Today, The Baltimore Ravens did what they have done for years. They played and won a football game the “Raven Way”. What is the Raven Way? Well, Terrell Suggs said after the game “There is a right way, and there is a wrong way [to win games]. and then there’s the Raven Way”. The Raven Way is ugly. the Raven Way is hard. The Raven Way is rough and tough and difficult. The Raven Way is the only way the Ravens know how to win in January. The Patriots are about to find out all about the Raven Way.
Anybody who isn’t satisfied with this win, go home, sleep on it. If you still aren’t satisfied, you probably shouldn’t be a Ravens fan. This was beautiful, inglorious, ugly, nasty, awesome, horrible, great Ravens football. This is the Way. The Raven Way.
I know that a lot of people are going to point to the poor stats posted by Flacco(they seem to be overlooking the 5 drops), or maybe the 2.9 ypc by Ray Rice. Maybe they point to the Defense allowing over 300 yards or over 100 rushing yards by Foster. I point out the scoreboard. because thats all that matters.
Let me tell you something else. The Ravens have a better matchup in New England than they had today. Lardarius Webb had an incredible game today(2INTs, 4 passes defensed, 6 tackles) he essentially shut down the man i believe is the best WR in football in Andre Johnson(only 2 catches for 31 yards against Webb). I love the way Webb matches up Wes Welker. The Patriots don’t have anything to compare with Arian Foster. They don’t even have anything close. The Patriots offense consists of one man making plays, that man is Tom Brady. I know they have The Gronk and Hernandez(easily the best TE duo in the league). Those guys are good, don’t get me wrong. But if you slow down Brady, hold the Patriots to 25 or fewer points. You will win the game.
The defense has to play lights out next week, and it starts upfront. the Ravens didn’t get a single sack today. that cant happen next week, they need at least 2 sacks, preferably 3 or 4 of them. The thing is, the Patriots WRs aren’t going to beat you 1-on-1 very often, so you need to blitz. blitz hard up the middle of the offensive line, Tom Brady loves to step up, if you stop him from doing that he becomes a startlingly average player. i saw the Broncos get good pressure up the middle exactly 5 times on saturday, those five plays Brady went 1-5 for 6 yards, no TDs and a pick. This is the number one priority for the Ravens this week.
the next step is stopping the TEs, the good news is that blitzing is the key here to, if the Ravens can get good pressure upfront The Patriots may have no choice but to bring in extra lineman, a FB or leave their TEs as blockers. if the Ravens can hold the TEs(collectively) to fewer than 100 yards and no more than one TD, the Ravens will win this game.
Now step three is all about Welker. The TEs get more attention but Welker is the key cog in the Patriot offense, stop him and the whole machine grinds to a halt. tight man coverage is the best way to do this, Webb is a great matchup with Welker, Cary Williams might be even better as he is about 5 inches taller than Welker.
The final key to the defense is that they have to take advantage of their opportunities better. i know the Ravens forced 4 TOs today (3INTs and a muffed punt) but they should have had at least 7. Ed Reed dropped 2 INTs that he would catch 99 times out of 100 and Ray Lewis Dropped one as well. Terrell Suggs could have had a pick in the third quarter if he had turned his head faster. Against Brady, the Ravens aren’t going to get 8 chances for turnovers, they absolutely have to make these catches. When Tom Brady makes mistakes, you have to make him pay for it.
On offense the keys are simple. protect Flacco. He cannot be sacked 3+ times. That is inexcusable. They have to catch the ball. 5 drops is completely ridiculous, Flacco should have been 18-27 for at least 229 yards(if the drops were caught and the ball wasn’t advanced). the Ravens WRs have got to hold on to the ball, The Patriot defense is one of the worst in the league, and among the worst of all time (third most passing yards allowed in NFL history). Flacco is going to find open WRs a lot. They just need to make the catches. Step three: feed Rice, he needs 20-25 carries. The final step is to not turn the ball over. The Ravens did a great job of that today and they need to continue the trend.
It sounds like a lot ,but really the Ravens just need to play sound, fundamental football and they will win. They are more talented than the Patriots. They are the better all around roster and they are by far the most complete team remaining in the league. They just need to play football that reflects that. Take advantage of the opportunities you get. Don’t worry about playing the Right way, dont worry about playing the Wrong way. Just buckle up your chin straps, give Ed Reed some hip pads (please Ed, for the love of God wear some on Sunday), and just play football. Let’s go win The Raven Way.