Ravens star players rise to the occasion

Ravens star players rise to the occasion
October 6, 2013, 8:00 pm

Ray Rice: Trust the run game

MIAMI GARDENS, FL. – Sunday’s win was the Ravens’ most significant so far this season.

It was their first road victory. It was their closest victory. And their star players rose to the occasion.

Those were all encouraging signs for a team trying to build consistency. The Ravens (3-2) have been a hard team to get a handle on through five weeks, even for the players and coaches.  However, some pieces of the puzzle may slowly be coming together. Here are three positive takeaways for the Ravens in the aftermath of beating the Dolphins, 26-23.

1. Terrell Suggs is a dominant defensive player again.

If there was any doubt that Suggs was all the way back after last year’s injuries, Sunday’s game answered those questions. He had three sacks in the game, all coming in the second half. By the fourth quarter, nobody could block Suggs, especially with the Dolphins’ offensive line wilting in the Florida heat.

Suggs is called “Sizzle” by teammates, and Sunday he was on fire.

“Sizz is like a freak of nature,” said Ravens safety James Ihedigbo. “He played phenomenal.”

Ravens coach John Harbaugh concurred.

“Defensively, Terrell Suggs was just off the scale,” Harbaugh said.

From the moment Suggs reported to training camp in the best shape of his career, it was evident he was motivated to have a special season. The kind of heat Suggs is bringing can bother any quarterback. This Sunday, the Ravens host the Packers. You can believe that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is very aware of how well Suggs is playing.

“We have a huge, huge game next week with A-Rod coming in, and we’re definitely playing against one of the best quarterbacks in the league,” Suggs said. “We have our hands full again next week.”

However, the Packers will have their hands full with Suggs.

2. Joe Flacco is unfazed by all that is taking place around him.

When he gets hit, when he gets picked off, when his receivers drop passes, when he plays well, when he plays poorly, Flacco’s approach never wavers. Flacco doesn’t lead with speeches, but with resiliency and confidence. He didn’t play a perfect game Sunday, and the low point came in the fourth quarter, when the Dolphins tied the game with a pick-six off a deflected pass. However, Flacco responded by calmly leading the Ravens downfield for the go-ahead field goal.

The Ravens are going to lean on Flacco more than ever this season, with so many young receivers, and an offensive line in flux.  It won’t always be pretty. But in Flacco, the Ravens have a tough quarterback who is not shirking from the great weight and expectations on his shoulders.

“Joe it seems, never gets shaken,” Harbaugh said. “Joe is not the kind of guy that’s going to get rattled. That’s just who he is. That’s part of his greatness. And that’s why he is who he is as a player.”

3. Ray Rice looks healthy and ready to carry a bigger load.

Expect to see plenty of Rice from this point forward, as both a runner and receiver. He had a season-high 27 carries, and showed no sign of being slowed by the hip flexor he suffered last month. Suggs loved it.

“We are a very good team when he touches the ball, the numbers are pretty ridiculous,” Suggs said.

Rice looks ready to roll. If he stays healthy, everyone else in the Ravens’ offense will benefit.

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