Watching the Ravens this week created two very different emotions. On the one hand, we let up approx. 400 yards passing to rookie Andy Dalton — man that guy is a freak; what accuracy! He’ll scare me for the next 15 years for sure. But who cares about that, we won! We won against the Bengals! It means a lot because unbeknownst to us fans they have been a major thorn in our sides beating us three times in the last three years.
Because the Steelers have been the team winning the division and making super bowl runs, we forget that the Bengals are our arch enemies too. They have taken what’s ours — but not on Sunday. We sent them down to the bottom of the division where they belong. In November and December the cream always rises in the NFL, so at the risk of mixing metaphors drink some purple Kool Aid because the Ravens are coming.
This was an old fashioned Raven win. Pounding the rock, and then pounding the rock, getting big chunk plays in the passing game, creating turnovers for quick strikes, building a lead, watching the lead evaporate in the 4th quarter, and then the defense coming up big to win the game. It felt nostalgic, like deja vu. To fans of Raven Football, that’s our kind of win. For people outside of Baltimore, that game was like the ugly redheaded step child. But to us proud mothers and fathers, our Ravens were beautiful just they way they are. It doesn’t matter how you do it… “just win baby.”
Though it is not wise to speak ill of the dead, I have to concede that someone said it better that the late great (eccentric) Al Davis. The equally amazing/crazy/scrappy Johnny Drama said it best, “Vic-torr-yyyyyyyyyy!!!!”
And God bless Torry Smith. He is the difference maker we’ve never had since the Ravens defense asserted itself in the late 90′s. With him in place, the cover 2 shell is not so scary for Flacco, because now he has a burner who can beat a defense rigged to take away big plays. Now if our beautiful child, Torry, would just listen to reason and cut those dreads. I knew he had burst to catch the long ball. I didn’t know he had the burst to YAC a crossing rout into a touchdown. Wow.
A couple weeks ago, Harbaugh emphatically told reporters we’re not the Steelers. But he later reminded us, we sure as hell use them as a benchmark.
Watching the Bengals drive down the field again in the 4th quarter, I imagined what I would see from the Steelers. In my mind’s eye, I saw James Harrison and Lamar Woodley bearing down on every drop back making it near impossible for the quarterback to do anything. We didn’t see that from the D-Fence but we did see a championship level performance. When the chips were down we hit Andy Dalton on three straight plays in the red zone to end the game. That’s what I’m talking about!
Last week I called for our team to put on our big-boy pants and go play some ball. With the Godfather (Ray Lewis) on the sidelines, “his babies,” definitely stepped up. McPhee, Webb, Jimmy Smith 1, Jimmy Smith 2 aka Torrey Smith aka ‘Insane Bolt’, and Kruger. Actually rewatching the game, Kruger was giving pro-bowler Andrew Whitworth fits all day. That’s pretty impressive – and so is that inside spin move. Can someone ask Kruger to teach that to T-Sizzle when he guest lectures at Ball-So-Hard University? I know it’s an upper level class, but I think after nine seasons Suggs may be ready to whip out the proven Dwight Freeney Spin on obvious passing downs.
With young guys stepping up and making plays, our veteran stars like Suggs, Johnson, Ngata, and Boldin can continue to coast at times to stay healthy for the final push come playoffs. After all, there are three different intensity levels in the NFL: preseason, regular season, and playoffs (four if you include the Super Bowl). I’m excited to see our emerging young talent continue to grow and make plays, because when you combine that with playoff-time effort from proven veterans and pro-bowlers alike – watch out. Like I said, the Ravens are coming.
Here’s all hoping we get to walk outside our house on Thanksgiving Evening with bellies full of turkey, pride in our hearts, able to scream out into the chill of the night air, “Vic-torr-yyyyyyyyyy!!!!”