A little bulletin board material never hurts when trying to elicit every modicum of motivation out of a team in any sport. When the opponent at hand however is the New England Patriots, bulletin board material is usually tough to come by. The Patriots have done their best Lou Holtz imitation all week in preparation for the Ravens, and will likely continue to do more of the same. Why, after all, would the Patriots need to sing their own praises or to trash the Ravens’ achievements when the media and fans seem to be doing plenty enough of that for everyone?
As opponents have provided little fuel for the Ravens proverbial fire in terms of trash talking, the Ravens themselves have seemingly taken a creative means to finding their other external motivations or even creating them internally.
Last week Joe Flacco successfully predicted that the Ravens would win their game and he’d fail to get any credit for the win, to that end he’s ‘invited the conversation that has followed. More importantly however, Flacco acknowledged (albeit indirectly) that he hears the criticism, and his willingness to bring it up further suggests that it bothers/motivates him.
If the Patriots aren’t going to push that button, maybe it’s good that Ed Reed did. His comments were succinct and respectful when taken in context, borne in truth and from a desire to win, and along the way to indicting the quarterback Reed offered up several other scapegoats and/or excuses as possible factors in what he assessed.
That Terrell Suggs clearly and passionately countered Reed’s assessment with a full and unwavering vote of confidence in Flacco wasn’t nearly as bantered about by the media, but surely isn’t lost on the quarterback either.
And speaking of factors not lost, surely Reed is aware that while pointing a finger at Flacco and the offense, there are 3 more fingers pointed back at him (as the saying goes). Reed acknowledged as much by prefacing his comments with a concession that he didn’t play well either on Sunday. Reed capitalized once again on his flair for the dramatic and locked up the sealing and highlight inducing interception against Houston, but might have left 2 more interceptions on the field. And while his reemergence in the stat column is refreshing (and encouraging given his propensity to accumulate interceptions in bunches), reemergence suggests that there was a submergence that led to it, as Reed has not only been largely absent from the stat column of late, but his lack of tacking has been the topic of healthy debate for the last couple of weeks too.
All season (on the MobTown Sports Beat) we’ve touted the value of motivation, and while it seems logical that professional athletes, especially in the playoffs, should be sufficiently able to motivate themselves, a little something extra never hurt. All season we marveled at the Packers not only because of the precision with which they were performing, but also and more impressively because they were somehow finding ways to improve despite the fact that they were already the league’s most efficient unit. Not buying into your own hype is often easier said than done.
Hopefully as the Ravens prepare for the Patriots and a possible trip to Indianapolis as a result, both Ed Reed and Joe Flacco are going to bed at night burning over missed opportunities and scheming ways to make sure that they don’t get away again. Hopefully too (but far less likely) Tom Brady and the Patriots are tucking in at night wholly enamored with their 45-10 dismantling of the Broncos and simply expecting more of the same this week.