The Baltimore Ravens, much to the pleasure of their fans, routed the visiting Oakland Raiders 55-20 this past Sunday. Baltimore did not have many negatives occur during the game on either side of the football, but there were certainly a lot of positives to take from the victory.
First we will begin with the defensive side of the football:
- Rush Defense – Although Baltimore was not facing Oakland's number one or two running backs, the rush defense has been a huge question mark for the Ravens all season, but they held the Raiders to just 72 total rushing yards.
- Defensive line – The defensive line took a page out of the Houston Texans book and batted down pass after pass from Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer. Baltimore finished the game with six batted passes!
- Pressure – Baltimore's defense, in addition to the batted passes which do occur for the most part due to pressure, recorded three sacks on Sunday and forced an interception (Kruger pictured above). It was a pleasant surprise to see pressure applied to the opposing quarterback, now I would be remiss if I didn't state that it was obvious that Oakland was going to pass, so it is a little easier to apply pressure, but it was still nice to see.
- Red Zone – It is simply impressive what the Ravens defense is doing in the red zone, as they held Oakland to 0-3 in touchdown percentage in the red zone.
Now we will examine the offensive side of the ball that helped produce the most points in a game in Ravens franchise history:
- Sustained Drives – Baltimore's biggest offensive disappointment lately and for most of the season has been their lack of ability to sustain drives, not meaning having to score, just not going three and out. Sunday, Baltimore was not forced to punt until the middle of the third quarter, and they only had three three and outs the entire game, two of which came towards the end of the game when back-up quarterback Tyrod Taylor was in the game.
- Variety is the spice of life – Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco spread the football around on Sunday as he completed passes to eight different receivers and seven of those finished the game with more than 25 yards receiving.
- Tight Ends – If you read my article here this past Saturday when I listed my key matchups to watch for, I told you that the matchup of Baltimore's tight ends against Oakland's linebackers was one of those matchups and the victory unquestionably went to the Ravens tight ends. Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta combined for seven catches for 127 yards and a touchdown with a majority of those catches going for first downs.
- Offensive Line – The offensive line did very well yesterday pass blocking, although they struggled a bit on run blocking, but did not allow a single sack of Flacco the entire game.
As aforementioned, there were a great deal of positives to take from Sunday's game against the Raiders, but you cannot forget the special teams as they have been outstanding all year. Rookie kicker Justin Tucker was once again perfect on the day nailing 48 and 34 yarders. Jacoby Jones returned his second kickoff for a touchdown as well, this one 105 yards and punter Sam Koch ran for a touchdown on a fake field goal.
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