Which player was the first-half MVP for the Ravens?

November 10, 2011|By Matt Vensel

The Ravens have reached the midway point of the 2011 season. Despite that pesky pair of surprising losses to AFC South teams, they are in excellent position to win the AFC North and maybe secure home-field advantage.

The Ravens have defeated the hated Pittsburgh Steelers twice. They are one of two teams in the AFC with two losses. And they have two games in the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals, the AFC’s other 6-2 team.

The losses to the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars were rough, but when first looking at the team’s schedule, you couldn’t have asked for a better first half from the Ravens. Well, unless you are John Harbaugh.

"[I would] prefer to be 8-0, just like any coach would say,” the Ravens coach said Monday. “You just kind of look at it and take it for what it is. The record could be better; it could be worse in the end. We've won some big games against some good teams, especially some AFC teams. And we've let some slip away that we shouldn't have.”

Given how well the Ravens have played so far, and how many different players stepped it up to help them get off to a good start, there are a few quality candidates when trying to pick the team's MVP from the first half.

Allow me to make the case for each of my top four candidates:

Anquan Boldin: Being honored as the second-quarter MVP doesn’t sound that catchy, but that’s exactly what Boldin has been. In the past four games, he has 405 receiving yards and a touchdown. He put up big numbers in the win over the Houston Texans, and willed the Ravens to a comeback win over his former employer, the Arizona Cardinals, in Week 8. On the season, Boldin has 41 catches for 627 yards -- that’s 15.3 yards per catch.

Haloti Ngata: I have lost count of how many turnovers Ngata has forced by knifing into enemy backfields and chasing after quarterbacks. It’s at least five. The stats show that he has forced two fumbles, recovered three and scored a touchdown in St. Louis, and his pressures led to three interceptions in the first two games alone.

Ray Rice: Rice’s rushing numbers have tailed off the past three games -- he had 134 total rushing yards during that stretch -- but he is still averaging 118.5 yards from scrimmage this season. That’s more than a third of the offense. He has scored eight touchdowns, too, including a career-high three in the comeback against Arizona.

Terrell Suggs: Suggs is tied for 10th in the league with six sacks, but he is more than a pass rusher. The former Ball So Hard University standout has made 34 tackles, intercepted a pair of passes and forced two fumbles.

If I had to pick a winner, it would be Ngata, who at season’s end should at least be mentioned in the discussion when deciding the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year. Rice is a no-brainer for the team’s offensive MVP so far.

OK, it’s your turn to chime in: Who do you think was the first-half MVP for the Ravens? And while you’re at it, feel free to hand out other awards (best hit, biggest win, least valuable player, most valuable cheerleader, etc). Go!

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