The first half was very solid. The offense held its own and at times looked unstoppable. Flacco was recognizing open receivers and making a lot of good throws. Ray Rice and Co. were grinding the Steelers’ D-line and gaining positive yards. The defense was for the most part, very good. With that said, it seemed like every time the Pittstink offense had a big play, it was negated by a penalty. A lot of luck there. The Ravens finally scored a first half touchdown, and Matt Vensel, sportswriter for “b” daily, mentioned on his Twitter account that it seems like 1998 was the last time the team reached the end zone in the first 30 minutes. Everything was there for a win, with each unit and each player filling their respective role. I was getting a little tired of the genius that is Chris Collinsworth, hearing about his game film watching habits and his man crush on Michael Oher, but I could tolerate it with a lead.
This was one of the most epic halves in a while. Actually, let me rephrase. the fourth quarter was epic. The third was pure blah. Flacco’s ankle injury really scared me, but luckily he got through it and had a gritty performance. He did all you can ask for late in the game, and he reaffirmed my confidence that he’s the right man for the job, and finally a stable quarterback option in Baltimore.
Dennis Dixon was very impressive for the Squealers. Today I heard all sorts of crap that the Ravens couldn’t stop a third stringer, and their defense was mediocre last night. Honestly, whatever game they were watching and whatever Dixon they were watching must have been wrong. Remember that in college, Dixon was a shoo-in for the Heisman for both his legs and his arm before he tore his ACL, and he was a 5th round pick, just like Troy Smith. He’s a solid quarterback and his cause was helped in that the Ravens had no game film to study him with.
Back to the game. Ray Rice was awesome. Mark Clayton was awesome. Paul Kruger won this game, basically. Billy Cundiff was as heroic as a 2nd-week kicker could ever be. First with Rice. 155 total yards and countless big plays on 3rd and 4th down to keep the Ravens in the game. He was Flacco’s main man and set up Clayton for the awesome 4th quarter/overtime he had, by making the defense choose one or the other. What can you say about Kruger? He saved the game. There was no way the Steelers wouldn’t score on that drive, and he turned that into a win with just one play. Lastly, I admire Cundiff’s efforts in this game so much. He hit the game winner, the game-tying kick and almost won the game in the final seconds on a 56-yarder where he had 3 seconds to get set to kick. Not much more you can ask for.
All in all, it was a great game. Some things still need some work, but this team is back in the hunt and got the job done last night in a game that they needed to win and wanted to win even without the playoff implications.