I had a couple thoughts that I didn't see mentioned anywhere else.
- I have been one of the biggest and most longstanding critics of Bruce Arians in these parts, but he called an above average game this week. The offense came out with a plan and a purpose, being stopped only by poor execution. Of Ben's first 6 or 7 incompletions, 1 was a throw-away and the rest were drops or slight timing problems. On the Ray Lewis 3rd down sack, we had plenty of guys blocking, but Stapleton doubled Hartwig's guy and didn't pick up the blitzer. After running up the gut on 3rd and 1 for about 8 times in a row, Arians called PA bootleg, which I thought was a really good call, but Suggs sniffed it out, and Ben couldn't get the ball to Miller without fumbling. Even so, we didn't have a 3&out in the first half. The Ravens D was favoring the pass more than the run, so we ran. We picked up chunks of yardage at time and really had nice balance. We fought through some terrible field position and gave our defense a chance to succeed - which is what we need to do to win tough games. There was still the usual lull in offense in the 3rd quarter, but they put together 2 very fine drives in the 4th quarter to seal the win.
- Now James Harrison knows what it's like to be Aaron Smith. He had two 300lb linemen on him for most of the day, and he held up about as well as a 245 lb guy can, so not very well. However, missing the extra receiver really affected the Ravens passing game, as Clayton and Mason did almost nothing. Of all threats, our defense is most suceptible to RB's and TE's catching the ball, so to take one of those out is a big deal. Still, they pounded us fairly successfully in the running game, and I think LeBeau may prepare a lot more "fat" 4 man fronts if we see them in the playoffs, particularly if we get Keisel back. 6 OL's on 3 DL's hardly seems fair.
- I was a little disappointed that Woodley didn't get a sack, although he did have a pressure or two. Is the season wearing on him a bit? We need him to be a threat so teams won't benefit from doing what they did to Harrison.
- Did anyone notice that we had almost no injuries to speak of? Farrior sat out for like 5 plays with a stinger or something. 'tone got banged up - or he was faking it after making boneheaded play #7 - but finished the game obviously. When was the last time we got off this easy against Baltimore? I thought the game was a little less intense than usual on both sides.
- Speaking of Holmes, is it time to bench him? He's had a string of pretty bad weeks, and Sunday was awful. Knowing Tomlin, he's going to challenge him this week instead of benching him, which is one thing I really like about Tomlin. Still, I think I trust Washington more than Holmes right now.
- I'm not particularly worried about Joe Flacco being in our division for the forseeable future. He's probably exceeded expectations, but he has yet to really impress me. Everyone talks about his arm strength, which is impressive, but he threw a few of the most off-target deep balls I've seen. Until he gets that fixed, teams are going to gang up on shorter routes and he's going to have more 115 yard days.
- Well, we've clinched the division and a bye week. We play the Titans, probably without triple-team worthy Haynesworth, for the #1 seed. The Giants offense has looked awful for the past 2 weeks. We just went from having as good a shot as anyone to maybe having the best shot. Let's hope the team stays grounded and takes care of business to finish the season strong.