The Day After: Ravens vs Broncos Thoughts

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Heeeee’s baaaaaaaccckkkk.

Deciding that after four games where he averaged 55 rushing yards per game and 68.5 total yards in each of those contests, Ray Rice had a monster day yesterday, rushing for 133 yards and two touchdowns, and adding on a cool 26 receiving yards from four receptions. Showing all the signs of last year’s Pro Bowl campaign, Rice was cutting hard, turning plays that looked dead into sizable gains, and striking fear into the Broncos’ defense every play he was on the field. The 5’9″ Pro Bowler had 27 carries, the second-highest amount thus far in his short career, and ran for 133 yards, the fourth most prolific rushing performance in his 34 NFL games.

Along with Rice, the Ravens had a solid team win. The offense was nearly unstoppable in the first and fourth quarters, the defense came up big when they needed to, the special teams made a big difference in the game, and all three units were mostly mistake-free.

Three Stars:

  1. Ray Rice
  2. Fabian Washington
  3. Billy Cundiff

I’ve already addressed Rice, so let’s move onto Washington. While Kyle Orton broke his sacred 300-yard mark, Fabian did all he could for that not to happen. Making some crazy athletic plays to break up passes, along with a very solid mark of five tackles from the cornerback position, Washington was a playmaker in the Ravens’ secondary. The Broncos having virtually no run game to even speak of, they went to the air for most plays, looking to complete mid-distance passes to move the chains. Washington covered Brandon Lloyd and Co. like a blanket, and deflected four passes. At least two more hits of his broke up plays, and he forced receivers into double coverage often. Keep in mind that Washington was nowhere near either of the two deep-ball touchdowns to Lloyd.

Billy Cundiff is a stud in the kickoff game. Out of six kickoffs yesterday, four of those were touchbacks, with two going out the back of the endzone. One of the other two was the kickoff that Demaryius Thomas attempted to return seven yards deep in the endzone, with the end result being a bone-shattering hit that forced a fumble from Jason Phillips. All season long, Cundiff has turned the opposition’s return games into non-factors, and he did so again yesterday. Adding an insurance field goal and booting four extra points, Cundiff did all you can ask more from your kicker and more.

Now some quick thoughts to wrap this up:

  • Joe Flacco looked extremely impressive after nine passes. From then on, it was all downhill. Part of it has to be due to Cam Cameron’s odd playcalling and the sometimes-mediocre pass protection, but if the Ravens didn’t have the big lead, Flacco’s final 16 passes might’ve gotten them into some late-game trouble.
  • Le’Ron McClain was excellent. Running the ball, blocking for Flacco and Rice, and coming up big every time his number was called, no matter what the team asked him to do. His best game of the season by far.
  • Josh Wilson needs to improve his pass coverage. He was burnt twice by Brandon Lloyd, although one of those times ended with Lloyd being the beneficiary of a soft pass interference call. Being an extremely fast guy, Wilson may get cocky at times on deep protection, something he’s sure to get an earful about this week at practice.
  • Only one more week without Ed Reed. While he may not have kept Orton under 300 yards and prevented the two touchdowns, the lack of Reed in the secondary has been noticeable. Teams are less hesitant to throw the ball around, and the play action is more effective. Adding Reed back into the defense will be a huge boost for the Ravens.

So, another win in the books. 4-1 for the season, and the Ravens are undoubtedly playing the best football in the NFL right now, unless the Jets blow out the Minnesota Favre-Mosses tonight. A tough game lies ahead next Sunday in Foxborough, and we’ll be sure to keep you up-to-date about that matchup throughout the week here at EbonyBird.com.