By Samuel Njoku
The Ravens shocked the world as they have made a historic run into the Super Bowl. The inconsistencies on both sides of the ball have all but evaporated since the postseason began. As the Ravens turn their attention to San Francisco, they’ll need to continue their success on both offense and defense to win the trophy.
There’s no doubt that Joe Flacco has taken the sports world by storm with his exceptional passes. But this is the same Joe Flacco we’ve seen all season. The difference lies in the offensive line. This unit has played lights out since Bryant McKinnie returned to the Left Tackle spot. Fans and analysts have been vocal about the need for change in that position. The injury to Jah Reid late in the season forced Harbaugh’s hand. The move has been one of the key reasons why the Ravens are AFC Champions.
“I think it’s a pretty solid group that we have up there right now,” stated Flacco on Thursday. “Bryant [McKinnie] is fresh and playing quick and moving well, and obviously, with his stature out there, he’s a big strong guy. So, I think that allowed us to put Mike [Oher] on the right side, bring K.O [Kelechi Osemele] over to the left guard. He’s a great young player. It gives us five really good talents up there, and they’ve been playing really well together, so you’ve got to give the credit to those guys.”
Flacco needs to give this unit more than credit. The lineman should expect a few gifts their way if Baltimore is able to get the job done next week. The 49ers defense has struggled in rushing the passer in recent weeks, but they still remain one of the best defenses in the NFL. If you give them the opportunity, they will wreak havoc on the quarterback. But if this offensive line plays the way they have in the Super Bowl, Flacco will torch the 49ers defense.
The two weeks off should help give veterans like Matt Birk some time to rest. But he has made it clear that he isn’t concerned with rest at this point of the season.
“I feel good,” Birk told reporters. “At this point in the year, it doesn’t matter. During the season you think about how you feel, needing to get treatment or whatever. At this stage of the season, you don’t really think about it because we’re one of [two] teams left vying for a championship. It really doesn’t matter how you feel. You’ll feel fine in February, March and April. That’ll be the time to feel good. I’m out there every week, so yeah, I feel good.”
Birk and the rest of the offensive line should feel just fine. They are playing better than they have all season. Playing offensive line is a thankless job in this league. Your name is only mentioned when you’re doing something wrong. But in this case, fans couldn’t be happier with the way things have played out. If the Ravens do win the Super Bowl, this unit will have a lot to do with it.
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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.