Cincinnati 17 – Ravens 14. Yuk! Well Ravens, you played a stinko! There was nothing of any merit in your effort this week. The Bengals dominated you on both sides of the ball, and I am sure you will point to late penalties as a reason for your defeat, but you lost the game long before that final drive. After the disappointment of last week and before they go against a red hot Minnesota team next week, Coach Harbaugh needs to get a hold of this team and set the course straight or we could be looking at being 3-3 going into the bye week.
Offensively, Ray Rice came to play. His touchdown on the swing pass from Joe Flacco in the fourth quarter was a thing of beauty. Joe Flacco did not have a great day and was 22-31 for 186 yards 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. Nothing awful here, but the interceptions are mounting. Did anybody see Derrick Mason on Sunday. Joe Flacco sure didn’t. Michael Oher did a nice job at left tackle, but I think our offense was handicapped by a poor game plan. I am all for striking balance between running and throwing the ball, but on Sunday when we threw the ball we took very few shots down the field. I did not understand the reluctance to throw the ball down the field. Aside from a late throw down the seam to Kelley Washington and an attempt at Mark Clayton down the side line that was just missed, Flacco took no shots down the field. The Bengals played a lot of cover 2 which kept 2 safeties back, and when we dumped the ball off they flew to the ball.
Defensively, Cincinnati did enough at the line of scrimmage to keep us off balance and open up holes for Cedric Benson to run through. The Ravens, owners of one of the most overrated stats in all of football, finally let one back rush for 100 yards in a game. This stat has hung like an albatross around this football team. I understand what it symbolizes, but in the real world it is totally meaningless. I remember last year the Giants ran all over the Ravens with 3 different backs but because 1 of those backs did not accumulate 100 yards personally, the record remained in tact. It is meaningless, it is good to get passed it.
The real problem with the defense is 2 fold. We cannot consistently pressure the quarterback and our cornerbacks are not playing up to expectations. Great cover corners can hide a lack of a pass rush and vice versa, but when both aspects our performing under par, then you are asking for trouble. The next tackle Washington or Foxworth makes will be their first. Now they will try and pull you down, they will throw their bodies at the defenders legs but neither one of them will man up and make a tackle, wrapping up and driving through the ball carrier. They are very disappointing. Our secondary as a whole seems to have a problem locating the ball or finding the ball in the air. After Ed Reed took the interception to the house the next series fully illustrated the problems plaguing this defense. Palmer back to pass and moved around the pocket to extend the play far longer they it should have been throws the ball down the Baltimore sideline. The ball is caught by Chris Henry as Foxworth is running side by side with him. You can’t tell me our bench didn’t let him know the ball was coming, but he never looked for the ball. Henry catches it and takes it to the 4 yard line. This was a chance for us to make a statement and we let them right back in the game by allowing this big play. Not acceptable.
Ray Lewis is a Hall of Famer, no doubt, but the hit he laid on Chad Ocho Cinco was totally unnecessary. Not only that, but it was stupid. The last 2 games I have gotten the impression that this team is teetering on the edge. They remind me more of the team that melted down in Detroit a few years back and the team that went bezerk against New England 2 years ago, then the professional workmanlike team they like to portray. Just what does “play like a Raven” mean anyway?
The Drive 15 years later – Denver beat New England Sunday by holding the Patriots scoreless in the second half and making 2 long drives in the game to tie the score late. Kyle Orton does his best John Elway imitation taking the Broncos 98 yards late in the 4th quarter to tie the game. Orton was confident and strong in the pocket mixing the throw and run effectively. There haven’t been many drives better then this one in the history of the game. Raise your hands all of you who saw this happening in Denver. A journeyman quarterback and an unproven rookie have the Broncos at 5-0 and climbing. That is what makes this game so great.
Who’s better – Last week the Houston Texans and the Arizona Cardinals faced off. The game’s best two receivers, Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson, were on the field. It was a really good game in the second half, the Cardinals held on for the victory with a last second goal line stand. The Cardinals built a large lead and the Texans were battling back most of the second half. On the touchdown drive to make it 28-21 late in the game, Andre Johnson caught a ball down the middle of the field at about the 5 yard line. Three different Cardinals tried to stop him from getting in the end zone. Johnson ran over all three to score. The catch itself was pedestrian, but the 5 yard run to get the ball in the end zone was a thing of beauty. Try and catch it on replays or on line it is truly amazing.
Baseball playoffs – The New York Yankees are a good baseball team, and probably the odds on favorite to win the World Series this year. Major League Baseball maintains a hierarchy of the “haves” and “have-nots” that caters to the large market teams. They are good enough to win on their own but when the umpires conspire to make calls that slopes the playing field even more, it casts the game in a bad light. The umpires are paid to get the calls right. The game should be embarrassed by the lack of professionalism displayed. As bad as the calls were in the Yankee series were, was there a prettier sight then watching Boston loose it’s third game in a row with Jonathan Papelbon loosing the series clincher. Papelbon will tell anyone who listens how good he is. I want to personally thank the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for sticking that smugness up his…
How Pompous can you be? Early last week the story broke that Rush Limbaugh was part of a group looking to buy the St. Louis Rams. I am not a Rush Limbaugh fan and always thought that he was a pompous windbag, but regardless of what your think about Rush the radio host, this country affords him the opportunity to do business in any avenue he decides to pursue. The fact that he is a polarizing figure and a lot of people don’t share his views should not be factored into whether he should be allowed to pursue ownership of a NFL franchise. This is business not a Senate confirmation hearing for a sitting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The fact that this league employs some reformed convicted criminals, and has always prided itself in giving those deserving a second chance, would support the position that this man is not good enough to own a franchise because of his ideas and opinions, is two faced and pompous.
WJFK disaster – Coming out of the Ravens-Bengals game and waiting to exit the parking lot we were listening to several post game shows. On WJFK, the panel consisted of Spencer Falou, Mike Flynn, Gary Stein, Jeremy Conn and Anita Marks. I joined the conversation in mid stream but it was clear they were discussing the problems the Ravens are having in the secondary and Chris McAlister’s name was being bantered about. The discussion was about whether he could help the Ravens or not and whether he would be brought back. They were discussing his physical ability and health and dancing around some of the problems he had that led to his dismissal from the team. The guys on the panel were beating up Anita Marks who was defending Chris McAlister and the idea of taking a look at him as an option. She was getting beat up pretty good and was becoming heated. I don’t think it is news in Baltimore any longer that Chris McAlister is believed to have a drinking problem. I am paraphrasing but Marks stated that it should not be considered a big deal, that there are airline pilots that take bong hits before they get on a plane and fly passengers to destinations. There was silence. The show then went to break and when they came back on Anita Marks was replaced by Scott Garceau. Nothing was said, but that couldn’t have been a coincidence.
1. New York Giants – On auto pilot, dismissed Raiders with ease. Most complete team across the board. Big game against the Saints this week.
2. New Orleans Saints – Drew Brees is otherworldly, but Greg Williams and Darren Sharper are the real difference.
3. Indianapolis Colts – Haven’t missed a beat without Dungy, defense is lightning quick and still playing without Bob Sanders.
4. Minnesota Vikings – Adrian Peterson has been quiet for 3 weeks, Jared Allen has not.
5. Denver Broncos – I still don’t know how they are doing it, but I am a believer, right now it is their year.
6. Philadelphia Eagles – playing well and have their star quarterback again.
7. Atlanta Falcons – coming off the loss to New England and a bye week, the throttle a good 49ers team. They are improving weekly.
8. Chicago Bears – Since the week 1 debacle, Jay Cutler has been pretty impressive.
9. Cincinnati Bengals – see Denver Bronco comments. It might be there year.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers – Wasn’t pretty but they beat the Lions. They still aren’t quite right, but still a dangerous team.
11. New England Patriots – they aren’t the dominant team they once were, but still always a tough out. Need to get defense straightened out.
12. Baltimore Ravens – I think they have a problem on defense, but they are still a good football team, tough game this week though.
13. Seattle Seahawks – I like this team and with Hasselback returning they will make a run at the NFC west title.
14. San Francisco 49ers – Michael Crabtree signed. Let’s see if he can provide another option on offense. I don’t think Frank Gore and Vernon Davis are enough.
15. San Diego Chargers – playing for their season in week 6. They can’t afford to loose, should make for a compelling contest.
16. Miami Dolphins – Great win against the Jets. Seems like they have righted the ship. Chad Henne has been impressive.
17. New York Jets – Rex Ryan is great for sound bites. Calls out his defense after loss to Dolphins. He is a real chip off the old block.
18. Dallas Cowboys – had to go to overtime to beat the Chiefs. Still can’t get passed the fact that this team should be better then they show.
19. Green Bay Packers – off last week, hope they found some offensive lineman to protect Aaron Rodgers.
20. Arizona Cardinals – good win against Houston Texans. Goal line stand at end was terrific. They are showing signs of life.
21. Houston Texans – played Cardinals tough, but got behind to much to come back all the way. Andre Johnson is a beast.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars – what a stinker against the Seahawks. That had to be a long plane ride home.
23. Tennessee Titans – I know they are not this bad. I think we are one more loss away from the Vince Young era, part II.
24. Detroit Lions – played the Steelers tough. Jim Schwartz has made them a better team.
25. Carolina Panthers – Maybe Beason should call out Julius Peppers every week.
26. Washington Redskins – the players are asking for amnesty for their head coach. This is going to end bad.
27. Cleveland Browns – set football back 50 years in their game with the Bills last week. At least they won.
28. Buffalo Bills – See above and they lost. Fans want to toss out Dick Jauron and Trent Edwards.
29. Kansas City Chiefs – Played with passion against the Cowboys, they are still competitive.
30. Oakland Raiders – their quarterback sucks, and their coach may go to jail. Other then that, everything is great in Oakland.
31. St Louis Rams – really bad, only reason they do not come in last is because I like Kyle Boller and still route for him.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – yuk, where’s John Gruden when you need him.