Instant analysis of the Ravens' 38-10 win over the Carolina Panthers in Week 4

September 28, 2014|The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore Sun reporters, columnists and editors share their immediate reaction to the Ravens' 38-10 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

Jeff Zrebiec, reporter: Was there any doubt that Steve Smith was going to have a huge game playing against his former team? The second Smith ran under Joe Flacco's deflected pass and took it 61 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter, you knew it was going to be a long day for the Panthers. Flacco played another strong game and the offensive line continues to impress. The secondary is still a concern, especially with a matchup with Andrew Luck looming. But the Panthers had nothing to really threaten the Ravens with today. At 3-1, the Ravens will face bigger tests in the weeks ahead.

Aaron Wilson, reporter: In a classic example of a player using motivational fuel to provide a boost for his new team, Steve Smith dominated his former employers. It obviously got extremely touchy between Smith and general manager Dave Gettleman during the five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver’s divorce from the Panthers after 13 years in Carolina. Regardless of why Smith got cut, he thoroughly enjoyed getting the last word against the Panthers on Sunday. Smith caught seven passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns on 10 targets. His tip-drill touchdown catch won’t be soon forgotten, bringing back memories of Shannon Sharpe's touchdown catch in the playoffs against the Denver Broncos years ago off of a deflected pass. Undrafted rookie left tackle James Hurst more than held his own in his first NFL start. Despite some continued confusion in the secondary from safeties Matt Elam and Darian Stewart and cornerback Jimmy Smith, the Ravens largely contained Cam Newton and the Panthers’ passing game led by big rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin as he was limited to one touchdown catch. The pass rush, led by outside linebackers Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs, woke up from its slumber. It all added up to the Ravens improving to 3-1 heading into a difficult road game next week against the Indianapolis Colts.

Jon Meoli, reporter: Quarterback Joe Flacco appears to be the latest to have his career revived by a late-career system change. Someone had to feed Steve Smith today, and Flacco had a great game behind the Ravens' bulldozing offensive line. He completed more than 70 percent of his passes with more than 10 yards per attempt and three scores. Smith might get the game ball and the headlines, but Flacco has been enjoying a ton of success this season and that should continue. The defense still has its pass coverage warts, but the pass rush got to Cam Newton and made that moot. Not a lot to gripe about, here.

Childs Walker, reporter: The Ravens simply did not produce a game like this in 2013. Don’t forget, Carolina was 12-4 last season, and the Ravens were coping with the losses of tight end Dennis Pitta and left tackle Eugene Monroe. But Gary Kubiak’s game plan clicked in every way imaginable as the Ravens produced their best offensive performance since the 2012 stretch run. This team could be quite interesting.

Peter Schmuck, columnist: The Panthers came here to prove that last Sunday's blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers was a fluke. Instead, they proved that the Ravens are improving every week on both sides of the ball. There were some glitches in the Ravens secondary and some so-so clock management at the end of the first half, but this was another strong statement by a banged up Ravens team that won't take no for an answer.

Ron Fritz, sports editor: The Ravens exploited the Carolina Panthers defense just about any way they wanted. I know the Panthers are banged up, but this was a playoff team last season. It will be interesting to see if the Ravens can continue the offensive momentum next week in Indianapolis.

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