If you happened to watch Fox’s telecast of the Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings contest, you may have felt as if you had just turned on your XBOX One and put in your copy of Madden:25. Well, at least in the fourth quarter it had that feel.
The Ravens have struggled to score points throughout the season, as they went six straight games earlier in 2013 without reaching 22 points; that is the amount they scored in the final 2:07 of this game. The 29 points is the highest total since the Ravens defeated the Houston Texans all the way back in Week 3 — Baltimore’s only time scoring 30 points this season — and they did it all without the help of Justin Tucker, with the exception of his extra point contributions.
There was no real way to analyze the first half of play, as both teams had trouble adjusting to the limited visibility, suspect footing, and slick football. That being said, Baltimore did have a two bright spots that stood out above the rest, and I’m not talking about Jacoby Jones and his highlight reel 77-yard kickoff return for a touchdown — Jones displayed balance similar to when he participated on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”
Even though he didn’t have a high yardage total of 48, tight end Dennis Pitta‘s return to game action was well-received by quarterback Joe Flacco and head coach John Harbaugh. Pitta gave the Ravens something they have been lacking in his absence, a reliable third down and red zone target. His clutch touchdown catch gave the Ravens a brief lead until Cordarrelle Patterson took it to the house on a 79-yard touchdown catch-and-run on a wide receiver screen for the Vikings, on what was a career day for the rookie. The 28-year-old tight end didn’t show any negative effects from the hip injury and appeared to play at 100 [ercent throughout the entirety of the game. If Pitta can do what he did today for the Ravens going forward, their aerial attack may be more dangerous than anticipated. The timing can’t be better, especially given the struggles of the ground game all season long.
Marlon Brown also had himself a ballgame. Other than the game-winning touchdown catch with four seconds remaining in the game, Brown found himself open and hauling in dink-and-dunk passes while Baltimore’s No. 1 receiver, Torrey Smith, was limited to just one catch on five targets. Clearly, Flacco was most comfortable with the undrafted rookie and Pitta ,as they both were targeted more than any other receiver as they received 11 targets each.
While Flacco didn’t have his best game with three interceptions, one of which Jones wants to have back, his clutch performance at the end is something his teammates can build off of. Anytime the quarterback demands the football and wins the game on his shoulders, teammates will follow him; that’s the mark of a leader. All of this did happen against the NFL‘s 30th-ranked passing defense, but the Ravens will take wins any way they can. At this point, any win in December is a good win.
Lardarius Webb had an up-and-down game. Four passes defended masks a day where Greg Jennings, Patterson and Jerome Simpson left him chasing rather than making plays on the ball more often than not. His counterpart, Jimmy Smith, once again played well and allowed little to no separation when he guarded receivers. Baltimore was also held without a sack once again, partially due to the troubled footing, but the Vikings had two and played on the same surface. The Ravens haven’t sacked the quarterback in eight quarters, as the last time they got after the quarterback was when Elvis Dumervil brought down New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith late in the fourth quarter of their Week 12 contest.
Baltimore is over .500 for the first time since Oct. 6 when they were 3-2 after a win over the now 7-6 Miami Dolphins. The Ravens control their own destiny and still hold the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC by virtue of the head-to-head win over the Dolphins. Baltimore has now won 30 of their last 34 home games with the victory today over the Vikings.