Before the game yesterday I didn't understand why the line on the game favored the 3-3 Ravens who defensively were vertcally challenged. The Broncos D was supposed to be the best in the NFL. Josh McDaniels was the second coming of the Belichick, hoodie and all. Yes, Jared Gaither resumed his duties at left tackle with Michael Oher going back to the right side, but how could Joe Flacco withstand the mighty Broncos' lead leading defense?
During the game there were so many tell tale signs the team playing against the undefeated Denver Broncos was different from the team that had played the six games prior. Even in winning the Ravens did not look like the real deal. From the first series when Jarret Johnson leveled Kyle Orton I knew this wouldn't be like the previous 6 contests.
For the first six Ed Reed seemed complacsent on playing with finesse and being strategic. I can understand if Reed felt the need to protect his injured neck. NFL players generally have to deal with pain years after their playing days are over. I was really ok with Reed. Unfortunately the other characters in the Ravens secondary struck no fear in offenses and became a glaring weakness. Ed Reed's crushing hit causing a fumble was his 2009 coming out party. It was like Reed said to the home croud, enough of this stuff, let's play smash mouth. Reed played as it no longer mattered what happens after his career is over. Reed's career is now and he played like it. Hopefully all fans will appreciate what he is doing. I sure do. At some point Ladarius Webb has to start at corner. I hope he's ready soon.
Ray Lewis is a freak. He's always been my favorite Raven and this year my appreciation of his work ethic and leadership is unparrelleled. He flies all over the field and makes tackles or takes on blockers so others can finish. Suggs still looks like he is in pre-season form but he is playing better. The beef up front also looked better.
Joe Flacco is the real deal, my friends. He's got courage, physical ability and smarts. After seeing Ray Rice playing at Rutgers I wondered why he wasn't selected sooner in last year's draft. Now I openly laugh at other teams for not looking at him. For the first time Mark Clayton didn't drop a ball and looked like a quality receiver. I didn't mind when Derrick Mason got flagged for losing it when the ref blew the D holding call. The field position didn't matter at the time. Kelly Washington is sure lot's of fun to watch too. And oh yeah, Todd Heap is Todd Heap again.
The million dollar questions begin with how many games can the Ravens keep up this intensity. Can my purple and black continue to play with a chip on their shoulder? Can Gaither and Reed stay healthy? Which Mark Clayton shows up? Can the defensive interior allow Ray Lewis to fly all over the field? Can Steven Hauschka kick a game winner?
Next week we will see if yesterday's game is glimpse of the future I say bring it on. If yesterday's game was a one time thing, then I am hopeful that we play an easier schedule next year because we won't be able to compete with Indy, Green Bay Cinci and the Steelers. Hope is a good thing. Sometimes the best of things.