Monday night against Cincinnati, Joe Flacco looked every bit of the quarterback Baltimore expected him to be when they drafted him in 2008. Running back Ray Rice would finish the night with two touchdowns as the Ravens beat down the Bengals 44-13.
Joe Flacco picked up where he left off after an impressive performance in the AFC Championship game. Flacco stole the show as the Ravens defeated the Bengals 44-13. The fifth year quarterback moved the ball down the field at will against a defense that ranked seventh overall a season ago. Flacco would finish the day 21-of-29 for 299 yards and two touchdowns. The Bengals seemingly had no answers for the no-huddle offense, and were forced to play catch up most of the game.
Analysts will point to the no-huddle offense as the spark that lit the fire under Joe Flacco. But what can not be overlooked is how well Flacco is performing under quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell. Caldwell coached Peyton Manning back in Indianapolis. Joe Flacco looked eerily similar in play to the future Hall of Famer, and that is a scary thing for the rest of the league to take note of.
This offense stole the show on Monday Night Football, but one of the underrated units of the game has to be the offensive line. The Ravens’ coaching staff turned plenty of heads when they decided to give the starting left guard spot to Ramon Harewood. Guard Bobbie Williams has been projected to start since the Ravens signed him, but coach Harbaugh has said all along that they would field the five best offensive linemen. Based on their performance, it appears that’s exactly what they did.
Tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson had a great game after returning from their respective injuries. Pitta would lead the team with five receptions along with a touchdown. Ray Rice didn’t see the ball much in this one, registering 10 carries for 68 yards, but he made the most of his opportunities as he rushed for two touchdowns.
The defense struggled early in this contest. It appeared as though the offense would have to carry this team to victory. But after a couple of impressive defensive stands to force field goals for the Bengals, the defense finally decided to join the party. In the third quarter, Ed Reed would make an impressive interception return for a touchdown to increase Baltimore’s lead to 21 points. Usually, that type of play would seal the game in Baltimore, but with the way the offense played on Monday, the interception return was just icing on the cake.
Ray Lewis, who is now 37 years of age, played lights out under the prime time lights. The future Hall of Famer finished the game with 14 tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble. Although Ed Reed’s interception return was impressive, overall the secondary didn’t play very well. For much of the game, this unit had no answer for Cincinnati wide receivers A.J. Green or Andrew Hawkins. But when the offense began to pile on the points, the defensive line was able to pin their ears back and get after the quarterback.
It was not a bad first game for rookie placekicker Justin Tucker. The kid looked composed as he finished the day 3-for-3 on field goals. Sam Koch and the punting unit performed well and the coverage team looked better than a season ago. The kick and punt return units were solid for the most part, but the team should be more cautious when deciding whether or not to take kicks out of the end zone.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.