Ravens

Quick Links

Ravens lookback: Baltimore opened the 2011 season with a rare blowout of the Steelers

Ravens lookback: Baltimore opened the 2011 season with a rare blowout of the Steelers

The Ravens have opened their regular season just four times against a divisional foe in the last decade. They’ll do so once again in 2020. 

But only once has that team been the Steelers. And in 2011, the Ravens made it count. 

Baltimore started hot and avenged its playoff loss from the previous playoffs with a 35-7 blowout of Pittsburgh on opening day at M&T Bank Stadium. It was the first loss in week one for Pittsburgh since the 2002 season. 

Ray Rice started things off well for the Ravens, as he carried the ball for 36 yards on the team’s first play from scrimmage. Joe Flacco threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin on the season’s third play, and the Ravens were off and running.

Rice added another touchdown late in the first quarter, which would end up as the team’s winning score, and once again in the second quarter to give the Ravens a 21-7 lead at the break. 

Ed Dickson and Flacco connected for an 18-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter to push the lead to 22 before two Billy Cundiff field goals put icing on the cake of an opening day statement from the Ravens. 

Flacco finished the day 17-of-29 for 224 yards passing with three touchdowns while Rice gained 107 yards on the ground. Boldin led Baltimore in receiving with 74 yards and a score. Ricky Williams in his first and only season in Baltimore and last in the NFL, rushed for 63 yards on 12 carries. 

While the offense hung 35 points on the Steelers, the defense stole the show. 

Ed Reed had two interceptions and Ray Lewis added one more as the Ravens’ defense kept Ben Roethlisberger uncomfortable all afternoon. Terrell Suggs, at the outset of his Defensive Player of the Year season, tallied three sacks against the Steelers. 

Lardarius Webb, who had half a sack, led the team with 11 tackles. Lewis trailed with seven while Reed and Tom Zbikowski posted six tackles each. 

The Ravens weren’t able to follow up their pristine start to the season in proper fashion, as they lost to the Titans in week two on the road. But they rallied from that loss and went 9-2 in their next 11 games, with both losses coming on the road by five points apiece. 

Baltimore’s season, which started with a bang, ended with one too. Although it wasn’t one the team hoped for. 

The Ravens made the AFC Championship game and nearly knocked off the Patriots, but fell 23-20. The game is widely remembered for two plays: Lee Evans dropping a pass in the corner of the endzone that would've been the game-winning score and Cundiff shanking a 32-yard field goal wide left. 

While the season didn’t end well for the Ravens, the week one win over the Steelers was perhaps the most satisfying win of the season.

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE RAVENS NEWS:

Quick Links

Ravens training camp preview: How effective of a season can Matthew Judon have?

Ravens training camp preview: How effective of a season can Matthew Judon have?

Rostered outside linebackers: Matthew Judon, Jaylon Ferguson, Tyus Bowser, Aaron Adoeye, Chauncey Rivers, Marcus Willoughby, John Daka.

If there was one position of “need” the Ravens didn’t address this offseason, it was outside linebacker.

The Ravens instead added to their interior defensive line and inside linebacking corps, but didn’t add a notable free agent or draft pick at outside linebacker. Instead, they’re set to run back the group from a year ago. 

The team ranked 21st in the NFL a year ago in sacks with 37, but second in quarterback knockdowns. Essentially, the team dialed up pressure more than anyone else in the league but didn’t get home enough. Now, they're hopeful they've fixed that problem.

And if there is a trickle-down benefit to the outside linebackers of those additions elsewhere, it’s that the Ravens’ outside linebackers should have more one-on-one matchups on the outside. Notably, that includes Matthew Judon. 

He finished the year with 9.5 sacks a season ago and had 33 quarterback hits — more than three times the second-place finisher on the roster. And now, he’ll play on the franchise tag in his fifth season in the league. As the team’s top pass-rusher, he’s got a lot of pressure on his back entering the 2020 season. 

RELATED: HOW MUCH WILL THE ROOKIE LB's MAKE AN IMPACT ON THE DEFENSE?

If Judon is able to become an upper-tier pass-rusher this season, he’ll not only boost the Ravens’ defense, he’ll cement his monster contract that appears on the horizon, whether that comes from the Ravens or another team. 

But while Judon is the headliner of the Ravens’ edge rushers, in terms of success of the team this season, he might not be the most important part of the front seven. It might end up being whoever lines up across from him. 

Judon has shown the ability to be a No. 1 pass-rusher in the NFL, and with the benefit of an improved defense around him, it’s reasonable to assume he can repeat his 9.5 sack performance — or better it — in 2020. That shouldn't be the worry.

Where the true test will come, however, is who lines up as the second outside linebacker on the depth chart. 

Pernell McPhee had three sacks last season, but missed a majority of the season with a torn triceps. The team used rookie Jaylon Ferguson, who had 2.5 sacks, and Tyus Bowser, who had five sacks, in his absence.

With Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams and Derek Wolfe on the defensive line, it’s reasonable to assume that the Ravens’ outside linebackers will get more favorable matchups. 

And if Judon and the host of other outside linebackers are able to get more one-on-one matchups, the Ravens’ could wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks in 2020. 

So while the Ravens didn’t address their outside linebacker position this offseason, the additions elsewhere on the roster should provide the benefit that position group needed.

Stay connected to the Ravens with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE RAVENS NEWS:

Quick Links

Report: NFL to cut preseason in half, taking away Ravens first and fourth preseason games against the Bills and Redskins

Report: NFL to cut preseason in half, taking away Ravens first and fourth preseason games against the Bills and Redskins

According to a report from ProFootballTalk, the NFL has scrapped its first and fourth preseason games this season and cut the preseason in half. 

The Ravens were scheduled to play the Bills at home on Aug. 14 to open the season, then end the preseason on Sept. 3 against the Redskins. 

RELATED: TRAINING CAMP PREVIEW: INSIDE LINEBACKER

Now, the Ravens’ tentative preseason schedule will have one road game, at the Cowboys on Aug. 22, and home against the Panthers on Aug. 30. 

According to the report, the move was spurred on by two factors: Firstly, that road teams would have trouble moving that many bodies and risk spreading COVID-19. Secondly, that no team has had on-field workouts this summer. Now, with training camps scheduled to start on July 28, teams will have more time to prepare for the season. 

The move came with coronavirus cases continually rising in the United States a day after Dr. Anthony Fauci said new cases could reach 100,000 per day if more preventative measures were not taken. On June 30, the U.S. had 46,042 new cases, the second-highest total since the pandemic began.

Baltimore is still set to report to camp at the end of the month, as is the rest of the NFL. With the new preseason schedule, they’ll have about three weeks to prepare for the first on-field game action of the season. 

The Ravens haven’t lost in the preseason since Sept. 3, 2015, when they lost 20-19 to the Falcons. 

Stay connected to the Ravens with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE RAVENS NEWS: