Overcoming the elements, their own suspect play-calling, and a crazy last couple of minutes – the Baltimore Ravens beat the Minnesota Vikings 29-26. With the win, the Ravens improve to 7-6 on the year, and remain in possession of the last Wild Card in the AFC.
(Discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
What did we see?
1) This was the 3rd game in a 3 game home-stand for the Ravens. Before these games started, we talked about the need for the Ravens to win each of these games. Today was ugly at times, but that’s life. The play-calling through out the game was suspect, and the last few minutes of the game were difficult on the heart; but credit the Ravens for continuing to fight – and finding a way to win. If you don’t kill the champ, they keep coming back to fight again.
2) Much like the Ravens game in Chicago several weeks ago, today’s game is somewhat difficult to evaluate due to the conditions on the field. That said, I think it is fair to question the lack of offensive adjustments. Baltimore scored once in their 8 drives of the 1st half. They had to punt 5 times, Flacco was picked once, and time ran out to end the half. After their TD, they had 4 straight 3 and outs, gaining a total of 6 yards on those 4 series. Obviously the Ravens were being impacted by the snow. What you disliked it that the play-calling was not adjusting to the elements. There needed to be less long-developing plays. More quick hits, screens, and runs. In games with slippery fields, the offense always has the advantage (as they know where they are going).
3) The Ravens had a promising looking drive to start the game, but that was ended on a Flacco interception.
4) Baltimore received a 1st Quarter gift, with Matt Elam recovering a fumble that should have been over-turned. The Ravens would cash in on that gift, with Flacco finding Dickson on 3rd down for the TD. Baltimore got down into Goal to-go, with Flacco running through missed Vikings tackles for a 22 yard gain.
5) Was great to see Pitta back. After a few early drops, he made his presence felt in his first game action since the Super Bowl. Pitta’s 2nd catch (on the Ravens 1st drive of the 3rd Quarter) was short; but exactly what we wanted to see more of from the Ravens offense. Quick hits. 2 steps, and fire. Pitta’s 3rd catch was outstanding, leaving his feet for the 1st. Baltimore reclaimed the lead, on his 4th down TD catch with just over 2 minutes remaining. His last catch, put the Ravens at the Vikings 9 yard line with 10 seconds left.
6) Tough to see a great player like Peterson be lost to injury, but he did look uncomfortable running the ball before leaving. His replacement Toby Gerhart was hitting the hole harder, and having more success between the tackles.
7) The Ravens would end up out of time in the 1st half, but they started to move the ball with some success on that series. Rice had 3 catches on that drive for 34 yards. I had no problem with the decision to avoid Tucker attempting a 58 yard FG as time was expiring there.
8) Flacco was picked off for a 2nd time, late in the 3rd Quarter. This put the Vikings in good field position. Minnesota would capitalize on the Flacco’s pick, posting a TD in the 1st minute of the 4th Quarter. Jimmy Smith expected Safety help on the play. The Vikings were unable to score on the 2 pt conversion (good defense from Elam) leaving the score as 12-7 Minnesota.
9) Where was Torrey Smith today? The long-developing plays down the field were not working. Where were the screens, and slants to Smith?
9a) Bad drop from Smith with just over 9 minutes left.
9b) His 2 point conversion in the 4th was very important, and one positive on the day.
10) Down 12-7, the Ravens started from their 40. Flacco and Smith connected for the 1st time. That was followed by Rice up the middle for 9 yards, and Flacco to Brown for 10 more. From the Minnesota 30, Flacco and Brown connected again, this time for 7 yards. On 4th and 1 from the Vikings 21, the Ravens elected to go for it and were stuffed. The decision to go for it was not indefensible, but it felt like you had to come away with some points there. The play call was poor.
11) Flacco was picked off for a 3rd time, when Jones was unable to come up with a catch down the sidelines in the 4th. I don’t think that pick was on Joe.
12) After Flacco’s 3rd pick, the defense came up big once again. Forcing a 3 and out on Minnesota, Baltimore took over on offense with 6:32 left. Flacco to Jones for 15 yards, started things. The big play on the series was a pass interference penalty on Minnesota for 37 yards. That was followed by a pass to Dickson for a 7 yard gain to the Vikings 13. Pitta then gained 6 yards to the Minnesota 7. Rice took the Ravens to the 1, with a 6 yard rush. On 4th down, Pitta would get the score. Baltimore took the 15-12 lead with the 2 point conversion.
13) Immediately following taking the 15-12 lead, it took the Vikings 38 seconds to score. Minnesota would go 68 yards, over 2 plays. Gerhart going up the middle for 41 yards for the Vikings lead.
14) Jones answered that Vikings score with a 77 yard KR for a TD down the sideline. Baltimore reclaimed the lead (22-19) with 1:16 left.
15) Minnesota would again come right back, punching Baltimore in the mouth again. Patterson taking a slant 79 yards for the score. 31 second drive, for Minnesota to take the 26-22 lead with 45 seconds left.
16) Baltimore would put themselves in position to again claim the lead as time was expiring. The drive started at the Ravens 20. Flacco found Brown immediately for a 35 yard gain. A penalty on the Vikings took the Ravens to the Minnesota 27. An 18 yard catch from Pitta, put the Ravens at the Minnesota 9 with 10 seconds left. Reaching the Vikings 9 yard line with 10 seconds left. Flacco would go over the top, to Brown in the back of the end zone for the winning score! With the extra point, Baltimore went up 29-26 with 4 seconds left.
17) Pretty crazy that Flacco wound up with 50 attempts today, but I’m happy for him that he delivered when needed most. Pretty sure Flacco is happy to have Pitta back.
18) Rice finished with 67 yards on the ground (3.9 per carry) and 42 as a receiver.