By Samuel Njoku
The Baltimore Ravens (9-2) defeated the San Diego Chargers (4-7) in thrilling fashion 16-13 in OT. For all the talk about how poor the Ravens play on the road, Baltimore is now 4-2 on the road this season. The Ravens look to keep pace with the Houston Texans (10-1) in the AFC as they now have a three game lead in the AFC North. Baltimore can clinch the AFC North championship with a win and a Bengals loss next week.
For the fourth straight week in a row, Cam Cameron and Dean Pees formulated a great game plan for their respective units. Cam Cameron did a great job of sticking with the running game in the early goings of this contest. He would have to as the Chargers were getting a great deal of pressure on Joe Flacco. To at least keep the defense honest, Cameron would need to call run plays and screens to keep the defense on their heels. In the second half, it looked as if Cameron gave Flacco the green light to air it out and that decision paid dividends for Baltimore.
Dean Pees has improved mightily over the last few weeks. Pees vowed to take a close look at what was going on with the defense early on. It looks as though they’ve solved the problem as Baltimore has never looked more dominant. The Ravens defense came to play as they harassed Rivers all day long. The Chargers QB had almost no time in the pocket and Ryan Matthews had almost no running lanes to work with.
To put it bluntly, the Ravens’ offense stunk in the first half. The offensive line gave Flacco little protection to get anything going. Ray Rice was unable to get positive yards on a consistent basis. Even the receivers were finding it difficult to get separation from the corners. But in the second half, the offense got into a rhythm. Flacco got comfortable in the pocket and made great throws in tight coverage. Rice was still unable to get little done on the ground, but proved to be an effective tool in the passing game. This became evident on a 4th and 29 play late in the fourth quarter as he converted for a first down. That was literally the play of the game that swung the momentum in favor of Baltimore. Torrey Smith shined after being shut out last week as he caught 7 passes for 144 yards. The Ravens offense finally stepped up on the road.
As stated earlier, this defense has finally come together in the second half of the season. Many pundits wondered what they had with this unit after games against poor teams. But with the offensive capabilities the Chargers have, the critics received the message loud and clear. The Ravens defense is back. They may not be as dominant as years past, but clearly a force to be reckoned with going forward. The Ravens got pressure from the front 4 as well as their linebackers in this game. Suggs, Jones, and Ngata are just a few of the defenders that stepped up. The secondary locked down on their receivers most of the game. Corey Graham looks to be a stud on defense.
There was no 110 yard kick return by Jacoby Jones this week. In fact, he may have cost the team field position by returning kicks that shouldn’t have. Still, this unit showed up once again. Sam Koch played a huge role in the field position battle and Justin Tucker nailed the game winning field goal in overtime.
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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.