Donovan McNabb and replacement Kevin Kolb.
- The Ed Reed antics with the football get old fast—there is no need to pitch the ball at the five or six-yard line—but it is hard to deny that Reed is the game’s most exciting and explosive defensive player. His two interceptions, one for a touchdown and another close, illustrated that.
- A note to Andy Reid: I really do not believe that Donovan McNabb is your problem. The problem is your play-calling. Last week against the Bengals, in a 13-13 tie, the Eagles ran 58 passes to just 18 rushes. 18 rushes against one of the league’s worst defenses and with one of the league’s best running threats. Even John Runyan on your offensive line said that if the run is not established quickly, then Reid abandons it altogether. That is not West Coast. That is stupid. You might not be able to run on the Ravens, but you cannot let them drop seven and read your quarterback every down either.
- It has been a long time since the Ravens' defensive backs have performed as well as they did today. Credit Rex Ryan with a great game plan, but also credit the entire unit. Ed Reed, as mentioned, was certainly on his game. So were Fabian Washington and Samari Rolle, who both had interceptions, and Jim Leonhard who was strong in run protection. It was nice to see our defensive backs jumping routes for once. Not one of the Ravens’ interceptions was the result of a bobble or a tip, they were all clean and pretty.
- For Joe Flacco it was the tale of two halves. The first half was rough for the Ravens offense all-around, but especially for Flacco. In the second half we finally saw Joe Flacco break out a bit. The late touchdown to Mark Clayton was the perfect example of what the Ravens should have done in the passing game all game: wait for the safeties to blitz and then expose the weakness over the middle.
- The offensive line for the Ravens gets mixed reviews for its play. Penalties and confusion still hurt the unit in the first half. But for how beat up they were, and for how strong the Eagles pass rush is, it is hard to hold much against them. Flacco did a lot of the work himself in avoiding the pass rushes, but the line deserves some credit.
- Extra credit to the McClains (Le’Ron and Jameel, no relation). Le’Ron led the Ravens in rushing and finally found the end zone on the team’s last drive. He was strong all game long and really kept the Eagles honest. He exploited their small, fast, pass-oriented line and the threat of the run gave Flacco a little bit of room to work. Jameel recorded his second safety of the season, this time on a blocked punt.
- Special teams again proved to be this team’s biggest weakness. No shame in Steven Hauschka’s missed kick, but sloppy play on kick offs, punts and all returns kept the Eagles closer than they should have been.
- Almost forgot to mention Jarrett Johnson. In case anyone is wondering why Bart Scott is the odd-man-out at linebacker come season’s end, Jarrett Johnson is the answer. Scott’s had a fine year, but he is a product of the system. Jarrett Johnson is a part of the system, along side Lewis, Suggs and others, that is going to make any interior linebacker look solid.
- Game Balls: Le’Ron McClain and Ed Reed.
What’s your take?