Baltimore beats down the LAC: Handing out 3 Ravens game balls
Following a Ravens victory over the red-hot Los Angeles Chargers, there’s plenty of talk surrounding Baltimore, but these three players deserve game balls.
The Baltimore Ravens had a tremendous, staple win on Saturday night vs. the Los Angeles Chargers to earn the team its ninth win of the season. Baltimore is now on the cusp of officially securing its playoff spot, and perhaps even the AFC North division crown.
During the team’s win vs. the Chargers, the defense dominated and the offense did just enough to secure a win. So, as we begin handing out game balls, don’t be surprised that they all went to defensive players.
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Pay the man.
I will go ahead and continue to pat myself on the back for calling Za’Darius Smith’s breakout season in 2018. However, it doesn’t mean nearly as much as the product he’s been putting on the field on a weekly basis. No, the level of play that Za-Za is providing anyone right now doesn’t have us thinking about the compensatory pick we’d receiver for him leaving via Free Agency. No, instead we’re trying to think of a fair extension to keep Smith in Charm City.
Smith currently leads the Ravens in sacks with 8.5 and has been the team’s most consistent pass rusher. Smith has also proven to be a valuable leader and an indispensable player on this defense. Headed into 2018, it was thought that Smith would be a complete afterthought with the hype surrounding Matt Judon and Tim Williams, but it’s Smith who’s flourished the most.
Against the Los Angeles Chargers, Smith took care of business as usual. Smith took down Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers 1.5 times, while also notching five tackles in total. Za-Za set the edge and the tone of the game, giving LAC hell for 60-minutes. Our first game ball, and hopefully a future contract extension, will be going to Za’Darius Smith.
The reemergence of Tavon Young following an injury shortened 2017 season has been criminally understated. Young has been a ball-magnet this year and Saturday night was no exception for the young man (pun intended). The third-year pro out of Temple recovered a fumble forced by one of Baltimore’s (soon to be mentioned) linebackers and returned it for another game-sealing touchdown for the Ravens. Captain Clutch.
Young may not be ridiculously flashy, but he simply finds his way to the football. Young now has two fumble recoveries for touchdowns, two sacks, and an interception on the year in 2018. The man simply gets himself into a position to make an impact for his team and we couldn’t be more thankful. Our second game ball has to go to the man who put the game on ice.
The man of the hour. Ladies and gentlemen, I present you Sir Patrick “Peanut” Onwuasor, otherwise known as the Ravens best defender on the field Saturday night vs. LAC.
Onwuasor is a fantastic Swiss army knife to be used in more ways than you’d even begin to imagine. Need him to rush the passer? No problem, Onwuasor has 5.5 sacks on the season. How about a clutch turnover? Yup, Peanut can get you those, too. In fact, Saturday night had all of those in an absolutely dazzling performance for the third-year former undrafted free agent out of Portland State.
Against the Chargers, Onwuasor recorded nine tackles (eight solo), including two sacks of Philip Rivers. However, Onwuasor’s day was completely defined by his forced fumble on future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates. This fumble, of course, was taken back by Tavon Young for a late-game touchdown that ultimately put the game out-of-reach for LAC. Because of his outstanding performance in a statement win for the Ravens, Onwuasor gets our final game ball, but he should also receive a Gatorade bath.
The 9-6 Baltimore Ravens will return home in week 17 to close out their season against their division rivals, the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland will look to play spoiler and keep Baltimore out of the playoffs, but this Ravens team is good enough to hang with anybody. Baltimore can down Cleveland and make it back to the post-season for the first time since 2014. Until then, let’s appreciate a fantastic win vs. the Chargers and give props to some outstanding performances.