By Samuel Njoku
The Baltimore Ravens were looking to build off of their performance against the Cleveland Browns last week. Against the Oakland Raiders in M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, that’s exactly what they did. The Ravens (7-2) would punish the Oakland Raiders (3-6) in a lopsided 55-20 victory. Baltimore would simply outmatch the West Coast team in historic fashion. With a franchise record 55 points, Baltimore was able to defeat Oakland without Haloti Ngata and Jimmy Smith – two players that dressed for the game.
This may be the closest an NFL team gets to a homecoming game, and both the players and coaches took advantage. Cam Cameron had a solid game plan. Ray Rice only had 13 carries, but that was due to the lopsided score. Bernard Pierce had 10 carries of his own, as both players played well. Cameron has done a much better job of incorporating the running game into the game plan. Flacco works best when the threat of a run is presented to the opposing defense. At least for the time being, OC Cam Cameron has taken notice.
Dean Pees has made it a point to work on the fundamentals for weeks now, and even though the defense gave up 20 points, the Ravens were a much more disciplined unit than in weeks past. The Ravens were wrapping up when they made tackles. Besides Ed Reed, who is suffering from an injured shoulder, no player made any glaring missed tackles. It’s a testament to how well Pees has responded to a defense that struggled early on.
If the Ravens can play this well on the road, they would be the class of the NFL. For now, Baltimore is dangerous when playing at home – extremely dangerous. Joe Flacco was on target for most of the game. He rarely had to scramble from the pocket. Credit the offensive line for keeping the defensive pressure to a minimum. Joe does a beautiful job of getting the football down the field on a consistent basis. Ozzie Newsome has done a great job of getting him speed on the field to utilize his talents. Simply put, Flacco was unbeatable once again at home.
The running game was solid and unnecessary. Serving as a tool to keep the defense honest, both Rice and Pierce did a great job of making the most of their opportunities. Torrey Smith had another big day as he hauled in two touchdowns. And both Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson caused big match up problems for Oakland’s defense.
The Ravens’ defense played perhaps their best game of the season. The unit played with “swag” for the first time since their Week One game against the Bengals. The Ravens were getting pressure and forcing turnovers. That’s the defense that the Ravens are used to seeing. It starts up front with Terrell Suggs. T-sizzle may not have had a huge game, but the reigning Defensive Player of the Year was double teamed most of the game. This of course gives others an opportunity to make an impact. Paul Kruger would benefit the most as he put considerable pressure on the quarterback as well as forced a turnover.
The secondary played good football as well. Without Jimmy Smith, the Ravens would start Chykie Brown and Corey Graham would get extended looks along with Cary Williams; all three played well. Carson Palmer would throw for 368 yards, but he’s been doing that to the Ravens for years. They can certainly do better, but Sunday was definitely a step in the right direction.
Sam Koch and Justin Tucker played well as usual. Both will be considered for the Pro Bowl this year. The special teams unit provided two big plays as Koch ran in a fake field goal for a touchdown. The other big play came when Jacoby Jones ran back a 105-yard kick return for another score. Simply put, this unit continues to excel on Sunday’s.
For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Ravens news, see CBS Sports Baltimore.
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.