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Sunday, November 28, 2010
Rapid Reaction: Ravens 17, Buccaneers 10

By James Walker

BALTIMORE -- Here are early thoughts on the Baltimore Ravens' 17-10 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

What it means: The Ravens (8-3) remained in first place in the AFC North by earning another big win. Next week Baltimore will host the Pittsburgh Steelers, who beat the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in overtime. Baltimore will be going for the season sweep after beating Pittsburgh at Heinz Field earlier this season.

What I liked: Baltimore went for big plays early. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco connected with tight end Todd Heap for a 65-yard touchdown in the second quarter. It was the longest play from scrimmage this season for Baltimore and the longest catch of Heap's career. The Ravens also benefited from a controversial pass interference call to set up a Derrick Mason touchdown catch and a 17-3 halftime lead. Flacco and Mason also put last week's sideline altercation behind them, combining for eight receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown. Baltimore's defense mostly rattled and confused young Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman, who threw for just 162 yards and got most of his production late in the fourth quarter.

What I didn't like: The Ravens' offense could have done more in the second half to take some of the pressure off the defense. But it appeared they were content with taking the air out of the ball after getting a two-touchdown lead. The Ravens also have two injury concerns: starting left tackle Michael Oher (sprained knee) and safety Dawan Landry (concussion). Neither player returned after leaving.

What's next: The Ravens have their biggest game of the season coming up against the Steelers in what should be another great installment in this rivalry.  The winner has the inside track to win the division. The loser will be fighting for a wild card.