Ravens Clinch AFC North Title With Impressive Victory Over Giants
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By Samuel Njoku
What a difference a week makes for the Baltimore Ravens. A week after losing in embarrassing fashion to the Peyton Manning, Baltimore took their frustrations out on his little brother. The result is a 33-14 drubbing of the New York Giants at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens played their most complete game of the season and gave notice to the league that it still has the potential to dominate on any given Sunday.
Jim Caldwell struggled calling the plays from his predecessor’s playbook last week. But this week he was able to implement slight wrinkles in the offense to suit his taste. And it paid immediate dividends for the Ravens offense. The Ravens were unpredictable. They utilized the entire field, something that Baltimore has not been able to do in the past. The offense was a lot faster between plays. The no-huddle offense was on display on Sunday against the Giants. And when they did huddle up, they did so with a sense of urgency. Caldwell gets one more week to fine tune the offense before taking his work into the postseason.
What Dean Pees has done with this defense is nothing short of remarkable. Even with all the injuries on defense, he was still able to get the most out of his defense. He called a lot more blitzes than he did the previous week and it kept Eli Manning out of rhythm for most of the game. The running game was non-existent in this contest as well. The team is getting healthier as the season comes to a close. It couldn’t come at a better time for Dean Pees.
When Flacco has time in the pocket, he can be a very dangerous quarterback. This was the case on Sunday as Joe Flacco decimated a Giants defense that seems to be reeling a bit in the final weeks of the regular season. Not only was Flacco pushing the ball down field with ease, he did so with impressive accuracy. The offensive line held the Giants defense without a sack. Though Oher struggled once again, it wasn’t enough to slow down the Ravens offense. It would still be in Baltimore’s best interest to move Oher out of Joe’s blind side.
The Ravens receiving corps played some pretty great football. They caught everything that was thrown at them. The receivers were able to get separation from the defensive backs and forced New York to play a coverage based defense for most of the contest. That paved the way for Bernard Pierce and Ray Rice to each rush for over 100 yards. It’s the first time that has happened for Baltimore since 2008 against the Cowboys.
The defense has played poor football this year. But in the Ravens regular season home finale, they would put on a show for their fans. The defense was relentless in their pursuit of the quarterback and kept the running backs in their backfield for most of the contest. Even the secondary kept the Giants’ receivers in check for the majority of the game. The return of Dannell Ellerbe provided an instant boost for the pass defense as he ran all over the place. It was hard to notice that he was still recovering from an injury he suffered nearly a month ago. If this defense can continue to play at this level come playoff time, it will be a dangerous unit for opposing offenses.
Special Teams: A
As usual, the special teams unit has stepped up for a team that is still trying to find an identity. Jacoby Jones gave this team incredible field position throughout the game and Sam Koch made sure to give New York a long field to work with. Justin Tucker continues to perform at a high level. Jerry Rosburg receives little attention as a special teams coordinator but deserves ample praise for his work this season.
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.