Last Sunday, the Ravens completed the biggest comeback in team history, rallying from a 21-point deficit to win 30-27. While the comeback showed great leadership from Joe Flacco, the deficit itself elicits some concern. The offense lacked in effort, and Flacco made crucial mistakes, but luckily they got it together when they needed to. After early field goals on both sides, a Flacco fumble put the Cardinals in great position, and they would score soon after to make it 10-3. After a Ravens three-and-out, Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson returned Sam Koch's punt 82 yards for a touchdown, breaking 5 tackles on his way to the end zone. Next, a Flacco interception set up another Cardinals touchdown, and the score was 24-6 at halftime. Luckily, Flacco realized that we weren't going to be able to get the lead all back at once, and the only way to come back was to slowly chip away at the lead. After a long well-executed drive, Ray Rice pounded it in from a yard out, and the comeback was underway. On the Ravens next drive, Anquan Boldin made some spectacular catches and another Rice touchdown made it a one possession lead. The Ravens finally took the lead on the first play of the fourth quarter with another Rice score. But the Ravens defense finally relented, and a late Cardinals field goal set up a tough task if the Ravens wanted to win in regulation. Then, with under 50 seconds remaining, Flacco connected deep with Torrey Smith, who made up for an earlier drop by putting the Ravens inside the ten, and in prime position to take the game. A last-second Billy Cundiff field goal lifted the Ravens to an important victory, and a 5-2 record.
Player of the Game: Ravens LB Terrell Suggs- 9 tackles, 1 sack
Last Week's Key to the Game: Last week, I said the Ravens needed to do a better job of sustaining drives, which they didn't do until the second half. That being said, they did a very good job of doing it in the second half.
Next week, the Ravens travel to Heinz Field to take on the hated Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football. This game means more than just the division lead now, but a Ravens win gives them the division tiebreaker and possible home-field advantage over the Steelers during the playoffs. When these two teams met in September, the Ravens put a 35-7 shellacking on the Steelers, and that game will not soon be forgotten on either side. The Steelers will be looking for a little revenge come Sunday night, and they'll have a great chance to do it. Since that early season matchup, it seems as if the Ravens have been playing worse, while the Steelers have been playing better. That being said, the Steelers will be missing some key defenders. LBs Lamarr Woodley and James Farrior are both expected to be out, while James Harrison could be a game-time decision. The one defender that Joe Flacco will have to look out for is Troy Polamalu, who is a threat to turn the game around on every snap. The Steelers first-ranked pass defense poses a big threat to a struggling Ravens offense, and the real test for Flacco will come here. On offense, Steelers WR Mike Wallace has made himself one of the most explosive receivers in the game, and can turn even a screen pass into a huge gain. The Steelers running game has not been strong, and could have serious problems against the Ravens-top ranked defense. This game should live up to its physical expectations, because there is continuous bad blood on both sides. The two teams are practically designed in order to beat each other, that's what makes the games so good, and also so unpredictable from time to time. Being the Ravens fan I am, I've gotta go with my team in this one, taking Pittsburgh down with a close 17-16 win.
Key to the Game: The Ravens will be getting a key offensive boost with the return of lineman Ben Grubbs, who should open up more holes for Ray Rice, who had a big game against Pittsburgh in September. For the Ravens to win, they'll need to rely on Rice once again to lead the charge down the field.
Key Matchups for Ravens at Steelers
Ravens LB Terrell Suggs vs. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger Edge: Suggs
Ravens CB Lardarius Webb vs. Steelers WR Mike Wallace Edge: Wallace
Ravens RB Ray Rice vs. Steelers LB Lawrence Timmons Edge: Rice
Ravens QB Joe Flacco vs. Steelers S Troy Polamalu Edge: Polamalu
LB Dannell Ellerbe-Thigh-OUT
WR Lee Evans-Ankle-OUT
G Ben Grubbs-Toe-QST
WR David Reed-Knee-QST
G Doug Legursky-Toe-OUT
WR Emmanuel Sanders-Knee-OUT
LB LaMarr Woodley-Hamstring-OUT
LB James Farrior-Calf-QST
WR Hines Ward-Ankle-QST
P Daniel Sepulveda-Knee-QST
LB James Harrison-Eye-PRB
As a parting note, I'd like to leave you with this quote from Ravens LB Terrell Suggs pertaining to Sunday night's game.
"Big Ben, you know he’s a great quarterback. God can have his soul, but his ass belongs to me." If that isn't inspiration, I don't know what is. Let's go get em.