In as clean a win as we have seen in awhile by Baitmore, almost everything was certainly done right. Routing Carolina 38-10, Steve Smith was the center of attention coming into the game and by the time the clock expired was the center still. Seven catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns for Smith in a highly anticipated revenge-game.
Adding to this, the defense played exceptionally well and held the Panthers’ running game in check and made plays in the passing game when needed; allowing only 67 yards rushing and 248 yards passing.
Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs stalked Cam Newton all day, along with heavy penetration dealt by the interior lineman, Chris Canty and Haloti Ngata most notably. The linebacking corp bottled up the run game but still struggled a bit in pass coverage, mainly on third down. All in all, the box remains the one area of the defense where the Ravens are at their absolute best.
The prevailing question remains just how good the youthful secondary can be. Matt Elam has continued to show flashes of inexperience. Asa Jackson and Chykie Brown have been up and down with their pass coverage and it seems Lardarius Webb will be solely missed up until next week when he will more than likely suit up against Indianapolis.
Joe Flacco had his best outing this season, throwing 22/31 on pass attempts for 327 yards and 3 touchdowns without a pick. It is still early in the season grant you, but this should if nothing else pose a good sign for Flacco and Company.
The running game was equally potent, Justin Forsett carried the brunt of the load for 66 yards on 14 carries and was complemented by Lorenzo Taliaferro who boasted 58 yards on 15 carries. The line consistently punished the first and second levels of Carolina, Kyle Juszcyzk blocking with the same level of tenacity. Fundamental, ball control football really does win games at the end of the day.
The offense is beginning to live up to the early season expectations everyone had labeled upon them, but, as always, the quality of Flacco’s play down the stretch will ultimately dictate whether or not we shall see this team play in January. As for the defense, the only real concern left is to tighten up their ability to defend the pass. This will go down as an early statement, but a statement nonetheless.