Tag Archive | "Bill Belichick"

Here’s your chance to watch basketball with me at the new SECU Arena

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Here’s your chance to watch basketball with me at the new SECU Arena

Posted on 16 January 2014 by Drew Forrester

I have to admit this: when the Ravens do something like initiate a search for an offensive coordinator, it benefits me and the rest of the professionals at WNST.

First, it gives us talk-radio fodder, which comes in particularly handy this time around because the Ravens are not playing football in this playoff campaign.

Next, it provides me and the others here a chance to gauge the temperature and sports-intelligence-level of our customer, either the listener or reader in WNST’s case.

It also allows for us to absorb what other members of the media in town are saying about the topic at hand.  What sort of “take” do they offer?  Is it knee-jerk and silly or well thought out and reasoned?

This offensive coordinator search has revealed an embarrassment of riches when it comes to all of those elements I listed above.

Unfortunately, the word “embarrassment” is more appropriate than I might have first realized.

It doesn’t matter to me what your position is with regard to the Ravens current search for a new offensive mind.  You are all welcome to your own opinion with regard to what candidate makes the most sense and which one should be disregarded.

Here, though, is the one incredibly DUMB thing I’m hearing and reading — from a lot of you — about any of the candidates.  And here’s where I’ll add that I heard at least two other local sports radio personalities author this exact same thought, so they’re just as dumb. Actually, they’re worse — more dumber (they used the word “dumber” in a movie title, I assume it’s a word) if you will — because they’re supposedly professional.

“Well, they better not hire Jim Hostler…have you seen his track record as an offensive coordinator?  He sucks.”

“Kyle Shanahan?  That guy just got fired in DC.  He couldn’t get along with RGIII, how’s he gonna work with Flacco?”

“Just say no to Childress.  He’s friends with Harbaugh.”

Dumb.  Dumber.  And more dumb.

Jim Hostler was the Offensive Coordinator in 2007 in San Francisco.  It was a brief, one-year tenure.  It didn’t go well.  The team out there, by the way, was going through a stretch of finishing .500 or worse over eight straight seasons.

Seven seasons ago Jim Hostler was the Offensive Coordinator of the 49′ers and he failed.  So, should that immediately disqualify him for this Ravens’ opening?  Really, should it?  You mean, in his six years in Baltimore, he hasn’t learned?  Hasn’t improved?  Hasn’t, perhaps, figured out a better way?  I’m not campaigning for Hostler in any way, shape or form.  I’m on record saying I think there are more qualified candidates than him.  That said, the one thing I won’t say is — “well, he can’t do the job, did you see what he did in San Francisco?”

If you sell tape recorders for The Smith Company in 2010 and fail miserably, does that mean you’re incapable of selling tape recorders for The Jones Company in 2016 when there’s an opening there?  What if during that six year span you had a better sales manager who taught you a lot while you were working for The Brown Company?  You failed in 2010.  Does that just mean you’re going to fail again in 2016?  Of course not.

That’s what you all have done in Baltimore with regard to Jim Hostler.

“He sucked in 2007 so he’s gonna suck for us, now.”

Not necessarily.

Maybe he’ll have better players at his disposal in Baltimore in 2014.  That would help.

I was the golf coach at John Carroll in Bel Air in 2011 and 2012.  We played sixteen MIAA matches in that span.  The team went 0-16.  We were shut out in 7 of the 16 matches.  Last year, I was hired by Calvert Hall and we won the MIAA golf championship for the first time since 1997.  Thank God the people at Calvert Hall didn’t say, “Have you seen what Drew did over at John Carroll?  They didn’t win a match.  We can’t hire that loser.”

If you want to point to Jim Hostler’s work in Baltimore over the last six seasons and question what role he’s played in the development of the team’s receivers, I think that’s VERY fair.  So would he, I assume.  But to harp on and on and on and on about one season in San Francisco back in 2007 is just dumb.  Sorry if that hurts.  But it’s dumb.

By the way, Bill Belichick was 36-44 in Cleveland in the 1990′s.  Look at HIS record in New England.

Tony Dungy fired and fell back in Tampa Bay in the early part of last decade.  Some good, some bad.  He turned out to be a champion and, most likely, a Hall of Famer.

People in sports get fired all the time.  It doesn’t make them a guaranteed failure down the road.

I’m glad we’re smart enough to pass that along to you.

I hope you listen.

—————————————————————-

The times, they are a changin’ over at Towson University.

And if you have a Twitter account and you follow @WNST, you just might see that for yourself next Wednesday night.

We all know the football team has experienced a glorious turn around over the last five seasons under Rob Ambrose, but are you aware that the men’s basketball program has also been rebuilt from a 1-win team in 2011-2012 to a legitimate CAA title contender in this, his 3rd season at the school?

It’s true.

Towson basketball has experienced a great rebirth and this year, they’re spending their first ever campaign in the brand new SECU Arena, located a stone’s throw from their outstanding football stadium.

Here’s where WNST comes in.

I’m taking eight of you – plus a guest you bring – to next Wednesday night’s home game against Northeastern at SECU Arena.  You’ll attend the game for free, sit in the SECU luxury box with me and the other WNST winners, and have food and drink supplied for free by the fine folks from SECU.  We even some courtside seats you can all share throughout the game.

What’s the catch, Drew?  Is that what you’re asking?

There isn’t one.

I’m just a nice guy.  And so are the people at SECU — and they’re proud of the arena with their name on it and they want you to see it next Wednesday night.

How do you win the tickets?

Easy — today, from 6am to 5pm, tweet the words “See You At SECU” to us (@WNST).  That’s it.  By doing that, you’re entered.  We’ll then pick four of you at random today and announce the winners via Twitter around 5:30 pm.

And if you don’t win today, we’re doing the same thing again tomorrow, Friday, January 17.

Go to Twitter today from 6am to 5pm and tweet the words “See You At SECU” to us @WNST and you might, actually, see ME at SECU Arena next Wednesday night!

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Ravens handed worst home loss ever as Patriots deliver “cleat of reality”

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Ravens handed worst home loss ever as Patriots deliver “cleat of reality”

Posted on 22 December 2013 by Drew Forrester

This time, there was no late-game heroics to save the Ravens.

No half-a-world-away kick from Justin Tucker.

No final minute punt return from Jacoby Jones.

No last gasp drive from Joe Flacco and the offense.

This time, it was just football for sixty minutes.

And, the Ravens got their rear ends handed to them by Tom Brady and the Patriots.  There’s no other way to slice it.  No fancy way to sugarcoat it.  Not on Sunday.  It was 41-7 in favor of the Patriots and the beating was as bad as the score would indicate, even if two of the New England TD’s were scored in garbage time.

It was a day to forget for Joe Flacco and the offense.  Going up against a beleaguered and injured New England defense, the Baltimore offense simply laid a colossal Christmas egg, coughing up the ball on four different occasions and failing to pick up a first down on two separate 4th and short situations in the second half.

On the first occasion, the Ravens were faced with a 4th and 2 at the New England 39.  They had already run the ball twice in the series — once for five yards and the other for three yards, but offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell eschewed the reasonable solution of running off the edge and instead asked Flacco to connect with Jacoby Jones on a short pass.  It failed.

Later on, at the New England four yard line, the Ravens had two chances to pick up one yard.  On 3rd and 1, Caldwell again called for a pass play, which was incomplete.  Facing a 20-0 deficit, the Ravens rightfully went for it on 4th down.  Flacco initially lined up in the shotgun with Rice to his right.  Just prior to the snap, the QB scooted under center and gave Rice the ball off tackle, where he was stopped for no gain.  Was that the play design coming out of a Baltimore time-out where the Ravens discussed a critical play-call?  If so, it looked sloppy at best, ill-executed at worst.

Those two 4th down failures didn’t cost the Ravens the game, but you can’t win football games in the NFL when you can’t pick up two yards and one yard with your season perhaps on the line.

Later, the Ravens made the wrong call on a field goal decision that all but sewed up the game for the visitors.  Trailing 20-0 and faced with a 4th and 5 at the Patriots’ 19 yard line early in the 4th quarter, John Harbaugh elected to send Justin Tucker on the field for a 36 yard field goal.  That Tucker would miss the field goal was almost poetic justice, for even if he would have connected, the Ravens still trailed by three scores at 20-3.  He missed it.

Sure, Tucker should make a 36-yarder every time, but the call there should have been to go for it on 4th down to try and get a TD on that series and make it a two score game.

If the game wasn’t over prior to Tucker attempting the field goal, it was over when he failed to connect.

The Baltimore offense has now scored one touchdown in its last eight quarters of action.  Six field goals last Monday night in Detroit and one “we don’t care if you score” TD allowed by New England on Sunday.  In fairness, one of those days where the ineptness of the offense finally catches up to the Ravens was bound to happen.  Other Sunday’s, Flacco and Company would figure out a way to put up a TD or two and add a few Justin Tucker field goals to win 23-20.

This was the Sunday where the football gods finally said, “You boys are gonna have to play some legit football on offense today.”

And, the Ravens didn’t answer the bell.

The Baltimore defense got picked apart early by Tom Brady, who used Julian Edelman like a fiddler with his bow.  When the Patriots took advantage of a pass interference call on Jimmy Smith in the end zone and a Flacco interception to go up 14-0, all they had to do from there was play smart, use the clock and not turn the ball over.  What quarterback in the world is better than doing those things than New England’s #12?

Brady expertly used the middle of the field as the Ravens’ secondary played a soft cover-2 that put little emphasis on physicality.

One week ago in Detroit, the Ravens defensive backs went toe-to-toe with Calvin Johnson from the first whistle and physically challenged him.

Against New England, there was very little of that press coverage scheme from Jimmy Smith or Corey Graham, although it’s fair to note Lardarius Webb was tight on his man most of the day.

The Baltimore defense put little pressure on the quarterback all afternoon.  Strong?  Yes.  Big in size?  Yes.  But the Ravens lack pace and speed in their defensive front seven and when they face a quick-release quarterback like the one in New England, there’s not much damage being done.

When Brady gets time to do his thing, it can get ugly.  Like it did on Sunday.

On the flip side, the Ravens offense was unable to solve the mystery of the New England defense that somehow constructed a method to beat Baltimore on the inside and give Flacco something to think about most of the day.  Horrible against the run, the Patriots weren’t challenged that much by Caldwell, who went to the air 42 times.  It was a weird combination, it seemed.  New England WANTED the Ravens to throw it and the Baltimore coaching staff did just that.

It all added up to the worst home loss of the John Harbaugh-Joe Flacco era.  With their playoff lives on the line, the Ravens turned in a stinker for the ages, at home no less, and made next Sunday’s game in Cincinnati a must-win affair.

Everyone’s shorts smelled on Sunday.

The coaches had a long day.

The offense had a longer day.

And the defense, which played respectably overall, got a lesson in how Tom Brady operates when the calls and the balls are both working in his favor.  He’s tough to beat.

Hell, Justin Tucker missed a 36 yard field goal.

You know you’re not winning if that happens.

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Ravens-Patriots: Five predictions for Sunday

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Ravens-Patriots: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 21 December 2013 by Luke Jones

The Ravens renew what’s become one of the best rivalries in the NFL in recent years Sunday when the New England Patriots pay a visit with playoff implications for both sides.

A rematch of the last two AFC Championship games is compelling enough, but the Ravens enter Sunday with a chance to punch their ticket to the postseason for the sixth straight year with a win and losses by Miami and San Diego. New England will clinch its fifth consecutive AFC East division title with a victory at M&T Bank Stadium.

These teams have dealt with their fair share of changes since the last time they met in Foxborough last January, but they find themselves in a familiar position with new faces emerging to replace the big names of past years. Counting the postseason, Sunday marks the seventh time the Ravens and Patriots have met in the John Harbaugh era — it’s been a 3-3 split — with few teams having as much success against New England coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady as Baltimore.

It’s time to go on the record as the Ravens try to clinch another winning season under Harbaugh and set up an AFC North championship game against Cincinnati in Week 17. Baltimore is just 1-6 in the all-time regular-season series against New England, but the Ravens hold a 2-1 edge over the Patriots in the postseason.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens look to continue their four-game winning streak and keep themselves in position for January football …

1. Joe Flacco’s knee injury will affect his mobility, contributing to him being sacked four times for the first time since late November. One of the major factors for Flacco’s improved play down the stretch has been his ability to move around in the pocket and occasionally take off to gain yards on the ground, but the mild MCL sprain of his left knee figures to impact that to some extent. Trying to assess Flacco’s mobility during practices this week was impossible as quarterbacks only played catch from a stationary position during the open portion of practices, but he was still dealing with some swelling late in the week. The Baltimore offensive line has only allowed five sacks over the last three games, but Flacco will be more likely to stay in the pocket this week, leading to a few more sacks with defensive ends Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich coming off the edges.

2. New England cornerback Aqib Talib will match up with Dennis Pitta, but the Ravens tight end will catch a touchdown. The Patriots have used the 6-foot-1 Talib against talented tight ends such as New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham and Miami’s Charles Clay, so don’t be surprised to see him covering Pitta from the slot position while New England tries to use Cover 2 to contain the deep-ball threats of Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones on the outside. Talib is listed as probable on the final injury report, but he’s been dealing with a nagging hip issue, which might explain why defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and Belichick moved him inside last week in Miami. Talib will prevent Pitta from having a huge day, but Flacco will still find his favorite target inside the red zone for a touchdown after the tight end wasn’t targeted once in three red-zone trips last week in Detroit.

3. Brady will find rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson for a touchdown to help the Patriots’ recent red-zone woes. New England ranks 16th in the league in red-zone offense, and the loss of tight end Rob Gronkowski has only made that area of the field more problematic for the future Hall of Fame quarterback as he lacks a big target to throw to. The Patriots were only 1-for-4 inside the 20 in last week’s loss to the Dolphins, but the return of the 6-foot-3 Dobson will help complement smaller receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. The Ravens must also keep tabs on Shane Vereen and his receiving abilities out of the backfield, but the league’s fourth-ranked red-zone defense will make the Patriots scratch and claw all day. Even with their personnel losses, the Patriots rank sixth in the NFL in points scored and Brady will connect with Dobson for a touchdown.

4. Backup running back Bernard Pierce will earn a season high for rushing yards with Ray Rice less than 100 percent. Rice and the Ravens have downplayed the mild quadriceps strain he suffered in the Week 15 win over the Lions, but it’s difficult not to be concerned considering how tough this season has been for the three-time Pro Bowl selection. Pierce has experienced his own struggles — averaging only 2.8 yards per carry — behind an offensive line that’s underperformed. If the Patriots do match up Talib with Pitta and rely on two high safeties against the vertical threat, the Ravens will receive better looks in the box against the league’s 31st-ranked run defense that’s surrendered 132.5 yards per game. It’s difficult to trust the Ravens to run the ball effectively against anyone at this point, but Pierce will eclipse his season high of 65 rushing yards set in Week 3.

5. An improved effort inside the 20-yard line will go a long way as the Ravens win a 23-17 final over New England. Baltimore has won four straight games but has only gone 4-for-14 inside the red zone over that stretch, leaving a slim margin for error and too much reliance on kicker Justin Tucker. That being said, Flacco has gotten the best of Brady in recent years and the Ravens are feeling more urgency than the Patriots with their playoff positioning. Sunday will be a nail-biter and you can never count out Brady when the stakes are high, but the Ravens will once again rise to the occasion to finish 7-1 at home. The offense will have a respectable effort on the ground and make a few big plays through the air to complement another strong defensive effort as the Ravens set up a massive Week 17 showdown with the Bengals.

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Ravens vs. New England — It’s a “7-Star Lock” game

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Ravens vs. New England — It’s a “7-Star Lock” game

Posted on 20 December 2013 by Drew Forrester

You know how it goes in gambling.

There are games you “like”, games you “feel good about” and games where you say, “it’s a lock!”

I have a slam-dunk thing called the “7-Star Lock” that I only bring out for very special occasions.

I’ve only used the “7-Star Lock” twice this season.

It hit both times.

The first go-round was in Baltimore last month when the Ravens edged the Bengals 20-17 in overtime.  The Friday before, I ended our award-winning segment – “Picks and Comment” – with the stunning revelation that the game in Baltimore two days later was “the lock of all locks”.  Hence, the reason it was a 7-Star Lock.

You just don’t label a game a 7-Star Lock unless you know it’s a done deal.

In fact, the 7-Star Lock is just like a honeybee.  When a honeybee stings you, that’s essentially its final act, as it will perish hours later.

If the 7-Star Lock ever fails, it, too, is dead.  A 7-Star Lock can only be used while owning a perfect record.

Anyway, following the successful application of the 7-SL on the Bengals in Baltimore (“I don’t care what you say, Cincinnati isn’t coming to Baltimore and beating the Ravens this Sunday…”), I took a few weeks off before finding another 7-SL game.

Last Sunday in Miami, I called the Dolphins over New England a 7-Star Lock for the hometown ‘Fins.

You can up that record to 2-0 on 7-SL’s this season.

Oddly enough, New England will once again be involved in a 7-Star Lock game.  It’s this Sunday afternoon in Baltimore.

Baltimore 26 – New England 13

And, yes, you can make that a 7-Star Lock.

New England’s not coming to Baltimore and winning on Sunday.  They don’t have enough offense, even though they have the best QB in the league.  They don’t have a defense that can stop the Ravens long enough to let the referees work their expected late-game magic for Bill Belichick’s team.

They have a very good kicker.

The Ravens have a great one.

New England doesn’t have to win the game.

Baltimore does.

The Ravens don’t lose big home games.  Not under John Harbaugh, anyway.  Not in December.

The last time the Ravens spit the bit in a home game of this kind of magnitude was January 13, 2007 when the ’06 campaign ended abruptly with a 15-6 loss to the Colts in the AFC playoffs.

Ain’t happenin’ this Sunday in Baltimore, trust me.

Ravens in a romp.

Book it.

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Ravens-Patriots: Five predictions for AFC Championship

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Ravens-Patriots: Five predictions for AFC Championship

Posted on 19 January 2013 by Luke Jones

Coming as close as they possibly could to reaching the Super Bowl last season before heartbreak occurred in the form of a Lee Evans drop and a Billy Cundiff missed field goal in the final seconds of the AFC Championship, the Ravens return to the scene of the crime in Foxborough as they again take on the New England Patriots.

Defeating New England for the first time ever in the regular season by way of a 31-30 final in Baltimore back in September, the Ravens will now try to win their second postseason game at Gillette Stadium in the last four seasons. Aside from their 33-14 blowout victory in the wild-card round of the 2009 season, the Ravens are used to seeing their meetings with the Patriots come down to the wire as each of their other four meetings in the John Harbaugh era have been decided by fewer than seven points.

The Ravens will again hope to extend the career of inside linebacker Ray Lewis by one more game and advance to their first Super Bowl since Jan. 28, 2001. And for Harbaugh and quarterback Joe Flacco, a win means taking another step toward elite status at their respective positions in the National Football League.

Of course, standing in their way are Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, the two men who have been at the top of their respective classes for the last decade.

Here’s what to expect as the 12-6 Ravens try to punch their ticket to New Orleans and Super Bowl XLVII …

1. The Ravens won’t have to deal with Rob Gronkowski, but Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez will cause major problems over the middle of the field. It’s no secret that slot receiver Wes Welker and Hernandez are the most dangerous weapons at Brady’s disposal, and they each provide difficult challenges to the Baltimore pass defense. Corey Graham is the clear choice to match up against Welker in the slot as the Ravens will run the nickel package extensively, and the cornerback is playing with more confidence than ever after intercepting two Peyton Manning passes last week in Denver. Welker will get his yards, but the Ravens are confident that Graham can prevent the Pro Bowl wideout from having a monster game. Hernandez will be trickier to cover as defensive coordinator Dean Pees will likely lose a combination of linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and strong safety Bernard Pollard in trying to mix up coverages against Brady. I have my doubts that either player will be able to stick with him as the middle of the field has been a problem all year long. Hernandez will produce 80 receiving yards and a touchdown.

2. With the Patriots focusing heavily on Torrey Smith by matching Aqib Talib against the speedy receiver, Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta will combine for 160 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Smith has been a major thorn in the side of New England as the second-year wideout has produced three touchdowns and 209 receiving yards in two contests against New England. The Patriots could use Talib against Smith exclusively – the Baltimore receiver usually lines up on the side of the field on which Talib plays anyway — but they will likely offer safety help as well if they were paying attention to what Smith did against Champ Bailey last week. Deep safeties will allow more room for Boldin and Pitta to work the middle of the field as the Patriots ranked 29th against the pass this season. Though still mixing it their spots to be aggressive with the vertical passing game, the Ravens will try to use Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce on first and second down to create third-and-manageable situations in which Flacco loves to use his tight end and possession receiver. The Patriots will do everything they can to stop Flacco’s deep balls to Smith and Jacoby Jones, meaning the quarterback will instead choose to attack the intermediate portion of the field more frequently.

3. As he has for much of the season, running back Stevan Ridley will add another dimension to the New England offense that will wear down the Ravens in the second half. Pees downplayed the significance of his defense playing 87 snaps in each of the last two games, but you have to wonder how much more a group that’s already less than 100 percent can take if they’re on the field for extended periods on Sunday. Ridley rushed for 1,263 yards this season as the Patriots had the seventh-best rushing attack in the league. The New England offense still centers around Brady, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a heavy dose of Ridley in the second half to see if the Patriots can tire out the Ravens’ front seven, thus neutralizing any potential pass rush in the process. Inside the red zone, the Patriots won’t hesitate to use a quick-snap approach if the Ravens aren’t set and will hand off to Ridley before the defense even knows what’s happening. Any defense spends so much time studying Brady and trying to dissect him, so it’s easy to overlook the New England running game in the process. It will pay dividends in the second half for the Patriots, especially if they have a lead.

4. The team that wins the battle inside the red zone will come away with the AFC title. The objective is clear against the Patriots — even if it’s a difficult one. You know they’re going to score points, but if you can hold them to field goals on at least a few scoring possessions while you score touchdowns on your trips inside the 20, you’ll typically find yourself within striking distance in the fourth quarter. It will be a test of will in that area of the field as the Patriots scored touchdowns on 70 percent of their trips inside the red zone (best in the NFL) while the Baltimore defense was second in the league by allowing touchdowns on only 43.4 percent of opponent’s trips inside the 20. Conversely, Flacco and the offense must come away with touchdowns when they’re knocking on New England’s end zone. This is where Boldin and Pitta will be critical against the league’s 13th-ranked red-zone defense. If you want any chance of beating New England on the road, you cannot trade field goals for touchdowns or you’ll find yourself in a hole early. The Baltimore offense is playing at a high level and shouldn’t have any reason to believe they can’t move the ball against the Patriots at will, but they need to finish drives with touchdowns. Barring an inordinate number of special-teams and defensive scores – like the Ravens win in Denver last week, for instance — the team that prevails inside the red zone will be the one advancing to New Orleans.

5. Joe Flacco will continue a tremendous postseason with 250 passing yards and two touchdowns, but the Ravens will again fall excruciatingly short in Foxborough with a 31-27 loss. The Baltimore quarterback is playing the best football of his career over the last month and will have another strong performance against the Patriots on the second-biggest stage the NFL has to offer. However, Flacco needs to advance to the Super Bowl to truly receive the recognition he deserves. As was the case last week, the Ravens are matched up against a better overall team, but they have every opportunity to win against the Patriots, who have some clear deficiencies unlike the Broncos. Regardless of what happens on Sunday, this season should be viewed as a success considering the number of injuries this team has sustained and how badly it was struggling just over a month ago. In the end, however, the Patriots will just have a little too much offensively for the Baltimore defense to handle and for the Ravens offense to overcome. This one could very well come down to the final possession of the game, but I just can’t bet against Brady and the Patriots in the conference championship, a game in which they’re 5-1 in the Belichick era. It won’t come down to a devastating dropped touchdown or field-goal miss, but the Ravens will fall short yet again despite a terrific effort in New England.

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Ayanbadejo takes shots at Patriots offense on Twitter

Posted on 13 January 2013 by Luke Jones

Even before the Ravens were officially set to travel to New England for an AFC Championship rematch next Sunday, linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo couldn’t help but stir the pot against the Patriots.

Using Twitter, the veteran was critical of the Patriots’ hurry-up offense that includes quick snaps and a no-huddle approach.

“In a sport that is predicated on mano y mano, ‘let’s hurry-up n snap it’ = b-tcha–ness,” the linebacker tweeted.

An active participant on his verified Twitter account, Ayanbadejo began taking shots at the New England offense during the Patriots’ 41-28 victory over the Houston Texans in Sunday’s divisional playoff. The Ravens will travel to Gillette Stadium to face New England in a postseason game for the third time in four years.

“New England does some suspect stuff on offense,” wrote Ayanbadejo, a three-time Pro Bowl special-teams player. “Can’t really respect it. Comparable to a cheap shot [before] a fight.

“… the hurry snap offense catch [them before] they set up,” the 36-year-old continued. “It’s a gimmick … Their offense is good enough to be successful without that.”

Poking the bear that beat the Ravens in last year’s conference championship appears unwise for a group that was praised for the quiet confidence it exuded last week despite numerous critics giving them little chance of beating the No. 1 seed Denver Broncos. It’s also worth noting Ayanbadejo didn’t play any defensive snaps and was on the field as part of the coverage units that allowed two return scores in Saturday’s 38-35 double-overtime win at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

Ayanbadejo also criticized the Patriots’ infamous “SpyGate” scandal and handling of their roster.

“You know the same organization that did spygate and cut a guy the day [before] the Super Bowl,” said Ayanbadejo, referencing wide receiver Tiquan Underwood, who was released the day before last year’s Super Bowl.

The Patriots are unlikely to respond to Ayanbadejo’s comments publicly — at least head coach Bill Belichick won’t — but you can bet Ayanbadejo has already provided some bulletin-board material for the team regarded as the clear favorite in next Sunday’s AFC title game.

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The Reality Check NFL Playoff Power Rankings

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The Reality Check NFL Playoff Power Rankings

Posted on 09 January 2013 by Glenn Clark

Ryan Chell & I ranked the best head coaches, quarterbacks and defenses left in the postseason, then ranked the teams left in order of likelihood to win Super Bowl XLVI.

It was a fun day Tuesday on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net. You really should be listening.

Head Coaches:

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

8. Gary Kubiak

7. Pete Carroll

6. Mike Smith

5. Jim Harbaugh

4. John Harbaugh

3. John Fox

2. Mike McCarthy

1. Bill Belichick

Ryan Chell’s Rankings…

8. Gary Kubiak

7. Pete Carroll

6. Mike Smith

5. Jim Harbaugh

4. John Fox

3. John Harbaugh

2. Mike McCarthy

1. Bill Belichick

(Quarterbacks on Page 2…)

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Patriots should blame themselves for late meltdown in Baltimore

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Patriots should blame themselves for late meltdown in Baltimore

Posted on 24 September 2012 by Drew Forrester

I’ll tell the Patriots and their fans the same thing I told the Ravens and their faithful followers who bellyached in the wake of last week’s loss at Philadelphia:  Please don’t cry about the officials.

New England lost Sunday night’s game in Baltimore because they had two chances to put away the game and they failed.

It’s that simple.

The Patriots had a 2-point lead when they got the ball back with four minutes remaining.  All Tom Brady and Company had to do was pick up a few first downs and the game was in the bag.  But they couldn’t do it.

Baltimore’s offense took the field with two minutes left on their own 21 yard line.  The Patriots defense merely needed a hold — anything to keep the Ravens from a field goal — and they were winners.  They couldn’t do that, either.

Two chances to win.  Two failures.

The same thing happened to the Ravens last week in Philly.

Afterwards, Joe Flacco and Ray Lewis took on the refs when, honestly, they should have been chastising themselves for failing to come through with the game on the line.

New England faces the same type of self-examination in the aftermath of a 4th quarter collapse at M&T Bank Stadium.  Their offense failed — and so did their defense — when the chips were down.

Now…were the officials horrendous on Sunday night in Baltimore?

Absolutely.  There were bad calls and missed calls throughout the sixty minutes.

But the officials weren’t covering Torrey Smith on Sunday night.  Someone from the Patriots was…or, perhaps I should say, someone from the Patriots was “supposed to be” covering him.

The national focus will no doubt center on the officials Monday and Tuesday.  As it should, frankly.  While New England did itself in with poor execution over the last four minutes of the game, that doesn’t take away from how bush-league the officials were on Sunday night.

I’ve been saying this since well BEFORE the season started, but it bears repeating with each passing weekend.  The league has disgraced itself with this collection of nitwits who are reffing the games.  It’s getting ridiculously close to resembling professional wrestling, minus the steel chairs.  I called the outcome of this one as soon as the Patriots got the ball back with four minutes to play.  ”The Ravens will get a stop here…get the ball back…and then the refs will help move them down the field and Tucker will kick the game-winner at the buzzer.”  Neither Nestor or Luke – seated to my left and right – disagreed with my assessment, both knowing it was probably going to turn out that way.

Bill Belichick refused to engage the media afterwards when it came to the question of officiating.  He kept mumbling something about “you need to talk to them, not me” and deflected every question with a sour-puss expression that most coaches would have on their face if their team squandered a 9-point lead in the fourth quarter.

When asked “real” football questions, Belichick didn’t really answer those, either.

Someone asked him if the final field goal was, in fact, good.  He mumbled something about not seeing it.

Then he was asked if the kick should have been reviewed.  Again, he didn’t really give a legitimate reply.

After the game-ending kick, Belichick raced to midfield to confront the officials who were high-tailing it out of the place.  He appeared to make contact with one of the refs, but when asked afterwards what he was trying to discuss with them, the coach just sort of brushed aside the question and kept on staring straight ahead until another question was asked.

It was a strange scene in the Patriots press conference, because none of the Boston media had the gumption to ask the coach what he thought of his secondary, which allowed the Ravens to move freely down the field in the final two minutes to set up Justin Tucker’s game winning 27 yard field goal.

Instead, everyone waited for the coach to crack and berate the officials, but he wouldn’t do it.

Maybe that’s because he knew the truth.

The truth:  The referees were awful.  Again.  But they didn’t cost New England the game.  Just like the Ravens last week in Philly, the Patriots have no one to blame but themselves.  When pressed, their offense couldn’t put the game away.  And their defense folded like a cheap suit on the final drive.

The better team might not have won on Sunday night.

But the better team had chances to sew up the game and they didn’t.

In that case, the Patriots deserved to lose.

 

 

 

 

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“I don’t care what you say…the Ravens aren’t losing at home to the Patriots.” (Yes, they are)

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“I don’t care what you say…the Ravens aren’t losing at home to the Patriots.” (Yes, they are)

Posted on 21 September 2012 by Drew Forrester

Talk about a chance to kill two birds with one stone.

The Ravens not only get an opportunity to atone for last week’s final five minutes of embarrassment in Philadelphia, but they can re-establish themselves as a legitimate contender in the AFC this Sunday night when the Patriots come strolling in for a national TV affair with John Harbaugh’s team.

The Ravens need a win.  I guess it would be better if the Browns were Sunday’s opponent, but that’s not the way the schedule makers saw week #3 playing out.  So here come the Patriots, armed with wonder-boy at quarterback, a beefed up pass-catching corps and, apparently, an improved defense.

The Ravens, as you know, are seeking to rebound from a horrible loss to the Eagles, where the defense caved in with under five minutes remaining and the offense couldn’t go fifty yards with two time-outs in their pocket in the game’s last 120 seconds.

It should be a helluva game.

And, as is always the case when the Ravens face a top opponent in Baltimore on national TV, Ray Lewis and the gang will be fired-freakin’-up.

I know you’re waiting – impatiently, by now – to see two things:  1) My pick for the game  2) Bill’s comment and attempted personal destruction of me and my character in the “comments section” below.

I’ll give you #1 right now.  I’m sure you’ll see #2 shortly.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the Ravens aren’t winning Sunday night.

Everything sort-of points to Baltimore winning, actually.  They’re playing at home, where they haven’t lost since December of 2010, twelve games ago.  In other words, no matter who comes to town, the Ravens don’t lose at M&T Bank Stadium.  It would also make sense to assume the Ravens’ offense can’t sputter and spit like a ’73 Vega on Sunday night.  After all, they had a week to get a tune-up after last Sunday’s sub-par second half.  By now, Cam, Joe and the rest of the offense have it all figured out, right?

Yes, it makes sense to figure the Ravens are going to win.  As I noted above, they’ll be fired up beyond belief.  But “fired up” doesn’t really matter once the third quarter rolls around.  If Tiger Woods showed up to play me one-on-one at Mountain Branch, I’d be fired up for that.  I might make a birdie or two out of the gate.  But when the dust settled and we were shaking hands on the 18th green, he’d have a 63 on his scorecard and I’d have my tail between my legs.

Remember this before I tell you what’s going to happen on Sunday:  NO ONE, including you, knows what will transpire on Sunday night.  If you knew what was going to happen on Sunday night, you’d bet $100,000 on it and be a rich man.  So would I.

But I *think* the Ravens are losing on Sunday night for one simple reason — the Baltimore defense isn’t all that good and the great #12 and his merry cast of characters will expose that fact on Sunday.

Without the ability to chase the quarterback around, the Ravens can’t beat the Patriots.  In two games thus far, Baltimore’s pass rush has been relatively non-existent.  In pass coverage, the purple linebacking group can’t do squat.  And as long as Brady doesn’t do something dumb like try and pick on Lardarius Webb, he should have a field day exposing the dynamic duo of Cary Williams and Jimmy Smith on “the other side”.  I think New England will run the ball 24 times just to say they did it.  But they’ll throw it 40 times because they can.

I’m going to assume the Baltimore offense will bounce back on Sunday and have a decent night against the Patriots.  I know the final two minutes was ugly last week in Philly, but that was then, this is now.  At home, Joe Flacco and Company will bounce back.

But the Ravens defense won’t be able to handle New England’s offense for 60 minutes.

Sorry…

New England wins 24-20.

I sure hope I’m wrong.

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Art Modell on the life of Art Modell – celebrating his amazing life all weekend at WNST.net

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Art Modell on the life of Art Modell – celebrating his amazing life all weekend at WNST.net

Posted on 07 September 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

I’ve been reading a lot about the life and times of Art Modell over the last 24 hours. Obviously, my heart has been heavy with the loss of his charm, humor and kindness not only for my selfish emotions but for everyone who ever loved Mr. Modell. I’ll never forget seeing the raw emotions of Ray Lewis, Ozzie Newsome, Kevin Byrne and John Harbaugh yesterday in Owings Mills.

Today and all weekend at WNST.net & AM 1570 we will be presenting what I feel is the finest radio interview of my career – a long-winded, emotional, retrospective of the life and times of Arthur B. Modell, told in his own words.

In 2004, just after I retired from hosting a daily show after 13 years of grinding out quality sports talk radio, I decided to do a series of “sit downs” – I called them “Barbara Walters-style interviews” – with many Baltimore sports legends. Art Donovan, Cal Ripken, Phil Savage, Brian Billick, Marvin Lewis, Pam Shriver, Lenny Moore, Bob Ehrlich and several others were kind enough to participate in a series of monthly chats I did to shed light on their careers and how they came to enter their chosen field of work.

Every conversation was personal and memorable but nothing like my time with Art Modell.

I joined Art Modell at his office at M&T Bank Stadium in the spring of 2004 and wound up taking the better part of two mornings to get all of the questions answered.

I haven’t even listened to these yet myself to know exactly all of the ground we covered. I do remember him saying at the end, “You have enough there for a book. No one has ever asked me that many questions before!”

I remember him being emotional several times when I asked about his father. I remember him being a little upset at some of the line of questioning. I remember him being incredibly thoughtful and patient as I probed some memories that he was mostly uncomfortable sharing with me.

But I think we both brought our “A games” with us those two days as we chatted about his entire life and the many people who affected him and shaped his world. How he met soap opera actress Patricia Breslin and married her and adopted her two young sons, David and John. Tales of Jim Brown, Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, Ozzie Newsome, Ray Lewis, Lou Groza, Cleveland, the Browns, Bernie Kosar, Bill Belichick, Pete Rozelle – there’s a lot of meat in this conversation.

This will take some time – there’s about 3 hours worth of chatter here, most of it dominated by Art telling the best stories of his life.

The last question I asked him was stolen from Jim Lipton (and Bernard Pivot):

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

Art Modell deadpanned: “First and long…”

There’s a lot of humor in this conversation as well because that was Art’s Way.

We’ll be playing this interview all weekend on WNST-AM 1570. You can listen in your car or you can click below to take with you wherever you go.

I hope you enjoy the chat. And, quite frankly, I hope it’s as good as I remember it being.

Here are the links via WNST.net and our Buy A Toyota audio vault:

Part 1 of my WNST.net sitdown with Art Modell

Part 2 of my WNST.net sitdown with Art Modell

Part 3 of my WNST.net sitdown with Art Modell

Part 4 of my WNST.net sitdown with Art Modell

Part 5 of my WNST.net sitdown with Art Modell

Part 6 of my WNST.net sitdown with Art Modell

Part 7 of my WNST.net sitdown with Art Modell

Part 8 of my WNST.net sitdown with Art Modell

Part 9 of my WNST.net sitdown with Art Modell

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