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Week 4 Ravens Recap - Justin Tucker Is Cash Money

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A lot of people are saying that the Steelers gave the Ravens this football game. In many ways they did. Numerous times the Ravens were basically dead in the water, with the Steelers just needing to execute a simple task to drive home the final nail. But you also can’t ignore the fact that the Ravens were taking back something they gave the Steelers in the first place. The Steelers hardly earned that early lead. They were given that lead by an awful interception, a lazy fumble, and a fortunate bounce on said fumble. So I refuse to apologize for the way the Ravens won that football game, especially with the way they’ve been giving away football games all year. They hung tough, showed some resolve, and they finally finished the goddamn football game. More thoughts:

– We should probably start with the defense. Bravo fellas. Every time those guys had their backs against the wall, they came up with a stop. Sure they 100-yard rusher streak was snapped at 29 games, but they shut down Antonio Brown better than anyone has in 3 years. Dude hadn’t been held for under 50 receiving yards since 2012.  2012! Tip of the cap to Jimmy Smith for bouncing back in a big way after a real crummy performance the past 2 weeks. When he’s on, he’s one of the best. When he’s off, he’s a sieve. Great sign moving forward, especially given that the Ravens don’t really face a prolific receiver again until they see the Steelers again in week 16 or so.

– The defense also did a great job of containing Vick and limiting his opportunities to use his feet. The pass-rush did a good job of pressuring him throughout the night while not letting him escape the pocket. A couple of those 3rd and 4th down stops were made because Vick wasn’t able to step into his throws as much as he’d like. Fun to see somebody other than Dumervil get a sack with Z’ardarius Smith getting back-to-back sacks on one drive. Looking forward to the rookie getting more snaps and try to fill that Suggs/McPhee void.

– Leveon Bell is a goddamn houdini. He’s got magic feet. I thought for sure that run in overtime on 2nd down where he turned a loss into a 22 yard carry was going to cost the Ravens the game. All the respect in the world goes out to that dude.

– Having said that, outrageous holding call missed on Bell’s touchdown run in the first half. I try to keep gripes about refereeing to a minimum because you win some and you lose some and things tend to even out overall. But that was just such a blatant hold where Kendrick Lewis clearly had the ballcarrier contained and the guy wrapped his arm around his neck and yanked him down. I really don’t understand how that sidejudge staring directly at the play misses that call.

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– Newcomer Will Davis played a really encouraging first game at corner. Even made a nice play on 4th down that got the Ravens the ball back when they needed it most. With CB depth a major concern both last year and early on this year, it’s nice to see someone step up and hold their own.

– Alright, Joe Flacco played pretty poorly. That INT is pretty unacceptable, especially given the momentum of the game at that point. The Ravens were running the ball right down their throats with ease. They were on the verge of going up two scores and he threw it right to the guy in black. With the way the offense was moving the ball at the time, it looked like the Ravens were about to coast to an easy victory. Again, the defense stepped up and forced a punt on the ensuing drive, but Flacco destroyed all the momentum they had built up. On top of that, the fumble was pretty brutal too right out of the half. Felt like a backbreaker, especially when the Steelers turned it into a 13 point lead.

– Having said that, he hung tough and made some big throws down the stretch, especially after his two best receivers went down with back injuries. No two ways about it, a receiving corp of Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown, and Darren Waller is not one that many NFL QB’s could win a football game with. He threw an absolutely gorgeous ball on the touchdown to Aiken, and then threw a dart to him to get the Ravens into tying-FG range while taking an open shot from a blitzing DB. Gotta love the poise from Joe.

– JUSTIN FORSETT. Welcome back fella! That was the most encouraging part of this football game. The Ravens got some great push from their OL last night, and Forsett was able to break a few big ones. The Ravens aren’t going to lose many football games where he gets 150 yards on the ground. Taliaferro and Allen produced some nice runs in relief too.

– Frustrating that Trestman came out throwing on 3 straight downs to start the game. I think he redeemed himself by sticking to the ground game once he got it going, I just hope he realizes that it shouldn’t take until the 2nd or 3rd drive to establish it. I’ll also give him credit for sticking with the ground even after 1st down runs got stuffed. He went with the run on a few 2nd-and-longs that resulted in either a first down or made the 3rd down much more manageable. Just gotta stick with it Marc!

– Another Trestman note. The Chicago folks warned me, but I don’t think I truly appreciated just how annoying the screen plays are until last night. Especially infuriating was the sequence where he drew up two straight screen plays to Nick Boyle, A 5th ROUND ROOKIE TIGHT END OUT OF DELAWARE. Ridiculous.

– Harbaugh followed up those 2 screens with the failed fake FG pitch to Boyle. I’ve got mixed feelings about this one, while everyone else is blindly bashing Harbs for this decision. I love where Harbaugh’s heart is at on that play. I love the aggression at that point in the football game. 4th and 2 at the 20, down by 6, is a good opportunity to try to take the lead. I’m just not in love with that way to go about it. Trust your offense to go out there and get the 2 yards. No need to get cute. Just bust it up the gut with Taliaferro (and don’t QB sneak it). And I can’t wait for the same people who were hysterical that Harbs didn’t take the points to be praising his guts when he converts the next one. He won’t hesitate to be aggressive again, and it’ll probably pay off more times than it won’t. Harbs gonna Harbs.

– The WR situation is getting murkier and murkier by the week. Steve Smith might die by the end of the year with the way he’s been playing. Campanaro has already proved to be an asset, but a fragile one at that. We’ll wait and see what their injury statuses are, but thank god they have 10 days before they strap it up again, especially with Perriman’s surgery and Gillmore shelfed. It might be time to go out and get another veteran receiver, because I can’t stand to watch Marlon Brown drop another ball. Joe deserves better targets.

But at least Steve Smith is still the baddest dude in the league:

 

Best way to finish a blog and (any football game) is with Justin Tucker. Thank the lord for this man. To be the 2nd most accurate kicker in NFL history (a smidge behind Dan Bailey) while kicking in the AFC North is simply absurd. He kicked not one, but two HUGE field goals last night.

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Listen to this. Kickers are 7/27 at Heinz Field on 50+ yard FG’s all-time. Which is bonkers when you realize that the place has been open 14 years and there’s only been 27 attempts. That means coaches only have the onions to kick outside the 33-yard line twice a year, and for good reason. Harbs sent his guy out there all ho-hum and Justin banged it through, tying the Heinz Field record for longest FG in the process.

The only reason this one might not top his 61-yard gamewinner in Detroit is because the Ravens were losing when he kicked that one. Either way, Justin Tucker is 12/12 on kicks to tie or win in the 4th quarter/OT in his career. He’s the best in the game, bar none. Wouldn’t trade him for the world. Eat your heart out Pittsburgh.

 

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