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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
One of the more-hyped games of the 2011 schedule once it came out in April is tonight’s Thanksgiving game in Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium when the broithers Harbaugh meet as the San Francisco 49ers take on the Baltimore Ravens (8 pm ET; NFL Network).
The 9-1 49ers have a stranglehold on the NFC West and can clinch the division with a victory and either a loss or tie by Seattle on Sunday or a tie and a Seattle loss.
The 7-3 Ravens lead the AFC North, and are tied for the AFC’s best record.
The combined 16-4 record (.800) of the two teams is tied for fourth-best between Thanksgiving Day combatants since 1970.
It will be Baltimore’s John vs. San Francisco’s Jim, and Jim, and according to NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, who will help call the game with Brad Nessler, this matchup is one to watch:
When you combine the surprising success of San Francisco, along with Baltimore being pretty much where you expect them to be, we’ve got one of the best games of the season on Thursday night.
In a national teleconference to promote the game earlier this week, Jim mentioned how brotherly love goes out the window once competition is involved:
Leading up to this, John has talked freely and openly about football with me. Now, it’s more talking in code. I’m being serious. I can see there are limitations to what he’s telling me. I thought love had no boundaries, but now I see that it does.
— Jim Harbaugh, on football communication with John since the 2011 NFL schedule was announced
For John’s part, it is a continuation of competition that has gone on since they were kids:
We were in the same room for 16 years, and we had to draw a tape line. If you stepped across, there was a fight. The last time we fought, I was 27. He was the quarterback for the Bears. He got up to 6-4, 230 pounds. I was 195, something like that. He takes us on vacation to Florida, we’re on the beach, and we get into this wrestling match. It’s getting a little aggressive and works its way over to the water. He gets a shot in; I get a shot in. I’m starting to think maybe I can hang with the big little brother. Next, he grabs me in a headlock, picks me up, and slams me into three feet of water. My head is on the sand underneath the water. Of course, he’s not going to drown me, but I’m thinking maybe he’s snapped. My dad’s trying to pull him off, but he’s too strong. I’m going to drown. Before I died, he pulled me up. He didn’t do mouth-to-mouth; that would have been against the rules. I then realized I’m never going to fight my brother again. He’s too big.
— John Harbaugh on his brother
The first-ever coaching matchup between two brothers in NFL history is a testament to their father, Jack, himself a former college head coach:
Their father gave them a gift; by making them and teaching them how to compete. If we can instill competition in our kids, that’s all we want. We want them to go out in the world and compete.
— NFL Network’s Marshall Faulk on the relationship between Jack Harbaugh and his sons, Jim and John
Baltimore is coming off a 31-24 victory over AFC North rival Cincinnati at home last Sunday:
NOTE OF THE WEEK: SMITH SOARS
Ravens rookie WR Torrey Smith leads the NFL with a 20.3 yardsper-catch average (29 receptions for 590 yards).
Impressively, 4 of Smith’s 5 TD receptions have covered at least 25 yards (74, 41, 38, 26 and 18 yards), and he’s averaging a sensational 39.4 yards per TD catch.
Smith now owns the Ravens’ single-season (590) and single-game (165 vs. Cin. last week) records for receiving yards by a rookie.
Never before has a Ravens’ wideout posted dual 150-yard receiving games in a season (165 vs. Cin. and 152 at STL).
Smith also owns the top two receiving yards performances by a rookie in the NFL this season.
Smith’s 590 receiving yards this season rank second in the NFL among all rookies (635, Cincy’sA.J. Green).
Last week, Smith joined Ken Burrow (2 in 1971) and Randy Moss (3 in 1998) as the only rookies in NFL history to have multiple games with at least 150 receiving yards and a touchdown catch.
WEEK 12 QUICK HITS:
The Ravens have won 15 of their last 16 games at M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore is 24-5 at home under head coach John Harbaugh, tied (New England) for the NFL’s most home wins since 2008 (as of games played by 11/20).
The Ravens aim for their eighth consecutive win at home and sixth this season (5-0 in 2011).
Baltimore’s seven-game winning streak at home currently ranks as the NFL’s second longest (Green Bay is first at 10 games).
Baltimore aims to reach 8-3 for just the second time in team history (2010 season).
STOUT VS. NFC: Dating back to the 2008 campaign, when head coach John Harbaugh took over in Baltimore, the Ravens have posted a 10-5 record (.667) vs. the NFC, good for the fourth-best mark among AFC teams against the “other conference” during that span.
AFC’s BEST RECORDS VS. THE NFC (since 2008)
1t. New England Patriots 12-2 .857
1t. Tennessee Titans 12-2 .857
3. Pittsburgh Steelers 10-4 .714 4. Baltimore Ravens 10-5 .667
San Francisco is working on an eight-game win streak, and beat NFC West rival Arizona 23-7 last Sunday at home:
WINNING WAYS: With the win last week vs. Arz. (11/20), head coach Jim Harbaugh became just the 3rd rookie head coach in franchise history to start his career with a 9-1 record.
The 49ers have won eight consecutive games, making Coach Harbaugh’s eight-game winning streak the fourth longest by a rookie head coach since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Jim Caldwell’s Colts won 14 in a row in 2009. Steve Mariucci’s 49ers won 11 in a row in 1997. Ted Marchibroda’s Colts won nine in a row in 1975. Bobby Ross’Chargers won seven straight in 1992.
With a 9-1 record to start 2011, the 49ers are tied for the 4th-best start since the team joined the NFL in 1950, behind 1984 (15-1); 1990 (13-1); 1997 (11-1); 1989 (9-1).
Harbaugh became the ﬁrst rookie head coach in franchise history to inherit a team with a losing record and lead them to a 9-1 start in his ﬁrst season.
GOLDEN NUGGETS: A HOT START
With a 9-1 record to start 2011, the 49ers are tied for the 4th-best start since the team joined the NFL in 1950, behind 1984 (15-1); 1990 (13-1); 1997 (11-1); 1989 (9-1).
With a 4-0 record on the road, the Niners join the Green Bay Packers as the only two teams in the NFL to remain undefeated away from home.
THAT’S THE DIFFERENCE
The 49ers have outscored their opponents 256-145. The +111 scoring differential ranks 2nd in the NFL.
A SHORT FIELD
The 49ers have started 25 drives in their opponents territory, ranking 1st in the NFL, and have scored 81 points on those drives, ranking 3rd in the NFL.
YOU WANNA START SOMETHING?
The 49ers average starting ﬁeld position is at their own 33.1-yard line, ranking 1st in the NFL.
LONG WAY TO GO
The 49ers rank 1st in the NFL with an opponents average starting field position of the 24.3.
BRINGING IT BACK
The 49ers rank t-1st in the NFL with 7 PRs of 20+ yds, while ranking 2nd in the NFL with a KOR avg. of 28.0 yds.
POINTS HARD TO COME BY
The 49ers have allowed just 145 points on the season, ranking 1st in the NFL for the fewest points allowed.
SHORT AND TOUGH
The 49ers have allowed just 16 ﬁrst downs on 3rd and less than 4 yds. (15 of 33 – 48.5 pct.), ranking 2nd in the NFL.
EFFICIENCY ON D
The 49ers defense has allowed opponents to score on just 24.0 pct. of their possessions, ranking 1st in the NFL.
The 49ers have only committed 9 turnovers on the year, ranking t-1st in the NFL for fewest turnovers (Houston – 9).
PRODUCTIVE ON FIRST
The 49ers offense has gained 4+ yds. on 52.2 pct. (142 of 272) of their ﬁrst down plays, ranking 4th in the NFL.
THE COMEBACK TRAIL: Four, 4th quarter come-from-behind-win epitomizes the never quit attitude the 49ers embody this season. One player in particular can parallel his career to the theme, QBAlex Smith. Smith is now tied with NYG QB Eli Manning for the most comeback wins by an NFL QB this season.
Smith became just the second quarterback in franchise history to record 3, 4th qtr. comebacks on the road (QB Joe Montanta - 4 in 1989 and 3 in 1990).
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Which is what I guess the Towson Tigers figured they would do to move back into a first place in the CAA…
Terrance West ran all over the Black Bears, much like he’s done to everyone else in the conference. Towson has a completely legitimate chance to win the conference. I almost can’t believe I’m typing that.
The Atlanta Falcons traded away many things to get this man on their team. If he keeps playing like he did against the Indianapolis Colts it will go down as one of the greatest decisions in National Football League history…
As far as Indy in concerned, things have gotten so bad that at one point QB Curtis Painter threw two forward passes on the same play. No really, this actually happened. He wears the same number as Bert Jones. That’s where the similarities end.
There were many amazing things about the Giants’ come from behind win over the New England Patriots in Foxborough, notably the plays made from Eli Manning to Jake Ballard to win the game. But NOTHING I could share with you would be as good as the footage of Michael Strahan celebrating the win while the cameras were “off” at FOX…
During the Sunday Night Football halftime show, Bob Costas pointed out that Ballard’s number (85) was the same number worn by David Tyree in Super Bowl XLII. Pretty good.
(Puts on “Superfriends” announcer voice)
“MEANWHILE….IN SAN DIEGO….”
Phillip Rivers nearly figured out a way to beat the NFC (and NFL)’s best team. The reason why he “nearly” figured it out is because part of beating the best team in the the league is NOT repeatedly throwing the ball to them.
I feel like Aaron Rodgers is getting dangerously close to “so good we can’t possibly like him” territory by the way.
Kellen Moore wasn’t necessarily brilliant, but he surpassed Colt McCoy as the all-time winningest quarterback in NCAA history in Boise State’s win at UNLV…
Kellen Moore’s season only remains interesting however if Luck begins to stumble. Their national TV (ABC) game Saturday night against Oregon will be Luck’s chance to follow up on his performance against USC with a “clincher”. Probably. He had some early struggles, but was good again Saturday against Oregon State…
Trent Richardson remains third on my list-but he’s currently third on a list of two. Case Keenum heads the “others receiving votes” category.
Tim Tebow by no means beat the Oakland Raiders on his own (Denver Broncos teammates Willis McGahee, Eddie Royal & Eric Decker certainly helped), but what the hell do we care about anyone who plays in the Mile High City not named Tim Tebow?
By the way, the Broncos are only a game out of first place in the AFC West. And thank God the Raiders solved all of their problems by trading for Carson Palmer.
Sophomore QB now a candidate for three national awards
NEW ORLEANS –Maryland’s Danny O’Brien was named to the watch list Monday for the Manning Award which honors the top quarterback in the country.
For O’Brien, the 2010 Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year and a 2011 consensus preseason first team all-league pick, it marks his third appearance on a national award watch list (also Davey O’Brien and Maxwell).
The sophomore from Kernersville, N.C., saw action in all 13 games last season, posting a 7-3 mark as a starter. He ranked fifth in the FBS among freshmen in passing efficiency (134.5 rating) and threw for 2,438 yards, the sixth-best effort for a first-year player in ACC history.
O’Brien is one of 31 players on the Manning Award preseason list and the only one from the ACC.
The list of 10 finalists will be released on Monday, Nov. 28. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, Jan. 18.
The Manning Award was created by the Allstate Sugar Bowl in honor of the college football accomplishments of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning. It is the only quarterback award that includes the candidates’ bowl performances in its balloting.
ATLANTA, Ga. — If you think I wasn’t tempted to write a column that came off as “I told you so”, you’re wrong.
In fairness, I DID pick the Falcons to win 24-20 and said it would be the type of game that would come right down to the final seconds before it was decided.
I’d have every right to say “you should have seen this coming.”
But if I’m being fair, I didn’t REALLY see this coming at all.
I mean, who could have ever seen the Baltimore Ravens (6-3) barely touching the ball for the majority of the first half of their 26-21 loss to the Atlanta Falcons (7-2) Thursday night at the Georgia Dome?
Who could have ever seen the Ravens being forced to respond from two different 13 point deficits in the second half only to forge ahead on a TD strike from QB Joe Flacco to TE Todd Heap with 1:05 to play?
And certainly, who could have ever seen the comeback foiled by a methodical drive from Falcons QB Matt Ryan that culminated in a 33 yard TD toss to WR Roddy White?
I mean, I guess the script could have been written in a SIMILAR way, but not that exact way.
It’s funny, because the first “parting thought” that came to my mind as the game was ending was one that I shared via Twitter (you can follow @WNST to see my thoughts on Twitter). I said “Everyone wants someone to blame for a loss. I think I’ll blame Matt Ryan and Roddy White.”
And while it wasn’t the FINAL thought that came to me, I still stand by that. Sometimes good teams just lose to other good teams on the road. The Ravens are a good team (they don’t need me to apologize for them, they’ve proven how good they are throughout the season); but the Falcons are a good team too. And they played at home.
As Ravens RB Ray Rice said postgame “that’s the NFL.”
But even that wasn’t really the most important takeaway I had after the game.
The most important takeaway hit me as I was getting ready to scribe this column.
CINCINNATI, Oh. — The Baltimore Ravens (1-1) had plenty of chances to beat the Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) in Sunday’s 15-10 loss at Paul Brown Stadium.
Twice in the final five minutes of the game, QB Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense got the ball back needing just one score to win the game.
Clearly neither of those possessions resulted in points. Or even one single first down for that matter.
The Ravens struggled offensively throughout Sunday’s loss, producing just 259 yards of total offense and 14 first downs en route to defeat. More troubling? They also turned the ball over four times, all Flacco interceptions.
Amazingly, the Ravens actually outgained their AFC North counterparts (Cincy managed just 253 yards of total offense) and the Bengals only racked up 14 first downs as well.
Not as if any of that mattered.
Not scoring points wasn’t the only problem for Baltimore’s offense. Two of Flacco’s interceptions gave the Bengals the ball immediately in Baltimore territory, and the Bengals were able to cash in both times with Mike Nugent field goals; accounting for six of the team’s 15 points.
20 points in two games probably wasn’t what GM Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh had in mind when they acquired WR’s Anquan Boldin and TJ Houshmandzadeh in the offseason and added former Washington Redskins coach Jim Zorn as QB coach Jim Zorn to help the development of Flacco.
(I thought about putting quotation marks around the word “development” in that last sentence. I immediately thought better of it.)
It is true that the Ravens have opened the season on the road against two of the Top 5 defenses in the NFL from 2009. It is also true that they had to play the second of those games off a short turnaround, having opened the season in New York on Monday Night Football.
But to win a Super Bowl, teams often have to play in less than desirable situations.
It doesn’t excuse poor decision making from Flacco. Flacco said of his second interception (a play where he had targeted Boldin), “I threw it right into a crowd.” He also said the Bengals were running their base defense for most of the game, adding “I don’t think they were doing anything that we didn’t expect them to do.”
That’s not good news.
Flacco wasn’t the only problem for the Ravens offensively Sunday. The team struggled upfront; with OL Matt Birk, Marshal Yanda, Michael Oher, Ben Grubbs and Chris Chester taking turns missing assignments along the offensive line. Houshmandzadeh looked lost at times in his return to the Queen City, admitting after the game that part of the offensive struggles were “his fault.” He added “I can’t believe I didn’t make those plays…(I) just gotta do better.”
He’s right. He’d be right to say the same thing about the rest of the offense too.
The Baltimore Ravens were a popular preseason pick to not only win the AFC North (the Ben Roethlisberger-less Pittsburgh Steelers have sole possession of first place at 2-0), but to reach the Super Bowl. If they can’t overcome adversity and perform better offensively, they won’t have to bother making travel arrangements for Arlington.
Since Brad Johnson won Super Bowl XXXVII for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the last 7 titles were won by QB’s named Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton and Eli Manning. In the same time frame, QB’s who have LOST the Super Bowl included Brady, Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner, Donovan McNabb and Matt Hasselbeck. Only Jake Delhomme and Rex Grossman (who each lost) stick out as QB’s who are not in the range of “great” to “elite.”
The Ravens simply cannot dream of winning the Vince Lombardi Trophy with poor offensive performance. The era in which a team could simply survive offensively and let their defense carry them to a title has ended in the NFL, likely thanks to how dreadfully boring it was to watch Johnson and Trent Dilfer lead the Bucs and Ravens respectively to Super Bowl titles.
If the Ravens are going to live up to their lofty preseason expectations, they’re going to have to improve offensively. That was why the team invested time, money and NFL Draft picks into offensive upgrades.
The good news is that two weeks does not make a season. Flacco and company will have a full seven days to prepare for a matchup against the division cellar-dwelling Cleveland Browns in front of a home crowd at M&T Bank Stadium in Charm City. Flacco put things into perspective by saying “You just move on. You have to take it game by game. I don’t think anyone feels good about it.” He added, “we just have to make sure we bounce back and get ready to go. I think everyone will.”
If they do, the Ravens still have a chance to reach considerable heights in 2010.
NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh, Flacco, Houshmandzadeh, LB Jarret Johnson, LB Ray Lewis, LB Terrell Suggs and CB Lardarius Webb following the game in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net. Lewis had some particularly choice words for the officiating, which you can hear RIGHT NOW courtesy of WNSTv!……
……TE’s Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta each recorded their first career NFL catch in Sunday’s game……LB Tavares Gooden injured his shoulder late in the first half and was unable to return. The team had no update following the game, but Gooden is scheduled for a MRI Monday……the Ravens return to Baltimore tonight, they will meet at 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills Monday, Harbaugh will address the media at 4pm.
Somehow I doubt that tonight’s game will conjure memories of Unitas handing off to Alan Ameche to win the greatest game off all-time (1958 NFL Championship game), but it is a rematch of that game in a way. At the very least, it’s Baltimore vs. the Giants…okay in reality it’s preseason week three. As I wrote earlier in the week, I think the fact that Eli Manning is playing tonight will be a good thing for the Ravens. This is the preseason game that teams play as close to a regular season contest as is humanely possible. Most starters will probably see action into the third quarter for both teams, which then leaves a rapid-fire rotation of reserves that’ll go in and out to close the game. Nevertheless, my point is that if you’re playing this game similar to regular season, you want to truly see what you’ve got. The last thing the Ravens would have wanted would have been to see some backup QB that might not give them a proper test. The one area in which the Ravens are currently struggling a bit is the secondary; Manning’s the type of quarterback that’ll test that secondary. While you don’t want to get blown out of the stadium, at the very least you want to see what you need to work on.
Offensive line depth could be an issue tonight, with Jared Gaither, Oniel Cousins, David Hale, and David Sanders are not expected to suit up. Geeze, is it even worth playing Joe Flacco since he might not be as well protected?! Flacco’s a tough cookie, so I have no doubt that he’ll be able to handle whatever’s thrown his way. Furthermore with a new receiver in Anquan Boldin, it’s important that Flacco get as many reps in as possible so that the two of them can gain rapprt together. Defensively, the Ravens will be without Terrence Cody and Brandon McKinney on the line. None of these injuries are expected to impact the team come September 13th when they play the Jets on Monday Night Football, however they will play into effect tonight. If the Ravens can get through this game without any serious injuries, they should be in good shape heading into the season opener. While next Thursday’s game at Atlanta still looms, most starters will be used very sparingly if at all.
This week is key for many different reasons, not all of which are on-field. With camp breaking last week, this is the first time when the coaching staff and players have gone through a semi-regular work week with regard to game planning, practices, etc. Most players and coaches claim that they don’t game plan for preseason games. While I don’t think that they plan nearly as much as they do for regular season games, I still find this hard to believe. The NFL is such a competitive league that if you go into any game (exhibition or regular season) without some sort of game planning, you’re going to get embarrassed. So let’s not kid ourselves; the Ravens have seen some tape and scripted some plays this week going into the game, as have the NY Giants. Speaking for myself, I’ll be keeping an eye on that secondary while the starters are in the game. As I said, Manning’s a quarterback that’ll have no problem testing out that secondary, so look for the Giants to go for some home run balls early if they can. However the key to protecting a potentially weak secondary is getting a pash rush against the QB…no problem there, right?!
The Baltimore Colts moved away when I was three years old, so I don’t have any memories of them. However my Dad was a Colt fan, and I’ve made a point in learning the history of all the sports that I follow. I feel that it’s my duty as a fan to know from whence we’ve come, and to know the legends of yesteryear such as Unitas, Sonny Jurgensen, Bill Russell, etc. So with that said I’m a bit of a traditionalist; I was very happy to hear that the Ravens are “Ravenizing” the lyrics to Let’s Go You Baltimore Colts, and making that the new Ravens’ fight song. The roots of football in Baltimore are deep, and there’s absolutely no doubt that the city and it’s people have a unique relationship with the Colts/Ravens, as well as the Orioles, that most cities don’t have. The Colts leaving town should not be looked upon as a black mark on the city or the fans, but moreso on the legacy of a drunken hack that owned the team at the time. However the new/old fight song fuses the two teams together into one, uniting old and new. Go figure, they’re premiering the new/old song at tonight’s preseason game against the Giants, the team that the Baltimore Colts beat to win the NFL title in 1958 in the greatest game ever played.
Two weeks ago NY Giants starting quarterback Eli Manning required 13 stitches to close a gash to his head in the Giants’ first preseason game against the NY Jets. Manning sat out last week’s 24-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but is planning on starting this Saturday night when the Giants come to town to play the Ravens. If this were a regular season game I would have been chomping at the bit to have a quarterback like Manning not playing in the game, however I was happy when I heard that Manning was going to play. While the Ravens have a ferocious defense, let’s keep in mind that Eli Manning’s a Super Bowl champion and a darned good quarterback. I’d rather see the Ravens play against one of the best to see how they stack up during preseason rather than draw Jim Sorgi or Rhett Bomar (the Giants’ third stringer, who played the entire game last week against Pittsburgh).
There’s definitely a rhyme and reason to the preseason, even given the fact that many fans like to complain about the watered-down, vanilla games. Week three has traditionally always been the game where the starting team gets to play most of the game (generally into the third quarter, if not three full quarters). Come the fourth quarter, we’ll probably see second and third stringers rotated in and out of the game in rapid motion so as to give everyone a fair amount of playing time. Come next week against the Atlanta Falcons, we’ll see the starters for perhaps one drive of the game on each side of the ball, and the rest of the game will be given to second through fourth and fifth stringers who are trying to earn a spot on the team. However, week three of the preseason has always been the “money game” so to speak because it’s as close to a regular season game as you’re going to get. Training camps broke last week, so now all teams are actually going through the normal motions of a week in terms of getting ready for a game. Again, there’s a rhyme and reason to each game in the preseason in my opinion; while some people like to say that all it means is that the starters play more, there’s also more than meets-the-eye. To this point, Joe Flacco’s seen action in the first and second quarter of games. It’s always interesting to see how your starting QB comes out and essentially warms up again to play after halftime. Furthermore, we’ll also see John Harbaugh having to make in-game adjustments at halftime, as the Giants’ starting team will also presumably be coming back out as well, led by Eli Manning.
Many of the above-mentioned ideas flow into my reasoning for being excited to see Manning play this week. I can’t say that I would have blamed the Giants for resting Manning for the remainder of the preseason, however everyone needs to get their work in at this time of year. However had the Ravens starting defense played against a second or third string quarterback for three quarters on Saturday night, first off I think we probably would see a blood bath. However it would also give the Ravens and the fans a false sense of security or superiority. The fact is that the Ravens probably have a top three defense in the NFL; anyone who doubts that fact doesn’t know football or perhaps even sports in general. However you could probably take the worst NFL defense in the league and put them against a high powered high school team and the NFL guys would run over them. If you see your team play against competition that’s so much more inferior to you, you don’t get a fair look at what you have.
One weaker link in the defense has been the secondary, and Manning’s a quarterback that’ll put that to the test. Obviously there’s a chance that the Ravens might give up a big play or two, as they did at Washington last week. (Although in that case the defense seemed to tighten within the red zone.) And if that happens, the defensive coaches will then have a better idea of how to scheme and protect against that kind of thing moving forward. If you’re not into preseason football, then I would say at the very least you might still want to check out this week’s games since they’re the crème de la crèmeof the preseason so to speak. The intensity of the Ravens/Giants game (along with other games around the league this week) will still not compare with what we’ll see on September 12-13th, however my attitude is that bad or weak football is still football.