Win vs. Jets more proof that Ravens have to run

October 03, 2011|Mike Preston

A week ago, after the Ravens lit up St. Louis' poor pass defense, the talk was of this team becoming a high powered, passing offense.

Maybe the Ravens learned a lesson Sunday night.

The Ravens history has been about playing great defense, running the football and winning the field position battle as far as special teams. The Ravens tried the new style in their win against the New York Jets Sunday night, but figured out at halftime they better run the ball.

And run, and run and run some more.

At this point the Ravens are not going to have a high-powered passing attack like New Orleans, New England and Indianapolis before the injury to Peyton Manning — nor will they have one soon. Fourth-year quarterback Joe Flacco isn't in that class yet, and isn't consistent enough to carry a team. But he is good enough to win and complement a strong running game.

At one point in the third quarter, the Ravens ran the ball 11 straight times and held the ball for nearly six minutes. Ravens guards Marshal Yanda and Andre Gurode were dropping the Jets all over the field.

This team was built to mash opponents, and with a fullback like Vonta Leach and two running backs like Ray Rice and Ricky Williams, the Ravens need to stick with the script.

Ngata's hits

After Sunday night's mauling of the Jets, there will be a lot of comparisons between this year's defense and the one in 2000.

I really don't care about that, but the way Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata is crushing players is the same way Ray Lewis did in 2000. Ngata already has two big highlight-film hits, one of Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez grimacing in pain after he blindsided him.

The other was of him crushing Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall in the season opener. If you take a close look at the film, Mendenhall closes his eyes in anticipation of being destroyed by Ngata.

Sanchez probably couldn't wait to get out of Baltimore Sunday night.

More to Grubbs injury?

Ravens left guard Ben Grubbs missed his third straight game Sunday night. The Ravens might be holding him out as a precautionary move because of the bye next week, but you have to start wondering if the injured toe is more serious than believed.

Grubbs, though, is the team's best offensive lineman, and one of the toughest players on the team.

Versatile Reed

In the first quarter alone, Ravens Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed showed his versatility. He caused a fumble with a sack of Sanchez, which resulted in the Ravens first touchdown of the game.

Reed also played some nickel, taking on Jets receiver Derrick Mason in the slot. Near the end of the quarter, he helped break up a long pass by Sanchez down the left sideline. Later in the second quarter, Reed came close to blocking a punt, and also returned several punts.

Flacco's woes

One of the biggest improvements in Flacco for the 2011 season had been his ability to move in the pocket. He had learned how to step up in the pocket, slide one step to the left or right, which gave him time to throw.

And then came last night. Flacco has to learn when to tuck and slide, or just throw it away. He is holding the ball a second or two too long, and not securing it when no one is open. He still has to work on the timing with receiver Torrey Smith on the long ball, and release it sooner. He underthrew Smith with about 4 minutes left in the first quarter, and Smith had a step or two on Jets safety Eric Smith.

Flacco's interception that led to David Harris's 36 touchdown in the second quarter was inexcusable. It was a poor decision. Flacco didn't complete a pass in the second quarter, but he also had two dropped by tight end Ed Dickson.

Baxter's troubles

It didn't take long for Jets coach Rex Ryan to run out of patience with rookie center Colin Baxter. After two muffed exchanges, which could have been Sanchez's fault, Ryan pulled Baxter to start the second quarter.

When you have as much beef in front of you as Baxter with Terrence Cody and Haloti Ngata and they are pounding on you every play, it does something to the mind. Ryan did return Baxter as the starter to open the third quarter.

Rex rants

After Ravens linebacker Jarret Johnson returned Sanchez's fumble 26 yards following Ngata's hit, the play was reviewed, and Ryan still called a timeout. There was no way the refs were going to reverse the decision, but it seemed more like a ploy for Ryan to get his team fired up.

The referees allowed Ryan to voice his opinion, but they should have hit him with a penalty for delay of game. He shouldn't have been allowed an audience.

Seen this before

The Ravens offense went to sleep in the second quarter, and it was never more evident than the four-play, four-yard scoring drive in the second quarter which ended with a Cundiff field goal. It might have been a tribute to Jets quarterback coach Matt Cavanaugh, the Ravens' former offensive coordinator.

He orchestrated a few of those scoring drives in 2000-2001 when the Ravens won the Super Bowl.

No show

Ryan wasn't going to let his team get caught up in the Ravens' splashy pre-game introductions, which features Lewis dancing.

When the Ravens were introduced, Ryan took his team down in the endzone and had the offense go against the defense.

Quick exit

Message to former Ravens inside linebacker Bart Scott: When you're getting your butt mashed and pushed around the field, just get on the bus and go home. No trash talking. No fights. Just call it a day, take a quick shower, and wait for next week.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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