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I understand why you’re excited. It might end up that you have every right to be excited.
For many fans, the Ravens’ 20-0 season-opening win on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals Sept. 10 proved the hype surrounding the team’s defense was justified. If you were among those who bought into the idea that this unit could rival the 2000 defense for being the best in franchise history, you likely feel as vindicated as a Dashboard Confessional song at this point.
Why shouldn’t you? Playing in a stadium where they hadn’t won since the 2011 season (five consecutive losses), all the Ravens managed to do was rack up five turnovers, five sacks, seven tackles for loss, eight pass breakups and three additional quarterback hits. They did it all while pitching their first shutout in eight years.
In doing so, the Ravens’ offense was asked to do very little to back up such a brilliant performance. It felt so much like a win from the 2000 campaign that I half-expected former head coach Brian Billick to be caught screaming like a banshee after the victory.
Hell, the guy who wore No. 55 for the Ravens Sunday was so dominant he looked like the guy who used to wear No. 55 in Baltimore — Terrell Suggs. The guy who played on Sunday was like a spitting image of that guy Suggs. It was remarkable.
So that’s that. The Ravens’ defense is exactly as dominant as you thought they were and everything is perfect and let’s get the purple Christmas lights up now in preparation for Festivus, right?
You won’t be surprised to learn that I’m the guy who’s ready to throw just a bit of cold water on this city after such a win. But let me be clear: winning any NFL game by a final score of 20-0 is remarkable. That type of performance is both rare in this league and extremely difficult to pull off. The Ravens deserve credit for their defensive preparation and execution in blanking Cincinnati. The Bengals’ offensive line (having lost Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler) certainly conspired to make things easier for the Ravens, but it doesn’t make defensive coordinator Dean Pees’ unit’s performance any less brilliant.
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