Pro Bowl Synopsis For The Baltimore Ravens
It has been a season of ups and downs for the Baltimore Ravens, but six players were rewarded for their efforts this week with a trip to the Pro Bowl.
The Ravens’ offense has under-performed overall this season, as there was much hype before the season about the increasingly potent offense.
However, the Ravens’ offense ranks 15th in the NFL in yards per game so the true potential for this offense was not reached.
Regardless of the unfulfilled expectations, three offensive players’ contributions did not go unnoticed.
Running back Ray Rice punched his Pro Bowl ticket for the third time in four seasons. The diminutive running back is sixth in the AFC in rushing yards, fourth in rushing touchdowns, and second in receiving yards by a running/fullback.
Rice has had the good fortune to be running behind Vonta Leach, who was elected to his third straight Pro Bowl.
The bruising fullback’s statistics won’t blow you away, as he only received nine carries for 32 yards and a touchdown to go with 20 catches for 141 yards.
However, Leach’s impact isn’t measured in stats, but rather his ability to pave the way for Rice and his recurring success. The Ravens’ offensive line has had its ups and downs this year, but Leach has been a rock in the backfield blocking for Rice and Bernard Pierce.
Speaking of the offensive line, guard Marshal Yanda was elected to his second straight Pro Bowl.
The sixth-year guard was an anchor on an offensive line that has seen much upheaval. Between inserting rookie Kelechi Osemele, removing veteran Bryant McKinnie, and shuffling around the likes of Ramon Harewood, Jah Reid and Bobbie Williams, Yanda and center Matt Birk have been stabilizing factors on the line.
Yanda is 28 years old and figures to have a few more trips to the Pro Bowl in his future.
On the other side of the ball, the Ravens will send two familiar names to Honolulu.
Safety Ed Reed earned his ninth trip to the Pro Bowl. This election gives Reed his seventh straight trip overall as he still continues to be a ballhawk despite getting older and playing through injuries throughout most of the season.
Reed finished tied for second in the AFC for interceptions by a safety, as he picked off four passes. Reed also led all AFC safeties with 16 passes defended, so he was up to his usual tricks again this season.
When you consider how banged up the Ravens secondary has been all season and the injuries Reed has been battling, this may be one of his more gratifying selections.
Another defensive stalwart who has been battling injuries all season is Haloti Ngata.
The defensive tackle was selected to his fourth straight Pro Bowl in his seventh season.
Ngata ranked seventh in tackles for AFC defensive ends and tied for 14th in sacks by a defensive end. He forced zero fumbles and recovered zero fumbles, so his selection to the Pro Bowl might not be the most deserving of his career.
However, the voters still respected Ngata enough to select him. He has been dealing with nagging knee and shoulder injuries as well, so that may have been considering in the process.
The final Raven to make the Pro Bowl is the newly acquired Jacoby Jones.
Jones was signed away from the Houston Texans before the season and did not disappoint the Ravens. Jones finished third in kickoff return yards in the AFC and was the only player in the AFC to return two kickoffs for touchdowns.
Jones ranked fourth in punt return yards and also had a punt return for a touchdown. Jones was one of just three AFC return men to return both a kick and punt for a touchdown. Jones also chipped in for the Ravens as a wide receiver, as he is fourth on the team for receiving yards. The selection was the first in Jones’ five-year career.
The six Ravens selected to the Pro Bowl ranks fourth in regards to Pro Bowlers for a single team. Only the San Francisco 49ers (9), Houston Texans (8) and New England Patriots (7) had more Pro Bowlers than the Ravens.