First off, sorry this didn’t go up yesterday. The internet, being the consistently dependable thing it is, managed to be extremely effective and work without fail. Note the sarcasm, please.
In the end, the result of Sunday’s game is a win. A very valuable, much-needed win, which lets the Ravens keep their stronghold over the AFC North. Sure, some things weren’t as smooth as they should’ve been against a very weak Panthers team, but the general consensus in Baltimore is that the Ravens did not play well on Sunday, and I disagree. Read on to find out why.
Let’s think about what happened in the game, in an objective, logical manner. The Panthers scored 13 points, with 7 of those coming from a long touchdown pass from Brian St. Pierre in which Josh Wilson was slow to break out of his zone assignment to pick up the open receiver. That means over half of Carolina’s points came on one play, a play that can be easily avoided in the future. Besides that, John Kasay had to kick two field goals from over 40 yards out. The Panthers never entered the red zone in the game. The defense did their thing and stopped Brian St. Pierre from having a big day. And, take away Mike Goodson’s 45-yard run, and he has less than 80 yards rushing on the day.
I don’t see where the complaints come from surrounding the offense. The Panthers’ defense isn’t quite as bad as everyone makes it out to be, they have a stud linebacker in Jon Beason, and they’ve managed to contain opposing passing games throughout the season. Joe Flacco threw for over 300 yards, and looked poised in the pocket for the most part. Ray Rice had a good day in terms of all-purpose yards, especially going up against Beason and the team missing starting guard Chris Chester, who’s been a solid run blocker all season.
Obviously, the troubles in the red zone continued, and that’s where many of the complaints have been stemming from. My opinion is that Cam Cameron’s playcalling is just not suited for red zone situations. He’s a masterful playcaller most of the time as the offense drives down the field, but once they get inside that 20-yard line, something shuts off inside his brain. Cundiff had another two field goals today that were less than 37 yards, meaning the ball was inside the red zone. That brings his season total to 14, which is in the top 5 of the NFL.
While we’re on Cundiff, it’s quite possible that he’s been the best kicker in the NFL this season. While I’m in no way qualified enough to make that judgment, it’s a fair one to make. It’s almost a given that he’s been the best kick-off man in the league, leading the NFL with 29 touchbacks, a 56.9% touchback rate, and a 72-yard kickoff average. Add those numbers to his stellar 17-20 field goal kicking line, and he’s been extremely good. The hard work he put in this offseason is seriously paying off.
Now, I still think it’s fair to criticize the team after this performance. The Panthers are a BAD team, and it took two great defensive plays to put this win in the books. But remember, no game is ever easy to win in the NFL, especially a road game against a team and a quarterback that has a chip on their shoulder, and are desperate for a win. The Ravens are a very good team, quite possibly the best in the NFL, and because of that, they’ve been getting their opponents’ best games all season. That won’t stop now, so the team needs to make sure they bring their best as well.