After weeks of barely pulling out victories, the Ravens turned in their best performance of the young 2010 season, hopefully a good sign for the future.
The Ravens rolled over Denver on Sunday, but that was to be expected because that's what good teams do to bad teams. The Ravens have beaten the Broncos five straight times in Baltimore, and none of those have been close.
The Ravens executed their game plan perfectly. They came in, scored early, got a big lead, unleashed a strong running game to punch the Broncos in the mouth in the second half, and then sent them home.
"I think it's the team in the other locker room," Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said of his team's not playing well here. "That's the way they play. I can't comment on the games before. I know last year it was the same thing. Even though it felt close at times, it didn't seem as close out there as the scoreboard showed in certain points of the game.
"They're a big, physical team and they certainly played well up front," said McDaniels. "I don't think we played as tough against a team like this and mentally, for the first time, I thought our mental toughness was questioned."
The Broncos are traditionally soft. They are a typical West Coast, pass-happy team that buckles in the face of smash mouth football. All the talk about the Ravens suffering a mental letdown after beating Pittsburgh last week was silly.
"When you play against the Pittsburgh Steelers, our ultimate rival, and have to bounce back and play, there's a fear of a letdown," said running back Ray Rice. "We're growing with experiences that we're facing right now, and it's going to carry us through the rest of the season."
Issues in red zone
The Ravens rushed for 233 yards, but they need some help on their short-yardage and goal-line blocking. Most of the time, it wasn't a matter of getting beat, but sloppy technique.
The Ravens were always solid at the point of attack, but sometimes players like Haloti Ngata and Le'Ron McClain failed to keep their feet moving after becoming engaged, or linemen Michael Oher or Chris Chester got overextended because they dropped their heads after initial contact.
The head is the heaviest part of the body. When it drops, the body follows.
McGahee gets motivated
I don't know whose idea it was to replace short-yardage runner Willis McGahee with McClain and Rice, but it was great. McGahee has been tiptoeing through holes since he got clobbered in Pittsburgh.
After a couple of short touchdown runs by Rice, McGahee scored on a 30-yard run late in the fourth quarter. Sometimes, splinters in the butt can be a great motivator.
Reed should be ready to go
Ravens coach John Harbaugh says from all indications, he expects Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed to be ready to play in Game 7 once he comes off the physically-unable-to-perform list.
"I think he'll be ready to go," Harbaugh said. "Obviously, you never know until the guy gets out there and starts practicing the football stuff. But based on the way he's moving around now, I don't see any way he won't be ready to go."
As I've stated before, there is Ravens' time, and then there is Ed's time. We'll see.
Washington's big day
Cornerback Fabian Washington may have played his best game in his two years as a Raven.
Washington was tied for second on the team in tackles with five and knocked down four passes. His coverage was excellent; now he just needs to learn how to catch the ball.
The best player with the best pair of hands on the team seems to be inside linebacker Ray Lewis, who has the team's only interception this season.
Hitting the mat
Speaking of Lewis, did you see that wrestling move he put on tight end Daniel Graham in the second quarter?
Lewis hit him with a lateral drop and put him flat on his back. It's a five-point move in wrestling, and if Graham was smart, he would have tapped or gotten counted out by an official.
Let's go back to the first goal line series for the Ravens.
To Harbaugh: Please take the three points instead of coming away with nothing.
To Cam Cameron: Please don't look to throw a pass to Ngata on fourth-and-goal at the 1. You have Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin, Todd Heap, T.J. Housmandzadeh, and the best you can come up with is a pass to a defensive tackle?
Mason talks – again
Mason had only three catches Sunday, one below his quota for talking to the media. But since he was the last offensive player to be introduced, Mason obliged us with a few words.
Just joking, No. 85.
Mason was open most of the afternoon but Flacco under threw him on a possible touchdown pass early in the second quarter, and then almost got him killed on another fluttering pass over the middle midway through the same period.
One word for Ravens reserve right tackle Tony Moll: T-I-M-B-E-R!
Moll looked like a giant redwood going down after one extra-point attempt. Long snapper Morgan Cox got chopped down in a similar matter in the fourth.
When the kick is 5 yards deep in the end zone, just take a knee. The kamikazes never slow down.
Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs had a chance to earn a sack but whiffed while trying to knock the ball out of Kyle Orton's hand instead of tackling the ball.
Suggs whiffed and came up with nothing but air.
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