Last week, the Ravens made a statement by dominating the Steelers with a convincing 35-7 win. The Ravens jumped out of the gates early, as Flacco found Anquan Boldin for a 27-yard score on a 3-play drive that saw the offense drive 66 yards in under two minutes. The Ravens would score again when Ray Rice pounded it in from a yard out on a drive that stemmed from a Steelers fumble that put the Ravens in position to strike. Pittsburgh would rebound in the second quarter when Big Ben found Emmanuel Sanders in the back of the end zone. But Flacco wouldn't let the Steelers gain momentum, and the Ravens would make it a two possession game once again, when Flacco dumped it off to Rice, who ran it in for the score. At that point, we could all remember the last time the Ravens took a 21-7 lead into halftime against Pittsburgh, but the Ravens were bound to make sure that didn't happen. On the Steelers first play from scrimmage, Haloti Ngata got into the backfield, put a huge hit on Rashard Mendenhall, and forced a fumble that gave the Ravens the ball in Steelers territory. On the very next play, Flacco found Ed Dickson for a touchdown. The Ravens then faked the extra point, and punter Sam Koch rushed in for the two-point conversion, and the Ravens took a 29-7 lead. The Ravens would go on to force seven turnovers, including two picks from Ed Reed, and one from Ray Lewis. Billy Cundiff would add two field goals, and the Ravens sealed a win that was nothing less than total domination. Every side of the field did their part in this win. A shaky offensive line played a fantastic game, allowing only one sack of Joe Flacco. A questionable receiving corps helped Joe Flacco to one of the best games of his career. The two teams had their fair share of scuffling, including one fight that ended up with Steelers CB Ike Taylor thrown out of the game. The one thing the Ravens and their fan base need to take out of this win is that it's only week one, we have fifteen games left to play, and the Steelers will not go away.
Players of the Game: QB Joe Flacco-17/29 224 yards, 3 touchdowns
RB Ray Rice-19 carries, 107 yards, 1 touchdown
LB Terrell Suggs-5 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
DT Haloti Ngata-2 tackles, 1 forced fumble
Last Week's Key to the Game: The Ravens responded to the key of the game, easily winning the battle of the pass-rushers. The Ravens sacked Big Ben 4 times, and forced him to commit 5 turnovers, while Flacco was sacked just once.
Next Sunday, the Ravens will travel to Nashville to face off with the 0-1 Tennessee Titans. The Titans looked uninspired last week, losing to the Jaguars. Their star RB, Chris Johnson, was not a factor at all, rushing for just 24 yards. Johnson missed all of training camp and the pre-season because of a contract holdout, and his performance last week reflected that missed time. The Ravens need to hold Johnson again, as the Titans lack offensive playmakers without him. Other than WR Kenny Britt, who performed well last week by catching two touchdowns for over 100 yards, nobody on the Titans offense has the potential to really burn the Ravens defense. If the Ravens can find some way to render both Johnson and Britt irrelevant, the Titans offense won't be able to get it going. The Ravens need to come out strong on offense again. They will be forced to face Titans CB Cortland Finnegan, who can change the tide of the game with an interception. Finnegan has had a decent amount of run-ins with receivers who don't like his over-aggressive style of play, so watch out for that. In another good offensive performance, I have the Ravens taking down the Titans, 23-10.
Key to the Game: Following a dominating win over Pittsburgh, it would be understandable for the Ravens to be over-confident. But if the Ravens come out a bit too happy-go-lucky, the Titans will make them pay for it.
Key Matchups for Ravens at Titans
Ravens LB Ray Lewis vs. Titans RB Chris Johnson Edge: Lewis
Ravens CB Dominique Foxworth vs. Titans WR Kenny Britt Edge: Britt
Ravens WR Anquan Boldin vs. Titans CB Cortland Finnegan Edge: Finnegan
Ravens RB Ray Rice vs. Titans LB Barrett Ruud Edge: Rice
CB Chris Carr-Thigh-OUT
CB Jimmy Smith-Ankle-OUT
G Ben Grubbs*-Toe-DBT
WR Lee Evans-Ankle-PRB
FB Vonta Leach-Foot-PRB
*Grubbs will be a game-time decision.
S Chris Hope-Shoulder-DBT
DE William Hayes-Shoulder-QST
WR Damian Williams-Hamstring-QST
Well, that's it for this week's version of my Ravens Report, see you next week and Go Ravens!