The first week of NFL football is in the books officially, and it’s all downhill from here. The Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals kicked things off last night in Baltimore, where the Ravens were missing defensive player of the year Terrell Suggs.
Long story short–it didn’t matter.
The Ravens killed the Bengals from about the second quarter on, where it was 17-10 for a brief moment while the Ravens caught their breath, and scored 27 second-half points to beat their division rivals 44-13. The top performers from this game–other than the Ravens’ always consistent defense–included Joe Flacco and, obviously, Ray Rice.
Flacco is one of my personal whipping boys in the NFL for his consistent inconsistency throughout the course of an NFL season. Flacco is constantly gifted with an incredible defense and running game, and the Ravens have not yet been able to get over the hump. If Monday night is any indication, Flacco looks like he’s over the hump.
The former first round pick out of Delaware tossed a pair of touchdown passes and finished the game with 299 yards and a quarterback rating of 128.4. It was a fantastic opening performance for Flacco, who is in the final year of his contract. You’ll remember this offseason, Flacco dubbed himself the best quarterback in the NFL, and while that’s not even close to true, he certainly looked like he was in the upper-half conversation last night.
Dennis Pitta led the Ravens in receiving with five catches for 73 yards and a big touchdown that put the Ravens up 24-13.
For the Bengals, Andy Dalton made some nice plays managing the game, but managing the game is not enough if your defense is giving up points on the other side to the Ravens, especially on the road. Then, Dalton threw a pick-six, which basically put the Bengals away for good.
Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis had 18 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown in his debut as a Bengal, showing some nice moves and proving that when you’re done in New England, you’re not done for good.
Ray Lewis is still a complete beast, by the way.
In Oakland, the Raiders lost their home opener to their division rivals in San Diego, led by Philip Rivers and some poor special teams play. We’ve known the Chargers for their bad special teams in the last couple of seasons, but the Raiders are usually some of the best in the NFL. When your Pro Bowl long snapper goes down, though, it’s hard to replace that very specific kind of skill.
Without Jon Condo snapping the ball to Shane Lechler, the Raiders suffered significantly. Their defense played decent otherwise, but that was just a big error to overcome with a bad snap and a blocked punt in the second half of last night’s game.
The game in itself wasn’t overly entertaining, but the Chargers got a big early season win within the division. Neither team ran the ball well, nor were the passing numbers anything to write home about. It was a pretty rough going game for both teams.
Both teams had undrafted free agents starting on offense from this year’s rookie class, and Oakland’s starting receiver Rod Streater from Temple caught a touchdown pass and two point conversion from Carson Palmer late in the game.