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The bye week was good to the Ravens.
Baltimore was forced into the bye with a bitter taste in its mouth. The team had to endure the memory of the miscues that accompanied a three-game losing skid. There was a long list of concerns and issues that needed correcting.
Fix the rush defense that had given up two consecutive 100-yard backs. Check. The leading Broncos back was Knowshon Moreno with only 39 yards rushing. Repair the secondary that was giving up too many big plays. Check. Only one reception over 20 yards was completed and Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall was a non- factor. Find a way to create pocket pressure. Check. Quarterback Kyle Orton was out of sync all day and Denver’s offensive line couldn’t find a way to win battles in the trenches.
Kudos to this Ravens coaching staff for figuring out a way to address all the issues that were costing the team victories. This was a winning effort made possible by the integrity of all three units.
The defense took it personal.
They had me questioning their ability. I admit it. I’m still not sure I can give them my complete confidence. But today, the Ravens defense looked like they were tired of the “identity” questions and showed the doubters that they can still dominate.
From the opening play when Jarret Johnson went untouched and dropped Orton for an 8-yard loss, the intensity and anger was there. Two three-and-outs and a fumble in the Broncos first three possessions. Eight forced punts in all. The hits were remorseless, the pressure was unrelenting. The security squad even tempered their passion and for the most part, played smart. Denver was completely out of rhythm for most of the game. I missed these guys. I hope this defense is back for good.
Lardarius Webb should be on the field as much as possible.
Thank you Ozzie Newsome for yet another brilliant draft pick. This time, in the third round. Lardarius Webb is a playmaker and needs to be on the field as much as possible. When he’s out there, good things happen. The kickoff returned for 95 yards was superb, his special teams coverage is great, he is a solid tackler in the open field, His coverage skills are sound. And this rookie is only going to get better. The Ravens coaching staff is doing the right thing by giving him more opportunities to play both on special teams and defense.
Today’s balanced Ravens team is playoff-caliber.
Throughout the three-game losing streak, the Ravens maintained nothing was broken with their team. Chalk it up to a few unlucky plays in each of those losses, they said. Well, if today’s balanced and dominating team is what they were envisioning this whole time, Baltimore is surely a playoff-caliber team. If they could consistently play as balanced as they did today, the Ravens could even get a shot at redemption in the AFC Championship.
Cam Cameron’s offense totaled 35 rushes and 25 pass attempts. The offense scored 30 points, (the most the Broncos have surrendered this season) while the defense only gave up one touchdown. The front seven dominated the line of scrimmage and pressured Kyle Orton all day, allowing the defensive backs to contain the aerial attack. Special teams scored 16 and had solid coverage against a dangerous Eddie Royal who returned both a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in Denver’s previous game against the Chargers.
The offensive line is a superior unit with Jared Gaither in the lineup.
Elvis who? Dumervil, that’s right. The defensive end that’s leading the league in sacks with 10. So how many times did he take down Joe Flacco? Zero. How many times did he hit Joe. Right, zero. Much of that success can be attributed to the presence of the 6-9, 230-pound Jared Gaither. He and Michael Oher were a great tandem in not only limiting Dumervil’s attacks, but also in breaking down the NFL’s second-best defense. I know Joe Flacco has to feel more secure with Gaither protecting his back.