At First Glance: Giants vs. Ravens


John Eisenberg: What a difference a week makes. Last Sunday's double-digit loss to Denver seemed like a distant memory as the Ravens took apart the reigning (but not for much longer) Super Bowl champions, clinching their second straight AFC North title with their finest performance against a winning team since September. You know when coaches say you need to "make plays" to win? This game was Exhibit A. The Ravens repeatedly benefited from excellent moments on both sides of the ball. Torrey Smith set the tone early with a pair of tough grabs. Haloti Ngata's second-quarter sack of Eli Manning kept the Giants from gaining any traction when the game was still in doubt. Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta made numerous tough grabs. Joe Flacco threw strikes and his offense simply overwhelmed the Giants defense. The Ravens defense benefited from the return of Dannell Ellerbe, who provided speed and energy. The Giants appeared lifeless and overrated, while the Ravens played with a cool sense of purpose, as if they had something to prove. Which they did. So much for backing into the playoffs.

Ryan Mink:Who doubts that the Ravens can make a postseason run now? Everything clicked Sunday night. Just like that, after a three-game losing streak, the Ravens are AFC North champions and look like a totally different team. As he often has when he's struggled, Joe Flacco responded with a huge performance. He was precise, he moved around, he didn't make mistakes. This is the kind of Joe Flacco that can do some serious damage (and get a serious contract). Torrey Smith got on track with a big game, and the running game is looking strong too with both Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. This is what happens when you convert on third down, and the new creative wrinkles on offense were good to see too. The defense put the heat on Eli Manning all night, and looks like a refreshed unit now that it's getting some players back healthy. The Ravens needed this win badly, and it could be a springboard for bigger things to come this year. Oh how a win changes everything.

Garrett Downing:This was exactly what the Ravens needed. The Ravens looked like a completely different team than we've seen in recent weeks. They played great across the board and took down the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. Joe Flacco was on the money, wide receivers were getting open, holes were there in the running game and the Giants defense seemed to be on its heels all game. In his second game as the offensive coordinator, Jim Caldwell called a great game, mixing in some creative calls like Flacco running the option. The Ravens defense also stepped up to keep an explosive Giants offense at bay. The defense was able to overcome a number of injuries to play one of its better games of the season. Sunday's win gives the Ravens the AFC North for the second straight season and guarantees they'll be back in Baltimore for the playoffs in two weeks. It's a much better feeling for Ravens fans this week, and things seem to be looking up heading into the playoffs. What a difference a week can make. 

Sarah Ellison:  That was a convincing division-clinching win – the kind the Ravens need with the playoffs just two weeks away. It took a week, but we saw some interesting new looks under Jim Caldwell calling the plays, which included utilizing the middle of the field more. Joe Flacco was pretty much amazing throughout, but not at the expense of the running game, and the defense relentlessly attacked and beat down Eli Manning. Baltimore had a clear sense of urgency against the more desperate defending Super Bowl champs. Not even officiating, which was questionable on multiple occasions, could stop the Ravens' roll. The Ravens can't finish worse than the fourth seed in the AFC now, meaning they will get a home playoff game in the wild-card round.

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