Yesterday's Ravens game, a 9-7 ugly win over San Francisco, was one that Ravens offensive line coach Chris Foerster can put on his resume with a couple of gold stars.
Yes, the Ravens' defense was outstanding and/or the 49ers' offense was awful -- and that's a chicken-and-egg discussion.
But there was no ambiguity about how the Baltimore offensive line -- already operating without Pro Bowl tackle Jonathan Ogden -- held the fort when Ogden's replacement at left tackle, Adam Terry, and the line's cornerstone, center Mike Flynn, were knocked out early with ankle and knee injuries, respectively.
That left the Ravens with rookie bookends at the tackles, Marhal Yanda on the right, where he has been playing all season, and former Terp Jared Gaither on the critical left side. Another rookie, first-rounder Ben Grubbs, manned right guard. Second-year player Chris Chester, who has started just seven games, was pressed into service at center for Flynn. And a third-year player, Jason Brown -- technically a veteran among this crowd -- was at left guard.
So how many practice reps do you think that combination has had lately?
Which brings us back to Foerster, the game's unsung hero, who has managed to coach those guys enough individually to survive a test like yesterday's. Just take Gaither out on the left side. For an example of how disastrous a fill-in OLT can be to an entire team, you only have to go back to the Eagles-Giants game a week ago and recall how Osi Umenyiora destroyed a kid named Winston Justice, a second-round pick last year, and sacked Donovan McNabb seemingly on every other pass attempt.
The Ravens' Gaither -- who, frankly, was considered a bit of a project -- and the rest of the patched-together offensive line gave up ZERO sacks on 43 pass attempts and provided enough run blocking to allow Willis McGahee to gain 88 yards on 22 rushes.
It is true that the Ravens just barely averted disaster against a team that arguably they should have handled much more easily, but if you're looking to hand out medals for damage control, make sure you give one to Foerster.