Before quarterback Carson Palmer was traded to the Oakland Raiders last season, he spent seven years battling the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North with the Cincinnati Bengals. This Sunday, Palmer will lead the Raiders to take on the Ravens in Baltimore and will look to build on his previous success against his former rivals.
In 13 career games against the Ravens, Palmer has a 9-4 record. He has thrown for an average of 246.3 yards per game in those meetings and has 15 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. When he suits up to play Baltimore, he will see some familiar faces like safety Ed Reed and linebacker Terrell Suggs. However, one player he won't see and won't miss is middle linebacker and future Hall of Famer, Ray Lewis. Lewis tore his tricep earlier this season. It is only the third time Palmer will play the Raven without Lewis.
“You’re talking about a Hall of Fame, maybe one of the best, linebackers to ever play,” Palmer said of Lewis. “Obviously, they’re lacking without his leadership on the field. They’ve always drafted very well. There are very good players behind him. Like I said, you’ve got to go in there and play really well.”
This season when the teams play, the Raiders will have to rely on Palmer heavily. With running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson dealing with high ankle sprains, the passing game will have to pace the offense. Palmer has put together a quality year so far with 2,355 yards, 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The Oakland running game has struggled and the offense was put in Palmer's hand. He has shown toughness and flashes of brilliance at times, but costly interceptions have hurt his team, including an interception last week with the Raiders down three points to end their chances of a comeback.
“We’ve spent a lot of time watching it on film; we’ve talked about it a lot,” Palmer said. “We’ve gone over everything. Bad things are going to happen. Games are won and lost on interceptions, fumbles, missed tackles, or whatever you want to call it. We’re doing everything we can to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. We’ve got a young group, and a hungry group, and guys that want to be in the right place at the right time, and want to make big plays for us.”
The Ravens are in the bottom half of the league in pass defense, allowing 246.8 yards per game. Palmer will test them, but where Baltimore has been taken advantage of is in the running game. They rank 28th in the NFL defending the run, giving up 139.5 yards per game. With Oakland unable to count of McFadden or Goodson, second year running back Taiwan Jones and fullback Marcel Reece must carry the load. Both backs have only one carry this season, but Reece is coming off an eight catch 95 yard game last week.
“Marcel, it’s great to see him,” Palmer said. “He had some big catches, big plays in the game at pivotal moments in the game. That’s just the type of guy he is. His number doesn’t get called because of the position he plays. Being a fullback, you’re just not going to get that many opportunities. He makes the most of them, and makes play after play. He’s going to have plenty of opportunities this week.”
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