It all comes down to who has the ball last in ‘Ravens vs. Bears’

Baltimore Ravens’ defensive coordinator Dean Pees says players are taking extra practice sessions before they go out onto the field because they aren’t sure which strategies will play during the game. The Ravens still have two weeks until they have to present it all on their Super Bowl defense.

Thursday night, they showed we still have a long way to go to address any glaring flaws with the stout defense Pees has built, and the offense continued the drive in finding an unselfish way to get everyone involved in the game plan. They turned a second half deficit into a 16-13 win and bounced back after last week’s lackluster 28-27 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Meanwhile, the Bears, led by rookie running back Jordan Howard, who came into the game as the leading rusher in the league, came in hoping to climb back to the top of the NFC North. Instead, they are now firmly entrenched at the bottom.

As Coach Mike Ditka used to say, “The key to the game is whoever has the ball last.” The Bears and Ravens both held the ball for nearly 40 minutes of the game. However, it was the Ravens who held onto the ball for the final 3:02 to get the victory. Both teams will get their second chance to take the lead at home, and the Ravens will get that opportunity on Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Despite this game being the fourth half in a row that the Ravens have needed extra time for first downs and drives, Baltimore couldn’t convert any of them with kicker Justin Tucker missing two field goals on first and 10 attempts.

Both Pees and quarterback Joe Flacco were pessimistic about offensive productivity in the third quarter, but the Ravens’ offense remained consistent in moving the ball down the field and scoring on their final four trips into the red zone.

Quarterback DQB Joe Flacco appeared to be on point and having fun, completing passes to all five of his receivers on five trips into the red zone. Flacco finished 14 of 23 for 248 yards and one touchdown.

Running back Danny Woodhead continued to prove he should be the starting RB after a strong performance last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. His career-high 178 receiving yards resulted in a TD catch, his fifth of the season.

The running game struggled for much of the game, though, and most of the yardage was done by Flacco.

The Bears’ defense wasn’t very effective in pinning the Ravens deep into their own territory, as Baltimore had 237 of their 280 yards in the second half. Linebacker Danny Trevathan was the loudest outside linebacker telling reporters the Bears took it personally to face a team that came in underdogs.

“I think anytime you face a team that got beat last week, it’s going to bring a spark,” he said. “Whether it’s a spark within yourself and when you’re watching a team last week and see that they got beat, you’re just sitting there thinking, ‘I wonder if they’re going to score tonight,’ it can definitely help you.”

The Bears had a chance to tie the game after tight end Zach Miller pulled in a 2-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jimmy Clausen on third and goal. However, no good to no good happened as the Bears turned the ball over on downs.

During the three-game losing streak to start the season, the Bears had been plagued by turning the ball over too often, being repeatedly stopped on third down, and giving up a score late in the fourth quarter. But the Bears showed some life Thursday night, executing enough plays to give the offense a chance to win the game. Now, it’s up to the offense to take that next step.

The Tribune’s Steve Rosenbloom and Chris Emma contributed to this article.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @B_Epstein

Leave a Comment