September 16, 2012
If the Ravens can't generate a steady pass rush, it's going to be a long season for this defense.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was responsible for 405 total yards Sunday, but it was the final one that broke the Ravens' backs. All afternoon, the Ravens did their usual bend-but-don't-break routine, allowing the Eagles to pick up yardage, mostly through the air, then holding them to a field goal or forcing a turnover. The Ravens recorded four takeaways and appeared to have a fifth before a video review overturned an incomplete pass by Vick that was initially ruled a fumble on the field. And on the following play, Vick found a crack in the spread-out Baltimore defense and squeezed through it for the game-winning touchdown. The Ravens rarely got near Vick on the 10-play, 63-yard drive unless he scrambled out of the pocket (or they got him with a late hit, like defensive end Arthur Jones did after one first-down throw), and that was with backups at left tackle and center after injuries to King Dunlap and Jason Kelce.
It was a sublime game for Vick -- don't let the two interceptions fool you, the good Vick showed up Sunday -- but time was also on his side in this game. The Ravens finished with just two sacks and were credited with three quarterback hits as Vick was able to extend a handful of plays and finish them off with completions for chunks of yardage. He was 23-for-32 for 371 yards and a touchdown, and he ran for 34 yards and a score on 10 carries. "We kind of stalemated a lot trying to get to Michael Vick," rookie linebacker Courtney Upshaw said. "We didn't get to him enough." And with Terrell Suggs sidelined at least until November or maybe longer, the fear is that "We didn't get to him enough" will soon become a popular refrain for the Ravens pass rush, because it's obvious that this is a completely different defense with its most feared player.
Tom Brady and the New England Patriots come to M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday night. Three weeks later, they will host Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys. After that it's Matt Schaub, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Robert Griffin III, and the Manning brothers later on the schedule. You can probably see where I'm going with this. The Ravens defense has looked vulnerable these past two weeks, especially while allowing 486 total yards Sunday. And if there are cracks, good quarterbacks will figure out how to exploit them if you give them enough time.