Ravens fans, we are now almost two weeks removed from a Super Bowl victory. We're champions of the whole entire world. It's now time to hand out some awards for this past season.
Team MVP: QB Joe Flacco-3,817 passing yards, 22 passing TDs, 10 INTs, 87.7 passer rating
Reasoning: I get the Ray Rice argument, I really do. But when your team goes to the playoffs, wins the Super Bowl and your quarterback plays the way he did, it is very rarely the direct result of anyone else but the QB.
Unsung Hero: CB Corey Graham-60 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 2 interceptions
Reasoning: Corey Graham shouldn't have even been playing cornerback this year. The special teams ace was thrown onto the defense following injuries, and solidified his spot as a starting corner. His interception in overtime against the Broncos set up the game-winning field goal. Incredible year for Graham.
Rookie of the Year: K Justin Tucker-30/33, 4 game-winning field goals, longest field goal of 56 yards
Reasoning: You can't ask for more out of a rookie kicker. Cutting Billy Cundiff for Tucker will prove huge for the team in the long run.
Honorable Mention for Rookie of the Year: RB Bernard Pierce-532 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown
Reasoning: Bernard Pierce will be a great running back in this league one day. Unfortunately that may not be with the Ravens. He is a talented power back, and is a perfect runner for winter football. He'll be a key post-season asset as long as he's in Baltimore.
Play of the Year: 4th and 29
Reasoning: This was an easy one. Down to their last limb back in Week 12 against the Chargers, the Ravens faced a decisive 4th down and 29 yards. Joe Flacco stepped back, could not find an open man downfield, and dumped the ball down to Ray Rice. Rice cut back upfield, made all 11 Chargers miss, and reached the first down marker. The Ravens would go on to win the game in overtime on a Tucker field goal.
Moment of the Year: Torrey Smith plays hours after his brother's death
Reasoning: Less than 24 hours after his brother died in a motorcycle accident, Torrey Smith delivered an inspirational performance, catching six passes for two touchdowns, including one that put the Ravens back in the game against the Patriots. Justin Tucker kicked the game-winning field goal in the final seconds of the game.
This could be a tough off-season for the Ravens. The team needs to re-sign Flacco, most likely to one of the biggest contracts in the league. If they don't he'll get the franchise tag and negotiations for this contract will resume after next season. Other key free agents the Ravens will have to re-sign include Paul Kruger, Ed Reed, Dannell Ellerbe, and Cary Williams. Plain and simple, Ed Reed needs to retire. He doesn't have it anymore, and it would save the Ravens some moolah. Those other free agents all had big roles in the Ravens run to the Lombardi.
As for the draft, the Ravens have pretty specific needs on both sides of the ball. The Ravens will undoubtedly draft another offensive lineman, with the possible loss of players like Matt Birk and Bryant MicKinnie. Defensive end and linebacker will also be positions of need for the Ravens, who have the #32 overall pick in this year's draft. Don't be surprised if Ozzie Newsome pulls another Ozzie Newsome and trades out of the first round for more draft picks later on.
That's it for this special edition of my Ravens Report, see you next year and go Orioles!