Play Like a Raven – Week 9
Played Like a Raven – Ray Rice
After forcing myself to sit through the game again, I feel a little better about giving this week’s honors to Ray Rice. Not only was he the only member of the Ravens’ offense to board the plane for Cincinnati, but he once again did everything that was asked of him. Rice had 12 carries for 48 yards and the Ravens’ only score, and added 8 receptions for 87 yards, more than double what any other B’More receiver managed. He picked up the blitz nicely, and made himself available for Joe Flacco when, as usual, nobody was open down the field. His 1009 yards from scrimmage this season trail Tennessee’s Chris Johnson by 112 for the NFL lead.
Week in and week out, Ray Rice is playing like a Raven in 2009. Unfortunately, at times he seems to be leaving even the rest of his own offense in his dust.
Did Not Play Like a Raven – Offensive Line
Obviously, this dubious honor could have been given to any number of the players who wore white in Paul Brown Stadium last Sunday. Sure, the secondary was awful, again, and the defensive line and linebackers were nowhere to be found, but the fact remains that the defense still surrendered just 17 points (even if they were all on the Bengals’ first 3 possessions).
Seventeen points allowed should not spell certain defeat for a team whose offense averages nearly 30 points per game (at least when they don’t play the Bengals). However, because of the atrocious play by the Ravens’ O-line, who had been having a stellar year as a group, Joe Flacco had no time to throw or room to step up, and the aforementioned Ray Rice made the majority of his yards from seemingly nothing.
Jared Gaither was beat like a rented mule. Ben Grubbs and Matt Birk regularly whiffed, allowing pressure right up the middle. Chris Chester played worse than we’ve seen him play in probably two years. Even rookie Michael Oher struggled throughout the day. The entire group, along with Flacco, seemed to have trouble setting the protections appropriately.
Speaking of Oher, although he struggled, I don’t think he, by any means, should be “out of the lineup for a while,” as ESPN’s Gregg Easterbrook suggests.
Right now, rookie left tackle Michael Oher looks terrible. Oher has, at a tender age, already had a lifetime of complex emotional experiences, plus been the subject of a book that’s been made into a big-studio movie that opens next week. When Oher was drafted, TMQ noted, “The true story of an impoverished African-American boy adopted by an affluent white family has obvious Hollywood appeal, but can any 22-year-old handle such media pressure?” Maybe Baltimore needs to take him out of the lineup for a while.
Could it be that TMQ is watching Gaither and confusing him with Oher, seeing as he calls Oher the “rookie left tackle,” a position he hasn’t played since the Vikings game? It seems likely.
In the end, the Bengals got four sacks on Flacco, a third of the amount the Ravens had surrendered through the season’s first seven games, and the good guys managed only 55 total yards rushing. A dismal, dismal performance.
We’re not quite done yet. This, from last week’s “Play Like a Raven:”
The penalties didn’t matter Sunday, because the scoreboard was sufficiently lopsided. As we’ve seen already too many times in 2009, they CAN and WILL affect close games. With the level of competition the Ravens will face over the next crucial month, the handing out of yardage needs to stop NOW.
Hmmm…feel free to go ahead and STOP GETTING FLAGGED SO MUCH any time, guys.