Here is what's bouncing around my brain after the Ravens beat the Buccaneers, 17-10, on Sunday:
1. The Ravens are still looking for that complete game, but they have to feel pretty good about schooling the surprising Buccaneers, who were eager to establish themselves as contenders with an upset. The Ravens scored all 17 of their points in the second quarter and relied on the defense to keep the young Bucs at bay the rest of the way. After the 17-10 win, the Ravens were already looking ahead to next weekend's showdown against the Steelers -- a game that will likely decide the AFC North. "Now we're playing the biggest game of the year," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. For once, that's not hyperbole.
2. A week removed from his highly-scrutinized sideline shouting match with Joe Flacco, wide receiver Derrick Mason was targeted 13 times and led the Ravens with eight catches for 87 yards and a touchdown. Mason often drew single coverage during the first half, but trust me, Mason's expanded role in the game plan wasn't just borne from advantageous matchups. The Ravens' first offensive play was a quick throw to Mason, and Flacco tossed 11 passes his way before halftime. Maybe it's time for Anquan Boldin, who has just 13 catches for 134 yards in the Ravens' past four games, to throw a hissy fit of his own.
3. The Ravens, who have done well in staying out of the trainer's room this season, had a trio of starters suffer injuries in the win. The statuses for LT Michael Oher (sprained knee), FB Le'Ron McClain (sprained ankle) and SS Dawan Landry (concussion) -- three of the team's most physical players -- are up in the air for next Sunday. Oher's injury is the most significant. Oher Tweeted during the game that he "will be ready" for the Steelers (yes, he'll get fined for that). If he isn't healthy enough to go up against James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, the Ravens could be doomed.
4. Ravens safety Ed Reed broke up a career-high five passes, including three in the red zone as the Ravens clung to a 3-0 lead in the second quarter. The Ravens held the Buccaneers to a field goal on the drive then scored two quick touchdowns to take a 17-3 lead into halftime. If Reed hadn't gone all Dikembe Mutombo -- swatting down passes left and right -- the outcome might have been different.
5. Speaking of good defense, the Ravens made things difficult for a Buccaneers offense that had scored 27.8 points per game in its previous four games. The Ravens slowed down running back LeGarrette Blount with solid tackling, shut down rookie wideout Mike Williams with tight coverage and took quarterback Josh Freeman out of his comfort zone with timely pressure. Freeman wasn't sacked, but the Ravens' pass rush had him bouncing passes all over the turf as if he was Donovan McNabb.
6. Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb better make sure he sends Micheal Spurlock a Christmas card after the Buccaneers wideout gave him a gift in the fourth quarter by letting a sure touchdown bounce off his hands. It's been tough sledding for Webb this season, but he'll be a good player over the long haul.
7. Flacco had another productive game at M&T Bank Stadium -- he has won eight straight at home -- throwing for 289 yards and two scores. Ho hum. Just another day at the office for the Ravens quarterback.