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Ravens Will Face Chiefs in Wild Card Round

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Quick Summary

It was another game for the Baltimore Ravens that carried a lot of weight, at least until it was obvious that the Steelers were showing the Browns who their daddy was.

The Ravens struck first with two field goals, before Ray Rice took it to the house from 7 yards out in the second half. Cincinatti Bengals QB Carson Palmer then was able to orchestrate a drive at the beginning of the 4th quarter that resulted in points and not turnovers, and then it became a one-possession game. Mind you that both T.O. and Ochocinco were not part of this game.

Overall, this was not a good game for the Ravens offense, but their defense was really revving up. Flacco threw an efficient game, but nothing to write home about. Both defenses put their best foot forward,  but the playoff-bound team outclassed the home-bound team in a major way. The Ravens took the ball away from Cincinnati about 5 times, and that’s not including a few 4th down stops. Final score, 13-7.

The Good

  • Billy Cundiff adds two more touchbacks and ties Mitch Berger from Minnesota for the NFL single-season record of 40 touchbacks. The only difference: Cundiff did it outdoors.
  • Ed Reed intercepts Carson Palmer on 2 occasions. Even though he missed 7 games this season, he leads the league with 8 interceptions. He continues to show why he is the master-class definition of a “ball hawk.”
  • Ray Lewis recovers 2 fumbles and Haloti Ngata recovers another. A total of 5 turnovers for a Ravens defense that is slowly emerging from the shadows, during a period where the offense is failing to use the limelight. Still, Ray Rice had the rare pleasure of taking one to the house, which made the difference in the game.
  • Ravens D continues their 25-game streak of no TD’s allowed in 3rd quarter (record since 1950)
  • Cincy reached the Ravens redzone 4 times, but only came away with one score— their only one of the night. The defense is showing some of that “bend, but don’t break” attitude.

The Bad

  • Palmer is able to move the ball even without T.O. or Ochocinco. The teams we will face in the playoffs will take note of the way they can attack the Ravens secondary, as well as how to slow down Joe Flacco— who still has problems figuring out the Bengals secondary. He is efficient (14/19), but threw a bad interception to Nelson.
  • Ravens continue their poor offensive play in the 2nd half. This does not bode well for the playoffs

The Ugly

  • After Ray Lewis’ fumble recovery, Donte’ Stallworth fails to protect the ball on an end-around and loses possession (his 1st. Cincy recovers. Stallworth still has to show this organization and the fans why he should stick around next year. fumble since 10/23/05 at St. Louis)
  • Michael Oher injures his knee, but as usual he tells the media he should be good to go by next week. Not good news.

Final Thoughts

Again, the Ravens failed to put a playoff-bound attitude on the field. Fortunately, Ed Reed and Ray Lewis are still a part of this team, and it gives us fans some hope that the team can do some damage in the post-season.

But all that relies on the offense. Now that the defense is starting to heat up, it is time for the offense to stop struggling and be threatening. Right now, the Ravens are picking either the running game or the passing game to make it through for 60 minutes, even though they possess enough weapons offensively for a complete attacking scheme that opposing Defensive Coordinators should have fits with. The question is not if Joe Flacco has reached his ceiling, but rather it’s if he has reached Cameron’s ceiling.

Update: Playoff Outlook

The Ravens now know their road to Super Bowl XLV, and it starts at Arrowhead Stadium— avoiding that hated team from Indianapolis. This will work in the Ravens favor since Kansas City doesn’t have a lot of playoff experience. Good news is that the Ravens travel well and know how to beat opponents on the road.

Go Ravens!