If anyone watching last night's game was reminded of the 2000-01 Ravens, you're not alone.
With a brutally powerful defense that scored three times and an inept offense that wasn't able to muster up any passing game, it may have brought back memories of last time the Ravens made the Super Bowl.
That year, the primary running back was Jamal Lewis. This year, it is Ray Rice.
But this is not the Ravens of a decade ago.
While Joe Flacco had an awful outing at quarterback in Sunday's game, that is the exception for Flacco, not the rule. Just last week, the Flacco-to-Smith combo resulted in the rookie wide receiver from Maryland scoring three touchdowns on his first three career catches.
In the first quarter of the game.
That is something special.
In 2000, the job of quarterback Trent Dilfer was to "not screw things up." He had a great running back, but the long passing game just wasn't available. They used a combination of short passes and a lot of running to win the games, and the defense would also score a few touchdowns along the way.
In last night's contest, the Jets' cornerbacks were able to kill most of the opportunities for a long pass play. The Jets have an outstanding defense, despite their relatively poor stats from the first few games.
Throughout the first half of this game, the Ravens inexplicably stuck to the plan to try to make long passes. It's possible that they were "testing the waters" against one of the league's best pairs of cornerbacks, the Jets' Revis and Cromartie. With a defense that was crushing the Jets offense, they could try their luck against an outstanding secondary.
They didn't have much success.
The Ravens simply weren't going to be able to beat the Jets the same way they had beaten the Rams in the previous week. The Jets defense is much better than that of the Rams.
Finally, after what seemed like far too long for Ravens fans, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron finally started calling for running play after running play. And it worked. Baltimore still had to punt several times, but they burned the clock and preserved the lead.
Whether or not Ray Lewis had to smack Cameron on the head to make him call running plays is unknown. But once the running started, the Ravens started locking the game up.
Joe Flacco wants to throw the ball a lot, and he's a great quarterback. On many days the Ravens offense will be able to do just that. But last night, the Jets' cornerbacks said no.
That doesn't mean that they won't be able to beat a great secondary in the future.
Don't forget, as great as Torrey Smith was last week, he's only in his fourth NFL game. The Ravens were also missing veteran WR Evans to injury.
As the year goes on, Flacco and his receiving crew will have plenty of opportunities to use the long bomb to score touchdowns. The additional experience they gain together over the season will prove valuable in the playoffs. Do not forget that the Ravens have added a lot of different personnel and are not the same group from a year ago.
The offense will get better.
And this offense, combined with the brutally aggressive defense that we saw last night, has the potential to be a far better team than the 2000 Ravens were.
Watch out, NFL.
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