Ravens overcome the Rams in the final quarter.
FANS OF BOTH PONDER AFTER 16-13 RAVENS VICTORY
It was a game Vincent Price would’ve been honored to commentate. In fact, I’m almost certain that I could hear his “Thriller” laugh on more than one occasion during the game between the Baltimore Ravens and the St. Louis Rams that the Ravens won 16-13 — as if mocking me. That said, the visual writer that I am sits down to write about it and all I can visualize initially is the game’s version of the Michael Jackson video where two sides appear at odds about…you guessed it, who’s BAD-er.
You know a game is bad when its main highlight is a team’s low point, an injury to be more specific. Oh sure, if you’re a Rams fan, you get to walk away from the moment thinking yet again, “Damn, that man’s a beast!” The man is second-year defensive line standout Aaron Donald, who will most likely make the Pro Bowl for the second time in his two seasons as a pro, especially with the extra ‘street cred’ earned with the rag-dolling and snappage of Justin Forsett’s arm. But games are made up of a bunch of moments in several series each throughout, and for both teams, most of those moments were just…well, only “Damn.” Filled with mistakes and punts (even the refs sucked), it was really hard to watch.
The Ravens were 2-7 coming into Sunday’s game, and the Rams were 4-5. By game’s end, you’re scratching your head wondering how both teams ever managed to win one prior. How the Rams are still the only undefeated team in division play is mind-boggling now because this is a team that’s sliding down a slope opposite the playoffs as if it were covered with black ice. They lose their third game in a row and, as in all those previous years, find themselves just inside the outskirts of post-season possibility territory with bigger, better mobsters moving in on their turf. The sad part is, the Rams defense — the enforcers that have carried the team through some amazing victories in recent years — appears to be losing its edge. Not completely, not even on purpose perhaps, but just enough to make a difference late in games when that little something extra is needed. Yes, injuries to key players are a consideration, but one can argue that the most reliable players still healthy suddenly forgot how to tackle while others don’t pretend to appear interested in tackling players bigger than themselves. That argument in itself could be argued that perhaps they are simply tired from being on the field so long because of the inefficiency in third-down attempts by the offense.
The Ravens, who hadn’t held anyone to 20 points or less since week 1, beat the Rams 16-13 even after doing a fairly good job of trying to give the game away. The Rams’ newly-appointed starting quarterback Case Keenum was not much better than Nick Foles, although he is better at prolonging the agony with his ability to escape the opposing rush and extend plays. But the inevitable off-target pass or drops (or receivers never even getting open) still continues and with an O-line getting thinner by the week, opposing defensive coordinators have no doubt nailed down the two or three offensive plays that could possibly hurt them, taking their chances on all others because the others are simply not working time and time again. The Vikings, Bears and Ravens have been able to key on Todd Gurley the past three weeks so successfully because the Rams have other trick plays that are based there at the line of scrimmage; the bubble screen towards the sideline to Tavon Austin behind blocking receivers, and the end-around where Tavon comes back around to the QB for the reverse. Not much of a deep threat from any receiver on the team, and now, the glaring truth that the replacement can’t throw the deep pass. Keenum’s passes beyond thirty-five yards seemed to fall short every time…but wait, that could be a good thing if they work those fairly-successful pass interference plays into their weekly game planning when not facing quality corners.
For the (3-7) Ravens, it was an almost-pointless and costly victory. They won the game but lost two of the most crucial players on their team for the season in Justin Forsett and Joe Flacco. Flacco, who actually stay in the game afterwards, may have torn both his ACL and MCL. Forsett had both bones in his right forearm broken on a run play that Aaron Donald penetrated and stopped cold, the latest in a series of controversial plays involving the Rams despite nothing being out of the ordinary about it.
Baltimore won the game, however, after being down by 10 points by outscoring St. Louis 13-6 in the second half, and via a second-chance field by kicker Justin Tucker as time expired — this after both teams had missed fields of over 50 yards inside the final two-minute warning.
FIRST QUARTER: After the 3rd-down injury to Forsett, the Ravens missed a field try and gave the Rams good position near mid-field. A 49-yard pass interference call aids as Todd Gurley takes it in off-right for a 1-yard TOUCHDOWN. Score: Rams 7, Ravens 0
SECOND QUARTER: The Mostly punts were exchanged until one return was fumbled by Tavon Austin and recovered by the Ravens deep in Rams territory. This led to a Justin Tucker 25-yard FIELD GOAL as the first half came to an end. Halftime Score: Rams 7, Ravens 3
THIRD QUARTER: Motivated by an interception by Rams Trumaine Johnson, the Rams score on 30-yard TOUCHDOWN connection, Case Keenum to TE Lance Hendricks. Extra point kick is BLOCKED Score: Rams 13, Ravens 3
FOURTH QUARTER: A Todd Gurley fumble gives the Raves the ball at the Rams 42-yard line, and aided by a 16-yard pass to TE Crockett Gilmore, Flacco hits Kamar Aiken for a 3-yard TOUCHDOWN pass. After both teams miss a late field goal each, the Rams Keenum is hit from behind and fumbles, setting up a game-winning 47-yard FIELD GOAL. Final Score: Rams 13, Ravens 16
The Rams Case Keenum’s first start of the season was ruined, in part, by late fumbles by him (losing three of his four) and Gurley, but can be also be attributed to their O-line woes. Keenum threw for 136 yards, going 12-of-36 with 1 TD and no INTs. He appeared to get better as the game went on, as expected, after the Rams managed only 74 yards total in the first half against a suspect secondary. Keenum was concussed late, which was noticed by everyone except the people that get paid to notice. He may not start next week if for no other reason than to save face — both the team’s and the NFL’s.