By Matt Vensel
8:00 PM EDT, September 25, 2011
The Ravens easily corralled the Rams on Sunday, outgaining the home team by more than 300 yards in a 37-7 win. These are my quick-hit thoughts after the Ravens improved to 2-1 on the season:
1. So Torrey Smith is a bust, huh? The second-round pick became the first rookie in NFL history to score three touchdowns in one quarter as the Ravens raced out to an early 21-0 lead. The first was a thing of beauty. Smith blew past St. Louis cornerback Justin King and ran under a perfect deep ball from Joe Flacco. Once he got it, no one was going to catch him. His next two receptions went for touchdowns, too. On the afternoon, Smith finished with five catches for 152 yards. He won’t have that kind of production often, especially since defenses will have to respect his speed now.
2. Flacco deserves props, too, for having one of the most productive games in his NFL career. He completed 27 of 48 passes and his 389 passing yards set a new career high. The most encouraging stat is that 115 of those yards came on the first two touchdown passes to Smith. The Ravens finally have two receivers -- including Lee Evans -- who have the speed to run under Flacco’s long bombs.
3. That being said, what was the coaching staff thinking when they asked Flacco to throw the ball so often in the fourth quarter with the Ravens up by more than three touchdowns? There is nothing wrong with them trying to add to their lead, but they could have done it running the ball (Ray Rice and company averaged 6.5 yards per carry). They put their franchise quarterback and their Super Bowl hopes at risk. Had Flacco been injured in garbage time, we would be taking about it for years.
4. The Ravens racked up a franchise-record 533 yards of total offense and set another team record with 406 yards in the first half. Their defense was nearly as dominant, which is saying something. The pass rush hounded Sam Bradford, and St. Louis had just three passing yards at halftime. With all those three-and-outs, the Baltimore defense never had to worry about the no-huddle offense wearing them down.
5. After a passive performance in Tennessee, the Baltimore pass rush was beastly in St. Louis. The Ravens got a sack from five different players, including Terrell Suggs and rookie Pernell McPhee. Rams quarterback Sam Bradford got knocked to the turf 11 times. Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano deserves credit for that, but Bradford’s toughness impressed me, too. The kid never quit.
6. From now on, I will reserve a spot in this space for Haloti Ngata's play of the game. This week it was a 28-yard fumble return for a touchdown. Big men aren’t supposed to run like that.
7. One more thought on the Ravens throwing a bomb to Tandon Doss with two minutes left in the game: If John Harbaugh allowed that to happen against his good friend Steve Spagnuolo, imagine what he would have let Cam Cameron dial up if he was coaching against someone he didn’t like.
8. Ray Rice touched the ball just 13 times against a defense that had surrendered 177.5 rushing yards per game in Weeks 1 and 2, but boy, did he make the most of it. He had 79 yards on the ground and added 83 through the air. That 53-yard run in the second quarter was breathtaking.
9. That’s two dominant wins for the Ravens, which makes the loss to the Titans feel like a bigger letdown than it already had. By the way, count on the focused Ravens showing up against the Jets next weekend. It's the Rex Ryan Bowl in primetime. There's no way they won't be emotionally ready.
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