Tag Archive | "Foxborough"


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Chapter 19: The purple revolution in New England

Posted on 30 January 2018 by Nestor Aparicio




“You guys will write great stories and can put it in way better words than I can. We’ve always believed in Joe. For Joe to come out and have this kind of game, on this kind of a stage, three weeks in a row…[Andrew] Luck’s a pretty good quarterback, [Peyton] Manning’s a pretty good quarterback, [Tom] Brady’s a great quarterback; all those guys are great players. But Joe’s a great quarterback. He’s proven that, and he’s not just proven that this year, he’s proven it for five years.”

– John Harbaugh (January 20, 2013)






IF REVENGE IS A DISH best served cold, then at least the elements and the weather in New England would cooperate accordingly. What could provide a better stage for a tale of vindication in Charm City than the Baltimore Ravens returning to Foxborough for a rematch of the AFC Championship Game?

It was like a Steel Cage Match.

Tom Brady vs. Joe Flacco. Ray Lewis and The Last Ride. Bill Belichick and the Patriots with yet another chance to make America groan by going to a sixth Super Bowl in 13 seasons in New England. There were no shortage of stories to be told.

When the Ravens boarded their happy flight for Baltimore from Denver two hours after the miraculous win over the Broncos, they were unsure of their destination for the final step toward Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. The Texans, who had whipped them in Houston back in October, were visiting New England the following afternoon. The Patriots, led by Tom Brady’s three TD passes, dispatched of the Texans in a 41-28 win, but lost tight end Rob Gronkowski with a left wrist injury.

A huge weapon for the Patriots was gone before the Ravens even had to assemble the game plan.

By late Sunday afternoon the travel plans were made for a trip that the Ravens knew all too well. They were heading to Foxborough. For more than 40 players and the entire coaching staff, it was back to Gillette Stadium 52 weeks later – 364 days after the most disappointing day of their lives. The Lee Evans drop. The Billy Cundiff kick. The cold, empty feeling in that locker room and Ray Lewis telling them to go make someone smile. The quiet flight home. And those long days afterward, when you just wanted to pull the blankets over your head in the morning because you still couldn’t accept that you lost that game.

It’s not one of those days you quickly forget.

Motivating players was not going to be an issue for head coach John Harbaugh this week. Calming them down, however, might be.

On Sunday night, in the middle of the Texans-Patriots game, Brendon Ayanbadejo fired the opening salvo via his Twitter page:

Are you watching the game pats vs. texans? If so you see the hurry snap offense catch em b4 they set up. It’s a gimmick.

Then, he followed with: New England does some suspect stuff on offense. Can’t really respect it. Comparable to a cheap shot b4 a fight

Then: You know the same organization that did spygate and cut a guy the day b4 the Super Bowl

Then: In a sport that is predicated on mano y mano, “lets hurry n snap it” = bitchassness

And finally: 18-1 …a reference to the Patriots losing in the Super Bowl to Giants in 2008

Ayanbadejo is no stranger to the back and forth of social media, yet his controversial stand on social issues were always consistent and relatively polite given the forum. But, something about watching the Patriots play the Texans in Foxborough clearly rubbed him the wrong way. And with his fingers on the trigger of his mobile device, and filled with emotion given the outcome and his role, he simply fired off his thoughts.

By lunchtime on Monday, Ayanbadejo had issued an apology on Twitter:

I made selfish comments on twitter last night that reflected poorly upon myself, my teammates, and the organization. For that I apologize.

One thing he was correct about was that the Patriots were going to try to snap the ball before the Ravens were ready. Harbaugh was more diplomatic. “They look to create advantages for themselves, and they do it with tempo a lot of times,” he said. “ It’s not just the fact that they go fast sometimes. They force you to line up. Sometimes they’ll force the defense to show their hand because you have to defend the play. If you don’t, they’ll run the play. You saw last week they got Houston in some tough situations, and it was big plays for them. It usually results in a big

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Ravens’ playoff absence officially hits three years

Posted on 10 January 2018 by Luke Jones

Much has changed since the Ravens squandered two 14-point leads in a playoff loss to New England three years ago Wednesday.

They would soon say goodbye to five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata as well as one of the franchise’s most accomplished wide receivers in Torrey Smith. That was also the final game of offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s lone season with the Ravens and with his departure went any semblance of consistent offensive production since then.

More painful than anything else, however, has been the deterioration of the standard. Losing in the divisional round was once the minimum of expectations under John Harbaugh — illustrating how spoiled Baltimore was during the first five years of his tenure — but the Ravens haven’t been back to the postseason since that night in Foxborough when Tom Brady picked apart helpless cornerback Rashaan Melvin and an overwhelmed secondary.

Sure, the Ravens have been close to making the playoffs in each of the last two years, but that’s sometimes the worst place for an organization to be. “Close” doesn’t always mean you’re moving in the right direction, and it can prevent you from making necessary changes when you believe you’re “one play away” from getting over the hump.

The underwhelming performances in the AFC wild-card round this past weekend prompted predictable commentary from some that Joe Flacco and the Ravens would have been a more dangerous team and a bigger threat to New England and Pittsburgh. That old narrative needs to be buried when they don’t even manage to make the tournament anymore. Perhaps Brian Billick’s once-famous ban on using the “playoff” word needs to be reinstated until further notice.

The Ravens haven’t beaten the Patriots since the 2012 AFC Championship, and you can count the relevant players remaining from that Super Bowl team on two hands and have fingers left over. They still play the Steelers tough, but their only win at Heinz Field since the 2014 postseason was a game in which a washed-up Michael Vick was under center for their AFC North rival.

The sobering reality of watching the likes of Buffalo and Tennessee in the playoffs last weekend wasn’t that the Ravens might have been more formidable, but it’s that they’re closer to those mediocre teams in quality than the Patriots and the Steelers. They couldn’t even beat out such wild-card contenders despite having one of the most-favorable schedules in the NFL.

Harbaugh’s team went just 1-5 against teams who finished above .500 this season and is now 7-27 in that department since Super Bowl XLVII. For context, the 2011 team alone won six games against opponents finishing that season with winning records, and the Ravens were 18-20 against squads finishing over .500 from 2008-12.

Even that last playoff team in 2014 was an unimpressive 1-6 against teams finishing with winning records, but those Ravens did go a perfect 9-0 against opponents .500 or worse and swept a terrible NFC South division to ultimately secure a wild card. This year’s team lost home games to Chicago and Cincinnati, who finished a combined 12-20.

The standard that once made losing a playoff game in New England a bitter disappointment has regressed to not being good enough to beat winning teams and dropping a few too many games that they shouldn’t. The latter part is evident from a 33-13 record against teams finishing .500 or worse over the last five years compared to a 36-6 mark over the first five seasons of the Harbaugh era.

It’s resulted in a team that’s still competitive, but not one as close to being a serious contender as the Ravens would like to believe.

Three years ago, that disappointing 35-31 playoff loss to the Patriots still felt like the beginning of a new run for Harbaugh and the revamped Ravens after their 2013 absence from the postseason. Instead, it may have simply been the final chapter in the most successful era in franchise history.

The Ravens have a lot of work to do this offseason to both change that perception and resurrect their once-lofty standard.

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Ravens-Patriots: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 12 December 2016 by Luke Jones

The Ravens are taking their improved show on the road.

Winners in four of their last five games and coming off their most impressive performance of the season, the Ravens will try to carry over their recent success to the road as they seek their first victory away from M&T Bank Stadium since Sept. 25. Of course, facing the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium is as challenging as it gets in the NFL.

A win would move Baltimore back into the No. 3 spot in the AFC playoff picture while dropping Pittsburgh to the final wild-card spot. A loss leaves the Steelers in sole position of first place in the AFC North and puts the Ravens in the eighth spot in the conference with three games remaining.

There weren’t any major surprises among the Ravens’ inactives as the status of guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) was never in doubt despite him being listed as questionable on the final injury report. As expected, rookie guard Alex Lewis (ankle) was deactivated after practicing on a limited basis this past week and being listed as doubtful to play.

Rookie linebacker Kamalei Correa is active after being inactive two straight weeks while second-year outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith is a healthy scratch against New England. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees likely views Correa as a better option in pass coverage to potentially match up with Patriots running backs in certain sub packages.

The Ravens also deactivated Buck Allen, leaving starter Terrance West and rookie Kenneth Dixon as their only active tailbacks. Third-year tight end Crockett Gillmore will miss his sixth straight game with a hamstring injury suffered during the bye week.

Meanwhile, the Patriots deactivated cornerback Eric Rowe after he was limited in practices all week with a hamstring issue. His loss is significant after the former Philadelphia Eagle had played well in the New England secondary in recent weeks.

Wide receiver Danny Amendola (ankle) was officially declared out over the weekend.

The referee for Monday’s game will be Ed Hochuli.

Monday marks the ninth regular-season meeting between these teams with New England holding a 7-1 advantage. Of course, the teams are tied 2-2 over four postseason encounters — all played in Foxborough — but the Ravens will be aiming for their first win over the Patriots since the 2012 AFC championship game.

According to Weather.com, the Monday forecast calls for clear skies with temperatures in the low 30s and winds up to eight miles per hour.

Baltimore will wear white jerseys with black pants while the Patriots sport navy blue jerseys with silver pants.

Below are Monday’s inactives:

CB Chris Lewis-Harris
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro
RB Buck Allen
G Ryan Jensen
G Alex Lewis
TE Crockett Gillmore
LB Za’Darius Smith

CB Eric Rowe
OT LaAdrian Waddle
DT Woodrow Hamilton
S Jordan Richards
RB D.J. Foster
WR Griff Whalen
WR Danny Amendola

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Ravens-Patriots: Five predictions for Saturday

Posted on 09 January 2015 by Luke Jones

The Ravens have made a mostly-pleasant habit of traveling to Foxborough in January to take on the New England Patriots.

The latest chapter in this underrated rivalry will be written Saturday with Baltimore eyeing its fourth trip to the AFC Championship game under head coach John Harbaugh. Meanwhile, the No. 1 seed Patriots are seeking their first championship in a decade with 37-year-old quarterback Tom Brady not getting any younger.

Joe Flacco will try to continue an impeccable postseason run in which he’s thrown 20 touchdowns and just two interceptions over his last nine playoff games. The seventh-year signal-caller has thrown 13 touchdowns without an interception in leading the Ravens to wins in their last five postseason contests.

Who will win on Saturday?

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It’s time to go on the record as the Ravens and Patriots meet for the fourth time ever in the playoffs — all have been in Foxborough — with Baltimore holding a 2-1 edge. New England leads the all-time regular-season series by a 7-1 margin despite the Ravens’ postseason success at Gillette Stadium.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens try to hand New England another loss in the postseason …

1. Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will be chased by Will Hill most of the day while catching a touchdown and posting 100 receiving yards. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees will throw the kitchen sink at New England in trying to cover the All-Pro tight end, but Hill will draw most of the responsibility with little success. The 6-foot-1, 207-pound safety did an admirable job in holding New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham to six catches for 47 yards in late November, but Gronkowski has played at a different level than anyone at his position this year and is more physical. Brady will go to him early and often to try to offset a Baltimore pass rush bearing down on him.

2. Three of the Ravens’ sacks against Brady will come from inside pressure. Four has been the magic number for the Ravens as they’ve collected at least four sacks in their last eight wins and are 0-4 when failing to reach the plateau over that stretch. Brady was sacked just 21 times this year, but his quick release was a bigger factor in that statistic than an offensive line that’s been shaky in pass protection this year. The Ravens will exploit rookie center Bryan Stork and guards Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell with A-gap blitzing as well as the presence of Haloti Ngata, Pernell McPhee, and Timmy Jernigan in passing situations. Inside pressure will force Brady backward and give Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil time to reach him off the edges.

3. Steve Smith will have a quiet game, but Torrey Smith will catch a touchdown and fetch a key pass interference call. Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis is expected to match up against Steve Smith, which will spell trouble for the veteran wideout as Revis will match the 35-year-old’s physicality with press coverage. This will leave the 6-foot-4 Brandon Browner against Torrey Smith in a matchup that could determine the outcome of the game. The Maryland product will be challenged by Browner’s physicality, but the former Seattle defensive back is prone to penalties, drawing 15 flags in nine games in the regular season. The speedy fourth-year wideout draws pass interference calls as well as anyone and will fetch a big one inside the red zone in addition to catching a first-half touchdown.

4. Brady will pass for more yards, but Flacco will throw more touchdown passes. The Patriots will try to establish the run with their extensive collection of running backs, but they won’t find much room against the league’s fourth-ranked run defense, meaning the ball will be in their franchise quarterback’s hands all day. Brady will make amends for his 56.8 passer rating in his three previous playoff games against the Ravens, but Baltimore will clamp down inside the red zone. In contrast, the Ravens will find enough running room to keep Justin Forsett involved, and Flacco will have another efficient game like he did in Pittsburgh with 220 yards and two touchdowns to put his team in position to grab a victory in the fourth quarter.

5. Justin Tucker will kick the game-winning field goal to give the Ravens a 24-23 win. New England was the better team this season, but Baltimore has history on its side and — more importantly – the right tools to match up with the Patriots. If the Ravens are able to pressure Brady inside and out, it will make up for potential problems in the secondary and allow the Baltimore offense to keep up as it deals with an improved Patriots defense. This game could go either way, but it’s getting to the point where you just can’t pick against Flacco in the playoffs until someone finally cools him off. The Ravens won’t be scared playing in familiar Foxborough, and they’ll find a way to win there once again in January.

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Ravens-Patriots: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 20 January 2013 by Luke Jones

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Ravens are the only team in the NFL to have made the playoffs and won a postseason game in each of the last five years.

No other head coach and quarterback have done that to begin their respective careers, but John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco know what follows that narrative. They haven’t been to a Super Bowl, but they’ll have their third opportunity in five seasons as they take on the New England Patriots in Sunday night’s AFC Championship game.

Baltimore travels to Gillette Stadium to take on the Patriots in the playoffs for the third time in four years. Of course, the Ravens felt heartbreak last year in the form of a Lee Evans drop and a Billy Cundiff 32-yard miss, but they’ll have their chance for redemption after making an improbable run to the conference title game.

Despite being listed as questionable in the final injury report released on Friday, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, running back Bernard Pierce, and fullback Vonta Leach are all active. It remains to be seen how close to 100 percent each will be against the Patriots, but there was very little doubt surrounding their availability for Sunday’s game.

The only mild surprise on the list of inactives is defensive lineman DeAngelo Tyson, who was last deactivated on game day back in Week 6. However, the rookie hasn’t been receiving as many defensive snaps of late and the Ravens wanted to have an extra cornerback in veteran Chris Johnson available against the pass-happy Patriots.

New England tight end Rob Gronkowski was placed on injured reserve on Thursday, so that explains why he wasn’t listed as inactive for the game.

The Patriots are 6-1 in the all-time regular-season series and the teams are tied 1-1 in postseason history.

Sunday night’s referee will be Bill Leavy. Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-30s by kickoff and winds will be approximately 17 miles per hour.

The Ravens will wear their white jerseys with black pants while New England sports its blue tops and silver pants.

Here are Sunday night’s inactives …

CB Asa Jackson
OL Ramon Harewood
DL DeAngelo Tyson
DT Bryan Hall
S Omar Brown
LB Adrian Hamilton
WR Deonte Thompson

DB Malcolm Williams
OL Nick McDonald
OL Markus Zusevics
DE Jake Bequette
WR Kamar Aiken
DB Derrick Martin
DL Marcus Forston

Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the day as Drew Forrester, Nestor Aparicio, and I bring live updates and analysis from Gillette Stadium.

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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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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 15 January 2013 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Boxing-Orlando Salida vs. Mikey Garcia (Saturday 9:45pm from New York live on HBO), Sergey Kovalev vs. Gabriel Campillo (Saturday 9pm from Uncasville, CT live on NBC Sports Network); Women’s College Basketball: NC State @ Maryland (Thursday 8:30pm from Comcast Center live on Comcast SportsNet), Maryland @ Georgia Tech (Sunday 3pm from Atlanta live on ESPN2); Soccer: MISL Baltimore Blast @ Syracuse Silver Knights (Friday 7:30pm Sunday 1:30pm from Syracuse, NY live on MISLtv.com); High School Basketball: Perry Hall @ Woodlawn (Wednesday 6:30pm), Perry Hall @ Milford Mill (Friday 7pm)

10. Superstars of 70’s Soul Jam feat. The Stylistics, Peaches and Herb (Saturday 8pm 1st Mariner Arena); The Darkness (Tuesday 8pm Rams Head Live), G. Love & Special Sauce (Sunday 8:30pm Rams Head Live); Hollywood Undead (Sunday 8pm Baltimore Soundstage); Gin Blossoms (Tuesday 6pm & 9pm Rams Head on Stage), Eric Benet (Monday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); 2 Chainz (Saturday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring), Ellie Goulding (Sunday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Janelle Monae (Sunday 6pm 9:30 Club); WAR (Thursday 7:30pm Birchmere); Morrissey (Wednesday 8pm Strathmore); Smokey Robinson (Friday 8pm Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric); Soundgarden (Friday 8pm D.A.R. Constitution Hall); Tim Reynolds (Sunday 8pm & 10pm Blues Alley); Augustana (Monday 7pm U Street Music Hall)

I’d like to do like 100 more things this week that involve the Gin Blossoms…

I hate admitting how much I enjoy this Ellie Goulding tune…

I’ve been a Janelle Monae fan since the first time I knew there was such a thing as Janelle Monae…

Soundgarden, huh? I’ll sign up for just about anything that involves Chris Cornell singing tunes…

9. Baltimore County Winter Restaurant Week (Tuesday-Monday throughout Baltimore County); Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade (Saturday 12pm MLK Boulevard); “Taken 2” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday); Broken City” and “The Last Stand” out in theaters (Friday)

My favorite part of Taken 2 was when Liam Neeson was talking about Tim Tebow…

On the list for Winter Restaurant Week? The Grill at Harryman House. Where a burger looks like this…


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Your Monday Reality Check-Shouldn’t Rice & Flacco deals have been done by now?

Posted on 04 June 2012 by Glenn Clark

It was as if there were some in the sports broadcasting universe that wanted to remind me that the Baltimore Orioles have been struggling mightily as of late.

Sure, they’re just one game out of first place at the time I type this, but the Birds sadly appear to be in a downward spiral that unfortunately most of us expected.

I’ve been a regular “Baltimore expert” for SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio since the channel’s inception, and I rotate having conversations with hosts about the O’s and the Baltimore Ravens. When I received a call last week asking me to appear on the channel, I assumed the conversation would go in the direction of the O’s, as I’ve made about four Orioles-related guest spots already this season.

But when the producer asked me if I’d be interested in talking some Ravens football, I was admittedly caught off guard. “It’s still baseball season” I thought. Just one night later I received a call from another producer on the channel, also asking me to make an appearance to discuss the Purple & Black.

So on both Friday & Saturday night of this past weekend I found myself talking Ravens football across the country on SXM. It was perhaps the single greatest reminder that in Charm City, a “June Swoon” is a great reminder that Training Camp isn’t particularly far away.

As the 2011 football season ended, there were two main narratives surrounding the defending AFC North Champs. One was surrounding the pending free agency of RB Ray Rice. The other surrounded the future of QB Joe Flacco, who was set to enter the final year of his rookie contract. The Ravens’ season ended 132 days ago in Foxborough (at least as of the time I wrote this) and yet seemingly little progress has been made regarding either situation.

It leads to the question (at least for me), “what’s taking so long to get this stuff done?”

ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio said in a recent appearance on “The Reality Check” (an excellent afternoon radio program on AM1570 WNST.net) that Rice’s agent Todd France was dead set on getting a deal similar to contracts given to Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (seven years, $100 million with $36 million guaranteed) or Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson (four years, $53 million with $30 million guaranteed). The Ravens are believed to be more interested in a deal similar to those recently given to Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy (five years, $45 million with $20.76 million guaranteed) or Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (five years, $43.5 million with $20.75 guaranteed).

On top of that, a source with knowledge of talks revealed to me in recent weeks the Rice camp has a desire to see the running back’s deal exceed the overall value of Flacco’s.

A Carroll County Times report this weekend indicated the Ravens “aren’t anywhere close” to getting a deal done with Flacco. Flacco’s negotiating ability has been limited by the fact that contracts signed by quarterbacks not named Peyton Manning this offseason have been less than overwhelming financially. Manning landed a five year, $96 million deal, but if he’s healthy the Denver Broncos believe him capable of being Peyton Manning. The highlights of other QB contracts this offseason have been San Francisco 49ers QB Alex Smith (three years, worth up to $33 million with with $16.5 million guaranteed) and Seattle Seahawks QB Matt Flynn (three years, $26 million with $10 million guaranteed).

Neither deal is helpful to Flacco’s agent Joe Linta, although despite all of the goofy conversation nationally about Flacco’s standing against other National Football League quarterbacks, there simply could not be any argument either of those two quarterbacks have accomplished as much as Flacco. Humorously, Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo’s deal is up a season after Flacco’s. There had been rumors the Chicago Bears were interested in getting a new deal done with QB Jay Cutler, a decision that could have been helpful in figuring out the parameters of a Flacco contract.

Remember when I asked “what’s taking so long to get this stuff done?” Yeah, I’m aware that I’ve essentially answered my own question.

In both of my chats on SiriusXM this weekend I was asked what expected would ultimately happen with these situations. It was remarkably difficult to answer.

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Title drought continues for Maryland after loss to Loyola

Posted on 28 May 2012 by WNST Staff

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – After a back and forth battle in the first half that saw two Terrapin leads and three ties, the University of Maryland men’s lacrosse team fell to top-seeded Loyola 9-3 Monday in the NCAA title game in front of 30,816 at Gillette Stadium.

Junior Jesse Bernhardt, redshirt sophomore Mike Chanenchuk, and junior Kevin Cooper scored all three of Maryland’s goals in the first 20 minutes of the game, but the Greyhounds (18-1) took a two-goal lead before halftime they would not relinquish.

Jesse Bernhardt put the Terrapins on the board first with 9:34 to go in the first quarter. He went coast to coast down the field for the score after sophomore Michael Ehrhardt forced a Greyhound turnover. Bernhardt did the rest, scoring on a low shot in transition from the right alley.

Loyola tied it up just under five minutes later with a shot by Davis Butts from Chris Layne. Eric Lusby gave the Hounds their first lead at 2-1 with an unassisted goal with 1:55 remaining in the first quarter.

Chanenchuk tied the game up with 12:12 left in the second quarter. He came around the cage and shot under the stick of Loyola’s Josh Hawkins for the Terps’ second goal.

Less than 90 seconds later, senior Joe Cummings found Kevin Cooper in the middle of the box to send a straight shot into the back of the net for a 3-2 Maryland lead.

With 9:22 to go in the first half, Loyola’s Pat Byrnes tied the game back up with an unassisted score. Loyola took ahold of the lead with just under six minutes to go when Mike Sawyer scored off a pass from Layne to make it 4-3. Two minutes later, the Greyhounds extended their lead to two with an unassisted goal from Phil Dobson.

Loyola led 5-3 at the break, then made it a 6-3 lead with 10:12 to go in the third quarter with an unassisted goal by Justin Ward.

Lusby pushed Loyola’s lead to four with 11:12 left in the fourth quarter. Layne picked up his third assist of the day on the play. Lusby scored his third and fourth goals of the game in the final five minutes to make it a 9-3 final score.

The Terps took 19 of their 29 shots in the second half, including 12 in the fourth quarter and six in the final 3:45, but their stretch of unlucky shooting continued.

Sophomore goalkeeper Niko Amato finished with eight saves, while Loyola’s Jack Runkel finished with six. Four of Runkel’s saves came in the second half to hold the Terps off.

Joe Cummings, Drew Snider and Jesse Bernhardt were named to the NCAA All-Tournament team.

Maryland ends the season with a 12-6 record on the season.

The game marked the end of a remarkable run for seven Maryland seniors: Joe Cummings, MJ Leonard, David Miller, Pat Morrison, Tim Shaeffer, Michael Shakespeare and Drew Snider. The 2012 senior class compiled a 47-22 (.712) record during its time in College Park, brought the Terps their first ACC Championship since 2005 and took the team to back-to-back NCAA title games for the first time since 1997 and 1998.

Game Notes:
• With today’s 9-3 loss, Maryland is now 19-2 all-time vs. Loyola.
• The Terps are now 1-1 all-time vs. the Greyhounds in the NCAA tournament and 1-1 in the Final Four.
• Maryland is now 2-9 all-time in the finals of the NCAA tournament.
• Second-year head coach John Tillman has led the Terrapins to the NCAA Championship game in both of his first two seasons in College Park. He owns a record of 25-11 (.694) and an NCAA Tournament record of 6-2 at Maryland.


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Greyhounds top Terps for first ever NCAA title

Posted on 28 May 2012 by WNST Staff

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The Loyola University Maryland men’s lacrosse team checked off a lot of firsts throughout the 2012 season, and the Greyhounds capped their magical season with another on Memorial Day at Gillette Stadium.

Loyola won its first-ever NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship and the first national title in the school’s Division I history. The Greyhounds set a record for fewest goals allowed in an NCAA Championship Game, defeating the University of Maryland, 9-3.

“I thought Saturday was a pretty cool day for the Greyhounds. But, today is special,” said Charley Toomey who became the first coach to win an NCAA title in his first trip to the NCAA Semifinals. “When I look at my locker room, I’m just so proud of them. They’ve handled every situation with dignity and class this year. Coming back on short preparation to play a tough Maryland team, a physical Maryland team, they responded in a big way to give Loyola our first National Championship.”

Eric Lusby was named the Championship’s Most Outstanding Player after scoring four goals in the title game and setting a tournament record with 17 in four games. He also ends his season with a school-season record 54 goals, surpassing teammate Mike Sawyer who set the record two games ago and finished the year with 52.

Four Greyhounds joined Lusby on the All-Tournament Team: Josh Hawkins, Joe Fletcher, Scott Ratliff and Jack Runkel.

The Greyhounds trailed on two occasions during the game, 1-0 and 3-2, but after Maryland’s Kevin Cooper scored at 10:40, Loyola did not allow a goal for the remaining 40-minutes, 40-seconds of the contest.

Loyola’s win capped a season that it started outside the national Top-20 after concluding 2011 with an 8-5 record. The Greyhounds’ 18 wins set a program record, and Loyola became just the ninth team to win an NCAA Division I title since the first Championship in 1971.

The team is also the second in Loyola history to win a national crown, joining the 1976 men’s soccer side that won the NCAA Division II title.

Maryland took a 1-0 lead 5:26 into the game when Jesse Bernhardt caused a turnover and went the distance to score. The Terrapins (12-6) held Loyola scoreless for more than four more minutes, but Davis Butts broke through for the Greyhounds, scoring on a bouncer from nine yards out after taking a feed from Chris Layne.

Lusby pushed Loyola in front at the 1:55 mark in the first quarter, spinning free from a defender to dump in his first goal of the game.

Maryland, however, scored two in a row in the first five minutes of the second quarter to take brief 3-2 lead. Mike Chanenchuk got loose curling around the crease and scored at 12:12, and Cooper’s goal off a Joe Cummings feed made it 3-2 with 10:40 left in the frame.

The Terrapins’ advantage, however, did not last long as Pat Byrnes dodged around a defender from goal-line extended on the right side, putting a low-to-low shot around Maryland goalkeeper Niko Amato 1:18 after Cooper’s goal.

Layne then found Sawyer open about seven yards out, and Sawyer put a low-to-low shot into the net at 5:57 to put the Greyhounds up for good.

With 3:57 to go before the half, Phil Dobson came down the right side and ripped a shot to make it 5-3 at the break.

From that point, it was the defense’s turn to take over. Maryland took 19 shots in the third and fourth quarters, but Loyola did not yield a goal. Runkel made six of his seven saves in the second half in goal for the Greyhounds.

“Jack was tremendous this week, but that is what we see of him in practice every day,” Toomey said. “I felt like he got his first save, and that started things off right.”

Runkel was quick to credit the defense in front of him.

“A dream come true to play with these guys,” he said. “They give me shots that I want to see. I’m a lot better up top seeing shots and saving them.”

The close defense of Fletcher (2 ground balls, 1 caused turnover), Reid Acton (3, 2) and Dylan Grimm (1 gb) and rope unit of Ratliff (5, 2), Hawkins (2, 2), Pat Laconi (1 gb), Kyle Duffy and Kevin Moriarty led the way in front of Runkel.

Justin Ward scored the only goal of the third quarter,wrapping around the crease and depositing a high-to-high shot into the goal at 10:12, making Loyola’s lead 6-3.

The fourth quarter offense, then, belonged to Lusby.

He took a Layne pass and whipped a hip-high shot for a goal with 11:12 on the clock, and he made it an 8-3 Greyhounds lead with 5:07 toplay when Layne worked the ball to Sawyer, and Sawyer found Lusby alone on the top right side, and he scored from eight yards in front of the crease.

Lusby scored his record-setting goal with 3:45 left on the clock after Maryland had called a timeout to set up a ride.

Butts carried the ball around a double team for the Greyhounds, and then when he appeared to be trapped near the top of the box, Butts split the defenders and raced toward the goal. He sliced a pass in front of the crease to Lusby who finished his fourth goal of the afternoon.

“I just got hot at the right time,” Lusby said of his 17-goal outburst in the Championships. “I knew going into the tournament, my shot was a little off. I kept missing the cage, so I knew I wanted to shoot for net. But I have to give credit to all the other guys in the offense. From the middies to Davis Butts and Pat Byrnes, all those guys.”

“They were dodging hard all weekend and drawing slides and giving me all the opportunities I had. And, Mike Sawyer drawing all the attention on his side of the field. When I had the opportunity to shoot andscore, I wanted to make sure I made it count.”

Lusby opened the Championships with three goals and two assists against Canisius, and he then scored five goals with two assists in a Quarterfinal win over Denver. Saturday, he tallied five goals and a helper in the Semifinals against Notre Dame, leading to his four-goal performance in the title match.

He eclipsed the previous record of 16 goals set in 2006 by Virginia’s Matt Ward and tied a year later by Duke’s Zach Greer.

Lusby’s 17 goals came on 40 shots, and his 22 points were just three shy of tying the Championships’ record set in 1977 by Cornell’s Eamon McEneaney and tied in 1987 by Cornell’s Tim Goldstein.

The Greyhounds, who had made one previous appearance in the Division I Championship Game (1990 when Toomey was a co-captain and starting goalkeeper) and one in the Division II title contest (1981), joined Cornell, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Maryland, North Carolina, Princeton, Syracuse and Virginia as teams that have won Division I titles.

“For our alumni, for our past presidents (Rev. Joseph Sellinger and Rev. Harold Ridley), for our current president (Rev. Brian Linnane), (Assistant Vice President/Director of Athletics) Jim Paquette, for (Athletic Director Emeritus) Joe Boylan, (Executive Vice President) Susan Donovan, the people (who) have supported us for so many years to allow this team to be what it is, I’m just so happy for those people,” Toomey said.

“This is a special group of guys. This is a special group of young men that fought through a lot of things this year to put themselves in position, and they stood tall on the biggest day.”

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