The first half is going well for the Ravens. They opened up a 10-0 lead in the first quarter but had a bit of a snag in the second when Jacoby Jones gave up on a pass and it was picked by Michael Huff leading to a Raiders Field Goal. The Ravens might have hit a bump, but they responded in a big big way by leading a masterful drive right down the field to set up a short pass to Dennis Pitta in the endzone. The Raiders then started a good looking drive, but it was abruptly ended by a sweet play by Paul Kruger where Kruger tipped a pass at the line and caught his own tip for the interception. The Ravens turned the turnover into 3 points to take a 20-3 lead. The Raiders scored late on a long TD pass to Heyward-Bey. The Ravens responded with a beautiful drive that only took about a minute and ended with a short run by Ray Rice where he ran about 7 or 8 yards into the endzone without ever being touched. brilliant play calling and execution by Joe Flacco in the no-huddle made that happen.
-I have been calling for the Ravens to get Jacoby Jones more involved for well over a month now. Today they have made a good effort and Jones has spent a lot of time on the field and has been throw to twice. Those two throws have produced massively different results. One throw, the second one, was a big time throw up the field for 47 yards which led to a Ravens touchdown. The first one however was an indictment of why the Texans let Jones walk and why he probably isn’t more involved in the offense right now. Jones went up to make the catch, which was contested by Michael Huff, but after glancing on his shoulder he saw the ball go straight up, but instead of playing DB and batting the ball down or pushing Huff, Jones just turned back and went out of bounds. The pass was intercepted and Jones, who was standing right there, wasnt even the guy to get his hands on Huff to make the tackle. Jones has to fight harder in that situation.
-Joe Flacco has been brilliant so far. He carved up the Raiders defense every chance he got. He finished 15 for 21 for 225 yards and a TD pass along with a TD run. He did throw an interception, but as I explained, that pass was well thrown, but Jones gave up on it way to soon and allowed the pick, that was not Flacco’s fault. Flacco is completing close to 75% of his passes and the Raiders have absolutely no answer for Flacco.
-Ray Rice has really struggled to get going, partly because the OL isnt playing very well again this week. Bobbie Williams was benched about halfway through the second quarter and Jah Reid entered the game for him. That did seem to help some(though i still strongly believe the Ravens should go back to Ramone Harewood), but Rice still struggled and finished the half with 25 yards on 11 carries before his way to easy TD to end the half for less than 2.5 yards per carry.
-The Raiders scored a late TD to get back to 20-10 when Ed Reed bounced off of Darius Heyward Bey when he failed to complete a decent tackle. This raised two issues for me, first of all, why was Reed in single coverage against one of the fastest players in the league? second, Can Ed Reed tackle at all anymore? Reed came up hobbling after the play, we will learn more about that after halftime when we see if he plays, but he hurt himself going for the kill shot instead of wrapping up. this has been a problem for Reed for about 2 years now.
-The Ravens scored on 5 of their 6 possessions in the first half. that is far and away their best showing in the first half all season. The Ravens have struggled in the first quarter of games all season, but the past two weeks they have outscored their opponents a combined 24-0 in the first quarter. The Ravens look like they might have cracked the code of their terrible first quarter play over their bye week.
-Look for the Ravens to focus heavily on the run to start the half. They desperately need to get Rice going. It isnt that the Ravens offense can’t work today if Rice isnt going, obviously they can, it is more about getting ready to face the Steelers next week. this offensive line has to find a way to play better. This bad Raiders D is the perfect oppertunity for them to figure some things out.