The Miami Mission: Quieting the crowd won’t be a factor

January 03, 2009 | Nestor Aparicio

It could’ve been a whole lot worse this weekend, being in New Jersey or Foxboro. Landing in Fort Lauderdale and having it be 75 degrees on Jan. 2nd, well, you can’t ask for much more.

I spent the middle of the day yesterday in Owings Mills and the team is definitely “loose,” which is a good sign. The Ravens are the better team. They seem to know it. They seem prepared and all of the talk is about winning and taking care of business.

Art Modell was hanging out for lunch with John Harbaugh and I dropped off some “INDUCT ART” signs. Harbaugh told me he’s going to put one up in his office. I told him the city needed a win. He seems confident that the Ravens can win this Sunday.

The flight down wasn’t nearly as chock full of Ravens fans as a “normal” NFL road weekend. Just a handful of fans, and it appeared that many of the seats were filled with families and kids going back to school from the holidays. I’m honestly not expecting the usual “purple takeover” of South Florida. And from my many contacts with folks this week who love to travel to support the Ravens, it seems many are more concerned with getting to Nashville at this point, almost assuming a victory.

Call me the bleeding heart purple optimist, but I don’t see how they’re going to lose to Chad Pennington. I think the defense will force trouble for the Dolphins offense (running and passing), the weather is not a factor, the Ravens players CLEARLY love to play on the road and Joe Flacco is pretty unflappable even when the crowd is a factor and the Miami fans are easily the worst in the NFL when it comes to creating an intimidating environment. The last two trips the place was half full and raucous with Ravens fans.

If you’re already down in South Florida, we’d love to see you at our party at Alabama Joe’s on Lantana just west of I-95. The party starts at 4:30. We’ll stay as long as purple fans are coming in and hanging out. Two games. A perfect way to start the weekend, watching some NFL action all night in 75-degree Florida.

It will be interesting to see Rex Ryan’s defense vs. the wildcat. There’s been plenty of talk about the Dolphins’ signature package and it’ll be something to watch for sure, the matchups the Ravens’ defense will give the Fish when Ronnie Brown goes under center.

Miami has a lot of Ravens memories:

* The bad loss in the hurricane back during the Super Bowl year. I stood on the field that night and the mud seemed to be three inches thick.

•    That great playoff win when Terry Allen ran wild to move the Ravens into the second round back in 2001. (By the way, that was the Ravens’ most recent January victory, so maybe Miami is still the place to be.)
•    The devastating loss last December, when Brian Billick opted to kick the field goal at the wire and Matt Stover missed the game winner against Cam Cameron’s winless squad.
•    And, of course, the most recent foray a few weeks ago when the Ravens just pounded the Dolphins into submission and capitalized on their mistakes.

Other than the hideous Sunday Night game back in 2000, the trips are always full of sunshine and empty seats.

It’ll be a little different this Sunday, but it’s just a shame more of our fans couldn’t find a way down south. But we can all dream for a repeat visit to Florida – a few miles to the west in Tampa – later in the month.

Festivus is on. I’m in Florida. Life is good.

It’s hard to think that the season could end so abruptly down here in the sunshine. Of course, we’re stuck here until Monday. So worse case scenario: at least if they lose it’s still 75 degrees.

But they’re not going to lose.

Stay warm up there!

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