Click here to view a slideshow of the Ravens’ win against Tampa Bay.

The Baltimore Ravens survived their first home game in weeks with a 17-10 win against non-conference opponent Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Nov. 28 at M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore controlled the tempo of the game for the most part, taking a 17-3 lead until mid-way through the final quarter. But a touchdown pass by Tampa’s Josh Freeman late in the fourth quarter made it a one-possession score. Fortunately for the Ravens, the running game opened up in the final minutes to drain the game clock, allowing Baltimore to move to 5-0 at home so far this season.

The Ravens sealed the victory when…
With only 1:56 left in the game, third-year tailback Ray Rice ran for a six-yard gain on second down to give Baltimore a fresh set of downs. With no more timeouts, Tampa Bay watched while the Ravens kneeled on the ball to kill the clock. Rice picked up three first downs on that final drive and finished with 85 yards on 20 carries.

Most Outstanding Player(s) of the Game:
Veteran receiver Derrick Mason dominated Baltimore sports headlines last week after reports surfaced about a sideline scuffle with third-year quarterback Joe Flacco during last Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers.
Derrick Mason post-game interview
Apparently, Mason was upset about a Flacco not finding him quick enough on a pass route and let him know about it with a few curse words and grab at the young quarterback’s face mask. Whatever Mason said or did to Flacco, it worked because Mason was targeted 13 times and caught a game-high eight passes for 87 yards and a touchdown Sunday against the Buccaneers. Flacco completed 25 of 35 passes for 289 yards, two touchdowns and a passer rating of 103.

During the postgame press conference, a reporter joked about whether or not the other receivers, Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh would fight with him this week in hopes of increasing their looks in next Sunday’s game.

“I don’t know if they want that. I don’t know if that’s a good matchup for them,” Flacco responded while laughing. “Me vs. them? I think I might have to handle them a little bit. But Anquan and them want the ball so I’m sure they might think about that if you let them know.”

Unsung Player of the Game:
Ravens’ fans were a little startled for a second after watching pro-bowl fullback Le’Ron McClain leave the game with and an ankle sprain, then a few players later watched starting left tackle Michael Oher go down with a knee sprain. But Baltimore’s offensive blocking didn’t suffer much, thanks to the stand-in job by reserve lineman Oniel Cousins. The backup left tackle stepped right in and played as if he was a normal starter throughout the entire second half.

“You always have butterflies anytime you’re about to play, but the coaches do a great job of preparing us and keeping us focused and ready to play for whenever our numbers may be called,”
Oneil Cousins post-game interview
Cousins said.

More Game Notes:
The Buccaneers came into Sunday’s game with a 7-3 winning record, but you couldn’t tell judging by their performance against Baltimore. Second-year quarterback Josh Freeman struggled throughout most of the game, passing for only 162 yards on 37 passing attempts and finishing with a 67.6 passer rating, his second lowest of the season.

“That defense played us really tough, and they did it with class,” Freeman said. “It’s really tough playing against Ed Reed…It seemed like he was all over the field. There was one play when I was throwing completely away from him and by the time the pass got there, he was there making the play. He’s very instinctual and he’s one of the best.”

Reed finished with a game-high 5 pass deflections, while star teammate Ray Lewis led the Ravens with 12 total tackles (seven solo).

Next Up:
Baltimore (8-3 overall) will host the biggest home game of the season when archrival Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3) come into town on Dec. 2. The game will more than likely determine the winner of the AFC North division title.

“We’ve got two arch rivals going at it, so that’s going to be exciting,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “We’re looking forward to it!”


Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor