So much for leaning on the running game and attacking the Rams on the ground, huh?
The Ravens talked all week about wanting to jump-start their downhill ground game and put themselves in third-and-manageable situations by running the ball effectively on first and second down.
They were going up against the NFL’s worst rushing defense, a Rams group which had allowed over 177 yards per game on the ground and had been gashed repeatedly through the season’s first two games.
Then, Baltimore went out and threw the ball 48 times.
The gameplan certainly was successful, as quarterback Joe Flacco threw for a career-high 389 yards and three touchdowns, and the Ravens were able to move the ball at will in the first half, when they had five drives over 45 yards.
Working with a beat-up wide receiving corps, Flacco spread the ball around today, and four of his targets had at least five catches. The main contributor, as we know, was rookie Torrey Smith, who had five catches for 152 yards and three touchdowns. But Flacco threw Anquan Boldin’s way a whopping 14 times with seven connections for 74 yards, he hit Rice five times for 83 yards, and tight end Ed Dickson added five catches for 51 yards.
Meanwhile, Flacco had more carries himself (nine) than did his Pro Bowl running back (eight), and he handed off to his running backs just 16 times all game. That number is even a little deceiving, as a handful of those carries came in the final quarter with the Ravens just trying to take the final minutes off the clock.
When the Ravens did run the ball, they churned out yardage in large chunks, as Rice averaged 9.9 yards per carry and Ricky Williams added 8.4 yards on his five rushes.
But it was clear that offensive coordinator Cam Cameron felt that he could have success against the Rams’ secondary by flinging the ball around.
The offensive line held up fairly well in front of Flacco considering the number of times the quarterback dropped back to pass. Longtime center Andre Gurode performed admirably in his first career start at left guard, and Flacco did a nice job most of the day of eluding pressure, stepping up in the pocket and delivering strikes down the field.
He was off the mark on a couple deep balls which he’ll wish he could have back, but hey, when the offense puts up a franchise record 553 yards, you could say it was a pretty strong day for the unit as a whole.
We knew that the Ravens could have success when Rice has a big day on the ground, as he did in the Week 1 win over the Steelers and has done so many times in previous seasons. Today, we saw that the offense can also be just as effective on days when Cameron feels the best strategy is to attack heavily through the air.