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CB Graham admits it’s difficult to keep focused during Super Bowl week

Posted on 30 January 2013 by WNST Staff

CORNERBACK COREY GRAHAM

 

(on his journey as a football player) “Amazing, amazing. You know, it’s been a long journey for me. I’ve had the opportunity to play for a lot of great teams and I’m fortunate to be here with the Baltimore Ravens and be in the Super Bowl.”

 

(on preparing for the Super Bowl) “You know we just, we try to make things the same, try to get used to being down here in New Orleans. It’s a different atmosphere. So we try to make things similar to what they would be every other game week and try to stay focused and continue to do things the way we need to do them to prepare for this game.”

 

(on whether or not he expected to be here) “When you get drafted to a team that’s in the Super Bowl the year before you get drafted, you kind of assume that you’re going to be here. Coming in I’m like, “Wow, it’s a great team. I’m pretty sure we’re going to get back to the Super Bowl,” and look at me now, 6 years later. This is my first opportunity. So I’m trying to embrace it. I’m trying to enjoy and make sure that I’m taking in everything that New Orleans has to offer and just trying to have fun, but then again prepare for the game and make sure that I’m ready, because that’s the most important thing.”

 

(on being at the podium next to Ray Lewis) “It’s funny how things work out. Now I’m in the Super Bowl getting the opportunity to play with him for this big game, especially knowing that this is the last year he’ll play football. Look at me now, at media day, sitting next to Ray Lewis. It’s just been amazing.”

 

(on being grateful to have the opportunity to play on defense) “That’s everybody’s hopes and dreams, that I would get an opportunity to go out there and play, even when I was in Chicago. That’s what they asked from me at the time was to go out there and play special teams. If that’s what they’re going to ask you, you go out there and do the best that you possibly can. I’m fortunate and happy that I’m finally getting the opportunity to show what I can do on defense. I always knew I could do it. But it’s good to show everybody else that I can do it, to show them that I can play out there and I deserve to be out there.”

 

(on any difference in preparation for the Super Bowl versus the regular season) “Coach is trying to keep everything the same. He wanted this to be as normal of a week as it could possibly be. Obviously being down here is going to be a little different because of all the stuff going on, all the family here and everything of that nature. He’s trying to keep it the same, with the same type of practices, the same preparation. Hopefully we’ll go out there and play the best we possibly can because we’ve prepared as best we possibly can.”

 

(on keeping focused this week) “It’s been very difficult, to be honest with you. Everybody in your phone book is calling you and asking you if they can get tickets to the Super Bowl. Everybody assumes they’re free. It’s a tough situation. I just tried to put it all off on my wife and let her handle all that, all the hard work. I just try to prepare and get ready for the game which is the most important thing. You come out here, and it’s a great thing, but we’re here for one reason and that’s the most important thing is to play the game and have a good game and hope we win the game.”

 

(on Randy Moss) “It’s Randy Moss man. He’s been a great in this game for so long. The things he’s been able to do have been outstanding. He’s still got some of that breakaway speed in his legs and he’s still doing a good job. You always have to be prepared and ready for a guy like Randy Moss, because you never know. He’s able to go over top and go deep all the time. I don’t know exactly what coach is going to do as far as that matchup, but we’re just looking to play ball. I don’t think we should have to double anybody if we go out there and ball out and do what we’re supposed to do. Whether it’s Randy Moss or anybody who is a guard that can make plays, I don’t think we’re going to be doing that much doubling.”

 

(on distractions at the Super Bowl) “Honestly, I’ve put most of that off on someone else. There’s going to be a lot of distraction, there’s going to be a lot of family members. They’re going to want you to do things, to go out to eat, to go here and go there. Just tell them you’re getting ready for a game or you have to prepare for the game as best you can. Put it off on your wife or your girlfriend or whoever you’ve got. Don’t try to do anything, just try to keep the week as normal as possible. Go about the week the same way you would if you were in Baltimore.”

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Super Bowl XLVII – Tuesday, January 29, 2013

 

 

QUOTES FROM BALTIMORE RAVENS MEDIA DAY

 

CORNERBACK COREY GRAHAM

 

(on Bernard Pollard’s comments on safety and rule changes in the league) “I don’t know as much about what Bernard was saying, but I did read it a little bit. It’s a tough situation. As a defensive player it’s tough on us. Pretty much you can’t hit anybody these days. You just have to find a way. Obviously player safety is important and as a player we know that that’s something we need to look into, but as a competitor also, you need to be able to play the game a little bit and it’s making it a lot tougher on us. When guys are going across the middle, when guys are catching balls, you’re scared to hit guys now because you never know what’s going to happen. It’s just such a small window for defenders to hit guys. I’m not saying it’s a problem, I’m just saying we need to find a way to meet somewhere in between.”

 

(on whether changing the strike zone will help safety concerns) “Yeah, the strike zone is small now. You can’t pretty much hit a guy anywhere. He’s defenseless at all times. If you think about it you’re pretty much defenseless anytime you’re catching the ball, so it’s tough. Obviously if you teach it to kids at a young age it might help a lot, because us growing up as kids, we didn’t care. You just hit a guy wherever you can hit him. Guys will get concussions and guys will get a long term effect from those hits, so we have to do something about it but as a defender, this league is very tough on us in finding ways to hit guys and tackle guys. I don’t want it to get to a point where everyone has to hit guys in the legs every time because they’re scared to hit guys up top. That’s just going to cause more injuries because guys are going to have torn ACLs and stuff like that. You don’t want guys going at full speed and chopping their legs out every time, but that’s what it’s going to come to.

 

(on his faith/religion) “We have a lot of guys on this team that believe in God a lot. They have a lot of faith. We have faith in each other. Every time we step out on the field we believe in what each other can do. We believe in the guy next to us. We believe in holding everybody accountable. We couldn’t do it if we didn’t have faith. We continue to believe in each other, and it’s gotten us this far. Your faith is always going to help you because you have to believe. Sometimes you’re going to be in tough situations where things might not be going your way, but it’s all types of trials and tribulations. For me, it was in college when I broke my ankle in the fifth game of my senior year. I didn’t know if I was ever going to play football again. I didn’t know if I was going to get drafted or to get picked up as a free agent or anything. At the time of my pro day I didn’t thing I was going to be able to run, but I was able to do it because I believed in myself and believed in God and he pushed me through it. I was fortunate to get an opportunity to play in this league.”

 

(on his team coming together over tough times) “Any situation where you’ve got guys in your organization or your team that are going through trials and tribulations, it’s going to bring guys together. We’re like brothers. We believe in each other. The guy next to you is the guy you lean on when you’re going through tough times. As a team and an organization we lean on each other and that’s what brings us together and makes us stronger.”

 

(on why things are different on the Ravens this time around) “Well, I was with the Chicago Bears for the past five years and coming here and being in Baltimore, I’ve seen that it’s a different group. It is an amazing group of people here. Guys believe in each other. Guys are accountable. Guys hold each other accountable. Guys trust each other. Guys do well for the guy next to them. It’s just a different group of guys. When you have people on your team like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Matt Birk – guys with so much faith and belief – it pushes you. It helps you be a better person. It helps you play to the best of your ability.”

 

(on San Francisco’s offense) “They have a dynamic offense and their quarterback is making a lot of plays for those guys. He’s able to run the ball. He can throw the ball very good, and he’s got a bunch of playmakers on offense with him. They’re a tough group to prepare for because they cause so much havoc in the way they run the ball or run the pistol or the option or things of that nature. You just have to prepare. Guys have to be gap sound and good with their assignments, but it’s a tough team to prepare for.”

 

 

- more -

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Super Bowl XLVII – Tuesday, January 29, 2013

 

 

QUOTES FROM BALTIMORE RAVENS MEDIA DAY

 

CORNERBACK COREY GRAHAM

 

(on whether or not San Francisco reminds him of any team in the AFC) “I don’t know about that but it’s very similar I would say to Washington. We were fortunate to play those guys this year and that’s a very similar offense with RG3 (Robert Griffin III) and the way he’s about to throw and run the ball with the dual threat. It’s very similar and you have to be gap sound, technique sound, and you have to play football.”

 

(on what he expects from San Francisco’s wide receivers) “A lot. The group is playing pretty good right now to be honest with you. They’ve got (Michael) Crabtree. He’s making a lot of plays. They’re got Randy Moss who is still a very good deep threat. They’ve also got a great group of tight ends. Vernon Davis and (Delanie) Walker, they’re both making a lot of plays out there. It’s a tough group to prepare for but we’ve been looking up a lot so we’ll continue to study them and do what we have to do to prepare for this game.”

 

(on his biggest challenge on the field) “Honestly my biggest challenge on the field, me personally, is my eyes. I have to pay attention to my guys. They do a lot of double moves and triple moves and things of that nature. When you’re in the slot, they do a lot of different stuff so I have to make sure I keep my eyes on my guy and don’t get too caught up in trying to make too many plays and jumping routes and stuff like that. Me as a defender, if I keep my eyes in the right place I’ll be successful.”

 

(prompted to answer questions like he’s hashtagging a tweet – one word answers) (Beyonce Knowles) “Fantastic.” (Winning the Super Bowl) “Epic.” (Your coach beating his brother) “A must.” (The one thing you won’t do while you’re in New Orleans) “Lose.”

 

(on growing up in Buffalo) “A lot of ups and downs. A lot of stuff going on. Everything wasn’t always peachy and great, so I think it just pushed me to be a harder person. I went through a lot of trials and tribulations but it’s made me a tougher person. I went through everything from my family, to bad injuries, to my brother being incarcerated, people being gone, my father not really involved in my life. It was a lot of stuff but it’s made me the person I am today.”

 

(on sharing this experience with his brother who is coming to watch the game) “It’s going to be outstanding. He’s the one who got me involved in football. He was the one since I was 5 years old who put a football into my hand and showed me how to play, (showed me) what to do and what not to do and how to work hard. He was the one who’s done everything for me and it’s great that he’s going to be here to enjoy this moment with me.”

 

(on being a city kid to make it to the NFL) “It’s not typically the guys from the city (who play in the NFL). They have the talent but most of the time they go to public schools and they don’t get the right education. Sometimes they get swarmed up in too much going on outside of football and I was fortunate. To be honest with you, it was probably my brother. He kept me away from all that. He made sure that I got good grades. He made sure that I went to the better schools. He made sure that I was doing the right thing, that I was working out, that I was training. He was the one that didn’t allow me to get caught up in some of the things that some of the kids in the city get caught up in in Buffalo. There was a lot going on around me with my family and my cousins and some of my friends, but I ignored that. I was at a basketball court or I was at the track, or I was at some type of camp. I was trying to get better and pushing towards my ultimate goal which was to play in the NFL. I was going to go to college no matter what.”

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Brady standing in way of Ravens’ redemption run to Super Bowl

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Brady standing in way of Ravens’ redemption run to Super Bowl

Posted on 16 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens have made no secret about their satisfaction in seeing the New England Patriots once again on the same stage in which they fell painfully short last January.

With few believing they could reach their second straight AFC Championship game after being left for dead just a few weeks ago, the Ravens are embracing the opportunity but also know the truth about Sunday’s game in Foxborough. The game they’ve worked toward over the last 12 months only has one acceptable outcome in their eyes.

“Nothing matters unless we’re going to win in New England this weekend,” linebacker Ray Lewis said. “Then we’re back to the same position we were in last year.”

As compelling as their run has been to watch, the same man is once again standing in the way of their first Super Bowl appearance since the 2000 season. While the Ravens were finally able to topple Peyton Manning, future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady has goals of his own, mainly atoning for last year’s Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants. The most successful quarterback of this generation, the 35-year-old hasn’t won a championship since the 2004 season and has twice fallen in the Super Bowl since then.

Leading the top-ranked offense in the NFL in yards and points scored, Brady will try to do what Manning couldn’t do in Denver last Saturday. And the Baltimore defense will try to pick up where it left off in the divisional round when it held Denver’s explosive offense to just seven points in the second half after the Broncos returned a kickoff for a touchdown to begin the third quarter.

Even with every reason to be confident, the Ravens know that Brady will be waiting and ready after the Patriots scored 41 points against a tough Houston defense last week.

“He is a smart guy. We all know that is the reason he is probably a Hall of Fame quarterback,” cornerback Corey Graham said. “He is smart with the ball. He makes great decisions. He looks for matchups, and we have to just go out there and make plays.”

The Ravens’ multiple-look defense has given Brady difficulty over the years compared to most units as the Patriots were held to just 23 points in last year’s AFC Championship. The New England offense fared better in the Ravens’ 31-30 win in Week 3, but Brady acknowledges how difficult it is to play against a unit led by Lewis and free safety Ed Reed. In five career regular-season games against the Ravens, Brady has thrown five touchdowns and three interceptions and has posted an 83.3 passer rating, a modest mark for such a decorated quarterback. He has posted worse ratings against only four other teams over the course of his 13-year career.

His playoff loss to the Ravens on Jan. 10, 2010 was the worst performance of his postseason career as he threw three interceptions and lost a fumble in the 33-14 final.

Of course, the Baltimore defense hasn’t been the dominating unit this year that it was for more than a decade, but the Ravens were able to create pressure and force Manning into mistakes in the second half as the Denver quarterback turned the ball over three times in defeat. Instead of their simple “bend, but don’t break” performance, the defense made countless big plays in the second half to keep Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense within striking distance.

“It’s not like you beat this team 50-0,” Brady said at a press conference on Wednesday. “It’s always a tight game, there’s tight coverage, there’s tight throws, there’s tough reads, because schematically they do quite a few things.”

The discussion last week centered around the countless chess matches between Lewis and Manning, but the Ravens’ battles against Brady have been just as compelling. New England won’t hesitate to use the no-huddle offense and quick snaps on occasion to catch the Ravens on their heels, especially after Baltimore played a total of 174 plays and 77:38 on defense over the last two weeks.

The Ravens take pride in disguising their schemes and changing up coverages, the latest example coming on Denver’s final offensive play when cornerback Corey Graham and Lewis flipped coverage on wide receiver Brandon Stokley and baited Manning into throwing a critical interception. However, New England will try to use similar tactics in hopes of creating a mismatch with its wide array of offensive weapons.

“They switch it up. When they make plays, they hurry up to the line, and they speed the game up on guys,” Graham said. “If you’re not ready, if you’re not prepared for it, it will catch you off guard. They have been catching a lot of guys off guard, a lot of guys not set up and prepared for the play.”

Even when the correct matchups are identified, defensive backs and linebackers must play disciplined as Brady will try to look off receivers and make defenders pay for the softer coverage they typically employ to prevent the big play. The Patriots also won’t hesitate to go against the grain such as when they sent backup Shane Vereen deep on a 33-yard touchdown out of the backfield against the Texans.

The Ravens’ best chance in slowing Brady is to make him uncomfortable in the pocket like they did to Manning in the second half in Denver, but even then, the task in the secondary is daunting against the likes of Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez in the short-to-intermediate portion of the field — an area in which the pass defense has been vulnerable all year. In many cases, the ball simply comes out too quickly to get to the veteran signal-caller when he employs three-step drops.

“We have to have great eyes. We can’t stare him down in the secondary,” safety Bernard Pollard said. “We have to be on our men. They have great receivers and running backs. We have to go out there and play our game.”

Unlike past seasons when playing the Patriots, the Ravens must also account for the New England running game as starter Stevan Ridley rushed for 1,263 yards this season. The offense is one-dimensional as it’s been in the past when you could simply count on Brady to throw it 50 times with an ineffective rush offense behind him.

The Ravens were clearly content in keeping plays in front of them against the Broncos, evident by using Reed and Pollard in two-deep coverage for much of the game, but it will be interesting to see what defensive coordinator Dean Pees dials up against New England. Brady attempted only 19 passes that traveled more than 30 yards in the air all season and lacks the deep threats that the Broncos possessed in both Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, but the Patriots are never afraid to change things up.

Baltimore is in store for another chess match, again playing one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game. And while the Ravens have been described as a team on a mission, there’s no arguing that the Patriots are motivated to not only get back to the Super Bowl but to finish the job after last year’s narrow loss.

Even though the Ravens beat the Patriots in the postseason three years ago and were one end-zone catch away from doing it again last season, they also know Brady is 5-1 in conference title games. As was the case last week, it won’t be easy to survive and advance for the underdog Ravens.

“That does not scare us,” Pollard said. “We’re going to go out, and we want to outhit you and outplay you and we want to go to the Super Bowl.”

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Broncos

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Broncos

Posted on 15 January 2013 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’ 38-35 2OT win over the Denver Broncos Saturday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in an AFC divisional playoff game…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Ma’ake Kemoeatu tackles Ronnie Hillman for no gain on 3rd & 7 (4th quarter)

4. Dennis Pitta 27 yard catch from Joe Flacco on 3rd & 13 from Baltimore 3 (Overtime)

3. Justin Tucker 47 yard field goal GOOD (Double Overtime)

2. Jacoby Jones 70 yard touchdown catch from Joe Flacco (4th quarter)

1. Corey Graham intercepts Peyton Manning pass intended for Brandon Stokley (Overtime)

(Ryan’s Plays on Page 2…)

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Ravens embracing opportunity for second chance in New England

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Ravens embracing opportunity for second chance in New England

Posted on 14 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — In the moments following the improbable 38-35 double overtime win over the Denver Broncos Saturday night, running back Ray Rice labeled the Ravens “a team of destiny.”

So, why wouldn’t the New England Patriots once again be standing in the way of Baltimore’s first trip to the Super Bowl since Jan. 2001? If you believe in such storybook treks, defeating the Indianapolis Colts and toppling Peyton Manning for the first time since 2001 were appropriate opening chapters, but a return trip to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough would be the ultimate climax.

The painful ending to last season’s AFC Championship was one that drove the Ravens throughout the offseason as they desperately worked — and hoped — to land themselves back in the same position. Even after a Week 3 win over New England in Baltimore earlier this season, another meeting with Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the Patriots was impossible not to think about in many Ravens players’ minds.

“I think we personally kind of wanted to play the Patriots again,” defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. “If we were to go to the Super Bowl, it would be great to go through Foxborough and win there. It’s another matchup that I think that we’re excited about, and hopefully, we can get it done this time.”

Meeting in the postseason for the third time in five seasons, the Ravens and Patriots have built a rivalry similar to the one between New England and Indianapolis last decade as it seemed Brady and Manning were always on a collision course in January. The teams have met five times overall in the John Harbaugh era with all but one game — the Ravens’ 33-14 victory in the wild-card round of the 2009 season — being decided by fewer than seven points.

While games with New England may not challenge the annual meetings with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Harbaugh acknowledged how familiar the Ravens are with the Patriots and how familiar they are with playing in Foxborough.

“We’ve been there a number of times. It’s definitely grown into quite a rivalry, we would like to say,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I don’t know how they feel about that part, but we have tremendous respect for the New England Patriots.”

The Patriots own the advantage as they’ve won three of the five meetings between the teams since 2009, with no win bigger than last year’s 23-20 final that gave them the AFC title after the late failures of Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff.

As remarkable as their postseason run has been after losing four of their last five games to close the regular season, the Ravens know who stands in their way of achieving their ultimate goal, and they understand they will once again be considered a significant underdog as oddsmakers have favored New England by 9 1/2 points.

“They have the history,” wide receiver Torrey Smith said. “They have been there, and we want to get to where they have been. They were there last year. They knocked us out, and we want to get to that point, get this win, and get to the Super Bowl.”

As was the case last week, Ravens players expressed no interest in what the outside world thinks about their team, but they embraced the opportunity for a second chance to right the wrongs left on the field in Foxborough last season. And as the images of Evans’ drop and Cundiff’s miss are replayed all week, Baltimore is ready to turn the page for a different ending this time around.

“The feeling that we had in that locker room, I think we all wanted to get back to the AFC Championship,” Ngata said. “And then to actually have it be back in Foxborough, it’s a good story.”

Ayanbadejo apologizes for Patriots comments

After posting a series of critical comments about the Patriots on his official Twitter account Sunday evening, linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo backed off his stance Monday as many were critical of the veteran special-teams player for conjuring bulletin-board material before New England had even officially advanced to the conference championship.

The 36-year-old apologized for drawing negative attention to himself and the Ravens six days ahead of the AFC title game.

“I made selfish comments on twitter last night that reflected poorly upon myself, my teammates, and the organization,” Ayanbadejo tweeted Monday morning. “For that I apologize.”

It remains unclear how Harbaugh handled the situation at the team’s training facility in Owings Mills, but the Baltimore coach had little interest in discussing Ayanbadejo’s comments when asked to respond during his Monday afternoon press conference.

“That’s all stuff that just isn’t really relevant,” Harbaugh said. “It’s all stuff that I don’t think is worthy of the conversation right now.”

Ayanbadejo didn’t play any defensive snaps in Saturday’s win and was part of the coverage units that allowed two return touchdowns to Denver’s Trindon Holliday.

Earlier Monday, he didn’t receive much of an endorsement from his defensive teammate Ngata when the four-time Pro Bowl selection was asked whether he agreed with the linebacker’s assessment of the Patriots’ hurry-up offense.

“I’m not going to comment on that stuff,” Ngata said. “That’s all about him and his deal.”

Jones, Graham special contributors

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Our Ravens/Broncos “Pats on the Ass”

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Our Ravens/Broncos “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 12 January 2013 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor. This week, Luke Jones joined us as well.

We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches each.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 38-35 double overtime win over the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Sunday in a AFC Divisional playoff.

Glenn Clark’s Pats…

5. Pernell McPhee

4. Ray Lewis

3. Ray Rice

2. Jacoby Jones

1. Justin Tucker (Pat on Both Cheeks)

(Ryan’s Pats on Page 2…)

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Our Ravens/Giants “Pats on the Ass”

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Our Ravens/Giants “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 23 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor.

We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches each.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 33-14 win over New York Giants Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium…

Glenn Clark’s Pats…

5. Corey Graham

4. Anquan Boldin

3. Brendon Ayanbadejo

2. Torrey Smith

1. Ray Rice (Pat on Both Cheeks)

(Ryan’s Pats on Page 2…)

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Our Ravens/Redskins “Slaps to the Head”

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Our Ravens/Redskins “Slaps to the Head”

Posted on 09 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

After Baltimore Ravens victories, Ryan Chell and I award players who made positive contributions with “Pats on the Ass” during the “Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net.

The Ravens fell to the Washington Redskins 31-28 in overtime Sunday at FedEx Field, meaning there were no Pats to be awarded.

So instead of offering “Pats on the Ass”, Ryan and I again offered “Slaps to the Head” postgame. A slap on the side of the head from a coach tends to come along with them saying something along the lines of “you’ve gotta do better than that.”

Same rules as there were with Pats. Two offensive players, two defensive players, and a Wild Card (Special Teams player, coach, or another Offensive or Defensive player). One player gets “two slaps” (or a slap on both sides of the head), it’s the opposite of a “Player of the Game” honor.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches after each game.

Here are our five Ravens that have “gotta do better than that.”

Glenn Clark’s Slaps…

5. Matt Birk

4. Cary Williams

3. Ed Reed

2. Joe Flacco

1. John Harbaugh (Two Slaps)

(Ryan’s Slaps on Page 2…)

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Your Monday Reality Check: I think we all need some civic therapy today

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Your Monday Reality Check: I think we all need some civic therapy today

Posted on 03 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

I don’t have it in me.

Honestly, I combed over all of my usual spots looking for fun videos, GIFs, etc. for the 15-7-0. I wanted to have one more big roundup to close the college football season. I hope Roofing By Elite will be okay with sponsoring this diatribe instead.

As part of hosting a local sports talk show, I often find myself playing the role of civic therapist. After Baltimore Ravens losses, I’ll regularly hear things like “did you have to spend the day trying to talk everyone off the ledge?”

I’d like to think I’ve been fairly successful in that, although it was certainly come with my share of mini-meltdowns in the process.

I don’t think I’m going to melt down this time. I’m certainly not on the ledge myself.

I don’t think I’m on the ledge, anyway.

Am I on the ledge?

You know what happened. The Charlie Batch-led Pittsburgh Steelers invaded M&T Bank Stadium and used a Shaun Suisham field goal as time expired to pull off one of the more improbable victories of the 2012 NFL season. The Steelers snapped the Ravens’ lengthy win streaks both at home (15) and against AFC North opponents (12). They also prevented the Ravens from clinching a playoff spot in the AFC and pulled within two games of their longtime rival in the race for the division crown.

This one hurt.

With Ben Roethlisberger out again, this was a prime opportunity for the Ravens to vanquish one foe and focus on bigger goals. The Ravens are still in good position to claim the AFC North title this season, but everything the Ravens do this season is being measured by the fact that there is an expectation for them to reach the Super Bowl.

It was tough to imagine a team that struggled to a 9-6 win over the Kansas City Chiefs making a run to the Super Bowl. It’s equally difficult to fathom a team that lost at home to Charlie Batch making a run to the Super Bowl.

(This is the part where civic therapist Glenn Clark reminds everyone that they’re not moving up the date of the Super Bowl to December and it is absolutely impossible that the Steelers and Ravens will both be playing in the game. Sorry. I had to.)

The truth is that the concerns that stem from the Ravens’ loss aren’t dissimilar to those we had experienced earlier in wins and losses. The truth is that those concerns will likely pop up again, perhaps as early as next week in a visit to face Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins. The truth is that as long as the Baltimore Ravens were winning games, those concerns weren’t REALLY issues.

The Ravens simply needed to put themselves in the best possible situation to make a playoff run. If the Ravens continued to struggle offensively on the road but won, they’d still be in perfect shape to have to win no more than one road game in the postseason to get to New Orleans.

That’s the NFL. Your issues are only as significant as the record you carry them with. In that way, the Ravens are still in good shape at 9-3; but the nature of how this one went awry makes you worry about the ability for the team to keep winning through struggles.

In a game the Ravens only lost by three points, this one had a little bit of everything…

-Questionable play calling
-Poor clock management decisions
-Shaky quarterback play
-Offensive line lapses
-Inconsistent rushing
-Untimely drops
-Non-existent pass rush
-Awful tackling
-Secondary miscommunication
-Game changing turnovers
-3rd down struggles
-Red zone issues
-Potentially season changing injuries
-A partridge in a pear tree

Okay, maybe not the last one. But the rest were accurate at one point or another.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Dickson, Ellerbe, Graham, J. Jones sit out Wednesday’s practice

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Dickson, Ellerbe, Graham, J. Jones sit out Wednesday’s practice

Posted on 28 November 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With a chance to clinch the AFC North division title against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, the Ravens hit the practice field on Wednesday with four key players missing from action.

Tight end Ed Dickson, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, cornerback Corey Graham, and wide receiver Jacoby Jones did not practice in the first full workout of the week while five other players practiced on a limited basis.

Dickson and Ellerbe are considered to be the biggest concerns in terms of their availability for Sunday’s game as the starting tight end is dealing with a knee injury while the inside linebacker suffered an ankle injury in the 16-13 win over the San Diego Chargers. Coach John Harbaugh said Monday he expected each player to be very limited in practices this week with the thought that they would both have a chance to play against the Steelers.

“I feel pretty good,” Dickson said prior to missing Wednesday’s practice. “I’m as far along as I can be on a Wednesday, and I want to continue to rehab it and get ready.”

Graham was listed as missing Wednesday’s practice with an illness while Jones rested the sore ankle that was re-aggravated during Sunday’s win.

Cornerback Chris Johnson, defensive end Pernell McPhee, and safeties Bernard Pollard and Ed Reed were all limited participants.

Harbaugh confirmed that linebacker Ray Lewis was in the building rehabbing on Wednesday, which is something he’d done away from the facility prior to this point, but did not practice. The 37-year-old linebacker is eligible to return to the practice field on Thursday, but the Baltimore coach gave no indication when he would begin working with the rest of the team.

“We’ll just play it day by day as far as whether he practices or not,” Harbaugh said. “He is not imminent to return to play or anything like that, so to me it’s really a non-story. He’ll go out there when he’s ready to practice when the elbow holds up, and when that happens, we’ll let you know.”

For Pittsburgh, quarterback Ben Roethlisbeger practiced on a limited basis as most media reports are giving him no more than a 50 percent chance of playing against the Ravens on Sunday. Head coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday the plan is to prepare as if backup Charlie Batch will start this week while Roethlisberger tests out his injured right shoulder in practices.

Linebacker LaMarr Woodley was absent from Wednesday’s practice and is considered doubtful after sustaining an ankle injury in the Steelers loss in Cleveland.

The Steelers received good news, however, with the returns of wide receiver Antonio Brown and safety Troy Polamalu, who are both expected to play in Baltimore if they don’t suffer any setbacks.

BALTIMORE
OUT: CB Jimmy Smith (abs)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: TE Ed Dickson (knee), LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle, knee, finger), CB Corey Graham (illness), WR Jacoby Jones (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Chris Johnson (thigh), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), S Bernard Pollard (chest), S Ed Reed (shoulder), WR Torrey Smith (thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Anquan Boldin (knee), DT Terrence Cody (elbow), TE Dennis Pitta (neck), LB Terrell Suggs (ankle)

PITTSBURGH
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: T Mike Adams (ankle), T Willie Colon (knee), QB Byron Leftwich (ribs), T Max Starks (back), LB LaMarr Woodley (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Jerricho Cotchery (ribs), QB Ben Roethlishberger (right shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Antonio Brown (ankle), S Troy Polamalu (calf)

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Rice’s miracle play grabs headline, but Ravens defense made comeback possible

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Rice’s miracle play grabs headline, but Ravens defense made comeback possible

Posted on 25 November 2012 by Luke Jones

Ray Rice’s miraculous catch and run on fourth-and-29 will go down as one of the greatest regular-season plays in the 17-year history of the Ravens and will be remembered in the years to come.

A late awakening by quarterback Joe Flacco and the offense completed an improbable 16-13 comeback victory over the San Diego Chargers and pushed the Ravens to 9-2, matching their best start in franchise history.

But none of it would have been possible if not for the stout performance of an undermanned, banged-up Baltimore defense at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday. As much grief as he received early in the season, first-year defensive coordinator Dean Pees deserves a pat on the back after the last two weeks in which the Ravens have held opponents to a combined 23 points in two road victories.

The injuries are well-documented and the struggles have been scrutinized throughout the season, but the defense came to play in what appeared to be a difficult matchup against a Chargers attack that’s struggled all season but still possesses the weapons to be dangerous on any given Sunday. The Ravens held San Diego to 13 points, surrendered 280 yards, and sacked quarterback Philip Rivers a season-high six times in their most impressive defensive performance of the year.

San Diego was just 3-for-15 on third down and 0-for-1 in the red zone as the Ravens continued an incredible streak of four straight games without allowing a red-zone touchdown. Baltimore has kept opponents out of the end zone in their last 10 trips inside the 20-yard line.

The numbers barely make you blink in the context of what’s been one of the greatest defenses in the NFL for more than a decade, but a simple look around the field reminds you just how impressive the group has been recently. A 10-point effort against Pittsburgh was brushed off because backup Byron Leftwich was at the helm for the Steelers, but to hold Rivers and the Chargers to 13 points in nearly 75 minutes of play Sunday is worthy of recognition.

That is, if you can recognize who’s making the plays. By no means have they become a no-name defense — Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, and Ed Reed are still on the field, even if less than 100 percent in each case — but the Ravens continued to receive contributions from unlikely sources.

Replacing inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, who left the game with an ankle injury, 36-year-old special-teams standout Brendon Ayanbadejo was a factor in pass coverage, making four tackles and defending a pass in extensive action. Filling in for the man who was already replacing the injured Ray Lewis and has arguably been the Ravens’ best defender this season, Ayanbadejo made several key tackles in the second half to help stall San Diego drives.

Another special-teams player, cornerback Corey Graham, continued his strong play in the secondary by making five tackles and defending two passes as he continues to fill in effectively for the injured Jimmy Smith. He and Cary Williams held up well against taller wide receivers Malcom Floyd and Danario Alexander in what looked like a mismatch on paper heading into Sunday’s game.

More impressive than anyone, however, was third-year defensive end Arthur Jones, who collected the first two sacks of his career and added another tackle for a loss as he manhandled the Chargers up front. Largely considered a disappointment in increased action this season, Jones has played his best games of the season the last two weeks, making the extended absence of Pernell McPhee little more than an afterthought at this point.

The key to the defensive prosperity on Sunday was the Ravens’ pass rush as Suggs, Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, and rookie Courtney Upshaw collected sacks in addition to the two secured by Jones. Baltimore took advantage of a poor San Diego offensive line and made Rivers uncomfortable in the pocket, allowing the secondary to tighten its coverage.

Aside from a lone drive for a field goal surrendered in the game’s final 41 minutes, the defense was exceptional, forcing four three-and-outs in the second half and keeping the Baltimore offense within striking distance when it finally awoke from its game-long slumber midway through the fourth quarter.

The numbers won’t blow you away and the defensive stars aren’t playing at the same level they did in the past, but Pees has seemingly cracked the code to repair the crisis this defense was facing during its bye week. In the four games played since the break, the Ravens have allowed a total of 58 points after giving up 43 alone against Houston on Oct. 21.

Maybe it was Pees’ decision to move upstairs to the coaches’ booth. Perhaps unheralded players are finally living up to the mantra of “next man up” that’s constantly uttered in the Ravens locker room.

Whatever the case, the defense is figuring it out and it makes the 9-2 Ravens that much more dangerous down the stretch — even with their many flaws that will once again be discussed this week.

It’s not the Ravens’ dominating defense of old, but the unit saved the day on Sunday.

Even if the late-game heroics of Rice and the offense will be what everyone remembers.

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