Let’s not kid ourselves, here. The Baltimore Ravens caught a huge break when the Oakland Raiders decided to sit Pro Bowl quarterback Derek Carr in what turned out to be a dominant 30-17 Ravens’ win Sunday in Oakland.
Carr is currently nursing a back injury but was volleying hard to play against the Ravens. Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio opted on the cautious side and kept his franchise player sidelined to avoid re-aggravating his injury.
That was an early Christmas gift from Jack to the Ravens, who advanced to 3-2 overall, in pace with the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) for first place in the AFC North division.
Oakland has one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL with Carr at the helm, and although Baltimore’s defensive unit is stout, it’s taken some blows due to injuries and has given up a ton of points over the last two weeks.
Carr would’ve feasted on this defense.
Instead, the Raiders started journeyman quarterback E.J. Manuel, who completed just 13 of 26 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown while leading Oakland to just 17 points.
Give credit to Baltimore’s offensive unit for actually playing well enough to outscore an opponent for once. They were horrible in Week Three against Jacksonville and nearly as bad against Pittsburgh in Week Four. But, they bounced back Sunday in Oakland.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was aggressive and attacked the Raiders secondary down the field. He connected with receiver Mike Wallace on two deep passes for more than 50 yards each. Flacco was 19-of-26 for 222 yards, and Wallace caught three passes for 133 yards.
It’s amazing what a little change in play calling can do. For the first time this season, Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg actually called passing plays that allowed Flacco to do what he does best and that’s throw the deep ball.
It paid off Sunday, and the Ravens need more of that to help alleviate all the pressure put on the defense in carrying this team to wins.
Baltimore may catch another break next Sunday, Oct. 15 when it hosts the Chicago Bears. Chicago rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky will be making just his second start by then and may be unprepared for a defense as good as Baltimore’s. I guess the Bears are into giving out early Christmas gifts, too.