You may have heard the term "getting over the hump" at some point in time of your sports watching career. This phrase refers to a team or organization that is not quite there yet. They have been fighting to get up to the top of the heap, but for whatever reason cannot quite seem to make it. Well, for the Baltimore Ravens, this game on Sunday is one of those "getting over the hump" games.
The New England Patriots (2-1) are the team of the 2000's. Behind mastermind head coach Bill Belicheck and future hall-of-fame quarterback Tom Brady, the Patriots have won three Super Bowl championships in the last decade. Brady has already cemented his position as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, but you can bet he wants to win more championships; and he certainly wants to equal the four championships his childhood idol Joe Montana won with the San Francisco 49er's.
The Ravens (3-0) come into this game undefeated and looking to move to 4-0 for only the second time in franchise history. Head Coach John Harbaugh's team is 14-3 over the past 17 games (including playoffs) and are heading into this statement game riding high. Led by sophomore quarterback Joe Flacco (6 TD's, 2 INT's), the Ravens have the second ranked offense in the NFL at 430.3 yards per game. The Ravens have also averaged 34.3 points per game in three contests, which is also good for second in the league.
Flacco has thrown for 300 yards or more in two of the three games the team has played. Helping Flacco out has been the play of the offensive line. Led by center and wily vet Matt Birk, the young Ravens o-line has not only helped keep Flacco on his feet; but also has opened gaping holes for running backs Ray Rice (38 attempts, 192 yards, 1 TD) and Willis McGahee (32 attempts, 190 yards, 5 TD's). Most importantly, however, the Ravens are 8-4 on the road under Harbaugh. The Ravens won only seven games on the road between 2005-2007.
The Patriots have gotten off to a solid start. Their offense is averaging 20.0 points per game, and 395 yards per game. Pretty good, right? Not if you are the Patriots. This is the same team that went 18-1 in 2007 with their only loss coming to the New York Football Giants in the Super Bowl. The Patriots are used to scoring 30 or more points, and don't think for a second their offense is thrilled with scoring only 20 ppg so far this campaign.
Led by Brady, running back Fred Taylor (38 attempts, 176 yards, 2 TD's) and wide receiver Randy Moss (26 catches, 281 yards, 0 TD's) the Patriots will try and exploit the Ravens defense. Traditionally, the Ravens have been built on defense, but things are changing. Though the Ravens are still stout with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, their pass defense allowed 436 yards to San Diego two weeks ago.
The Ravens are to get over the hump. This bandwagon has been building for some time now, and Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh are trying to build something big in Baltimore. Are the Ravens the new Patriots? No, not even close. But they are ready and will take the next step by beating the Patriots in New England. The Ravens offense is simply clicking on too many cylinders, and they are on a mission. How will Randy Moss pay for the fines after the game? "Straight cash, Homie."
Ravens 31 Patriots 20