Baltimore Ravens Have Used Trickery and Defense To Succeed

Bleacher Report Senior Writer INovember 30, 2008

Right now, the Baltimore Ravens are feeling good.

Today, they absolutely wrecked the Bengals, 34-3. Joe Flacco passed for 280 yards and two touchdowns, Mark Clayton caught five passes for 164 yards, and Jim Leonhard got a pick-six.

The Ravens moved to 8-4 and are still one game behind the Steelers in a tough division to win.

The Ravens were coming off a depressing year in which they were 5-11 and had generally no offense at all.

They decided to draft Joe Flacco with the 18th pick in this year's NFL draft. They actually traded up to get Flacco, a quarterback from a Division I-AA school in Delaware. Flacco was no scrub, with 4263 yards, 23 TD, and five interceptions as a senior.

But, this is Delaware we're talking about.

Flacco wasn't impressive and looked very erratic during the preseason, going 34-for-65 with 269 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He could make the throws and had the big-time arm we were hearing about.

Yet, he was one of the most inaccurate quarterbacks in all of preseason play. It didn't help the Ravens don't really have a big-name receiver.

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Days before the first game, new head coach Jon Harbaugh announced that Flacco would start the first game.

I was scared to death. Joe proved me wrong. He was 15-of-29 with 129 yards and even ran for a 38-yard touchdown.

However, four games later, the Ravens were 2-3 after starting 2-0. In those three losses, they were outscored 67-33, including 31-3 against the Indianapolis Colts.

I was wondering how this would play out, and it played out in a good way. The Ravens won four straight against the likes of Miami, Oakland, Cleveland, and Houston.

The next game, they would play the 8-1 New York Giants. Realistically, I didn't think we'd win this game. I was right. We lost, 30-10.

The last two games, the Ravens haven't had the stiffest competition, with Philadelphia and Cincinnati.

However, they have completely demolished them, 70-10 combined. They beat Philly, 36-7 and beat Cincy, 34-3.

But Flacco's play and the team's perseverance hasn't really helped the team as much as defense and trickery in the offense has.

The Ravens' defense has always been a constant. And despite being one of the oldest defenses in the league, they are still one of the best and most feared.

They average a total of 17 points allowed, 80 rush yards, and 182 pass yards per game. They haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher this year despite facing great backs such as Chris Johnson, LenDale White, Joseph Addai, Ronnie Brown, Justin Fargas, Steve Slaton, Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Brian Westbrook.

They also haven't allowed a 300-yard passer and have picked off a total of 19 passes.

But the Ravens have had this throughout the history of the franchise, but haven't always won. They needed offense. They needed a shakeup in the playbook.

Enter Cam Cameron.

Cameron was offensive coordinator for San Diego when LaDainian Tomlinson was great, but was also head coach of the 1-15 Dolphins last year. OC is his expertise.

This year, the Ravens have displayed trickery in perfect timing. Here some of the Ravens' tricks this year.

Week One vs. Cincinnati

Joe Flacco hands ball off to Derrick Mason who pitches to Mark Clayton. Clayton takes it in 42 yards for a score.

Week Two vs. Cleveland

Joe Flacco hands ball off to Willis McGahee. McGahee runs to outside and throws back to Flacco. Flacco throws over 50 yards to the end zone. It's picked off by Mike Adams, but it's still the kind of mix the Ravens need.

Week Eight vs. Oakland

Joe Flacco takes snap in shotgun with Troy Smith next to him. Flacco hands off to Smith and Joe runs a wheel route. Smith makes a flawless pass and Flacco catches it for a 43-yard gain to the six-yard line.

Week 10 vs. Houston

Troy Smith lines up at quarterback and fakes a run. Just before getting to the line of scrimmage, he fires to a wide-open Todd Heap for TD.

Week 13 vs. Cincinnati

Joe Flacco handed off to Mark Clayton, who passes to a wide-open Derrick Mason for a 32-yard touchdown.

What will Cam Cameron pull from under his sleeve next?

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