Week Three Observations

Baltimore Ravens

The won a very important game last night against the New England Patriots.  With the win the Ravens put the Patriots under .500 for the first time since week one of 2003.

I wish I didn’t have to write about this again but, the with the way the game went last night I have to.  In total there were 24 penalties accepted for 218 yards.  The Ravens were called for 14 of these for 135 yards including 4 personal fouls.  Also, there were 13 first downs from penalties which is an NFL record.  Along with all the penalties there were many questionable calls throughout the game.  While fans from both teams may complain the refs favored the other team, the reality is they had bad calls both way.  They were very inconsistent on penalties in the secondary. They would call offensive pass interference for almost no contact but they then didn’t call it when Brandon Lloyd pushed Cary Williams to the ground.  One important penalty in the secondary was when Ravens CB Lardarius Webb was called for illegal contact when he intercepted a Tom Brady pass.  While the Ravens still won the game 31-30 this penalty would have been even more controversial if they didn’t.  Webb seemed to release the receiver right around the 5 yard distance which is the limit.  The funniest call of the game was when John Harbaugh was trying to call a timeout and was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty because he accidentally made contact with a ref while doing it.  This made the whole stadium breakout in chants of “bulls***.”  This chant went on for a few plays and I must say was very funny to listen to.  Lastly, the Patriots were unhappy at the end of the game because they thought Justin Tucker missed his game winning field goal.  The ball seemed to go above the post which would make it good.  Former head referee Mike Pereira agreed with the call on the field.  There were some other calls and I could make a whole column on this subject but I feel that would be a waste of time as this seems to happen every week.  I will leave you with one thing on the subject though.

Dear Commissioner Goodell,
Can you please use the money you will get from fining Bill Belichick to pay the regular referees.
Every NFL Fan

Joe Flacco
At the beginning of the game Flacco had happy feet and looked like he did in the Eagles game.  After a few drives he pulled himself together and had a great game.  In total Flacco went 28-of-39 with 382 yards, 3 TDs, and 1 INT.   This is enough to have outplayed Tom Brady but Flacco did even better than that.  In the 4th quarter Flacco went 12-15 with 161 yards, 1 TD, and a QBR of 99.1 (100 is the best QBR possible).  Brady went 5-of-9 with 41 yards and a QBR of 35.7.  If you go off stats or just watching the game, you can conclude that Flacco outplayed Brady for the second time in a row.  Out of Flacco’s 28 completions, 9 of them were for 20 yards or longer.  Flacco had a great bounce back game and has preformed when the spotlight has been on him on national tv.

Ray Rice
Rice had a total of 150 total yards on 25 carries which averages out to 6 yards per touch.  He also had a rushing TD.  As usual, when Rice is doing good the Ravens offense also does good.  One thing that impressed me about Rice last night was his pass blocking.  On one play he leveled a pass rusher, giving Flacco time to find his guy down the field.

Bernard Pierce
Even though he didn’t play much, he had a big impact on the game.  He had 4 rushes for 17 yards and 1 catch for 10 yards.  The most important play of the game for him was the rush on 4th down.  Pierce didn’t convert the 4th down but it wasn’t his fault.  There was a missed block which led to him being stuffed.  I still question the play call as 1) it would have been a 50 yard field goal attempt and Tucker made 3 from that range last week and 2) if you are going to run it, at least have your best RB in.

Torrey Smith
There are no words that can describe what Smith went through yesterday.  He lost his younger brother, Tevin, early in the morning.  Then on 1 hour of sleep he played what could be his best game as a professional so far.  He had 6 catches for 127 yards and 2 TDs.  One play that stood out to me that can easily be overlooked is the fact he broke up an INT early in the game.  This was a complete hustle play.  Many receivers wouldn’t have been able to make the play and others wouldn’t have tried.  The stat line is great but to be doing it under his circumstances is just incredible.  Here is a good story about what Smith did last night.

Dennis Pitta
Another strong performance from Pitta with 5 catches for 50 yards and 1 TD.  More importantly, earlier in the week he was promoted to 1st on the depth chart.

Marshal Yanda
Usually Yanda is reliable and the best offensive lineman the Ravens have.  Last night was the exception to that rule.  By my count, Yanda was called for 1 false start and 2 holds.  He should have been called for a 3rd hold but there was another hold on the play which was called instead. Yanda did have a tough matchup with Vince Wilfork so it is a little explainable.  Expect Yanda to come out motivated next week against the Browns.

Dannell Ellerbe
Usually Ellerbe doesn’t play much but he took advantage of his opportunity last night.  By the end of the game he racked up 9 tackles with 1.5 sacks and 2 tackles for a loss.  If he keeps playing like this he will get the chance to start when Ray Lewis decides to retire.  Jameel McClain is the normal starter but he didn’t play much and there were not reports of an injury for him.  It will be interesting to see who starts next week.

Cary Williams
I am not sure I have said a good thing about Williams this whole year.  That isn’t about to change as he played awful again last night.  It is never a good sign when you have 10 solo tackles as a CB.  Williams was matched up against Brandon Lloyd most of the night and Lloyd had 9 catches for 108 yards.  Based on my observations only one of those didn’t come against Williams.  On top of this, Williams was called for an illegal contact penalty which, surprise, was the right call.  This is his contract year and he isn’t doing anything to help his cause.  To make matters worse he has already declined a 3 year $15 million contract from the Ravens.

Courtney Upshaw
While he didn’t start the game off good he finished strong.  Early in the game he missed a sack on Brady as he didn’t wrap up.  All things considered Brady is one of the easiest QBs to take down in the league so it has to be a little embarrassing for Upshaw.  Upshaw had great contain on the few reverses the Patriots ran though.  He stopped one of them for at least a 5 yard loss.  On a sweep play he chased it down from the backside stopping the runner for a short game.

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