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Lessones Learned: Ravens Must Find A Way To Win Nail-Biters

Six Lessons Learned from Sunday’s Week 6 game against the Minnesota Vikings.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Sunday, October 18th, 2009 at 9:50 pm | Categories: 2009 Gameday, Sarah Ellison

The Ravens need to find a way to win in nail-biting games.

Baltimore is 1-3 in nail-biters. With a bye this week, they have a little extra time to figure out what they need to do to come out on top. It would be nice not to be in these tense situations in the first place, but that would be wishful thinking in the NFL. All Super Bowl champions have to learn how to win with only seconds remaining.

The Ravens are close – their three losses came against very good teams whose combined record is 14-4. A defensive letdown, a dropped pass, a missed field goal. Find a way to make one or two of those plays, and this team would be feeling much better heading into this bye.

The Ravens rushing attack can no longer be referred to as the “three-headed monster.”

Now we know why Cam Cameron has decided to call Ray Rice’s number the most. Quite simply, Rice is an incredible playmaker who efficiently churns out yards every time he gets his hands on the ball. The 205-pounder had a career day against the Vikes with 194 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.

Willis McGahee is a talented back, but he is inconsistent.  Today, McGahee touched the ball seven times and averaged 0.4 yards per carry, while Rice rushed 10 times and averaged 7.7 yards per carry. The Ravens need McClain as a true blocking full back. So, when you need to run the ball, it is clear who gives the Ravens the greatest chance for success. Ray Rice.

The offensive line is hampered without Gaither.

Joe Flacco took a beating and the running game was sluggish.  The Ravens’ offensive line allowed Flacco to be sacked three times and hit nine more. There were few holes for the backs to run though; the rushing attack only totaled 81 yards, 33 of which came from Ray Rice’s fourth quarter TD scamper.

Oher had his hands full with Pro Bowl DE Jared Allen. The rookie was called for two false start penalties and allowed Allen to get by untouched for a sack. Overall, he and Yanda did a decent job of filling in, but Gaither makes this unit complete.

Lardarius Webb is a good solution in the kickoff return game.

Lardarius Webb makes Flacco’s job a lot easier by setting him up with good field position.  Webb returned the ball seven times, averaging 23.6 yards per carry. He typically runs north to south and he even broke one for 40 yards. I get excited knowing he’s back there and it will be interesting to see what damage he can do as the rookie gets more and more acclimated with the speed of the NFL.

Joe Flacco is a stud.

Despite being under duress all game (three sacks, nine QB hits) , despite a 17-point deficit, Flacco showed poise down the stretch and found a way to light it up in the fourth quarter when it counted. For the third time this season, Flacco had a career day, throwing for 385 yards (63 long), two touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 109.3 quarterback rating.

He was this close to leading his team to a stunning comeback victory…again. In each win and loss this season, Flacco has put his team in a position to win. Now, if only a few other players could play at the same high level, consistently, the Ravens would find themselves on the winning side more often.

As suspected, Hauschka is not as reliable as Matt Stover.

I don’t envy Steve Hauschka. He is replacing the third-most accurate kicker in NFL history. Week 6 marked the first time the young kicker had the opportunity to make a game-winning field goal. He didn’t come though. I wish he had; the Ravens would be 4-2 going into the bye.

But, I’m not down on him. He deserves a little leeway. How much? I don’t know yet.

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