The Baltimore Ravens are officially in the driver seat to the playoffs. With the victory against the Lions on Sunday, the Ravens remain the favorites to win the final wildcard seed. The victory was an important one, as it shows that the Ravens can not only compete with good teams but defeat them handily. Baltimore played well on all sides of the ball, and the Ravens have now won three straight. The Ravens are getting hot, and it could not have come at a better time. The playoffs are just four weeks away now, and the Ravens have to win just a few more games to punch their ticket. Here is how the Ravens won a critical game against the Lions.
Ravens Passing Attack
The Baltimore Ravens passing attack for the majority of the 2017 season has been nonexistent. However, this narrative dramatically changed on Sunday. There is one factor that directly led to this important transformation. The play calling finally mirrored the Ravens strengths on offense. Offensive Coordinator Marty Morinwheg opened up the Ravens’ air raid to shoot down the field. This catered to Joe Flacco’s strong throwing arm, and Mike Wallace’s ability to be a downfield threat. The aggressive playstyle gave the Joe Flacco the opportunity to give his best performance all season. Flacco threw 36 passes, completing 23 of them for a 63.9% completion rate. Flacco also tossed two touchdowns and did not give up any turnovers. Flacco finished with 269 yards passing, and a 105.0 quarterback rating. Mike Wallace also benefited from the rejuvenated passing strategy. Wallace caught five of the eight passes thrown at him, for 116 yards. The highlight of the day was Wallace’s 66-yard grab.
Ravens Rushing Attack
The Baltimore Ravens rushing attack came back to life against a weak Lions run defense. Alex Collins ran for 75 yards on 15 attempts. This is Collins’ best total since October 26, when he ran for 113 yards against the Dolphins. His 5.0 yards per rushing attempt average is also his best since that game. Collins was also responsible for two touchdowns. This is his highest single-game total not only for this year but his entire career. Alex Collins has now scored at least one touchdown in each of his last three games. The Ravens, have also won each of their last three games. This is no coincidence. When the Ravens can effectively run the ball, the offense will play at its best. Joe Flacco strives when his team gives him a solid rushing strategy, and it opens up the door to victory. Under John Harbaugh, when the Ravens finish top ten in the league in rushing, the team makes the playoffs. Needless to say, it is important for Baltimore to have a formidable rushing attack.
Ravens Offensive Line
The Ravens offensive line was a major contributor to Baltimore’s victory. The offensive line was able to accomplish both of its essential tasks. The offensive line has had a very inconsistent season this year, but over the past couple of weeks, the unit has played well. The line became a wall and was able to fend off the bombarding opponents. The Lions pass rush was only able to hit Flacco twice all game, and number five escaped the game without being sacked. This was accomplished while Baltimore’s offensive line was also able to open up lanes for Alex Collins to take. In short, the Ravens’ offensive line was responsible for giving the opportunity to succeed in both the passing and rushing attacks.
Ravens Pass Defense
Matthew Stafford and the Lions are one of the best passing teams in the NFL. The Ravens knew that they had to halt their production through the air to secure a victory. Baltimore found a way to do this for most of the game. The secondary, led by safety Eric Weddle, terrorized Detroit’s receivers all game long. Aside from a string of drives in the third and fourth quarter where the defense seemed to zone out, Baltimore’s secondary played very well. Although the secondary was not able to totally shut down the Lions’ air raid, the unit was able to stall and kill drives at the right time. Detroit was only able to score in the third and fourth quarters, but the offense killed their chance of a late-game comeback.
Ravens Run Defense
The Ravens run defense played very well on Sunday against the Lions. Baltimore held Detroit to just 78 yards on the ground. 51 of those yards came from rookie running back Tion Green, who saw his first action of the season in Baltimore. Green scored one touchdown and averaged 4.6 yards on 11 attempts. This statistic is slightly misleading, however, as Green broke for an outlier run of 33 yards. If you factor this out of his average, it decreases to just 1.8 yards per attempt. The second leading rusher for the Lions was running back Theo Riddick, who carried the rock nine times but only gained 21 yards. He did, however, score one touchdown on the ground. Overall, the Ravens run defense was able to bottle up the Lion’s less than stellar ground game.
Ravens Pass Rush
The Baltimore Ravens defense has been great all season. The best asset of this prolific defense has been the pass rush. Against the Lions, the Ravens pass rush was able to record three sacks and 5 QB hits. One of these sacks came from none other than T-Sizzle himself. Terrell Suggs holds the franchise record for most sacks all time, with 125 sacks. By sacking Matthew Stafford on Sunday, Terrell Suggs recorded his seventh double-digit sack season. Suggs, now 35, may retire soon, but the Ravens pass rush will be in good hands. Matthew Judon, the second year outside linebacker out of Grand Valley State, recorded his sixth sack of the season on Sunday. The youngster now has 10 sacks all-time in his career, four last year and six this year. Through his production, Judon looks to be the heir to the Suggs throne and continues to strengthen his claim week in and week out. Eric Weddle also was able to bring Matthew Stafford down for a sack.
The Baltimore Ravens played their best game all season on Sunday against the Lions. It was the most complete contest by the birds all season. The offense put up 37 points, while the defense straight owned the Lions throughout most of the game. Baltimore has now won three weeks in a row and will face their archrivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, on Sunday night. It looks like the Ravens may be getting hot at just the right time. If the Ravens can continue to play like this, I do not think many teams will be able to beat them down the stretch, and in the playoffs. To grade this game, the Ravens offense receives an A+, and the Ravens defense an A-. Overall, the team gets an A grade.