It was a tough and embarrassing week to be a Ravens fan, but on Thursday night the team on the field made the fanbase proud with a 26-6 victory over the Steelers in front of a national TV audience. Baltimore has now won five of their last seven games about Pittsburgh.
Here are my five initial thoughts after watching this Ravens victory:
1. Good Joe Flacco Returned
Oh hey, good Joe Flacco. Welcome back, great to see you again.
After looking sluggish in week one, Flacco came out strong on Thursday night. His first incompletion didn’t come until halfway through the second quarter. Through the first three quarters of play, Flacco was 20 for 25 for 162 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. He finished the game with a 109.3 QB rating.
His passes were crisp, he worked the ball to seven different receivers, utilized his tight ends and, most importantly, didn’t turn the ball over.
2. Ravens Defense Improved Since Sunday
Even more disappointing than Flacco in week one was the performance of the Ravens pass rush. It was virtually non-existence against the Bengals. That wasn’t the case on Thursday night.
Ben Roethlisberger was sacked twice for 15 yards. Haloti Ngata came up with an interception. Elvis Dumervil was wreaking havoc, but I was particularly impressed with the performance of rookie C.J. Mosley who forced a fumble in the fourth quarter and seemed to be all over the field causing headaches for Pittsburgh throughout the night.
Baltimore’s defense looked strong against the Steelers running attack as well. Pittsburgh was limited to just 99 yards on the ground and only recorded 18 carries all night.
3. Maybe I Was All Wrong About Owen Daniels
I spent all offseason thinking Owen Daniels was an old, washed up tight end with bad legs who didn’t want to practice. Thursday night he recorded his fifth career two-TD game and took some big hits along the way.
He still might get hurt next week, but for now I’m really enjoying what he provides along side Dennis Pitta.
Daniels caught each of the five passes Flacco threw his way and recorded 28 yards and two TDs.
4. Steve Smith Was Made For This Rivalry
Steve Smith didn’t drop any passes on Thursday night. I’m already starting to forget about that rough first half in week one.
In the third quarter, Smith turned a short pass across the middle on 3rd and 6 into a 22 yard gain, then tacked on 15 more yards after Mike Mitchell was flagged for face mask. Sr.’s intensity showed throughout the game, he put up a very Anquan Boldin-esque performance with six catches for 71 yards.
5. A Team Win After A Terrible Week
Thursday’s win over the Steelers is even more impressive when you consider the week the Ravens had leading up to the game. While the NFL and Baltimore’s front office have been under fire (and rightfully so), this team had a short week to prepare for a crucial division game against a bitter rival.
They clicked on all cylinders and responded in a big way. They’ve earned these next ten days.