Taking body shots, Ravens beaten at their own smash-mouth game

November 17, 2008|By MIKE PRESTON

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - It wasn't surprising that the New York Giants beat the Ravens yesterday, but how they beat them.

In a match up between two smash-mouth football teams, the Giants delivered the most body shots, and several knockout blows in what was supposed to be a statement game for the Ravens.

It was.

"I was embarrassed," said Ravens defensive end Terrell Suggs.

He should be. So should the entire offensive line, and inside linebackers Ray Lewis and Bart Scott. And defensive tackles Haloti Ngata and Justin Bannan. The Giants pounded them for 353 yards of total offense, including 207 yards rushing.

For now on, let's not hear anything else about the Ravens not allowing a 100-yard rusher. Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 96. Brandon Jacobs had 73, and only played about one quarter.

Few teams rely on one back anymore; the Ravens and Giants each use three.

By the end of the first quarter, the Ravens wanted no more of the Giants' running game especially after Jacobs threw Ravens safety Ed Reed off his back late in the period. The Ravens spent the rest of the day arm-tackling, and diving to the ground. They got punched silly.

"I'm not going to say they were more physical than us, I'm not going to concede that," said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.

Huh? What game was he watching? Did he get hit on the sideline?

Seconds later, at the same podium, cornerback Samari Rolle said: "They out-physicalled us today."

White flag?

Faced with a fourth-and-10 at the Giants' 39 and down 27-10 with 14:42 left in the game, the Ravens punted.

Can you believe that?

What happened to all of this gambling, attack attitude? The Ravens waved the white flag. Two plays later, Bradshaw ran 77 yards to the Ravens'2.

Game over.

Running Joe

New York did a good job of studying the Ravens and scouting their trick plays. Nothing seemed to catch the Giants off-guard, well, almost nothing.

The Giants weren't prepared for quarterback Joe Flacco's running ability. They failed to contain him as Flacco ran 6 times for 57 yards.

Useless play

Flacco threw two interceptions, one that was a deflection off receiver Derrick Mason and returned 50 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Flacco threw the pass too high, but Mason should have handled the ball, anyway.

Please, trash that route. It should be taken out of every playbook from high school to the NFL. It's a short, five-yard out from the slot position, but the receiver never has a chance to square up and face the defender.

He either gets slammed in the back, or gets some defensive back cramming a helmet into his chest. It stinks, and a lot of receivers end up getting hurt, which is why Mason, already playing with an injured shoulder, limped away holding his thigh.

Go Figurs

We've seen enough of return specialist Yamon Figurs. In two years, he still can't decide when to fair catch or when to run it back.

The Ravens get so desperate for a play that they bring in Reed, their Pro Bowl safety, to return punts. That's a shame. The Ravens should either make Figurs improve, or put him on the bench.

Working the refs

Giants coach Tom Coughlin controlled the pace of this game, and worked the officials from the sideline. He spent more time on the field than the players.

As soon as he threw the red flag late in the third quarter, you knew the officials were going to overturn Rolle's interceptions. By then, he already had them in his hip pocket.

Harbaugh might want to review the tape of Coughlin on the sidelines, and pick up a few pointers.

Fill-ins produce

You knew the Ravens were in trouble on the Giants' first possession of the second quarter.

The Giants went 90 yards on 12 plays with Jacobs in the locker room getting his ankle taped, and right tackle Kareem McKenzie, one of their best linemen, on the sideline getting his knee wrapped.

Too low

Regardless of what Matt Stover says, there is no excuse for him having a field goal blocked by Fred Robbins' armpit in the first quarter.

Tattoo, from "Fantasy Island" fame, could have blocked that one.

Picking their spots

The Giants did a nice job of taking advantage of their matchups. They went after Rolle with receiver Plaxico Burress on fade routes. Burress has a five-inch height advantage on Rolle.

When New York wanted to go downfield, they went after cornerback Fabian Washington, who has become the starter with Chris McAlister on injured reserve. That's good coaching.

Listen to Mike Preston every Monday from 4 to 6 pm on Fox Sports (1370-AM).

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