What’s Our Name? Ravens! Few in the media are giving Joe Flacco, T-Sizzle, Ray Lewis & company much of a shot against the Patriots today. Despite a 13-4 record which included 7 wins against teams that made it to the playoffs this year, the Ravens are seen as inferior to the Patriots with their high-powered offense. There is also doubt Joe Flacco has what it takes to go head-to-head against Tom Brady and win.
Let’s all just relax a little and realize that although the Partiots are very good, so are we. The Patriots did lose 3 times this year, and had a much softer schedule than us. I think this lack of respect shown to the Ravens is just the motivation they need to play with extra focus and determination that will be the difference.
What’s it going to send the Ravens to Super Bowl XLVI?
1. Catch the football!!! Sounds simple, but our receivers have had 3 or 4 drops a game, many in crucial situations. Patriot receivers seem to never drop a ball, which makes Tom Brady appear even better than he is. Ed Dickson, Torrey Smith, and Lee Evans in particular need to catch the ball as though their lives depend on it today, to convert 3rd downs, and not waste potential scoring plays.
2. Terrell Suggs has a game that would make the student body at Ball So Hard University proud. The possible defensive player of the year has been pretty quiet these past 3 or 4 games, but if we hear his name called a lot today, that will be a very good sign. No pressure on Brady means Patriots win.
3. The Ravens O-Line needs to generate enough push so we have 2nd and 4 or 5, and not 2nd and 8 or 9. Control the ball, move the chains, and keep Brady on the sideline applying product to his hair. It all starts with McKinney, Grubbbs, Birk, Yanda and Oher. The unit was abused last week by Houston, but New England’s D-line and rush defense is average at best.
4. Joe Flacco must show the football world why he deserves to be called an elite QB. This is his 9th playoff game. His stats in those games have been unimpressive. Nevertheless, the Ravens won 5 of those 8 games. Play smart, don’t get the ball knocked out of your hand, and lead your team to victory. Shut up the naysayers and doubters. Although Flacco will say all that matters is winning, I am sure an added bonus will be hearing all the talking heads say they were wrong about him.
As good as Tom Brady is, remember we have won a lot more playoff games than the Patriots since 2008. We match up well against them. Our team is built for outdoor Janaury football. I truly think that #52, #20, #55, #92 and #27 among others are not going to squander this chance. WHAT’S OUR NAME?!
Postscript: Flacco did shut up his critics, outplaying Tom Brady. No fumbles, only 1 interception, over 300 yards. The team did not achieve one of the keys I wrote about above:
“Ed Dickson, Torrey Smith, and Lee Evans in particular need to catch the ball as though their lives depend on it today, to convert 3rd downs, and not waste potential scoring plays.”
Well, Dickson dropped a key 3rd down play (he seems to be good for at least one key drop per game), and Lee Evans had the ball knocked right out of his hands while standing in the end zone. Had he held on, we would be making plans for Indy right now.
Also, John Harbaugh should have used his final timeout in order to give Cundiff the best possible chance to make that 32 yard field goal. Cundiff looked rushed. There was a timeout to use, that would go wasted. Had Cundiff and Koch had that extra minute to get composed, line up and size up the kick, that ball would have gone through the uprights, and I would have liked our chances in OT. Shoulda coulda woulda. Cundiff showed class and did not duck the media. I doubt he will be back. He was anything but automatic this year.
Dennis Pitta came up big. He has earned the right to be the everyday tight end next season.
Our defense generally played well, forcing 2 interceptions, and holding the Pats to 23, well below their average, and forcing them to earn every point they got. But Terrell Suggs was not really a factor in the game, as Tom Brady was rarely hurried. The fact the Patriots only scored 23 in spite of the lack of pressure is a testament to the play of Ed Reed, Lardaruis Webb, Cary Williams and Bernard Pollard.
Hard to say what needs the team should address first in the draft. A stud tight end might be good. A successor to Ray Lewis perhaps. That talk is for another day. This loss is going to be very tough to shake. At least the Orioles start spring training in a few weeks…..oh well, never mind.