Last Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens pummeled Matt Ryan and the Falcons. They sacked him five times, once for a safety. Pernell McPhee was a force with two sacks along with Elvis Dumervil. Terrell Suggs dropped Ryan in the end zone. The Ravens held dangerous receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones in check. The Falcons, whose aspirations for a winning season were well-documented in the latest installment of HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” desperately needed a victory.
The Ravens defense, led by Daryl Smith’s 13 tackles, brutalized them. This group is developing a stingy and ferocious junkyard dog mentality and they will continue to get better. They have kept us in every game.
The offense scored two first half touchdowns and didn’t look back. Joe Flacco went in for the kill early and exploited the Falcons secondary. He found Owen Daniels and Torrey Smith for touchdowns. Steve Smith, Sr. and Torrey Smith combined for 6 catches and 148 yards. Flacco threw to seven different receivers including Michael Campanaro and Kamar Aiken.
Flacco was intercepted twice during the game. It wasn’t a flawless five touchdown performance like the week before but he showed why I refuse to compare him to Matt Ryan. He’s resilient and he stands in there and throws the ball in the face of pressure. His offensive line was lackluster early on and he kept fighting. He wins games. He’s won a Super Bowl. Let me know when Ryan has done that.
Justin Forsett gained 95 yards on 23 carries. Forsett is the biggest surprise of the season and gives the Ravens an explosive option on the ground. Bernard Pierce scored a touchdown and appears to be settling back in as the number two option.
Jacoby Jones struggled again and is forcing the issue. He’s pressing and trying to make things happen that aren’t there. Is Kubiak his Kryptonite? He’s reverted back to those enigmatic days as a Texan. He leads the NFL in dropped passes. He muffed a punt in the second quarter that could have allowed Atlanta a chance to get back in the game. It gave them the ball on the Ravens 37-yard line. The Ravens defense bailed out the struggling return man, sacking Ryan for an 8 yard loss. Falcon kicker Matt Bryant’s boot hit the cross bar and bounced back toward the field.
The Ravens are quietly 5-2 and leading the AFC North. With two road games against the Bengals and Steelers ahead, they control their future. They could agin separation from the Bengals who’ve tied and lost in their last two. The Steelers seem shells of their former selves but that won’t matter when we alight on Heinz Field.
With games against the Titans, Texans and Jaguars still to come—the Ravens have a division title in their sights and enough talent on both sides of the ball to bring it home.