The Baltimore Ravens are beginning to hit their stride as they look to clinch a fifth consecutive playoff berth.
The Ravens remained undefeated at home (5-0) Sunday, as they trounced the Oakland Raiders 55-20.
Baltimore's defense took advantage in the absence of Oakland running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson, harassing the Raiders for three sacks, two forced and recovered fumbles & an interception. Jacoby Jones even joined in on the fun, returning a kickoff 105 yards to the house early in the fourth quarter.
Oakland dropped to 3-6 on the season while Baltimore, who improved to 7-2, have their sights set on a key divisional match-up in Pittsburgh next Sunday night against the Steelers. For the Ravens to achieve a victory against the Steelers next week they'll have to execute a better running attack. Baltimore rushed for 78 yards on 28 carries, averaging a meager 2.8 yards per carry.
While Oakland continues to await the return of McFadden, they'll have to regroup quickly as they host Drew Brees and the red-hot New Orleans Saints next week.
There were many positives and negatives to take away from both teams Sunday, but there can only be one hero and one zero.
Hero of the Game: QB Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Flacco led the Ravens' aerial assault with 341 yards passing and four scores, including a one yard goal line plunge in the first quarter. Mixing it up with the on-again, off-again no-huddle offense, Flacco can be as good as any quarterback in the NFL when in rhythm. He'll have to carry that momentum into Pittsburgh next week if the Ravens want to have a chance against the Steelers.
Zero of the Game: Raiders' Defense
Oakland's defense allowed 419 yards and while their offense produced 422 yards, they were playing from behind all game. The Raiders failed to record a sack and allowed Joe Flacco an infinite amount of time in the pocket all game. If the Raiders want to compete in the coming weeks, adjustments have to be made on the defensive side of the ball. With a showdown against the Saints looming, things don't look to get any better next week for the Raiders.