How many times have we heard that the formula of a strong defense and a good running game won't cut it anymore in today's NFL. Now, the rules have changed since the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2000, and today's NFL rules favor the passing game, mostly to inflate the scores, which makes it more attractive to betters. The league will do whatever it takes to keep an undying fan base. But, no matter what the league decides in the end good old fashioned football wins out. And that's what the Ravens gave the Patriots, a good old fashioned ass whooping. Tommi Brady never knew what hit "him".
From the first play from scrimmage the Ravens sent a message that this wouldn't be the same game that transpired earlier in the season. This time the Ravens meant to come out and punch the Patriots right in the mouth from the first snap, and would continue to pound on them until there was no coming back. Even the universally revered Bill Belichick didn't have an answer. For the New England Patriots and their fans, this was a train wreck of a magnitude 6.
I'm certain that Belichick stressed to his coaches to come up with a way to take away Ray Rice, to make him a non factor and take away the Ravens greatest offensive weapon, but, they couldn't. Add a rejuvenated Willis McGahee to the mix and the Ravens running game was more then New England's defense could cope with. While there are some who don't enjoy seeing a team grind it out on the ground I personally enjoyed every pounding moment of it. The Ravens played Football 101, and the Patriots failed to make the grade.
The Ravens defense was also too much for Tommi Brady and the All World New England offense. On Brady's first possession he would cough it up after being stripped by Terrell Suggs, who also recovered the fumble. (Where has this Suggs been all year long?) On the Patriots next possession Tommi would throw a pick to Chris Carr, after being pressured by Jarret Johnson. That led to another Ravens touchdown. At the end of the 1st quarter it was Baltimore 24, the Patriots 0. From that point on I knew the Ravens would win the game.
Say what you will, the Ravens did start out slow on defense this season. Much of the blame was put on Ravens defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. They sais he was playing too much of a college style defense. I was one who agreed with this assessment. But in the end maybe it was just a case of the Ravens defensive players learning, and buying in to a new system. And maybe Mattison changed his philosophy a bit as well. Either way the Ravens defense has been the best in the entire league for the past 6 weeks, and now they seem to be hitting their stride.
The only questions I have from this game are one, just how bad is the injury to Joe Flacco? For the Ravens to limit him to 10 passing attempts, and seeing him limp on the field before the game I have to believe it's pretty serious. The Ravens chose to run the ball 56 times in this game, a sure sign that they wanted to avoid Flacco getting sacked. Going up against the Colts next week that formula may not work. The Ravens will most likely need to have a little more balance, unless their running game can repeat their success against the Colts the same way they did the Patriots. And after all, the Colts don't have a run stuffing defense, so who knows. Not me, I don't pretend to be a clairvoyant.
What I do know is that the Ravens shut the mouths of a lot of doubters with their man handling of the Patriots. Gone are the Pat's streaks of consecutive wins at home this season, and in the playoffs at home the last 30 plus years. Sadly for New England fans that all came crashing down today. My, how the mighty have fallen.