The nightmare from last week's loss to Jacksonville followed the Baltimore Ravens back home to M&T Bank Stadium. In the 2nd quarter they were staring down a 21 point deficit to an NFC team on a five gaming losing streak. Yes the Arizona Cardinals were dominating the Ravens at home and if adjustments weren't made, the Ravens looked to be in serious trouble of dropping another game to a lesser team.
What followed was historic. The Ravens had their largest comeback in franchise history as they went on to win 30-27. The epic comeback moves the Ravens to 5-2 and keeps them in contention with the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers for the lead in the AFC North.
The comeback win was fueled by their defense which clamped down on the Cardinals offense from the second quarter onward. Credit also needs to be given to Joe Flacco's mastery of the no huddle that helped the passing offense make some big plays.
With a huge game against the Steelers next week, it's concerning the Ravens barely got past the Cardinals. Here's my take on which position groups played well and which need to improve for next week.
Stats: 31-of-51 for 336 yards, zero TDs, one INT, one fumble lost, four carries for 15 yards.
My Take: Flacco's pattern of stepping up after a bad game continued today. Although he was dreadful early on with an interception and a fumble, he coolly led the team's historic comeback. His 51 throws were the most in his career, although he ended the day without a touchdown.
Stats: (Ray Rice) 18 carries for 63 yards and three touchdowns. Seven catches for 36 yards.
My Take: It is simply baffling why Ray Rice only got eight carries against the Jaguars. Today, he showed that if he gets enough carries, he can transform the outcome of a game. Today's three rushing touchdowns were the most that Rice has ever had in a game.
His importance to the Ravens game plan cannot be understated. Today, he showed himself as capable of handling the load.
Stats: (Anquan Boldin) Seven catches for 145 yards. (Torrey Smith) Three catches for 57 yards. (Ed Dickson) Six catches for 46 yards. (Dennis Pitta) Six catches for 44 yards. (Ray Rice) Seven receptions for 36 yards. (Ricky Williams) Two catches for eight yards.
My Take: Today was a great day for one receiver—Anquan Boldin. He has clearly emerged as the Ravens top receiving threat with 539 receiving yards and 34 receptions on the ear. Besides Boldin though, it seems like the receiving game is lacking.
Smith missed on some deep plays and only had three catches as the opposing defense again figured how to contain him. Both tight ends were about equal, each with six grabs and over 40 receiving yards. Hopefully when Lee Evans comes back, he will be able to step up as a clear 2 receiver to complement Boldin, because no one else has yet.
Stats: Surrendered three sacks, helped running game gain 107 rushing yards.
My Take: The early level of play by the offensive line was almost as bad as in Jacksonville. Flacco got sacked three times during the game. Guard Andre Gurode had a false start that killed the momentum on a second-quarter drive.
Things were better in the second half as the offensive line opened up holes for Rice's three rushing touchdowns. They also gave Flacco the time needed to make some good throws.
Stats: 13 tackles, two sacks.
My Take: Paul Krueger did not start this game but he still had one of his best games in his young career with two tackles and two sacks. Haloti Ngata also played well with four tackles. All told Kevin Kolb was under a lot of pressure as he got sacked five times.
Stats: 21 Tackles, two sacks, one interception and one forced fumble.
My Take: The Ravens linebacking corps may have had the best game out of any of their position groups. Terrell Suggs led the team with 13 tackles along with a sack. Jameel McClain had arguably the defense's most critical play with an eight-yard interception.
Jarrett Johnson had six tackles and forced a fumble although it was not recovered. Today, the linebacking corps showed why it is one of the Ravens' strengths and one of the best in the league.
Stats: 16 tackles, two sacks.
My Take: This unit started out bad as the Cardinals put in two touchdowns during the first half. Like everyone else, the Ravens keyed in on wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald which failed partially as he finished with three catches for 98 yards. Backup receiver Early Doucet had less yards, but he did score the Cardinals only receiving touchdown.
Credit needs to be given to the secondary for allowing less pass plays in the second half. In particular, safety Bernard Pollard had a good game with four tackles and one fumble although his day was somewhat marred by a bizarre penalty for taunting. Both Cary Williams and Lardarius Webb had dumb penalties as well, which kept Cardinals drives alive.
Although they played better in the second half, the secondary had some issues that helped to contribute to the early deep hole the Ravens were in.
Stats: (Billy Cundiff), 3-of-3 field goals, (Sam Koch), five punts, avg. 21.4 Yards, (Kickoff Returns), four Returns, avg. 21 Yards, (Punt Returns), three returns, avg. seven yards
My Take: Billy Cundiff was as reliable as ever at kicker. His third field goal was a game-winning, 25-yard kick.
Both return units were unable to make very much. And on the other side of the ball, the Ravens punt return coverage was awful as they allowed a 82-yard touchdown to rookie cornerback Patrick Peterson.
Their coverage unit has been a disappointment throughout the year and really needs to be worked on.
My Take: It was shocking that after such an enormous letdown in Jacksonville, the Ravens started out slow against an inferior team like the Cardinals. Typically under John Harbaugh, they have responded to their losses with wins, even fairly dominant wins. Yet, careless mistakes and fumbles put them in a intimidating 24-3 hole early in the game.
Harbaugh was able to make second-half adjustments that won the game. The Ravens offense moved to a no huddle which helped them out tremendously. Throughout the game, the Ravens were able to stay cool and get a comeback win that was very much needed.