Somehow I doubt that tonight’s game will conjure memories of Unitas handing off to Alan Ameche to win the greatest game off all-time (1958 NFL Championship game), but it is a rematch of that game in a way. At the very least, it’s Baltimore vs. the Giants…okay in reality it’s preseason week three. As I wrote earlier in the week, I think the fact that Eli Manning is playing tonight will be a good thing for the Ravens. This is the preseason game that teams play as close to a regular season contest as is humanely possible. Most starters will probably see action into the third quarter for both teams, which then leaves a rapid-fire rotation of reserves that’ll go in and out to close the game. Nevertheless, my point is that if you’re playing this game similar to regular season, you want to truly see what you’ve got. The last thing the Ravens would have wanted would have been to see some backup QB that might not give them a proper test. The one area in which the Ravens are currently struggling a bit is the secondary; Manning’s the type of quarterback that’ll test that secondary. While you don’t want to get blown out of the stadium, at the very least you want to see what you need to work on.
Offensive line depth could be an issue tonight, with Jared Gaither, Oniel Cousins, David Hale, and David Sanders are not expected to suit up. Geeze, is it even worth playing Joe Flacco since he might not be as well protected?! Flacco’s a tough cookie, so I have no doubt that he’ll be able to handle whatever’s thrown his way. Furthermore with a new receiver in Anquan Boldin, it’s important that Flacco get as many reps in as possible so that the two of them can gain rapprt together. Defensively, the Ravens will be without Terrence Cody and Brandon McKinney on the line. None of these injuries are expected to impact the team come September 13th when they play the Jets on Monday Night Football, however they will play into effect tonight. If the Ravens can get through this game without any serious injuries, they should be in good shape heading into the season opener. While next Thursday’s game at Atlanta still looms, most starters will be used very sparingly if at all.
This week is key for many different reasons, not all of which are on-field. With camp breaking last week, this is the first time when the coaching staff and players have gone through a semi-regular work week with regard to game planning, practices, etc. Most players and coaches claim that they don’t game plan for preseason games. While I don’t think that they plan nearly as much as they do for regular season games, I still find this hard to believe. The NFL is such a competitive league that if you go into any game (exhibition or regular season) without some sort of game planning, you’re going to get embarrassed. So let’s not kid ourselves; the Ravens have seen some tape and scripted some plays this week going into the game, as have the NY Giants. Speaking for myself, I’ll be keeping an eye on that secondary while the starters are in the game. As I said, Manning’s a quarterback that’ll have no problem testing out that secondary, so look for the Giants to go for some home run balls early if they can. However the key to protecting a potentially weak secondary is getting a pash rush against the QB…no problem there, right?!
The Baltimore Colts moved away when I was three years old, so I don’t have any memories of them. However my Dad was a Colt fan, and I’ve made a point in learning the history of all the sports that I follow. I feel that it’s my duty as a fan to know from whence we’ve come, and to know the legends of yesteryear such as Unitas, Sonny Jurgensen, Bill Russell, etc. So with that said I’m a bit of a traditionalist; I was very happy to hear that the Ravens are “Ravenizing” the lyrics to Let’s Go You Baltimore Colts, and making that the new Ravens’ fight song. The roots of football in Baltimore are deep, and there’s absolutely no doubt that the city and it’s people have a unique relationship with the Colts/Ravens, as well as the Orioles, that most cities don’t have. The Colts leaving town should not be looked upon as a black mark on the city or the fans, but moreso on the legacy of a drunken hack that owned the team at the time. However the new/old fight song fuses the two teams together into one, uniting old and new. Go figure, they’re premiering the new/old song at tonight’s preseason game against the Giants, the team that the Baltimore Colts beat to win the NFL title in 1958 in the greatest game ever played.