A Super Bowl isn’t won in a week, even though the Ravens have a pretty darn impressive one in their rear view.
Baltimore showed glimpses of a potentially prolific offense and an effective, even if not stifling defense in its 44-13 opening win over Cincinnati. Now the key will be to build on that.
Next up, road test No. 1 at hostile Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Whether that means a stiffer test for the Ravens remain to be seen after the Eagles took a close one against the Browns.
The offense could be most important to watch for Baltimore, considering the no-huddle attack might hit some snags with extreme crowd noise. Of course, the team has tried to simulate those conditions this week in practice, but it’s never the same as when you take the field at a place like the Link.
Coach John Harbaugh has admitted communication is an area the team needs to improve, and wideout Torrey Smith echoed those thoughts, considering the no-huddle is reliant on everyone being on the same page.
“Well, I hope we are a lot better, both sides of the ball, really,” Harbaugh said of the team’s communication. “Offensively, obviously, it will be more of an issue there. Defense probably had the loudest crowd noise in our own stadium here. So, we had some issues on both sides of the ball. We’re going to have to really work on that. That’s got to improve.”
Smith said one thing giving the team confidence is that it executed its offense last week even though the opponent knew the style of play that was coming. He hopes to see more of the same Sunday.
“I mean, the no-huddle’s tough. It’s tough on us, too,” Smith said. “It’s tough on them, as well.”
After leading the Ravens to 44 points and 430 yards Monday, quarterback Joe Flacco was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week. Now, the unit goes in to Game 2 needing to guard against a slip back.
“John talked to us a little about that just because the last few years we have come out on the opening week and played really well and then had a little bit of a letdown the next week,” Flacco told reporters. “We’re doing the best we can to make sure to get our bodies rejuvenated on a short week so that we can go out there on Sunday and just get after it as best as we can.”
Baltimore’s defense had a so-so opening week. The positive was that the Ravens held the Bengals to 13 points. But it was more of a big-play, bend-not-break kind of performance.
Cincinnati racked up 322 yards, and put itself in position to tie the game after falling behind 17-3 early. But a key stand on the 1-yard line allowed the Ravens to hold their advantage and a huge second half from the offense turned it into a rout.
Defensive coordinator Dean Pees wasn’t overly thrilled.
“Overall, I was really pleased the way we played the second half,” he told reporters. “I was not particularly pleased the way we played the first half, especially against the run. We have to play better against the run than what we did in that game. They are all things that are very correctable. We just sometimes didn’t play with good leverage, got kind of out of our gap.
“One of the things we wanted (to do was) not give up big plays. We really didn’t. They caught us on one blitz and that screen pass that kind of caught us. It was a good call against a good defense, and they had us. Other than that play, we played well on the back end, not giving up big plays, contesting some throws. But, we have to shore up the run game.”
The pass rush also wasn’t what it had been in recent years. Without Terrell Suggs, the team has had difficulty getting to the quarterback since the beginning of the preseason. Haloti Ngata had two of the team’s four sacks while Ray Lewis added one in the opener, but Andy Dalton had plenty of time when the result was still in doubt.
So, if there’s one thing second-round pick Courtney Upshaw said the defense wants to do better?
“Just trying to get to the quarterback more,” he said. “We got some pressure here and there, and we just want to try to continue to get sacks and get pressure on the quarterback.”