Yes, I know, last night’s gut wrenching defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers is still being grieved over by many. The Ravens had the opportunity to make a big time statement on primetime television and crumbled when it mattered most. Whether you blame the horrid offensive play calling in the fourth quarter or the idiotic decision to play prevent on defense, you would be correct on both sides. However, even with the asinine scheming from both coordinators there are some positives that can be taken from the loss.
The Ravens Have Found Their Running Back
The Seahawks’ cutting of running back Alex Collins may have been the best thing that has happened to the Ravens this season. Collins’ explosiveness and ability to make people miss has been a major reason why this offense has put up back to back solid performances. Last night, the second year man out of Arkansas, gashed the Steelers run defense. Collins finished the game with a career high 120 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 6.7 yards per carry on only eighteen attempts. He was also a threat out of the backfield catching only two balls, but went for forty-six yards. Alex has an opportunity to break the 1,000 yard rushing mark after being nothing but an afterthought in Seattle and not starting in three of the Ravens’ thirteen games this season. So far this year, Collins, has 825 yards, five touchdowns, while averaging 5.1 yards per carry, on only 162 attempts. After fixing his fumbling issues early on this season, Collins has not coughed up the rock in nine straight games. The Ravens have not had a running back of this caliber since the days of Ray Rice. It looks to me that they have found their future of their ground attack.
These HBs made things happen after contact this week pic.twitter.com/UsVcbu7GbW
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 11, 2017
Offense Shines Once Again
Every Ravens fan is well aware how bad this offense has been this season. From the poor decisions of quarterback Joe Flacco to the unbelievably bad game plans of offensive coordinator Marty Morhninweg, this offense has been hard to watch. However, something has changed in the last two weeks as the offense may have found its groove. In their last two games the Ravens’ offensive unit has scored eighty-two points, that is eighteen more points than they put up in the three games prior to the contest against the Lions. Yardage wise, Baltimore posted a season-high 413 yards from scrimmage in last nights game, breaking their previous high of 370 yards, put up only a week ago. The unit got off to a slow start last night as they found themselves in a early 14-0 hole. But they did not quit and stormed back, outscoring the Steelers thirty-one to thirteen in the second and third quarters. The ability to come back after being down is something that this Ravens offense has not been able to do this season, so it is extremely encouraging seeing the never quit attitude showing up moving forward towards the playoffs. The only fault in last nights offensive game plan was the conservativeness in the fourth quarter. The Ravens can never seem to step on their opponents necks when they have them down. They get conventional and allow their opponents to stay in the game, last night being a perfect example. But if this offense can find a way to deliver that much needed knock out punch, fans could be in store for a lot more high scoring affairs from this unit. Last night just was not enough. When your offense puts up thirty-eight points, you expect to win. Unfortunately, the Ravens defense surrendered one to many points. Literally.
Marlon Humphrey Shined When the Lights Were On
Many fans were skeptical when cornerback Marlon Humphrey’s name was called in the first round of April’s draft. With the signing of veteran Brandon Carr and the emergence of the home grown Tavon Young many experts and fans were perplexed when the Ravens took the Junior out of Alabama. But last night he proved he was worth the first round title that was given to him by Baltimore. Last night was by far Marlon’s toughest challenge of his rookie campaign. Humphrey was given the task of covering All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown along with deep threat Martavis Bryant. Humphrey did not shy away from the daunting challenge as he held Steelers receivers to only six receptions on twelve targets for thirty-seven yards, including only two receptions on five targets, for seven yards when covering Brown. That adds up to a 56.6 passer rating for the rookie. That is extremely impressive considering the amount of times he was beaten last week against the Lions, once he took the spot of the injured Jimmy Smith. Plus, the confidence is spewing out of the young stud as he let everyone know when he made a play and had someone on lockdown by celebrating quite often. Humphrey has some very big shoes to fill with the injury to the aforementioned Smith. But last night, I think Jimmy would have been proud of the performance from his understudy.
The rookie allowed just 50 percent of passes his way to be caught pic.twitter.com/HC5N8UAC9c
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 11, 2017
The loss left a bad taste in the mouth of Ravens fans, especially since it came from the Steelers. But the Ravens still hold the final wild card spot and have a very favorable schedule for their final three games. Baltimore controls its own destiny once again. If the offense can continue its hot streak and the defense can improve, this will be a scary team that not even the Steelers will want to see again in January.