The Ravens have won a playoff game for their 5th consecutive year. They are the only team to make the playoffs the past 5 years, Joe Flacco is the only modern era QB to win a playoff game in each of his first 5 seasons(Otto Graham also did it), John Harbaugh is now second behind only Bill Cowher in playoff success to start a head coaching career. Here is how it went down.
-In Ray Lewis’ final home game, He had a game for the ages. He led the team with 13 tackles and 2 pass defenses. He also dropped an interception and was generally a terror all game. This is the Ray Lewis we all know and love, not the shell of himself that Ray looked like early in the season. Ray looked strong, decisive and powerful. I will always remember this game, I will always remember Rays pre-game speech, which if you haven’t seen, you need to. It was his normal “any dogs in the house” pump up speech, but Ray looked like he could barely get through it. Pretty heavy stuff. I will always remember Ray coming back out for the games final kneel down before doing one last into dance. I will never forget the entire stadium cheering “Thank You Ray” in chorus after the game. Ray was surrounded by a throng of Ravens, Colts, Media Members and pretty much everyone else in the building after the game. I’m not sure i have ever seen one guy so surrounded on a field before. I can’t say anything about Ray that hasn’t already been said, but I can say thank you. Thank you for everything you have done. Baltimore fans and the Ravens organization will forever be grateful for you. Thank You Ray.
-On the Offensive side, Joe Flacco had a monster day. he only had 12 completions, but they went for 282 yards and 2 TDs against no turnovers and the game was basically over at the end of the third quarter. He was a dropped pass away from being 14-23 for 392 and 3 TDs. Had the game been closer Flacco would have easily cleared 325-350 yards. Flacco was solid all day and did nothing but make smart throws and good decisions. He finished with a 125.6 passer rating. Anyone knocking Flaccos postseason numbers, look out, because Flacco has had 2 huge playoff games in a row now.
-Ray Rice had a rough game. for the 3rd time in the past 6 or 7 weeks he was easily out performed by Bernard Pierce. Rice finished with 15 carries for 70 yards, but he lost 2 critical fumbles that probably both cost the Ravens points, one certainly lost them at least 3. I am not saying fans should lambast Rice, but if Flacco had thrown 2 picks and been bailed out by Rice, Fans would be ripping him to shreds right now. I’m just saying.
-Speaking of Pierce, He continues to be extremely impressive. Today he finished with 13 carries for 103 yards. That is a 7.92 YPC average. granted this is a bad run defense, but still, averaging 8 yards per carry in the playoffs is off the charts good. Pierce made many good plays and has really caught fire in the last few weeks. This guy is going to be a monster moving forward. I said it a couple weeks ago and i will say it again, this is the best 1-2 running punch in the playoffs by a huge margin, and I think this will be easily the best 1-2 punch in the league next season.
-Anquan Boldin…do I need to say more? Boldin completely took over in the second half with 5 receptions for 145 yards and a terrific TD catch. part of that success was some brilliant throws by Flacco, but Boldin was putting in some serious work and he ripped the colts secondary to shreds. When Boldin plays this well, the Ravens become impossible to defend because teams want to try and double him but that means they have to take their double off of Torrey Smith(and yes, teams double Torrey on almost every single play).
-Speaking of Torrey. He might have had a quiet game, but can we talk about his blocking for a minute? Torrey had critical blocks on 2 of the Ravens TDs and he helped set up Ray Rices 47 yard screen pass as well as some big Pierce runs and a Boldin catch. Torrey was playing out of his mind today and he deserves some serious recognition from fans for doing all the dirty work he did. He only had 2 catches for 31 yards, but this is probably my favorite game from him. He was just grinding all game long.
-Lets get to some defense. The defense was smothering today. Sure, the yardage totals for the Colts were high(419), but the Colts were held without a TD and with only one second half FG. Andrew Luck was molested every single play and the secondary played very well. I can’t speak highly enough about the pass rush though. Luck clearly never knew where the blitz was coming from, he was uncomfortable all day and if he weren’t a 240 lb monster that broke a ton of tackles, the Ravens would have had about a dozen sacks.
– Paul Kruger had the best game of his career. he finished with 4 tackles, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble. He probably hit Luck about 8 times and had a hurry on basically every pass. Kruger was a complete nightmare for the Colts, he made a lot of things happen for the Ravens D today.
-Cary Williams had a huge day as well. He played excellent coverage all day, by my count he only allowed one catch in man coverage and it was on a slant to Reggie wayne and he quickly made the tackle. He finished the day with the game sealing interception with he took 41 yards up the field. The interception came off a tip by Corey Graham who also had a pretty good game, though he did allow some easy completions.
-I want to take a second to talk about bernard Pollard. If you follow me a lot you know I feel that Pollard is one of the most under-rated players in the league and I think he is easily the best SS playing right now. He had a monster year, especially before his injury and he just always seems to be making positive plays. Today he kind of pissed me off. Late in the 4th quarter Pollard was responsible for back to back penalties worth 2 first downs and 30 yards. one for a helmet to helmet hit which he should have pulled up on because the ball was well past him when he lowered his shoulder, and the other for taunting. The helmet to helmet I can forgive, but the taunting is inexcusible. If the game had been closer, that is the type of thing that will lose you the game. what if his dumb penalties had cost Ray Lewis his last shot at a superbowl? Get it together.
-The only injury of note was to Dannell Elerbe. Elerbe injured his ankle in the third quarter. Harbaugh described the injury as an ankle sprain, but said he didn’t know about the severity. It should be considered promising that Elerbe never went to the locker-room and stayed on the sidelines trying to walk it off for a long time. Early indication is that he is probably ok, but it does bear watching.