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Live From Owings Mills: Mattison Says Suggs, Ngata Will “Be Fine” For Sunday

Posted on 06 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (12-4) returned to practice Thursday at 1 Winning Drive, inching closer to an AFC Wild Card playoff showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs (10-6) Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

After missing practice Wednesday, S Ed Reed (chest) and C Matt Birk (knee) each returned to the practice field Thursday. Reed was a limited participant, Birk participated fully.

DT Haloti Ngata (thigh) and LB Terrell Suggs (knee) did not participate in practice for a second straight day. Ngata was forced to leave the team’s Week 17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium in the 2nd half.

“They’re boycotting, they don’t like the cold weather” joked Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison about the absence of the two Pro Bowl defenders. “It’s not a concern. They’ll both be fine. It’s us knowing where we are in the season, knowing we’ve had a lot of football games. Those two guys have played so well and they understand the defense so well that if they do have a little bump or bruise or something like that it’s best to get them 100% rather than running around.”

S Tom Zbikowski (back), was a limited participant in practice for the second straight day. He’s hoping to return to the field for the first time since leaving the team’s Week 14 win over the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium in the first half. Zbikowski was listed as a limited participant Wednesday.

Zbikowski told reporters Thursday he “feels better”, but wouldn’t commit to being ready to return to face KC.

LB Dannell Ellerbe (head), LB Tavares Gooden (shoulder), LB Jameel McClain (back) and CB Josh Wilson (head) were all limited participants in practice for a second straight day. WR Derrick Mason (abs/ankle), OT Michael Oher (knee/ankle) and WR/KR David Reed (wrist) were all full participants for a second straight day.

For the Chiefs, WR Dwayne Bowe (illness) returned to practice after missing Wednesday. Bowe was listed as a full participant. G Brian Waters (illness) missed a second straight day, WR Quinten Lawrence (illness) also missed practice Thursday.

NOTES: Hear from Mattison, Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron, Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg and LB Jarret Johnson now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……CB Cary Williams joined Drew Forrester Thursday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST, that chat is available in the Audio Vault as well……OL Marshal Yanda is scheduled to join Forrester Friday morning at 7:15……Mike Carey’s crew will officiate Sunday’s game……The Ravens will return to practice Friday at 1 Winning Drive, Head Coach John Harbaugh is scheduled to meet with reporters following practice

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: Haloti Ngata Named Ravens MVP

Posted on 05 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (12-4) returned to practice Wednesday at 1 Winning Drive, continuing preparations for Sunday’s AFC Wild Card playoff battle with the Kansas City Chiefs (10-6) at Arrowhead Stadium.

DT Haloti Ngata was announced Wednesday as the Ravens 2010 Most Valuable Player award, as voted on by media members who cover the team on a daily basis. (This columnist was amongst those who voted for Ngata.)

Ngata set a career high with 5.5 sacks this season and tied career highs with 63 tackles and 5 pass deflections.

“That’s pretty cool” said Ngata after being informed he had won. “I felt like this year has been a little different just with my pass rush, I felt like I got a little better there. Hopefully I can continue to improve and just get better. Hopefully I can be around (Baltimore) more often, because I love being here, I love the guys, I love the fans.”

Ngata will be an important factor as the Ravens go up against the league’s top rushing offense (164.2 yards per game) Sunday in KC.

“(They’re a) great running team, I think everybody knows that” said Ngata. “Their O-Linemen (are) experienced, they’ve got a lot of guys who have been around and they do well moving guys around. Hopefully we can do what we want to do and stop the run first and make them a one dimensional team.”

Ngata was an important cog for a Ravens defense that was pretty good against the run (ranked 5th in the NFL), allowing just 93.9 yards per game.

“We love when teams like to run” added Ngata. “If we can take away their best thing, that’s an advantage for us.”

The Chiefs finished the year with two backs amongst the Top 20 in rushing in the league. RB Jamaal Charles (who finished 2nd in the league with 1,467 yards to go with give touchdowns) is somewhat similar to Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson according to Ngata.

“(He’s) just real shifty and quick to the hole. He’s just so fast and quick, he does a lot of things really well. He definitely is different from last year.”

Chiefs RB Thomas Jones also ranked in the Top 20 amongst the league’s rushing leaders; finishing with 896 yards and 6 TD’s.

“Jones is a little bigger” said Ngata. “I think he’s able to hit between the tackles a little bit better. He’s a little bit more patient than Charles.”

In their 2009 matchup at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens allowed the Chiefs just 29 yards rushing, including only 8 yards for Charles.

Ngata succeeds RB Ray Rice, who was voted the team’s MVP in 2009.

CARR NAMED “GOOD GUY”: In addition to Team MVP, reporters covering the team on a daily basis also voted a winner of the annual “Media Good Guy” award.

CB Chris Carr was announced as the winner of the award for the 2010 season Wednesday.

“If I won, everybody else must be pretty bad” Carr joked. “I understand that the fans want to hear truth. I try never to lie. Maybe I won’t say how I really feel, but I won’t go up there and give a lie to you guys. I always try to be insightful and truthful to everybody because fans want to hear stuff. They want to be honest and they want accountability as well. I just try to do that every week.

LB Jarret Johnson had received the award in 2009.

INJURY REPORT: Four Ravens did not participate in practice Wednesday.

C Matt Birk (knee), LB Terrell Suggs (knee), S Ed Reed (chest) and Ngata (thigh) were all held out. None are believed to be in serious jeopardy of missing Sunday’s game.

S Tom Zbikowski (back) returned to the practice field Wednesday for the first time since leaving the team’s Week 14 win over the Houston Texans early. He was one of five Ravens who were limited participants in practice. LB Dannell Ellerbe (head), LB Tavares Gooden (shoulder), LB Jameel McClain (back) and CB Josh Wilson (head) were also limited participants.

Head Coach John Harbaugh said he’s “optimistic” Zbikowski can see the field Sunday.

WR/KR David Reed (wrist/head) was a full participant in practice Wednesday; he hasn’t played since suffering a concussion in the team’s Week 15 win over the New Orleans Saints. WR Derrick Mason (abs/ankle) and OT Michael Oher (knee/ankle) were also full participants.

Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe (illness) missed practice Wednesday. Head Coach Todd Haley did not seem concerned about Bowe’s Sunday status during his Wednesday conference call with Charm City reporters.

Chiefs G Brian Waters (illness) also missed practice Wednesday.

NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh, Ngata, Carr, Rice, QB Joe Flacco and LB Ray Lewis now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……Jim Nantz will call Sunday’s game for CBS, he joined Drew Forrester Wednesday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST. That chat is available in the Audio Vault as well……CB Cary Williams is scheduled to join Forrester Thursday at 7:15am……The Ravens will return to practice Thursday, Coordinators Cam Cameron, Greg Mattison and Jerry Rosburg are scheduled to meet with the media

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: Gooden, Burgess Miss Practice Again

Posted on 30 December 2010 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (11-4) returned to practice Thursday at 1 Winning Drive, continuing preparations for Sunday’s regular season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals (4-11) at M&T Bank Stadium.

LB Tavares Gooden missed a second straight day of practice Thursday, he dislocated his shoulder in the Ravens’ Week 16 win over the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison said Thursday he thought Gooden would try to get on the field Sunday.

“He’ll try to if the doctors gave him the okay” said Mattison. “Tavares Gooden will do anything he can do to play, there’s no question. That’s like everybody on our defense. They know how important this game is.”

With a win and a Pittsburgh Steelers loss to the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens would clinch the AFC North title and a first round bye in the AFC playoffs.

S Tom Zbikowski (back) also did not participate in practice Thursday. Zbikowski has not played since being forced to leave the team’s Week 14 win over the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium in the first half. Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday he did not expect the safety to be available for Sunday’s game.

S Ed Reed (neck) and LB Prescott Burgess (illness) did not practice Thursday either, neither is believed to be at risk of missing Sunday’s game.

C Matt Birk (knee) returned to practice Thursday and was a full participant after missing Wednesday’s game. TE Todd Heap (thigh), WR Derrick Mason (ankle/abs), TE Dennis Pitta (head) and CB Fabian Washington (back) were all full participants as well.

WR/KR David Reed (wrist/head) was a limited participant Thursday, he’s on track to play Sunday for the first time since suffering a concussion in the team’s Week 15 win over the New Orleans Saints.

The Bengals announced Thursday (via Twitter) WR Chad Ochocinco (ankle) will not make the trip to Charm City.

Three other Bengals did not participate in practice Thursday. TE Jermaine Gresham (knee), CB Johnathan Joseph (ankle) and LB Dan Skuta (back) were not on the practice field.

RB Bernard Scott (toe) was a limited participant for the Bengals Thursday, DE Carlos Dunlap (shoulder) was a full participant.

NOTES: Coordinators Mattison, Cam Cameron & Jerry Rosburg met with reporters following practice Thursday, those chats are available now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……OL Chris Chester joined Drew Forrester Thursday on “The Morning Reaction”, that chat is available in the Audio Vault……DE Paul Kruger is scheduled to join Forrester Friday morning at 7:15am……Pete Morelli’s crew will officiate Sunday’s game……The Ravens announced Thursday they will give away purple Under Armour wristbands to fans who attend Sunday’s game. The wristbands are intended to support the Wounded Warrior Project……New Ravens LS Kevin Houser will wear #70. The number was previously worn by Matt Katula, the veteran LS who was released by the team during Training Camp after five seasons in Baltimore……The Ravens will return to practice Friday, Harbaugh is scheduled to meet with the media following Friday’s practice

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: Stallworth Voted Ravens Ed Block Courage Award Winner

Posted on 23 December 2010 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (10-4) returned to practice Wednesday at 1 Winning Drive, continuing preparations for Sunday’s showdown with the Cleveland Browns (5-9) at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

WR Donte’ Stallworth was announced Thursday as the team’s recipient of the annual Ed Block Courage Award.

Stallworth missed the entire 2009 season after being pleading guilty to DUI manslaughter. The Ravens signed him as a free agent in February.

Stallworth also missed the first seven games of the 2010 season after breaking his foot in the preseason. Since returning, he has caught two passes for 82 yards and has run the ball four times for 30 yards.

The announcement was made following media availability Thursday, making Stallworth and teammates unavailable to comment.

Players from all 32 NFL organizations vote winners annually from their own team. Players vote for a teammate who has “exemplified a commitment to sportsmanship and courage.”

S Dawan Landry received the award from the Ravens in 2009.

The Ed Block Courage Awards will be held March 8, 2011 in Baltimore. A press conference recognizing Stallworth as the Ravens winner will take place Tuesday at the Sports Legends Museum in Charm City.

No other 2010 winners were announced Thursday.

DT Haloti Ngata and K Sam Koch were also honored Thursday, as both were named to the USA Football/NFLPA All-Fundamentals team. Selection to the team was based on fundamentally sound play and consistent display of good character.

Ngata was selected to the team for a second consecutive season.

PRACTICE REPORT: S Tom Zbikowski (back) was again missing from the open portion of practice Wednesday. Zbikowski has not practiced since being forced to leave the team’s Week 14 win over the Houston Texans early.

WR David Reed (concussion) was also missing from the practice field for a second straight day. Reed was forced to leave the team’s Week 15 win over the New Orleans Saints in the first half.

OL Tony Moll (illness) and LB Jason Phillips (illness) each returned to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday. The flu bug continues to have an impact on the Ravens locker room; S Haruki Nakamura was also listed on Thursday’s injury report but he missed the session entirely.

Linebacker and special teamer Brendon Ayanbadejo was also at first believed to be another victim of the flu bug, but the Ravens revealed that he missed practice because of a knee injury.

Center Matt Birk(knee) was also a full participant in practice the last several days despite his injury.

Derrick Mason’s injury(ankle) kept him limited in the session open to the media but his game status should not be an issue.

TE Todd Heap (hamstring) practiced for a second straight day, improving his chances of playing for the first time since being forced to leave the team’s Week 13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first quarter.

Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron said Heap has looked “great” in practice throughout the week.

“I look forward to getting him back, probably sooner than later. He hasn’t missed a beat in his preparation (or) his rehab. (He’s a) consummate pro. I look forward to getting him back.”

NOTES: Hear from Cameron, Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison and Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net now……RB/KR Jalen Parmele joined Drew Forrester Thursday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST, hear that chat in the Audio Vault as well……The Ravens will hold their final open practice of the week Friday before Sunday’s game, Head Coach John Harbaugh is scheduled to meet with the media following practice……Weather.com/The Weather Channel is predicting 25 degrees and snow showers for Cleveland Sunday

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: Ray Lewis says Peyton Hillis Performance “Won’t Happen Again”

Posted on 22 December 2010 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (10-4) returned to work at 1 Winning Drive Wednesday, looking ahead to Sunday’s Week 16 contest with the Cleveland Browns (5-9) at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

The Ravens defeated the Browns 24-17 in a Week 3 contest at M&T Bank Stadium, but they gave up an alarming 144 yards rushing to Browns RB Peyton Hillis in the loss.

Ravens players said Wednesday an encore performance should not be expected.

“A blind cat will find a meal every once in awhile” said LB Ray Lewis. “It’s just the way it happens. The thing about this league is consistency. We understand the two big runs that we gave up against him. (As) our team’s leader-it won’t happen again.”

Lewis went on to say “we definitely aren’t coming in there to give him over 100 yards again.”

Lewis wasn’t the only player to say the team intended to shut down the Browns’ likely Pro Bowl back.

“Definitely won’t happen again” said DT Haloti Ngata. “Some things they did a good job (of) scheming us and finding the holes for Peyton to hit. He’s a north and south runner, he doesn’t really like to run sideways and cut down. If we just close those holes for him to go through, then he’s gonna have to run sideways and we can probably get him better that way.”

Head Coach John Harbaugh said he thought the rematch provided motivation for his defense.

“I’m sure it does. I think it’s part of it. We’re motivated because stopping the run is important. They’re a team that prides themselves in running the ball.”

Before the Week 3 contest, Hillis had run for 100 yards just once in his NFL career (3rd season). Since the Week 3 contest, Hillis has run for 100 yards or more in four additional contests.

PRACTICE REPORT: TE Todd Heap (hamstring) returned to practice Wednesday. It was the first time Heap had practiced since being forced to leave the team’s Week 13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first quarter. Heap’s chances of seeing the field Sunday have to be considered greatly improved after returning to the practice field. He was listed as a limited participant, as was WR Derrick Mason (ankle).

S Tom Zbikowski (back) remained out of practice Wednesday. He has not seen the field since leaving the team’s Week 14 win over the Houston Texans early. Harbaugh had hinted Friday Injured Reserve could still be an option for Zbikowski.

WR/KR David Reed did not participate in practice Wednesday after leaving the team’s Week 15 win over the New Orleans Saints in the first half with a concussion. His status for Sunday is considered to be in jeopardy. If Reed is unable to play, RB/KR Jalen Parmele is expected to return kicks in his place.

OL Tony Moll (illness) and LB Jason Phillips (illness) also did not participate in practice Wednesday, neither is believed to be in jeopardy of missing Sunday’s game. C Matt Birk (knee) and WR Marcus Smith (shoulder) were listed as full participants Wednesday.

In Berea, six Browns players missed practice Wednesday.

LB Eric Alexander (groin), QB Colt McCoy (illness), TE Evan Moore (hip), DL Shaun Rogers (ankle/hip), TE Robert Royal (shoulder) and Hillis (knee) did not participate.

LB Marcus Bernard (shoulder), DB Sheldon Brown (shoulder), DL Kenyon Coleman (knee), WR Josh Cribbs (foot), WR Chansi Stuckey (thigh), OL John St. Clair (ankle) and OL Floyd Womack (knee) were listed as limited participants.

All other Browns and Ravens players were not listed on Wednesday’s injury report.

NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh, Lewis, Ngata, QB Joe Flacco, WR Anquan Boldin and RB Ray Rice now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……Boldin was presented with the team’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award by Team President Dick Cass Wednesday. All 32 teams name an honoree, one of those players will be chosen as the league recipient after the season……Parmele is scheduled to join Drew Forrester at 7:20am Thursday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST……John Parry’s crew will officiate Sunday’s game……The Ravens re-signed OL Bryan Mattison to the practice squad Wednesday, he had been waived from the active roster Monday so the team could sign TE Davon Drew from the practice squad……The Ravens will return to practice Thursday; coordinators Cam Cameron, Greg Mattison and Jerry Rosburg are scheduled to meet with the media

-G

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Tavares Gooden on Sunday’s game plan versus Saints: “I haven’t blitzed this much all year”

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Tavares Gooden on Sunday’s game plan versus Saints: “I haven’t blitzed this much all year”

Posted on 21 December 2010 by Ryan Chell

This past weekend, there has been a lot of talk concerning Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis’ inspirational speech to the team and if that was the fuel behind Baltimore’s 30-24 victory over the world champion New Orleans Saints Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

And while linebacker Tavares Gooden-who joined Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” Monday-said that his Miami Hurricane brother was a big part of their motivation on Sunday, Gooden ultimately said that the credit should go to the coaching staff for drawing up the perfect game plan to stop Drew Brees and the Saints.

“We had a game plan, and we stuck with it. The win was the result of that,” Gooden told Forrester.

Over the last several weeks in the Ravens’ struggles against their division rivals in Pittsburgh and a near-upset on the road against Houston, the Ravens have failed to show any kind of true identity and continued to move away from their brand of football-i.e. “Playing like a Raven”-and that ultimately showed in the frustration of  Ravens players and the coaches alike in the following week leading up to  Sunday.

“We all felt as a staff and players on this team that we weren’t being ourselves. We had to get back to ourselves,” Gooden noted.

Gooden, despite not showing up in the box score defensively on Sunday, was included in several of the blitz packages Ravens defensive coordinator Greg Mattison drew up against All-Pro QB Drew Brees and was also a key component on special teams in trying to limit the return skills of one Reggie Bush.

Reggie Bush

Gooden received a ton of post-game accolades from his teammates and coaches, and when asked about that, Gooden threw the respect right back toward his coaches that he said put him in the best situations possible to succeed.

And he felt like Sunday was just another step in his progression toward becoming another elite part of this Ravens defense.

“It’s just a blessing from God,” Gooden said,  “just having an opportunity to have my name called yesterday. It felt pretty good, and when Coach Mattison was calling those calls, I was licking my chops and opening my eyes like, ‘I haven’t blitzed this much all year’.”

Brees said post-game that at times he saw things out of the Ravens defense that he had not seen before on tape or in preparation.

Gooden replied to that saying that they did nothing different on Sunday; it was just he and several other Ravens players taking to heart what the coaches had drawn up, working on it fully in the week leading up, and having a little extra motivation on and off the field to play good football.

“I really took it to my own in the off-season to work on that stuff, and yesterday Coach Mattison let me go. All the stuff I was working on in practice, I just took it to the game. It felt great. It felt smooth.”

Gooden said the scheme was a lot easier than what it appeared to be.

“I was just running off of Double J’s block or running off Haloti cause they’re are going to double-team those guys. Little guys like me with a lot of speed are going to shoot through the hole and make a play. I give it all up to coaching. We had a great gameplan and we stuck with it, and it worked.”

Gooden said it right there. It was an all-around team win that originated at the top with preparation from  head coach John Harbaugh, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison and was executed perfectly by the Ravens players.

Gooden  told Forrester that this is a win that can definitely mean something to the team’s confidence with the final two games of the year coming up.

“I think that was a great team win, and I know that’s going to help us out in the future so that we can know we can beat teams like that in the playoffs because we have a great team chemistry.”

“And with it being the Super Bowl guys from last year, it gives us momentum,” Gooden said of the win. “It gives us something to fight for knowing that we can beat teams like that. We can go into the playoffs thinking that we’re going to win a championship because we can beat championship teams.”

The Ravens’ last two games against divisional opponents in Cleveland and Cincinnati are in essence playoff games, and with Baltimore still in the mix for not only a playoff spot but for the AFC North title with Pittsburgh, the next two games being in a playoff-like scenario are going to get the team geared up for potential football in January, says Gooden.

“I think that gives us confidence to go to our next game. With these last couple of games we’re playing, we want to win every game because that’s what you want to do in the NFL.”

“But let’s prep for the playoffs. We always say this is a playoff game, and if you have that mentality, that’s your practice for when the playoffs come. And then you know what kind of pressure you’re going to be under, and you know what kind of team you have. Right now, we’re playing great team ball and that’s what enabling us to make these plays.”

“I’m telling you how we’re thinking. These are playoff games. If we lose, we’re out. That’s how we’re thinking right now. We’ve got to get these next two. Let’s keep going. We’ve got to win it all, and that’s our thought process.”

Tune into WNST and WNST.net as we continue to follow the Ravens through the 2010 season into the playoffs! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore sports!

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Ravens Post Crucial Victory in Houston…Even If It Felt Like Crushing Defeat

Posted on 14 December 2010 by Glenn Clark

HOUSTON, TX — The Baltimore Ravens (9-4) were effective or better in nearly every aspect of their 34-28 overtime win over the Houston Texans (5-8) Monday night at Reliant Stadium.

The offense put points up early, scoring an unlikely 21 points in the first half.

The defense was effective despite giving up two 21-point leads, as they rebounded and Josh Wilson returned a Matt Schaub interception for 12 yards for to seal the deal.

The special teams unit got not only more good football from kicker Billy Cundiff (three more touchbacks) and punter Sam Koch (five of seven punts left the Texans inside their own 20 yard line-including a crucial 58 yard bomb in overtime), but they finally broke through with a 103 yard touchdown from kick returner David Reed.

It was the type of game the Ravens needed after a heartbreaking 13-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium in Week 13.

Really…it was. Of course, we all know it doesn’t exactly feel that way.

The Ravens may have controlled play for the first 31:15 of their win over the only AFC South opponent they’ll face this season; but the Texans’ ability to get back into the game and force overtime will leave an uncomfortable feeling throughout Charm City, including the building at 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills.

After breaking the game open with Reed’s kickoff return to open the 2nd half, the Ravens failed not only to score another point; but tallied just five first downs the rest of the way. In the same time frame, the Texans managed to rack up 401 yards of total offense and 22 points.

It was a crucial victory for a team trying to lock up at least an AFC Wild Card berth, with the AFC North still very much in the balance.

The win does move the Ravens ahead of the Jets for the fifth-seed in the AFC Playoffs.

The type of crucial victory that will be discussed as if it were one of the more devastating losses in the history of the franchise.

The type of victory that leaves a fanbase asking themselves 14 weeks into a season “is this team really any good?”

The answer of course remains the same. We just simply don’t know.

The reality is that fans are probably-at best-concerned.

“Concerned is probably a good word word” said Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh following the win. “Do we have things that we’re worried about? Do we have things we have to work on? Absolutely.”

It’s hard to find a balance between what wasn’t far from being the most painful collapse in franchise history and a victory that guarantees a third straight winning season and leaves the Ravens two games ahead in the race for the playoffs with only three games to play.

The Ravens are clearly a very good team, even if took a heroic TD return from CB Josh Wilson on an overtime interception throw from Matt Schaub to escape the Lone Star State with a victory. Teams don’t get to 9-4 without being very good.

But for a very good team, they have a number of problems. The pass protection was practically brutal, allowing five Texans sacks (and eight TFL’s altogether). OT Michael Oher admitted after the game “I’m hurting my team. I gotta get it done.”

The pass rush was also practically non-existent in the second half, although Harbaugh admitted post-game the team purposely didn’t go after Schaub out of respect for the Texans’ offensive play-makers.

Of the Texans’ 401 yards after halftime, 242 came via the air. After getting sacks from LB Terrell Suggs and DE Cory Redding in the first half, the Ravens failed to put Schaub in the turf again.

And the play-calling? Once again suspect.

Not only will defensive coordinator Greg Mattison be criticized for choosing to not rush Schaub late, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will face fire for his decision to again throw the ball with the lead in a 3rd and short situation late in the game. (This time there was 2:58 left and the Ravens were on the Texans’ 44. The play resulted in a Flacco incompletion, which in fairness wasn’t quite as bad as the Troy Polamalu sack and strip the week before.)

When I asked RB Ray Rice what he had hoped the call was going to be, he made his feelings known.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xT1-sZU1kGE[/youtube]

“I wanted to run it. I’m just being honest with you. I’ve never been a guy to question anything, but on 3rd and 1-I want the ball.”

Not exactly dissent, but not ringing support either.

Despite all of the concerns, the Ravens are still in very good position to reach the playoffs. But it isn’t exactly an easy road. After returning home from Houston, the Ravens will have a short week to prepare for a visit from the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints Sunday. The Saints just happen to find themselves in the thick of their own playoff race in the NFC South.

Anyone feeling comfortable about Sunday’s game?

There’s one Raven in particular who either isn’t as concerned as the rest of the city of Baltimore…or is at least doing a great job of hiding it.

“Keep giving me W’s” said future Hall of Fame LB Ray Lewis. “You can’t ask for (anything) else.”

There was a collective sigh of relief in the Ravens locker room following their Monday Night Football escape. And if they keep posting wins, it won’t matter if they give up 22 point leads in the second half of every game.

But after the team finishes exhaling, they’ll have to get back to work. They have a long way to go to prove they’re a championship caliber football team.

-G

Hear from Harbaugh, Lewis, Suggs, Flacco, Rice, Wilson, Oher and WR Derrick Mason following the Ravens win in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net!

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Live From Owings Mills: Emotional Cam Cameron Says “That Was a Heck of a Blow the Other Night…But it Wasn’t a Fatal Blow”

Posted on 10 December 2010 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (8-4) returned to practice Friday at 1 Winning Drive, continuing preparations for their Monday Night Football showdown with the Houston Texans (5-7) at Reliant Stadium.

Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron met with the media Friday for the first time since coming under fire for questionable decisions at the end the team’s Week 13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium.

“There’s nothing that’s been said that I wouldn’t have already said” said Cameron. “You just didn’t get to me first.”

Cameron was specifically criticized for calling a pass play on 2nd & 5 late in the 4th quarter. The play resulted in Steelers safety Troy Polamalu sacking Ravens QB Joe Flacco and causing a fumble. The fumble was recovered by Steelers LB LaMarr Woodley inside the Ravens’ 10 yard line, setting up the Steelers’ game-winning touchdown pass.

“You’re looking at the guy responsible (for the result)” said Cameron. “There was a flaw in that protection…that I did not catch for some reason. In 25+ years, I’ve never seen that happen. It showed up at the worst time it possibly could have. It’s my job to catch that flaw, and that flaw has been corrected.”

Cameron also defended the play call in general.

“I think football is way beyond running and throwing. It’s executing the run, executing the pass. This is 2010. That’s just the way it is. You call a run, you execute it. You call a pass, you execute it. It’s about execution. That’s the thing we have to remember.”

Cameron made sure to state his belief that the team could bounce back from the tough loss.

“That was a heck of a blow the other night, I get that. But it wasn’t a fatal blow. The confidence I have starting with Joe (Flacco) all the way through this offense ain’t changing. You can look at it however you want to look at it. When we come off that field, we’re going to give our players a chance to have won the game for us, and I trust these guys. It didn’t work out the other night, but it’s going to work out a lot more than it isn’t.

PRACTICE REPORT: TE Todd Heap missed practice again Friday as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury suffered in the team’s  loss to the Steelers. Heap is not expected to be available Monday night.

CB Fabian Washington (thigh) did not participate in Friday’s practice either. His status is not believed to be in jeopardy for Monday night. CB Lardarius Webb (thigh) was a limited participant, FB Le’Ron McClain (ankle) was a full participant.

The Texans have ruled TE Garrett Graham (hamstring) out for Monday’s game. WR Andre Johnson (ankle) and DE Mario Williams (groin) were limited participants in practice Friday.

LB Xavier Adibi (hamstring), G Mike Brisiel (shoulder) LB Brian Cushing (knee), TE Owen Daniels (hamstring), TE Joel Dreessen (ribs), CB Glover Quin (hand), QB Matt Schaub (knee) and OT Eric Winston (shoulder) were all full participants in Texans practice Friday.

NOTES: Hear from Cameron, Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison, Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg and S Ed Reed now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……FB Jason McKie joined Drew Forrester Friday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST, that chat is available in the Audio Vault as well……According to Weather.com/The Weather Channel, temperatures are expected to between 40 and 50 degrees Monday night in Houston, the Texans are planning to keep the roof open at Reliant Stadium……The Ravens will return to practice Saturday at 1 Winning Drive. Head Coach John Harbaugh is scheduled to meet with the media following Saturday’s practice

-G

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Live From Owings Mills: Ray Lewis Says Ravens Will Help Pay Jameel McClain’s Fine

Posted on 09 December 2010 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens (8-4) returned to work Thursday at 1 Winning Drive, continuing preparations for their Monday Night Football showdown with the Houston Texans (9-3) at Reliant Stadium.

LB Ray Lewis was asked Thursday about the $40,000 fine the NFL handed down to fellow LB Jameel McClain for a hit on Steelers TE Heath Miller in the team’s Week 13 loss to Pittsburgh at M&T Bank Stadium.

“I told him I might try to help him” said Lewis. “But that’s a rough one.”

Lewis defended McClain’s play.

“When I saw the hit, I’m like ‘good hit’” said the future Hall of Famer. “From there (in) the next two days you hear $40,000 and you’re like ‘Wow. For real? For a hit?’”

Lewis said Ravens teammates would pitch in to help McClain pay the fine.

“$40,000 is $40,000; so we can do what we gotta do whatever we can do for him to definitely help him out.”

Lewis seemed convinced that nothing will change the NFL’s policy for levying major fines for devastating hits.

“They’re gonna do it regardless, and that’s what’s frustrating. It’s gonna happen. I think guys just gotta keep moving on because they have a plan in play right now and they’re gonna execute it from what they’ve shown. It doesn’t matter what you say, it doesn’t matter what you try to do. If you deal with it long enough, you’re gonna drive yourself crazy. Play the game, have fun and hopefully those things don’t come your way.”

PRACTICE REPORT: TE Todd Heap (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday. He was forced to leave the Ravens’ Week 13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium in the first quarter. Heap is not expected to be available Monday night.

All other Ravens were on the practice field Thursday and are expected to be available Monday night. CB Fabian Washington (thigh) was a limited participant, FB Le’Ron McClain (ankle) was a full participant.

The Texans released a lengthy injury report Thursday. TE Garrett Graham (hamstring), WR Andre Johnson (ankle) and DE Mario Williams (groin) did not participate in practice.

LB Xavier Adibi (hamstring), G Mike Brisiel (shoulder), LB Brian Cushing (knee), TE Owen Daniels (hamstring), TE Joel Dreesen (ribs), CB Glover Quin (hand), QB Matt Schaub (knee) and OT Eric Winston (shoulder) were all full participants.

NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh, Lewis, QB Joe Flacco, RB Ray Rice and CB Chris Carr now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……TE Ed Dickson joined Drew Forrester Thursday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST, that chat is available in the Audio Vault as well. FB Jason McKie is scheduled to join Forrester Friday morning at 7:15…..The Texans have announced that they will wear red uniforms Monday night as part of a “Battle Red” promotion……The Ravens will return to practice Friday. Coordinators Cam Cameron, Greg Mattison and Jerry Rosburg are expected to meet with the media

-G

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Inexplicable decision bites Ravens in endgame

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Inexplicable decision bites Ravens in endgame

Posted on 07 December 2010 by Thyrl Nelson

In Honor of the Ravens’ 10-point effort vs. Pittsburgh on Sunday, here are my 10 post game points

 

1. The Ravens decision at the end of Sunday’s game, to forego a field goal opportunity with the wind in their faces will be something that folks will probably be debating for the rest of this season, but why the Ravens were faced with that decision is still baffling to me at this point. The fact of the matter is that at the end of the game, the wind was in Billy Cundiff’s face because John Harbaugh and the Ravens put it there.

 

By deferring after winning the coin toss, the Steelers got the opportunity to take the ball in the second half. That left the Ravens to decide which end zone they’d be defending in the 3rd, and by default 4th quarters. If Harbaugh and Cundiff decided during the second half warm ups that 44-yards was the edge of his range going that way, then why wouldn’t the Ravens elect not to go that way in the 4th quarter? If nothing else, you’d think they’d like to put Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham facing into that wind incase he was called on for 4th quarter heroics.

 

Given the Ravens post game stance that the wind was that much of a factor, and especially given their inability this season to finish games for a variety of reasons, it seems like too simple a detail not to sew up. Which brings me to my second point…

 

2. Through 12 games this season, the Ravens have had a 4th quarter lead in each. That’s good. In all four of their losses (obviously) however, and 2 of their wins as well, they’ve given back those 4th quarter leads. That’s not so good. On one hand they seem like a team that can play with anyone, which should serve them well at playoff time. On the other, they’ve given away, or nearly given away 4th quarter leads in half of their games, which likely won’t serve them so well, especially against playoff caliber teams.

 

3. Did anyone else feel just a little bit of déjà vu on Sunday night? From the Ravens ball spot review, to the squandered opportunities on offense, to the late game heroics, it sure felt like a 13-9 game that was played here in 2008. This one felt more and more like the San-Tony-Yay-Yo game as it wore on, and the ending was eerily reminiscent albeit not in the hands of the officials. Here’s hoping a rubber match is on the horizon.

 

4. Speaking of a rubber match, if Sunday’s game decided anything, it was that a rematch would likely take place at Heinz Field. Despite the Ravens and Jets very different brands of heartbreak this week, the rest of the AFC wildcard likelys helped their efforts. Both teams still seem to be all but a lock for the post-season, but both look very likely now to begin their respective campaigns on the road.

 

5. In the other inexplicable decision of the night, the Ravens kept both Le’Ron McClain and newly acquired fullback Jason McKie inactive for Sunday’s game. The decision to sign McKie seemed to be in reaction to the likelihood that McClain wouldn’t be ready for this week and possibly beyond, but with McClain’s return seemingly eminent at this point, and McKie’s deactivation being at least partly due to his inability to find a place on special teams; it sure looks like a wasted move. Surely this team doesn’t have room for 2 fullbacks on the roster; especially if they’re not playing on special teams.

 

Losing Todd Heap early as they did on Sunday certainly changed the Ravens game plan substantially, especially given the absence of a fullback. Ed Dickson did a nice job, but clearly missed a big opportunity early, and had some blocking issues as well.

 

6. I’ve watched Chris Chester’s false start at least 20 times now, and still can’t decide if it was accidental or thought out. On the play, Chester explodes across the line, tries hard to blast James Harrison and winds up laying out flat. Since it occurred on the PAT, the penalty was assessed on the kick, hardly a big deal. Is it possible Chester knew the penalty was minimal and decided to take a free shot at Harrison, to give him something to think about maybe. Harrison might have even lost his cool completely there, and changed the whole game. If it was intentional, it was a savvy, savvy move.

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