|Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco hands off to Ray Rice in the second half of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. The Ravens won 9-6 but it was a tough outing for Flacco. (US Presswire)|
The Ravens defense in the first half didn't look any better on film than it did on the field during a review of Baltimore's 9-6 win over Kansas City on Sunday.
In the early going, the Ravens defense had plenty of missed fits that allowed the Chiefs running game to attack at will. Baltimore was bailed out with some costly Kansas City turnovers -- the result of the Chiefs repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot.
But as is often the case in games like this, the better team found a way to win. Though the Chiefs are a talented bunch, the Ravens proved they're still one of the NFL's better squads with their performance in the four-minute drill.
Here is a look at how Baltimore fared upon further review:
What looked good?
- In the second half, Baltimore focused on stopping Kansas City's running attack after giving up 179 rushing yards in the first two quarters. The Ravens did this with additional run support from the cornerbacks, who played some zone so they could see running plays unfold in front of them. It was a good adjustment from defensive coordinator Dean Pees, who saw his defense get gashed on the ground in the first half.
- If it wasn't for a block from TE Ed Dickson, Ray Rice might not have picked up the game-clinching first down on third-and-1 with two minutes left to play. Chiefs SS Eric Berry came in to blitz the run but Dickson pancaked him, giving Rice just enough space to wiggle through and lunge for a 2-yard gain. Without that block, the Ravens likely punt and give the Chiefs one last chance to tie or win.
- Though neither recorded a sack, OLBs Paul Kruger and Courtney Upshaw had pretty good games overall. Kruger surprisingly fared better against the run than the pass and Upshaw looked as fast as he's been all season. Upshaw's best play came on his fumble recovery in the first quarter. He had to fight through a double team to try and make a play on a toss sweep to Chiefs RB Cyrus Gray. However, Gray fumbled the pitch, and Upshaw brushed off two blockers to recover the loose ball for Baltimore.
What didn't look good?
- Sometimes total tackles can be a deceiving number as Ray Lewis (10 tackles) had a horrible day defending the run. Possibly being one of the downsides of his weight loss, Lewis looked a lot smaller going against Kansas City's big offensive linemen, getting blocked or pushed away from plays. More often than not, Lewis was chasing running backs and not meeting them near the line of scrimmage like in years past. He did have a nice run fit on Kansas City's last drive that dropped Gray for a loss of a yard.
- Once again, a team using a Cover 1 press look gave Baltimore's passing game problems. Part of the problem was that Ravens receivers failed to gain separation. In addition, Chiefs' front seven were able to pressure Baltimore enough so that plays didn't have time to develop. It was a tough outing for quarterback Joe Flacco, considering he didn't have much help around him.
What is inconclusive?
- Prior to Kansas City having a big day running the ball against Baltimore, the Ravens were giving up just over three yards per carry. It's too early to tell if the run defense will have issues down the stretch. The Ravens were able to adjust to stopping the run in the second half, as Kansas City relegated QB Matt Cassel to a game manager. The Ravens will receive another tough test on the ground against the Cowboys' RB DeMarco Murray this Sunday. That game could determine whether the Ravens will have issues against the run as the season continues.