After the loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars last Monday night, the Baltimore Ravens were expected to take their frustration out on the Arizona Cardinals. Instead, the frustrated losers of five in a row were the aggressors against the Ravens in the first half.
Nevertheless, after six sleepy quarters, the Ravens finally woke up and played their relentless style of football, handing the Cardinals their 11th straight road loss, 30-27
An attempt to make sense of the Ravens’ slow start was to assume that the players wore their opponents’ uniforms to celebrate Halloween a day earlier.
The Cardinals constantly pressured Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, which was the root of their problem, as they sacked steady Joe twice, forced him to make bad decisions, make some bad throws and caused turnovers (a fumble and an interception) in the first half.
Coming into Sunday’s contest, the Cardinals had eight takeaways.
Seriously, the characteristics of the Ravens offense is no laughing matter, as no one, especially in Baltimore, wants their tricks or treats early on.
The Ravens went to their strength at the start of the game, as they ran the ball 12 times out of 20 plays. During that stretch, Ravens running back Ray Rice had nine carries for 46 yards, averaging 5.1 on the ground. Rice’s early output was more than what he had for the entire contest against the Jaguars.
Consequently, the Ravens had to attack from the air after being down 24-6 at the half.
In transitional fashion, the Ravens made their adjustments at the start of the second half. The Ravens coaching staff recognized the Cardinals’ pressure from the ends, as Ravens offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie was being abused by linebackers Sam Acho and O’Brien Schofield, and up the middle from their secondary. The Ravens countered with Flacco being in shotgun formation, exercising some no-huddle for quick passes.
Baltimore went down the field on an eight-play drive, capped with a one-yard touchdown run by Rice on their first possession.
The Cardinals had 21 unanswered points in the second quarter to earn an 18-point lead at the half. In a span of 15:05, the Ravens took the lead for the first time of the afternoon with 21 unanswered points of their own to earn a three-point lead.
The Ravens had multiple opportunities to create a turnover early in the fourth quarter to help put the game on ice. Consisting of a drop interception by linebacker Ray Lewis, an interception from safety Ed Reed (which was called back due to a questionable pass interference call on cornerback Lardarius Webb) and a 4th-and-1 conversion by Cardinals running back Beanie Wells, the Cardinals were able to tie the game at 27 with 8:55 remaining in the game.
With 1:02 remaining in the game, on 3rd-and-8, Ravens linebacker Paul Kruger sacked Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb for a nine-yard loss at the Cardinals’ 6-yard line.
After a Cardinals punt and a play later from the Cardinals’ 41, Flacco, who completed 31 out of 51 attempts for 336 yards and an interception, finally successfully connected with rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith, after failing several times throughout the afternoon, for a 36-yard hook up, getting to the 5-yard line.
Rice attempted to earn his fourth touchdown of the day, who finished with 18 catches for 63 yards and three touchdowns, but fell short. Flacco set kicker Billy Cundiff up for a chip-shot, 25-yard field to seal the game as time expired.
The Ravens offense was the story of the game for their play in the second half. Linebacker Terrell Suggs, who had the career day with 10 tackles, was a one-man wrecking crew, as he pressured Kolb and played the run extremely well.