NFL

Three weeks in, Ravens sit alone atop AFC North

PHOTO CREDIT: Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP Photo
Three weeks in, Ravens sit alone atop AFC North

Winning games in the NFL is certainly not an easy feat.  The saying that a win is a win applies whether it was in dramatic fashion or a rather sloppy affair. For the Baltimore Ravens, the first three weeks of the season have been a mixed bag, all resulting in wins.

Baltimore is 3-0 for the first time since 2009 and the third time in their franchise history. The other time aside from 2009, was 2006. Both of those years the Ravens made the playoffs.

The start of the 2016 season has treated the Ravens nicely, despite not winning with style points. Baltimore has won three games by a combined 13 points. Before the Ravens are anointed Super Bowl 51 champions, bear in mind that the three teams the Ravens have defeated are a combined 1-8.

Still, the Baltimore Ravens are one of just five teams to remain unblemished in the loss column. That is a complete turnaround from a season ago, when the team started 0-3.

On Sunday, despite their best efforts to give the game away, Baltimore was able to sneak away with a 19-17 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Justin Tucker nailed a 54-yard field goal to give his team the win. This came after the Jaguars had a field goal attempt blocked by Baltimore defensive end Brent Urban, with a chance to seal the win.

Tucker converted all four of his field goal attempts and his only extra point try of the day.

The fourth quarter was not one of the better quarters of football to watch. Each team tried giving the game away, until the Ravens finally had enough and took the win and a 3-0 record back to Baltimore.

Joe Flacco, who is back after a knee injury suffered from last season, set a franchise record, but almost cost his team the game. The record he achieved was 21-straight completions, but to be fair, a lot of those were check downs, which Jacksonville was willing to give him. Two crucial fourth quarter interceptions were what almost cost Flacco and his team the win.

To be fair to the franchise quarterback, the interceptions weren’t all his fault. One ball was tipped and the other he had his arm hit as he threw the football, which was popped up in the air and intercepted.

Flacco finished the game 29-40 for 214 yards and two interceptions. He did rush into the end zone from seven yards out for the lone Baltimore touchdown of the day.

The offense was stagnant for most of the day, outside of Flacco. Baltimore rushed 22 times for just 84 yards. Third down conversions were abysmal, as the Ravens went 3-13 (23%), but did convert their lone fourth down attempt.

The defense, which is much improved from a season ago, but not spectacular, held up when facing adversity. Led by Terrell Suggs (coming back from an injury),who led Baltimore with two of their four sacks on the day. The air assault from Blake Bortles, despite two touchdowns to Allen Robinson, was held in check, due in large part to three Ravens interceptions.

In Week 1, Baltimore held the Buffalo Bills to just seven points. In Week 2, the Cleveland Browns led by 20-points, but squandered that away in the most Cleveland Browns way possible. In Week 3 on Sunday in Jacksonville, the game was ugly, but the end result in all three games was the same; a Ravens victory.

The next month of the season isn’t exactly filled with tests, but that isn’t a bad thing for the Ravens. The next four games on the docket are home games versus the Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins, followed by two road games in a row against the New York Giants and New York Jets. Those are winnable games for Baltimore before a bye week to get them rested for a clash with divisional foe Pittsburgh Steelers.

Style points don’t get you anything in the NFL. Wins, no matter how dominant or how ugly they may be, are the only things that matter. For the Baltimore Ravens, 3-0 is great, regardless of the level of competition.

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I am a 2013 graduate of Clarion University with a bachelor's degree in communications and a concentration in journalism. I aspire to be great. I love sports and professional wrestling. Follow me on Twitter @KIngEdward15 and engage in sports talk with me.

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