The Baltimore Ravens through the shutout victory in Green Bay regained the momentum of the early part of the season. The team bounced back to a .500 record at 5-5 and was in the playoff picture going forward. A Buffalo Bills victory on Sunday, however, caused the Ravens to temporarily fall out of the playoff picture. Baltimore would need a win over the Houston Texans to get back into the conversation. At the most critical point of the season, the Ravens were able to succeed under pressure, and get the win. The 23-16 victory over Houston puts Baltimore back over a .500 record at 6-5. The win also gives the Ravens the sixth seed in the AFC playoff picture going forward. Here’s how Baltimore was able to obtain a much-needed win, in the rare Baltimore Monday Night Football game.
How the Ravens Won
- The Defense
- Another week down, and another dominant performance by the Ravens defense. Terrell Suggs led the all-out assault on Texans quarterback Tom Savage. Savage was hit eight times by Baltimore pass rushers and twice sacked by T-Sizzle himself. The Ball So Hard University alumnus came up with the play of the night, strip-sacking Savage late in the game to prevent a potential Texans score. Suggs now has 9.5 sacks this season and is likely on his way to the Pro Bowl. His outstanding performance led us to name him The Baltimore Feather’s Player of the Game. Suggs wasn’t the only one to terrorize Savage on Monday Night. The Baltimore secondary must have prevented Savage from sleeping much after the game. Savage only completed 59.46% of his passes on Monday, and he finished with a 57.5 quarterback rating. Savage was given the opportunity to throw but was very inconsistent. One play Savage would throw to DeAndre Hopkins, who victimized Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr all night, but on the next, he would make Texans fans collectively ask for Matt Schaub back. Savage threw two interceptions to the Ravens. The first went to Tony Jefferson, a play that professional football player turned wizard Eric Weddle predicted a week ago. The second went to Anthony Levine Sr., basically sealing Houston’s fate. Kudos to the Ravens run defense as well. The unit had a rough patch earlier this season, but have improved drastically. This week, they held Lamar Miller to just 51 yards on 17 carries.
- It’s not very often when you can point to a special teams unit and say they were more of a factor in a victory than the team’s offense. The rare occasion came on Monday Night when the Ravens special teams stomped on the Texans. Ravens punter Sam Koch not only punted the ball six times, downing five inside the 20-yard line, but he is also the greatest Ravens passer ever. Koch, with his second fake punt of the season, now owns the highest passer rating in Ravens history. Koch in his stellar passer career has completed all four of his passes, for 48 yards, rendering him a quarterback rating of 116.7. He sits above Mark Clayton, Ray Rice, Eric Zeier, and Joe Flacco, in that order. In all seriousness though, Sam Koch had a stellar night on Monday. His special teams efforts were awarded the NFL giving him the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week recognition. Justin Tucker, the second most accurate kicker in the NFL, ever, also had a good night. He went 3/3 on his field goal attempts, and 2/2 on extra points. The Wolfpack of Tucker, Koch, and long snapper Morgan Cox has consistently been the best special teams unit for years now. It doesn’t look like they will slow down anytime soon.
Room for Improvement
- Another week, and another lackluster offensive performance. The offense like last week did just enough to win, but nothing more. Can you imagine how good Baltimore would be with this championship caliber defense and a halfway decent offense? When this team inevitably faces tough teams like Pittsburgh, it’s hard to believe the offense can keep pace. The offense at times showed signs of life but failed to stay consistent all game. At first, it seemed that Alex Collins was going to be shut down for the third consecutive week. That all changed with a brilliant 29-yard fake flip toss play on fourth down. It was like a switch flipped in Collins’ head, and he was back to pounding his way through the defense. Collins finished with 16 runs for 60 yards and one touchdown. His 3.8 yard per carry average is his best since October. Joe Flacco and the passing attack was devoid of any value for most of the night. Between Flacco throwing inaccurate passes, and receivers failing to make big plays, the air attack just plain sucked. Flacco on several occasions threw passes to receivers that were off target. If those passes were caught, it would have been huge for the Ravens offense. On other occasions, the receivers just flat out dropped the ball. Mike Wallace, specifically, exemplified this on one crucial play. Flacco launched the ball deep into Texans territory, and right into the hands of Wallace, who disappointingly dropped the ball. The Ravens passing attack can only be so good when there is no ability to stretch the field. Shoutout to Texans linebacker Jadaveon Clownly who wreaked havoc on the Ravens offense all game long, he really injured Baltimore.
- The one good thing about this offensive performance is that we got to see Joe Flacco’s ELITE wheels.
The Baltimore Ravens were carried by the defense and special teams unit, while the offense did enough to win. Overall, the Ravens get a B+ grade for the performance. The offense scores a solid C+, defense an A-, and special teams an A+.