Ravens-Cardinals instant analysis

Ravens-Cardinals instant analysis
October 30, 2011, 8:32 pm
Share This Post

By John EisenbergRavens InsiderCSNbaltimore.com
Observations and opinions from the Ravens' 30-27, comeback victory over the Cardinals:

When they trailed by 21 points in the second quarter and by 18 at halftime, the Ravens were looking at a major disaster, the possibility of falling to 4-4 with a loss in Pittsburgh next week. Just when things looked bleakest, though, their offense came alive, and they rallied for what could be construed as a season-saving win.

The switch to a no-huddle offense paid huge dividends for the Ravens. They were 21 down and getting booed when they went to the no-huddle late in the first half. They scored 27 points in the games final 33 minutes to come back and win, with quarterback Joe Flacco looking far more comfortable in the no-huddle than in the traditional offense. Theres no doubt the Ravens will have to use the no-huddle more, perhaps a lot more.

A lot of fans werent happy when the Ravens cut popular tight end Todd Heap before the season. But there was no doubting the move Sunday. While Heap, now with the Cardinals, sat out the game with a pulled hamstring, his replacements, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, combined for 12 receptions.

After a week in the spotlight, Ray Rice saw his touches go back where they belonged Sunday 18 rushes and seven receptions, not bad on a day when the Ravens basically had to abandon the run after falling so far behind. Rice had three rushing touchdowns for the first time in his career.

The taunting penalty on Rice in the fourth quarter was absurd. He gestured his strength, directed at no one, after making a nice play. His actions seemed little different from what many players do on many plays, but the penalty basically killed a key Baltimore possession with the score tied.

During their comeback, the Ravens benefited from multiple crucial penalties on Arizona. The Ravens were awarded first downs by penalty at the Arizona 1, 2 and 3 on successive touchdown drives. That helped the Ravens red-zone offense, for sure.

Too many penalties were called in this game 23 in all against both teams. A few were obvious, but too many were borderline calls. Im guessing the crew does not receive a high grade.

The Ravens defense gave Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb all sorts of problems, repeatedly pressuring him, hitting him and forcing incompletions (and one interception). To his credit, he hung tough and drove the Cardinals 53 yards to a tying field goal (helped by two defensive penalties) after the Cardinals relinquished the lead early in the fourth quarter. But he couldnt do any more.

Flacco fumbled twice while being sacked and also threw an interception. Thats three fumbles in the past two weeks, along with a pair of interceptions.

The pass protection of tackle Bryant McKinnie and guard Andre Gurode was seriously lacking at times, enabling Arizona defenders to harass Flacco and hit him repeatedly. The move to the no-huddle, with its quicker routes, took the heat off the line.

David Reed brought several kickoffs out of the end zone for the Ravens but was swarmed on most before reaching the 20. The Cardinals return game looked more explosive and dangerous.

Paul Kruger had his most productive day in the defensive interior, registering two sacks, including a key one that gave the Ravens good field position and set up Billy Cundiffs winning field goal. Nice comeback from his hurtful running-into-the-punter penalty in Jacksonville Monday night.

Just a huge day for Terrell Suggs 13 tackles, nine unassisted, one sack, four tackles for losses and two quarterback hits. It was his defense, not Ray Lewis, on this day.

Follow John Eisenberg on Twitter at @CSNEIsenberg.