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The Reality Check Week 15 NFL Power Rankings

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The Reality Check Week 15 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 14 December 2011 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Indianapolis Colts (Last Week:  32)

The TV show “Napoleon Dynamite” might be better than the Colts.

31. St. Louis Rams (LW:  31)

We’re still certain Sam Bradford might be a good quarterback, right?

30. Minnesota Vikings (LW:  29)

I’d tell you I was interested in the Vikes’ Christian Ponder/Joe Webb conundrum, but I’d hate to have you consider me a liar.

29. Cleveland Browns (LW:  27)

Colt 45 > Colt McCoy with a concussion > Indianapolis Colts QB’s

28. Washington Redskins (LW:  28)

Thank God for that.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW:  23)

Really?

26. Kansas City Chiefs (LW:  21)

I feel like they have the talent to get a good coach, but Scott Pioli might be an issue.

25. Carolina Panthers (LW:  24)

Are they a year away? I can’t figure that out.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars (LW:  30)

Mike Zimmer jumps out to me here.

23. Miami Dolphins (LW:  19)

If they’re willing to spend the money, Jon Gruden would be the guy. I think.

22. Buffalo Bills (LW:  25)

I still think giving Ryan Fitzpatrick the extension was a good idea however.

21. Arizona Cardinals (LW:  22)

Huh? Huh.

20. Philadelphia Eagles (LW:  26)

But thank you Jeremy Maclin for ruining my Fantasy Football season.

19. Chicago Bears (LW:  17)

Brian Urlacher sounded like a jackass after the game Sunday.

18. Seattle Seahawks (LW:  18)

A quarterback might really be the only thing they really need.

17. Cincinnati Bengals (LW:  16)

They’re going to fall a bit short, but they’re really close.

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The 15-7-0 Is The Ultimate Performance Enhancer

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The 15-7-0 Is The Ultimate Performance Enhancer

Posted on 12 December 2011 by Glenn Clark

You know how it works. 15 positive football observations, 7 “not so” positive football observations and one “oh no” moment from outside the world of football.

(As a reminder, we don’t do Baltimore Ravens analysis here. We do PLENTY of that elsewhere. This is about the rest of the world of football.)

15 Positive Observations…

1. I’d use new terms to describe Tim Tebow’s most recent comeback win but I don’t own a thesaurus.

Drew Forrester, Nestor Aparicio had a late celebratory dinner with our fantastic attorney Sunday night at Fogo De Chao. As I walked in, I said to Drew “is Tebow going to do it again?” He responded “nah…it’s like 10-0 at the end of the game.”

I responded “um…actually it’s 10-7.”

Within moments we were all doing this…

So that I’ve covered myself here, a LOT of credit for the Denver Broncos’ win over the Chicago Bears has to be given to the fact that Marion Barber absolutely fell apart late and Matt Prater’s UNREAL game-tying boot. In fact, Prater’s boot was so incredible it deserves another look…

Just stop already. Just stop. Frank Reich might want to go ahead and make the congratulatory call to Tebow, because you KNOW “The Mile High Messiah” is going to eventually break his record for the greatest comeback in National Football League history.

As far as the Bears go, it’s over for them. You have to have a quarterback. It would be over in Charm City if Tyrod Taylor had to play.

That is…of course…ENOUGH about the Bears. Tim Tebow played Sunday. We’ll be talking about it until next Sunday.

2. My gut tells me it can’t last, but it’s hard to not feel good for the Houston Texans right now.

Perhaps I was wrong. Maybe you DON’T have to have a quarterback. Maybe T.J. Yates is enough…

With Andre Johnson sidelined, Kevin Walter was the hero. I’m so confused by everything happening here. I know the other teams barely tried, but aren’t the Texans supposed to screw this up so that these t-shirts are never printed???


A large crowd welcomed the AFC South champs back to Reliant Stadium Saturday night. No word on whether or not they had all sent Peyton Manning Thank You cards or not.

3. While Navy’s win Saturday over Army was the closest margin in years, it makes their dominance no less impressive.

Even if I had to make a trip to Landover and that AWFUL dump known as FedEx Field, it was worth it for Army/Navy.

My highlight this year? The press box (which Dan Snyder and company placed in the WORST possible location otherwise) was directly behind the brigade of Midshipmen, allowing me to hear every word of “The Goat is Old and Gnarly.”

If you’re not an Annapolis regular, you might not be familiar. Here’s a 4 year old singing it…

The Mids were 27-21 winners thanks to 4th quarter heroics from kicker Jon Teague. The game (as always) was “more than football”. Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama attended, watching one half of the game on each side. At halftime, he was walked from side to side through a tunnel formed by members of each branch. The word “goosebumps” fits.

4. With their season perhaps on the line, Matt Ryan & the Atlanta Falcons really manned up Sunday.

Down 23-7 at the half and watching their Wild Card hopes crumble, the Falcons became energized and clinched a win with this 75 yard TD to Julio Jones…

After finishing the win over the Carolina Panthers, the Falcons had quite the scare when coach Mike Smith felt chest pains and was taken off the team flight and instead to a Charlotte hospital. When reached for comment, Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger described Smith as a “pansy.”

5. I warned you a week ago. The San Diego Chargers are still dangerous.

Crap. Crap crap crap.

The Bolts are pretty healthy and playing really well just in time for a date with the Ravens on Sunday Night Football. Phillip Rivers is playing well. Vincent Jackson is playing well. Ryan Matthews is playing well. Antonio Gates is playing well. They kept their slim playoff hopes alive while ruining any hopes the Buffalo Bills had Sunday.

Crap.

WNST will be in San Diego next weekend, partnering with Los Angeles Ravens fan club The West Wing. That means Perry Hall High School alum Daniela Pane will be in the house…

It’s a shame she has to compete with me every year for the “most popular alum” award. Otherwise she’d probably have it nailed down.

(Also-I know flights aren’t cheap…but…you know…)

6. Robert Griffin III’s run to the Heisman Trophy was one of the more improbable in the history of the award.

Before the season began-what, maybe 10% of college football fans could name the Baylor Bears quarterback? Just before Christmas, RG3 has not only won the sports’ highest honor, he’s also started a craze in footwear…

Superman socks. Actually quite awesome. Everyone else is so much cooler than me.

7. For as much as everyone thinks the Greg Jennings injury will hurt the Green Bay Packers, I just don’t get that feeling.

There were a handful of goofs who thought the Oakland Raiders could give the Packers a run for their money. Here are some highlights-or at least the best I could find on YouTube…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bbtul3e5l60

If Greg Jennings really does have a torn ACL, the Packers are hurting. But this is a team that has Aaron Rodgers, Jermichael Finley, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, ah you get the point. They’re going undefeated and they’re probably going to win the Super Bowl.

Have a Happy Monday!

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You gotta fight…for your right…to enjoy Friday Mud

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You gotta fight…for your right…to enjoy Friday Mud

Posted on 09 December 2011 by Drew Forrester

This Sunday should be lots of fun.

True, it won’t be the same as Peyton Manning showing up with the Colts and getting his head handed to him, but it will still be joyous none the same.

As long as everything goes well, that is.

I shudder to think what the response would be around town if, somehow, the Colts come in and — you know what…I’m not even going to write it.

Forget about it.

I’ll just say this: It sure will be good to look up at that scoreboard with 3 minutes left in the game and see the following: RAVENS 37 – COLTS 6

It better be that way.

I’m counting on a Ravens beatdown of Indianapolis the same way you’re counting on Friday Mud getting your weekend off to a great start. I know you’re counting on me. That’s why I do what I do for you.

I do it all for you.

Enjoy your Mud.

——————————————————–

> There’s nothing like a photo at the moment of truth that tells the story forever. You know what I mean…a snapshot in time…etched forever through the eye of lens. For instance, RIGHT HERE is that moment-in-time reaction from Dana Eveland’s wife on Thursday when her husband informed her they were moving to Baltimore to join the Orioles.  Poor girl…she must have seen The Wire.  Or…the Orioles.

>  An odd situation has been occurring at Heinz Field this year.  It seems like a bunch of female fans who have been invited to a pre-game “girls only” party inside Gate A of the stadium have been leaving the gate open as they walked in — and fans without tickets have been streaming in behind them, unbeknownst to stadium security.  The Steelers front office tried a number of things to get the female fans to close the gate behind them, but nothing worked.  Finally, they got right to the point and put THIS SIGN UP to remind those attending the girls-only party to close the gate.  I hope that worked.

>  After a rough 2010, the Minnesota Twins have launched an off-season promotion called “Meet the Twins”.  It’s a neat concept, actually.  A Twins’ staffer takes a bunch of season ticket brochures along and a hand-held credit card machine and you can sign up for a mini-plan or a full-season plan right on the spot.  The idea, of course, is for you to “Meet the Twins” and be so energized by it that you might just buy tickets right on the spot.  RIGHT HERE is a photo from last week’s promotional stop at a bar in Minneapolis.  Does Southwest fly to Minnesota from Baltimore?

>  Remember when Jack Kent Cooke incorporated the area right around FedEx Field and called the “town” Raljon in honor of his two sons?  I know, it seemed weird at the time, but the Orioles have actually done the exact same thing with the area just in and around Camden Yards.  They’ve completed the proper paperwork to change the location of Camden Yards.  Starting in 2012, you’ll know you’re in the vicinity of OPACY when you SEE THIS SIGN welcoming you to the area.

>  The tragedy involving John Lennon on December 8, 1980 always brings me back to this question — Does anyone remember what Lennon’s killer, Mark David Chapman, was wearing that night?  Anyone remember?  I do.  He was wearing THIS SHIRT when he pulled the trigger.  Enough said.

>  No wonder the Orioles didn’t accomplish anything at the winter meetings in Dallas.  Our WNST staff photographer was down there and took THIS PHOTO of a sign that was hung on Dan Duquette’s hotel room door all week.

>  These days, college athletes have no concept of sportsmanship.  For example, TAKE A LOOK AT THIS GIRL on the Central Connecticut volleyball team.  That pink hair ribbon is completely distracting to the opposing team.  No way she should be allowed to play with that in her hair.

>  Let’s get to #5 on my list of “Top 10 Winners of the last 20 years” in professional team sports.  In case you haven’t been around, #10 was Drew Brees, #9 was Greg Maddux, #8 was Ray Lewis, #7 was Derek Jeter and #6 was Ben Roethlisberger.  The man who makes #5 on the list is a 4-time champion and a 3-time MVP.  And he’s not only a winner on the field, he’s a winner off of it as well, with his own foundation that serves a variety of purposes across the country.  When you think of “winner”, you better give this guy special attention.  He’s been a winner since he became a professional.  TAKE A LOOK AT HIM right here.

>  Our WNST staff photographer snapped THIS EXCLUSIVE PHOTO of Ben Roethlisberger during halftime of Thursday’s win over the Browns.

>  I’m definitely happy about the Beastie Boys getting inducted into this year’s class of the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame.  It still doesn’t make up for RUSH not being in there, but nothing will.  The Beastie Boys are one of my top 5 favorite groups of all time and their latest CD – Hot Sauce Committee – is one of their best ever.  RIGHT HERE is a little Beastie’s treat for you.  ”Ah yes indeed it’s fun time…”

The Shoot Section (where I tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth)

I’m not going to beat up Dan Duquette over his two winter-meetings acquisitions.  I’ve done that enough.  But what I WILL beat him up over is the things he’s saying to the media.  Or, rather, the media the club hand picks for access to Duquette.  This week, DD said two things that were laughably disrespectful — and I think I’m the only one in town who bellyached about it.  First, when commenting on the likelihood that the Orioles wouldn’t be big free agent spenders this off-season, he propped up that excuse by saying, “Over the years, the Angelos family has always been prudent with the fans’ money.”  Then, a couple of days later when someone asked him about the team’s player budget for 2012, Duquette remarked:  ”What our budget is…what we spend on the players…the fans don’t think that’s important.”  Yes, he said both of those things.  Dan, I know you haven’t been around in a while, so pull up a chair and let Professor Drew teach you something.  First, the Angelos family has been “something” with the fans’ money, but it’s certainly NOT prudent.  How about…stingy?  Or cheap?  Try those.  And yes, Dan, we absolutely DO care what the team spends on players.  We care what the budget is.  Because, as you noted with your earlier dumb reply, it IS the fans’ money you’re operating with.  So, sir, you have an obligation to keep the fans as informed of things like that as you can without compromising the club’s position on the field in any way.  I think most of us know what’s coming in 2012 at OPACY.  More losing.  I’m as resigned to that as I am that it’s going to snow at some point this winter and I’ll have to spend three hours shoveling.  But that resignation shouldn’t be outweighed by neglect from the Orioles — and that’s what they’re guilty of when they – or a representative of theirs – keep the fans in the dark by offering outrageously inappropriate comments like “it’s not important to the fans what our player budget is.”  Come on Duquette.  Start caring a little more about the people who pay your salary…

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Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game-Ravens/Steelers

Posted on 08 November 2011 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 23-20 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field…

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Billy Cundiff 51 yard field goal (2nd quarter)

4. Terrell Suggs intercepts Ben Roethlisberger (3rd quarter)

3. Steelers called for delay of game before Shaun Suisham 47 yard FG attempt (4th quarter)

2. Anquan Boldin 10 yard catch from Joe Flacco on 4th & 1 (4th quarter)

1. Torrey Smith 26 yard touchdown catch from Joe Flacco (4th quarter)

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After going 92 yards, where will Flacco, Ravens go from here?

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After going 92 yards, where will Flacco, Ravens go from here?

Posted on 07 November 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — In the shadow of his own end zone and only 2:24 remaining at a raucous Heinz Field, Joe Flacco stood 92 yards away from the biggest regular-season win of his four-year career.

For observers who have followed Flacco and the Ravens closely over his brief NFL career, it might as well have been 92 miles with the multiple hazards of the Pittsburgh defense waiting for him across the line of scrimmage.

We’d seen this story before — several times, in fact — and the ending was all too predictable.

To everyone but Flacco and the Ravens, apparently.

Follow BaltimoreLuke on Twitter

“You don’t have anything to lose,” said Flacco in describing his mindset at the start of the drive. “You either score or you don’t score.”

On every play, Ravens supporters braced themselves for the inevitable James Harrison sack-and-strip that would end the game. They prepared themselves emotionally for the Troy Polamalu interception that would propel Steelers fans into a frenzy and send the Ravens home with another crushing defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.

Instead, Flacco continued to complete passes, moving the Ravens into Pittsburgh territory. Would this be the tease of all Flacco teases, or would the Ravens actually get it done?

Despite critical drops from Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin just moments earlier, Flacco never wavered as he once again threw to Smith for the game-winning 26-yard touchdown with eight seconds remaining to beat the Steelers on their home turf. With apologies to the 40-yard drive he orchestrated in the final seconds last year against these same Steelers — without Ben Roethlisberger — in Pittsburgh, the words still feel foreign a day later.

Channeling Teddy Roosevelt after the game, coach John Harbaugh addressed the many critics who have questioned Flacco and his ability to beat the Steelers when it matters most. He repeated those same words Monday in his Owings Mills press conference.

“It’s not the critic who counts,” Harbaugh said. “It’s not the man who points out where the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. It’s the man who’s actually in the arena.”

Anyone invested in the Ravens in some form or another have tossed their hat into the ring of trying to assess who Flacco is and where he’s going.

In a year highlighted by his inconsistency, the 26-year-old provided the signature moment of his career that both validated his supporters and silenced those questioning his ability — for the time being, anyway. For as exciting as the heroics were in Pittsburgh on Sunday night — allowing the Ravens to complete only their second regular-season sweep of the Steelers — eight games remain before Flacco and the Ravens can really begin to answer the question of how far they can really go after getting past the inconquerable mountain that’s been Pittsburgh for a second time this season.

“It doesn’t mean much if you go out and don’t win your next game and then your next game and your next game,” Harbaugh said. “At the end, it’s how many wins you have compared to how somebody else has and then the tiebreakers come in at that point. You just have to keep stacking wins.”

Sunday’s win promises nothing about Flacco or the Ravens. As they now turn their attention to the Seattle Seahawks, they will be faced with the question of responding emotionally after deflating efforts in Tennessee and Jacksonville that resulted in unexpected losses earlier this season.

Opponents will care little about the accomplishment of getting past the hated Steelers. In order to truly validate themselves in the aftermath of two victories over Pittsburgh, the Ravens must continue to grow.

The 92-yard drive doesn’t transform Flacco into an elite quarterback or suddenly erase the questions about his consistency. But, it does prove the former Delaware signal-caller is capable of winning a football game in the lion’s den under the most difficult of circumstances, to borrow an expression of a former Baltimore coach.

Will those 92 yards catapult Flacco to the next tier of quarterbacks? Will the late scoring drive put the Ravens on the road to Indianapolis in February?

Or was it just one special drive and win that will only madden observers further if the Ravens and Flacco find themselves in similar positions to what we saw in Nashville and Jacksonville?

As Harbaugh likes to say, it’s a week-to-week thing.

But if Sunday did anything, it sure made the potential future for Flacco and the Ravens a lot more interesting.

If he did it once, what’s stopping him from doing it again?

 

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Rating the Ravens after 23-20 victory over Steelers

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Rating the Ravens after 23-20 victory over Steelers

Posted on 07 November 2011 by Ryan Chell

Two games ago, Joe Flacco was the goat of Baltimore.

For four plays in Sunday’s game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ravens fans were probably throwing Torrey Smith into that argument. He was a draft bust…no question about it.

Two weeks ago, there were fans calling for Tyrod Taylor at quarterback. Cam Cameron had to go.This team was never going to achieve greatness-instead continuing to dissapoint against the likes of Tennessee and Jacksonville.

But that same amount of minutes later…things were entirely different as Flacco found Smith on a game-winning touchdown with just eight seconds left on the clock to not only get the monkey off both their backs, but also put up defining moments for both the fourth-year quarterback and his franchise trying to achieve superiority in the AFC.

Now, with only two losses in the conference, and the “elite” teams in the AFC-Buffalo, San Diego, New England, Pittsburgh all losing Sunday-the Ravens clearly are in great position to host games in the playoffs this year and make that trip to Indianapolis that much more easier.

There are those who said this day would never come.

What are they to say now?

Quarterback

This is a game-and a throw in particular-that could mean a lot for Joe Flacco’s career. Flacco finally got his first win in Pittsburgh against a Ben Roethlisberger-led Steeler team, and he was the reason behind it. You can’t say Ed Reed saved the day with a game-clinching interception return. You can’t say Ray Lewis made a saving tackle on fourth down to hold the Steelers. Ray Rice didn’t have an 80-yard run and didn’t carry the load for the Ravens offense.

Instead, Flacco found Torrey Smith and put a “W” in his team’s pocket while quarterbacking only the second Ravens team to sweep the Pittsburgh Steelers in the regular season.

Give credit to offensive coordinator Cam Cameron for putting faith in his quarterback. Given Flacco’s struggles against the Steelers in the past, he could have put his faith elsewhere.

But for the Ravens to convert 14 3rd-downs into a new set of downs-the most ever against a Steeler defense-and for Flacco to get 18 first downs with his arm-be clear with this.

Joe Flacco is a franchise quarterback. He may not be of the caliber of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers, but Sunday proved he can win you games, and ones against caliber opponents.

Rating: A

Running Back

Ray Rice

This game could have been a lot different if Ray Rice’s 76-yard touchdown run was not negated by a holding call by eventual hero-Torrey Smith.

It was yet another big run by Ray Rice against the Steelers, who of course had a 36-yard run on his first touchdown against the Steelers Week 1.

But while Ray Rice is the gas that gets the Baltimore offense going, tonight just wasn’t his night to combust and shine.

Flacco was the star tonight, and that’s a good thing for an offensive coordinator in Cam Cameron who can feel confident in giving the ball to either of his backs.

Rating: B-

Wide Receivers

This unit goes along right with Joe Flacco, and while Torrey Smith’s 26-yard score may be the highlight of the night, you have to take into account what the man opposite Smith in Anquan Boldin did for Flacco.

Smith-Boldin

Boldin converted a catch into a first-down on all but one of his catches Sunday night, and four of them were on third or fourth down.

In fact, Smith’s game-saving touchdown may not have happened had it not been for Boldin’s catch on 4th and 1 at midfield, and his 11-yard catch on 3rd and 8 to put the Ravens at the Steeler 26.

Before the season, fans were crying sour milk over the losses of Derrick Mason and Todd Heap, saying that those two were the security blankets that Flacco would be lacking in 2011.

Those two have done nothing this year with their respective teams in New York/Houston and Arizona for Heap.

But Anquan Boldin had a field day against Ike Taylor, and a problem in 2010 for the Ravens was that Anquan Boldin didn’t get the ball enough. I think that problem might be remedied this year.

Give credit to LaQuan Williams for playing the third wide receiver role well (2 catches, 28 yards) and the guy that not a lot of people might not be talking about on Monday is tight end Dennis Pitta, who in his last two games has 11 catches for 90 yards.

Rating: A

Offensive Line

The Ravens have played their best football this year up front with Ben Grubbs at the left guard spot, and even with Grubbs not at 100 percent Sunday night, everyone on the Ravens offensive line played at a high level.

Bryant McKinnie returned to the dominant form that he experienced Week 1 against the Steelers, and did a fantastic job going up against a determined James Harrison on the other side.

Matt Birk and Marshal Yanda controlled the middle against a mammoth tackle in Casey Hampton, and rookie Jah Reid saw considerable playing time in a jumbo set package to protect Joe Flacco.

It’s a formation that the Ravens regularly run against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but given the time Flacco had Sunday night at times against a devastating pass rush, they may want to run it more regularly even against other teams.

It was a concern though for the unit to not punch it in on the goal line on their first possession, but the Ravens were lucky enough to not have those four points matter.

Rating: B+

Defensive Line

This was a rare night off for this unit only getting one sack of a beaten-up quarterback, but a performance tonight by this defensive line is one I will take, and the team won.

Paul Kruger

Paul Kruger and Pernell McPhee split the team’s lonely sack, and they held Rashard Mendenhall to 52 yards on 13 carries. Mendenhall appeared to be getting some yards early on, and if the Steelers had taken an early lead, they could have controlled the tempo of the game with the running game.

Max Starks at the left tackle position for the Steelers may have been Pittsburgh’s Most Valuable Player doing a fantastic job of controlling Haloti Ngata and anyone else lining up against him.

Rating: B

Linebackers

Linebackers

If you have to pick one star unit for the Ravens defense, this is probably it. They patrolled the middle of the field against Roethlisberger and played okay defense against the short passing game of Heath Miller, Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace and others.

Suggs even stepped in front of a screen pass intended for Wallace, and the turnover led to the Ray Rice’s 4-yard score that put the Ravens up 16-6 with 6:09 left in the third quarter.

Jarret Johnson was second on the team in tackles with five, and Jameel McClain-often criticized for his poor pass coverage at times-had a decent game moving to the ball and clogging up the passing lanes.

Rating: B+

Secondary

The receiving corps of Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace, and Heath Miller that the Steelers sent out Sunday night in my opinion could have been a matchup problem for Cary Williams and Lardarius Webb, but they rose to the occasion and didn’t allow the two speedy receivers to get behind them.

Roethlisberger’s lone touchdown pass to Mike Wallace came on a broken play where Roethlisberger did what he does best-make a throw on the run outside the pocket.

And take into account that Roethlisberger have seven seconds to make a throw.

If the Steelers offensive line gave Ben Roethlisberger seven seconds every time he dropped back, he would have won 7 championships as opposed to two.

And the pass wasn’t intended for Mike Wallace. It was intended for Brown.

But those things happen, and give credit to the Ravens for not giving Roethlisberger enough time at the end of the game to make that play.

Ed Reed played within himself and didn’t bite on any bad plays, and Bernard Pollard was very physical over the middle.

Rating: B

Special Teams

We said it earlier in the year.

When Sam Koch only has to punt twice in a game, you’re doing alright.

However, the guy not doing alright at this time is kicker Billy Cundiff, who in the off-season was paid by the Baltimore Ravens to be that franchise kicker worthy of making the big opportunity when it counted the most.

Cundiff was 3-of-4 with a long of 51 yards Sunday at Heinz Field, but what’s troublesome is his 40-yarder that he missed on the Ravens’ second drive of the game.

Billy Cundiff

It was a difficult kick going into the open end of the stadium in Pittsburgh, but Cundiff already has missed more field goals in 2011 (4) than he did all of last year in his Pro Bowl trip (3).

You can make excuses for the misses, but those are opportunities that could come back to haunt the Ravens in the playoffs should they have to make another trip to Heinz Field.

Lord willing…that doesn’t happen.

And if you’re David Reed, you can never fumble the ball on a kickoff.

Ever.

Rating: B

Like my analysis? Disagree? Comment below or call into “The Realtity Check” with Glenn Clark 410-481-1570 Monday! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Ravens v. Steelers “Top 10 Most Memorable”

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My Ravens v. Steelers “Top 10 Most Memorable”

Posted on 06 November 2011 by Glenn Clark

I’m simply calling this my “Top 10 Most Memorable.” Not my “Top Ten Most Memorable Games” or my “Top Ten Most Memorable Moments”, just my “Top 10 Most Memorable” in the history of the Baltimore Ravens/Pittsburgh Steelers Rivalry…

10. Jamal2K (December 28, 2003-Ravens 13, Steelers 10 OT)

jamal

The game didn’t really end up meaning anything for either team, as the Ravens clinched the division earlier in the day with a Cincinnati Bengals loss. That said, the atmosphere remained electric for the Sunday Night Football matchup as Brian Billick stuck with his starters. RB Jamal Lewis fell short of breaking Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record (live shots of Dickerson from ESPN during the broadcast actually added to the excitement), but he DID surpass the 2,000 yard mark and the Ravens claimed victory of their AFC North foe.

9. Ravens won’t defend (January 20, 2002 Steelers 27, Ravens 10)

2022

Despite an up and down 2001 season, there was still a feeling that once the Baltimore Ravens reached the playoffs, they’d somehow figure out a way to defend their Super Bowl XXXV crown. Kordell Stewart and Amos Zereoue did little against the Ravens defense, but three Elvis Grbac picks ensured the Ravens’ title hopes would be dashed at Heinz Field.

8. Flacco’s coming out party (September 29, 2008 Steelers 23, Ravens 20 OT)

After a surprising quick start to the 2008 season with first year head coach John Harbaugh and rookie quarterback Joe Flacco, the Ravens entered their Monday Night Football showdown in the Steel City undefeated. They took a quick lead in the game, but some mistakes allowed the Steelers back into the game. The game would ultimately be won by the Steelers in overtime, but Ravens fans who made the trip felt good about the hopes for the coach and QB moving forward in the series.

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Ravens-Steelers: Five predictions for Sunday night

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Ravens-Steelers: Five predictions for Sunday night

Posted on 05 November 2011 by Luke Jones

Little needs to be said about what’s at stake when the Ravens travel to Pittsburgh for the first time since their crushing 31-24 defeat in the divisional playoffs last January. The winner of Sunday night’s game gains control of the division — with apologies to the unproven Bengals — and emerges with the psychological upper hand should these teams meet again in January.

Sunday night marks the 32nd all-time meeting between the Ravens and Steelers in the regular season, with Pittsburgh holding an 18-13 edge. The Ravens will attempt to win their second straight regular-season game at Heinz Field and only their sixth game ever in Pittsburgh. Eight of the last 10 meetings (postseason included) between the teams have been decided by one score or less despite the Ravens’ 35-7 beating of the Steelers in Week 1.

The Ravens are 3-1 on Sunday Night Football during the John Harbaugh era, but Sunday marks the first time Baltimore has played on the road for Sunday Night Football since the game moved to NBC in 2006.

A win would give the Ravens a 6-2 start for the second consecutive year and for the third time in team history (2006 being the other).

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Here’s what to expect when the Ravens travel to Heinz Field to take on the Steelers to complete the season series …

1. Ray Rice will gain enough yardage to offset the Steelers’ edge in the passing game. The Ravens bulled over the Pittsburgh defense to the tune of 170 rushing yards as an offensive line playing together for the first time exceeded even the most optimistic expectations in the regular-season opener. Ben Grubbs hasn’t played since then as the group has failed to reach that same level of dominance in his absence. The left guard will be a game-time decision, but it’s no coincidence Grubbs appears primed to return against the Steelers. Pittsburgh holds the edge at quarterback, but the Ravens can offset Ben Roethlisberger’s advantage over Joe Flacco by being productive enough on the ground to help control the clock and keep the Steelers’ passing game off the field. Pittsburgh’s run defense has improved, but Arizona and New England aren’t exactly dominant ground teams. Arian Foster ran for 155 yards and Maurice Jones-Drew gained 96 against the Pittsburgh defense, so it’s not out of the question for Rice to run for 80 yards on the ground — in addition to what he provides as a receiver out of the backfield.

2. The Ravens will win the turnover battle against a Pittsburgh defense that hasn’t created takeaways all season. Unsurprisingly, the teams find themselves occupying the top two spots in total defense, but a dramatic difference lies in their ability to create turnovers. Baltimore’s 16 takeaways is tied for second in the AFC while the Steelers have only forced three turnovers through their first eight games, last in the NFL. On the flip side, the Ravens and Steelers have each turned the ball over 13 times. Critics will point to Flacco’s inability to protect the football, but the Steelers’ preference to throw plays right into the hands of the Ravens, who are healthier in the secondary than they’ve been all season. If Flacco and the Ravens can make just enough plays in the passing game, it will force Roethlisberger to take more chances, increasing the likelihood of turnovers. The Ravens have the better, more opportunistic defense, and it will pay dividends on Sunday night.

3. The Steelers will miss LaMarr Woodley more than they’ll benefit from the return of James Harrison — at least in this game. After playing coy on his Twitter page earlier in the week, Harrison returns to the lineup after missing four games with a fractured orbital bone. However, Woodley’s nine sacks had him in the Defensive Player of the Year discussion before the linebacker suffered a hamstring injury last week. Harrison is as tough as they come, but the month-long layoff will leave some rust, and the Ravens can devote more attention to him without Woodley on the opposite edge. Left tackle Bryant McKinnie played his best game of the season against Harrison in the season opener, so the Ravens are hoping for a similar, motivated effort in Pittsburgh.

4. Terrell Suggs will continue to own the Steelers no matter what they try to throw at him. Max protection, tight end help, and double teams don’t matter when the Pro Bowl linebacker takes on Pittsburgh. Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians called Suggs the best pass rusher he’s ever had to face, and the ninth-year linebacker has sacked Roethlisberger more often than any other defender in the NFL. After accumulating six sacks in his last two games (one of those coming last January) against Pittsburgh, it’s clear the Steelers have no answers in stopping his harassment of Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh will hope veteran Max Starks’ insertion at left tackle will have an impact after Suggs abused Jonathan Scott in Baltimore, but he’ll need as much help as possible to keep Suggs’ shadow away from the quarterback. Playing in prime time, Suggs will collect two sacks of Roethlisberger and create a critical turnover in the second half.

5. It won’t match their 35-7 showing in Baltimore, but the Ravens will sweep Pittsburgh for just the second time in the 16-year history of the series, winning a 21-20 nail-biter. While it’s true the Steelers are entering Sunday having played better football than the Ravens recently, many have been too quick to dismiss what transpired in the regular-season opener. Yes, it’s extremely unlikely the Ravens force seven turnovers again, but the Baltimore defense completely overwhelmed the Pittsburgh offense in the most recent meeting between the teams. If we’ve learned anything about the Ravens so far this season, it’s their reputation for playing to the level of their competition. There’s never any shortage of motivation and passion when they meet the hated Steelers. If — and it’s a major one — Flacco can take care of the football and make just a few big plays at opportune times (215 passing yards and a touchdown pass), the defense will take care of the rest by pressuring Roethlisberger and creating a critical turnover that swings the game in the Ravens’ favor.

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Hate to say it, but I will: Ravens can’t beat Big Ben in Pittsburgh

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Hate to say it, but I will: Ravens can’t beat Big Ben in Pittsburgh

Posted on 03 November 2011 by Drew Forrester

I’ll go ahead and be the bad guy.

The Ravens aren’t winning Sunday night in Pittsburgh.

They’d win if someone other than Ben Roethlisberger were playing quarterback for the Steelers.

But he’s playing.

And the Ravens can’t beat him at Heinz Field.

Last October when Charlie Batch was at the helm while Ben was suspended, I ran my mouth all week prior to the game and GUARANTEED that Baltimore wouldn’t lose to Batch in Pittsburgh. And they didn’t.

That was then. That was Batch. This is now. And he’s Roethlisberger. There’s a huge difference.

Sorry…I feel like I should probably “homer-up” and pick the Ravens to win just because it would anger me so much to see Pittsburgh win (again) up there.

But that’s not how I do things.

I call it like I see it. Or, at the very least, how I think I’m going to see it.

And I see Pittsburgh winning 20-16.

Roethlisberger will be the difference, as he almost always is when these teams meet in Pittsburgh.

I sure as hell hope I’m wrong.

But I can’t see the Ravens beating Big Ben up there on Sunday night.

Sorry…

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Ravens’ Suggs thrives on being “bad guy” in Pittsburgh

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Ravens’ Suggs thrives on being “bad guy” in Pittsburgh

Posted on 02 November 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — You get the sense Terrell Suggs would have made one heck of a professional wrestler in another life, walking to the ring while playing to the crowd — the man everybody loves to hate. Continue Reading

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