Six Pack of Observations: Ravens at Titans

Here are six quick-hit observations on the Ravens’ 13-10 victory over the Titans in Saturday’s NFL divisional round playoff game.

1. Chris Johnson’s injury destroyed the Titan offense.
It’s no mystery how the Titans opened the game with a touchdown and then went scoreless until late in the fourth quarter. Johnson totaled 100 yards before an ankle injury in the second quarter sidelined him for the rest of the game. The rookie was clearly the most explosive player on the field in the first half and once he went out, LenDale White was a huge drop off. No disrespect to Justin Gage (10 receptions, 135 yards) who had a solid day, but the Titans’ offense lacked explosiveness and this game was a great example of how good Johnson was this season.

2. Joe Flacco played a perfect game.
If someone checked the stat sheet and saw that Flacco was 11 of 22 for only 161 yards and a touchdown, they would probably note that his performance was far from perfect. But in his first two career playoff games, Flacco has not turned the ball over once. For a rookie, he’s played flawlessly because he hasn’t turned the ball over, has made just enough plays in the passing game and he’s given his defense a chance to do what it does best – shut opponents down. For a rookie, he’s played two perfect games and now he’s one win away from playing in a Super Bowl.

3. Tennessee saved its worst performance for the most important game of the season.
Tennessee totaled 12 more first downs (21 to 9) than Baltimore and out gained the Ravens by 180 yards (391 to 211). But they turned the ball over three times, were penalized 12 times and were just 4 of 14 on third downs. The Titans had one of the best seasons of any team in the NFL, but not even good teams can win like this – especially not against a great defense like Baltimore’s.

4. Derrick Mason can still play.
Mason might have well been the Ravens’ entire offense today. On his lone touchdown of the afternoon, Mason snuck by the Titans’ secondary and Flacco put a perfect pass on the numbers. Then on Mason’s 37-yard reception late in the third quarter, Flacco threw into double coverage but the 34-year old vet made an outstanding adjustment on the ball and came down with the catch between two Titan defenders who couldn’t keep their balance. NFL pundits like to note how Flacco has nobody to throw to, but Mason proved once again that he could still excel at this level.

5. Alge Crumpler was a dud free agent pick up
Some football purists criticized the Falcons for cutting Crumpler – an experienced, veteran leader – in the offseason and then lauded the Titans’ decision to sign him to a two-year, $5.25 million deal. Word this preseason was that Crump was healthier than ever, his knees were stronger than they had been in previous years and he was glad to be out of the mess that was Atlanta. Then the season started and the veteran promptly disappeared. He caught just 24 passes for 257 yards and one touchdown this season, then cost the Titans dearly when he fumbled in the red zone against the Ravens on Saturday. One play doesn’t cost a team a win, but if Crumpler would have hung onto the ball the Titans might put six on the board that drive and come out with a victory.

6. Overall, this was a brutal game.
With all due respect to Sunday’s Eagles-Giants game, this was supposed to be the best matchup of the weekend. But penalties (20 total to be exact), turnovers (three to be exact – all from the Titans), injuries and cheap shots from both teams ruined an otherwise excellent matchup. And the officials were no bargain either – how does a Tennessee offensive lineman get flagged for helping Chris Johnson up after multiple Raven defenders bent him backwards after the whistle blew? Ugly doesn’t begin to describe how this game played out.

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Five best and worst NFL offseason acquisitions from 2008

Michael TurnerThe 2008 NFL Season has entered its second half and while some teams are rejoicing over the moves they made this past summer in either signing or trading for players, others are wondering what the hell they were thinking.

Below are five of the best acquisitions from the 2008 NFL offseason, as well as five of the worst. Granted, these moves might look differently at the end of the season or in a year or two, but for now, these are the best of the best and the worst of the worst from the 2008 offseason.

Five Best Offseason Acquisitions:

1. Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons handed “The Burner” a six-year, $34.5 million contract in early March and while some pundits loved the move, others thought it was too much for the unproven Turner, who had spent his entire career backing up LaDainian Tomlinson. But the signing has paid huge dividends for a Falcons team that ranks second in the league in rushing thanks to his bruising running style. He’s formed a nice “Thunder and Lighting” combo with Jerious Norwood and more importantly, has taken a lot of pressure off rookie Matt Ryan by demanding opponents to focus on taking away the run. He hasn’t fared well against top defenses this season, which is a concern, but outside of that he’s been everything Atlanta had hoped for. He has rushed for 890 yards on 203 carries and has scored seven times.

2. Asante Samuel, CB, Philadelphia Eagles
There was a lot of talk last offseason that Samuel would never live up to the hype that surrounded him in New England. But through 10 games this season, it’s hard to argue that the former Patriot hasn’t lived up to his big play billing. Samuel has recorded three interceptions on the year and has fit into Jim Johnson’s defense better than most expected. He’s not a shutdown corner, but he plays well in zone and rarely gets burned deep. He has also helped the Eagles rank sixth in the league in pass defense and ninth overall in yardage allowed. He was pricey at just over $57 million for six years, but so far Samuel has been worth the money.

Read the rest after the jump...

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