This is the first inscription in a series of articles called the Purple and Black Awards. The awards will be given out to the Ravens’ players and coaches and will contain certain moments that changed the course of the game, for better or for worse. The awards will vary from week-to-week but they will all be sure to capture the essence of the game in one way or another.
Week 1 Award Winners
The POG (aka the Player of the Game, for the acronymically challenged)
This award goes to none other than Joe “Cool” Flacco. Not only did Flacco go 26-for-43 for 307 yards and three touchdowns, but he also came up big when the game was on the line. He connected with Mark Clayton on a 31-yard strike to seal the deal and finally put the Chiefs were they should’ve been the whole game, on the wrong end of a Ravens beat down. It may seem strange that Flacco threw the ball 43 times considering the Ravens’ usual run-first philosophy, but it didn’t seem to bother him one bit. What it did do was prove to John Harbaugh and Cam Cameron that he doesn’t mind putting the team on his back and making the big plays when it matter most, which is a very good sign for Ravens fans. He did make one mistake on the interception by Derrick Johnson, but he bounced back nicely to get the Ravens off to a fast 1-0 start.
The “Oh, S***” Moment(s)
Yes, there are two and I’m sure we all know what they are. First up is the blocked punt that resulted in a Chiefs touchdown. This simply cannot happen, especially that deep in your own territory. The Ravens are usually solid when it comes to special teams and should be even better with Coach Harbaugh, who is supposed to be a guru when it comes to that part of the game. I know it’s just one play, but it gave life to a Chiefs team that was struggling to find any rhythm at all up to that point. The other moment that made us squirm in our seats was when Johnson turned a Flacco mistake into a 1st-and-goal from the 6-yard line, which ended with a Croyle to Bowe touchdown pass. Granted, it is the first game of the season and you expect teams to make some mistakes. The Ravens, however, made two costly mistakes that resulted in touchdowns and are lucky they were playing the Chiefs or else they would be 0-1 going into San Diego next week.
The “Man, I’m Glad That Happened” Moment
Flacco to Clayton, 31 yards, game over. Well, not quite but that score put the Ravens up 31-24 with just over two minutes to go, and we all know the defense would keep the Chiefs from inching any closer to a victory. A perfect throw from Flacco off his back foot made Raven’s fans rest a little easier after the Chiefs just wouldn’t seem to go away. Then Willis McGahee really sealed the deal with a 1-yard touchdown run with just 31 seconds to go after Jarret Johnson forced Croyle to fumble on the Chiefs’ last chance drive.
“Let’s Work on that for Next Week…”
Mental errors. If the Ravens keep the Chargers in the game with costly mistakes like they did with the Chiefs, the result may be a bit different than it was last week. The special teams unit needs to be more aware of rushers coming through on punts and the kickoff coverage needs to be almost perfect considering the Chargers have the small but speedy Darren Sproles to try and stop. He’s liable to break one for a touchdown at any moment, and I’m sure the Ravens are aware of that. Also, Flacco needs to be careful with the ball and not make ill-advised throws. The Chargers secondary was ranked almost last in the league in 2008 mostly because they had no pass rush. Well, Shawne Merriman is back and healthy so you better believe they will put Flacco under some pressure and force him to make quick decisions with the football.
I hope everyone liked this week’s winners. And for those of you who didn’t, you’ll just have to wait until next week to see if I do any better!