The Ravens had a lead foot in the first half, pulling away from the winless Indianapolis Colts by scoring the first 17 points of Sunday’s game at M&T Bank Stadium. The game never in doubt, they coasted to a 24-10 win. Joe Flacco threw two touchdown passes. Ray Rice topped the century mark, giving him back-to-back 100-yard rushing games for the first time ever. And Terrell Suggs had three sacks to set a new single-season personal best.
Here are my quick-hit thoughts after the Ravens improved to 10-3 on the year and held serve in the AFC North:
1. Terrell Suggs was already being considered as a candidate for NFL Defensive Player of the Year by many, but with seven sacks in his past three games, he now has enough sacks to catch the eyes of those who only pay attention to stats. With 13 sacks on the season, Suggs has topped the 12 he had in his rookie season, and he is two shy of Peter Boulware’s franchise record. Considering how he has blown through opposing offensive lines as if he was playing Red, Red, Rover against a bunch of six-year-olds -- and how the San Diego Chargers are so desperate for offensive line help that they are starting Jared Gaither at left tackle -- Suggs might break Boulware’s record by halftime next Sunday. Suggs forced three fumbles against the Colts, too, giving him six in 2011, which puts him atop the NFL in that category. Suggs should be on the short list of DPOY candidates.
2. Speaking of sacks, Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney had an impressive game, too. He put Ben Grubbs on his butt and jumped on Joe Flacco’s back for his first sack and spun around Bryant McKinnie for a second one. He might have been the lone bright spot for the Colts, who were otherwise totally dominated in the trenches.
3. How crazy is it that Ray Rice hadn’t had back-to-back 100-yard rushing games before Sunday? Even coach John Harbaugh was surprised by that stat when a reporter brought it up in the post-game press conference. With 307 yards in his past two games, Rice is shooting up the NFL’s rushing list -- he’s now over the 1,000-yard plateau for a third straight year -- and he is having arguably the best season of his four years in the league.
4. I feel bad that Dan Orlovsky has never won a game in his NFL career, but he gave us a reminder why losing follows him wherever he goes. With Orlovsky bouncing balls all over the turf, the Colts threatened to set a new franchise low in passing yards, and as we well know, the Colts have been playing football for a long time.
5. Flacco had another steady performance in Sunday’s win, and that’s noteworthy because he hadn’t thrown a touchdown pass in three career games against the Colts. He tossed two touchdowns in this one -- including one of the no-no-no-yes-yes-YES! variety to tight end Dennis Pitta -- and it appears he has figured out how to beat Cover 2 defenses like the Colts and the Cincinnati Bengals. He’s just taking what the defense gives him.
6. Torrey Smith had five catches for 48 yards and a TD. He dropped a long bomb but made a couple of strong catches underneath the coverage, continuing to show that he should one day be a solid all-around receiver.
7. A week after Lardarius Webb’s 68-yard touchdown against the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens again went with the two-returner look on punt returns and nearly busted one open for another touchdown in the first quarter. After being snooze-worthy in the first half of 2011, the punt return team is now exciting to watch.
8. The Ravens scored touchdowns on three of their four trips inside the 20-yard line, quieting concerns -- at least for a week or so -- about the team’s red-zone offense, which went 2-for-5 in the win over the Browns. Credit the decision-making of Flacco, who now has eight touchdowns and zero interceptions in the red zone.