Ravens win AFC North at expense of fading Giants
The Baltimore Ravens feel as if they’ve already started the
It’s a sensation the New York Giants may not experience this
In a duel between two slumping teams desperate for a victory,
the Ravens beat the Giants 33-14 on Sunday to win the AFC North for
the second straight season.
”The difference was, for us, I just think we had a little bit
more sense of urgency because we knew what was at stake,”
Baltimore running back Ray Rice said. ”This was a championship
game for us. Solidify the home playoff game, back-to-back division
champs. That’s huge around here.”
The Ravens (10-5) were already assured a fifth straight trip to
the playoffs, but by winning the division crown, they are
guaranteed to open the playoffs at home during the first weekend in
”I am as proud of this team right now as ever,” coach John
The defending champion Giants, meanwhile, are simply hard to
figure out. This game was more important to them than it was to the
Ravens because New York (8-7) had not secured a playoff berth. Now,
after their second straight lopsided loss, the Giants need a win
over Philadelphia next week and a whole lot of help to get back
into the postseason.
”I just don’t have any answers,” defensive tackle Chris Canty
said. ”I just don’t know. It’s been tough. We just haven’t been
consistent, and it shows in our play and where we are at right
Joe Flacco threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns for the
Ravens, who led 24-7 at halftime and cruised to the finish behind a
short-handed defense that harassed quarterback Eli Manning and
limited New York to 186 yards.
Playing its second game with Jim Caldwell as offensive
coordinator, Baltimore scored touchdowns on its first two
possessions and amassed a season-high 533 yards – including 289 in
the first half alone.
”It’s about execution, man. It’s a simple word, but it’s a very
tough task to do,” said Rice, who ran for 107 yards and caught six
passes for 51 yards and a touchdown.
”We know what’s at stake. We want the AFC championship and it
starts tonight,” safety James Ihedigbo said. ”Playoffs started
for us. We’re not looking at regular season. Playoffs started for
us and we’re going to keep on playing.”
The Giants, on the other hand, have lost five of seven and were
coming off a 34-0 loss to Atlanta. This one was just as ugly.
”You saw the scoreboard,” Manning said. ”It wasn’t real
pretty, but that’s what can happen in football.”
Flacco rebounded from a stretch in which he committed two
turnovers in each of Baltimore’s three straight defeats. He
completed 25 of 36 passes, ran for a score and did not throw an
interception or lose a fumble.
He repeatedly picked on New York cornerback Corey Webster, who
simply couldn’t contain Torrey Smith or Anquan Boldin. Smith caught
five passes for 88 yards and a touchdown, and Boldin finished with
seven receptions for 93 yards.
Bernard Pierce ran for 123 yards as part of a running attack
that generated 224 yards.
The Giants struggled on offense and were just as shaky on
defense, a horrible combination for a team looking to stay tied
atop the NFC East.
”What has happened over the course of the last couple of weeks
is very difficult to explain,” coach Tom Coughlin said. We just
don’t look like a well-oiled machine offensively at all.”
Said Manning: ”We knew we had to play our best football at the
end of the season to get into the playoffs and we haven’t done
that. When you’re not playing your best, teams can come out and
Baltimore scored on its first two possessions to take a 14-0
lead, upped the margin to 17 points at halftime and kept the Giants
at bay throughout the final 30 minutes. The Ravens held the ball
for 39 minutes, 21 seconds compared to 20:39 for New York.
Unless they get very lucky, the Giants will wrap up a
disappointing season next Sunday. Some of the players, however,
already seem to be thinking about next year.
”We have to fight. There are jobs at stake and there is pride
at stake,” linebacker Chase Blackburn said. ”Nine-and-seven
versus 8-8 is a big difference. Hopefully we have enough pride …
to come out and give our best effort.”
NOTES: Flacco has thrown for a career-high 3,783 yards this
season. … New York defensive linemen Marvin Austin and Canty both
left with knee injuries. … Boldin hurt his shoulder in the third
quarter and did not return. … Baltimore has won 10 straight
regular-season home finales and has 13 consecutive home victories
over NFC foes. … It was only the fifth time in 47 games that New
York did not force a turnover.
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