After a rough patch of injuries to some key cogs, it appears things are turning around for the Baltimore Ravens.
Yes, cornerback Lardarius Webb and linebacker Ray Lewis are still out for the season, while defensive end Haloti Ngata missed last game with his knee and shoulder ailments.
However, the Ravens are starting to catch some teams with recent injuries, as the injury pendulum has swung back in the Ravens’ favor.
The Ravens started out on the wrong side of the inopportune injury bug though. They were destroyed by the Houston Texans in a marquee match-up of the AFC’s only 5-1 teams the game after the crushing losses of Webb and Lewis.
The losses of those players have taken time to adjust to, so taking on one of the NFL’s top teams in their own stadium the game after the injuries was a tough task to say the least.
Accordingly, the Texans gave the Ravens their most lopsided defeat since Peyton Manning carved them up in a 2007 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
The Super Bowl aspirations seemed to be dashed after that crushing defeat, and more importantly without Webb and Lewis.
However, the injury bug is rearing its ugly head all around the league, and finally the Ravens are getting some needed good luck.
Last week the Ravens caught the Oakland Raiders a week after they lost both their top two running backs, as Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson both suffered high-ankle sprains.
The Ravens took advantage of that situation as they completely shutdown Marcel Reece and the Raiders’ makeshift backfield. The Ravens allowed 72 yards rushing, which was the second best total this season for the defense.
Now, with two insanely important games with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the next three weeks, the Ravens have been dealt more good luck.
Ben Roethlisberger is now sidelined indefinitely after he was sandwiched between two Kansas City Chiefs’ defenders. The injury is to Big Ben’s ribs, and it appears to be pretty serious.
Thus, with the outcome of the AFC North hanging in the balance, the Ravens will now get to defend Byron Leftwich instead of Roethlisberger. Leftwich will be making his first start since week 3 in 2009, so there will indeed be some rust to be knocked off. Leftwich looked pretty unimpressive after he came in for Roethlisberger last week after the injury, so again this will be a good shot for the Ravens to improve upon their defense.
Safety Troy Polamalu and wider receiver Antonio Brown will also miss this important game, and the Steelers’ offensive line has been depleted as well this season, so there is more good luck for the Ravens on both sides of the ball.
Safety Ryan Clark, who was a Pro Bowler last season, appears that he will play this week but to what extent is not know. Clark has reportedly suffered two concussions in the past three games, so his availability and impact are in question.
So after some frustrating injuries that appeared to have a strong shot to derail championship aspirations, the Ravens now get Leftwich twice in the next three weeks in games that could very well determine the AFC North.
Now is the time for the Ravens to take advantage of catching opponents when they are vulnerable and grab a stranglehold in the division.