Nov 10, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) runs from defensive pressure from Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Jamie Meder (98) at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
While the Baltimore Ravens offense exploded in the second half against Cleveland, it is still not time to fully trust them yet.
After a miserable first half on Thursday night, the Baltimore Ravens found themselves trailing 7-6 heading into the locker room. The offense had found its way into the red zone, but had struggled to convert any of the opportunities into touchdowns. A team that came into the game ranked 25th in the league in total yards and 24th in points scored, seemed to be playing up to that standard again.
A day after a Ravens win is always good. This time we get a Friday instead of a Monday for our celebrations. We get to celebrate as fans. The Ravens however, have to get ready for their trip to Dallas. This is a great first step for a struggling offense but there is much more work to be done.
Nov 10, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Chris Matthews (84) celebrates after scoring a touchdown in front of Cleveland Browns cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun (20) during the third quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
A 2nd half offensive turnaround
The second half was a completely different story. After throwing two bad interceptions in the first half, Flacco cleaned up the mistakes. He finished with a stat line of 296 yards and 3 touchdowns, with all 3 touchdowns coming in the second half. The Ravens marched down the field on their first drive of the third quarter and Flacco executed a beautiful pump fake to find tight-end Darren Waller for a 4 yard touchdown. Flacco then followed that up with a bullet to Steve Smith Sr. for an 11 yard touchdown. 2nd year wide receiver Breshad Perriman also joined the touchdown party, catching his first career score in the 4th quarter.
Flacco looked much more confident and comfortable in the 2nd half. He was pressured on just 10 of 44 drop-backs. Much of this came in thanks to the offensive line. They overcame injuries to Marshall Yanda and Alex Lewis to produce a solid performance. Valdimir Ducasse and John Urschel stepped in and held held their own. Center Jeremy Zuttah played most of the game on a sprained ankle while man handling 335 pound nose-tackle Danny Shelton. The amount of injuries that have occurred on the line this season is concerning, but the “next man up” mentality has proved well for the Ravens.
While the passing game was impressive, the ground game was as well. Running backs Terrance West and Kennith Dixon only rushed for a combined 103 yards, but both looked very explosive. Kennith Dixon looked like the running back the Ravens saw when they drafted him in the 4th round in the 2016 draft. He ran for 38 yards on 6 carries and was also a contributor in the receiving game, racking up 42 yards. Terrance West bruised his way to 65 yards on 21 carries. If this duo continues to play like they did last night, it could give opposing defenses loads of trouble.
Nov 10, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Breshad Perriman (18) runs for a gain after a catch against the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
After a breakout performance from the offense, Ravens fans should be confident, but should not get too ahead of themselves. The lack of offense in the first half is still a major concern. Luckily the Browns had offensive problems of their own, only producing 144 total yards. The defense continues to play lights out, but it’s a two way street here. The potential on offense is there, it just needs to be shown for 4 straight quarters.
I still do not trust the offense and neither should anyone else. With upcoming games against the Cowboys and Patriots, the Ravens are going to need to play a complete offensive game if they want to win. If they play same way against quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Dak Prescott, there is going to be some trouble.