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One Winning Drive: Ravens Knockout Bengals: Quick Thoughts

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If you want to talk about one-sided games, the Ravens-Bengals match-up today is a perfect place to start. The Ravens came out strong and never let the question of the “trap game” enter the picture. With the exception of one, late first half drive, the Bengals never even came close to changing the feel or tempo of the game.

Here are a few points to consider as we enjoy our celebration…

  • The Ravens defense was at its very best once again. Jim Leonhard’s 4th quarter interception, the only forced turnover in the game, was a nice surprise to round things out. But the Ravens defense was strong all game long. While they were not creating turnovers or racking up a ton of sacks, the pressure on quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was evident all game. Fitzpatrick completed just two passes through the first 25 minutes of the game, with most of the incomplete attempts being knocked down and swatted by Ravens defenders at all levels.
  • Le’Ron McClain was glad to take advantage of a battered Bengals defensive front. The best part about watching McClain is how happy he  looks going up the middle and dishing out as many hits as he takes. In my mind, McClain looks more and more like Jerome Bettis every week he gets to carry the ball. That’s not a bad thing. The biggest McClain worry, however, has to be the sudden development of some slick fingers. Rain contributed, but Le’Ron lost the ball a number of times today and that cannot happen against better opponents.
  • Joe Flacco had perhaps his best game of his short career. Flacco, despite being sacked multiple times and feeling the pressure on a regular basis, was able to really show off his arm strength and his touch. Flacco had two touchdowns and nearly 300 yards passing while completing nearly 70% of his passes. Quite the day for the young gun, who mixed short and long throws together nicely. Flacco even found Todd Heap a few times, including one pass for a touchdown.
  • No, I did not forget about Mark Clayton. Clayton had his second huge game of the season, but this game was certainly his biggest ever. Clayton not only corralled a few big catches, but threw for a touchdown as well. It was his one-handed 70-yard reception, though, that we will be watching and talking about for weeks. Cheers all around to Mr Clayton.
  • Defensively, the Ravens effort was strong all game long. The unit appeared to lose focus in the winding moments of the first half, but still only allowed a field goal. There was no singular stand-out, but a few players deserve mention. Fabian Washington had Chad Johnson locked down most of the game. Bart Scott scored big in protecting the run. Jarrett Johnson and Haloti Ngata both had great games pressuring the entire Bengals line. And of course Jim Leonhard deserves a sentence all to himself for doing his best Ed Reed impersonation - it was spot on.
  • The only downside for the Ravens today? Their offensive line struggled to protect Flacco throughout the game. Again, against stronger opponents, such mistakes will not be tolerable. Flacco survived on his own wits, but not by much. The other down side? The Browns were unable to upset the Colts, leaving the Ravens in a tight playoff battle. Perhaps the Pats can help the Ravens, though.
  • Gameballs: Mark Clayton and Jim Leonhard.

More to come this week as there is plenty to discuss from Frank Walker’s benching to Willis McGahee’s disappearance… and yes, we can even talk special teams and coaching…

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