Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco’s been begging for it for years.
Sunday night, he earned the respect he’s been looking for.
The Ravens quarterback stood toe-to-toe with Patriots counterpart Tom Brady, and came out the winner in a classic 31-30 decision.
Flacco was 28-of-40 for 382 yards and three touchdowns, the kind of signature win people keep expecting him to not get. At this point, he’s gotten those kind of wins often enough we really shouldn’t be surprised any longer.
Granted, he needed Justin Tucker’s just-in 27-yard field goal to win it (exorcising the demons of Billy Cundiff), but did everything he needed to do to move to 2-1.
Here are five more things we learned on Sunday Night Football:
1. God bless Torrey Smith, for the strength he showed coming to the stadium hours after his brother died in a motorcycle accident.
That he excelled on the field, catching six passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns made his story more touching, that he faced adversity and pushed through it.
But playing this game might be the easiest thing he does this week. Hopefully he has the same strength in the days to come, as well as the time and space to grieve.
2. The Ravens defense lacks a certain sizzle.
They’re still solid, but without outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, there’s a clear difference in what they’re putting on the field. The other parts can’t be as effective without the pressure he provides.
No group with Haloti Ngata, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed is going to be ordinary (although Ray Lewis isn’t RAY LEWIS anymore), but the lack of a consistent pass rush is going to keep them from becoming a truly elite group.
In other words, meeting their own established standard.
3. The Patriots are obviously smart.
Sometimes they seem to fall in love with their own cleverness, however, and make it more difficult on themselves than it has to be.
Plays such as the oddball-reverse to Julian Edelman (which Ravens linebacker Courtney Upshaw destroyed for a big loss, giving the Ravens a spark at a time they looked lifeless) are cuter than they need to be.
Couple it with their menagerie of backs of all shapes and sizes (mostly small), and it smacks of Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick congratulating themselves for doing things others can’t.
Psst, fellas, here’s the secret to the Patriots offense: You have Tom Brady.
It doesn’t have to be that hard.
4. That being said, the amount of freaking out about Wes Welker the first two weeks was clearly over the top.
Because they tinker, and because they spread it around, it’s senseless to think he wasn’t going to get his chances, contract issues notwithstanding.
With a 59-yard reception early, and eight catches for 142 yards, it’s clear they’re going to give him plenty of chances.
5. Ravens cornerback Cary Williams isn’t as bad as he looked at times Sunday night.
But he has the misfortune of playing opposite Lardarius Webb, which means he’s going to be targeted more often than he would playing anywhere else.
He turned down an extension offer from the Ravens in August, but needs to play better on national television if he’s going to do better on the open market.