After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor.
We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches each.
Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 13-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field…
PITTSBURGH — Aiming for their third straight regular-season victory at Heinz Field, the Ravens take on the Pittsburgh Steelers for the 33nd time in the regular season in the history of the franchise.
Baltimore can create a stranglehold on the AFC North with a victory as it already owns a one-game advantage in the division with a second meeting still to come in two weeks in Baltimore. The Ravens are 6-10 all-time in Pittsburgh in the regular season as quarterback Joe Flacco has orchestrated game-winning drives in the closing seconds in each of the last two regular-season meetings at Heinz Field.
In addition to starting cornerback Jimmy Smith (sports hernia surgery), the Ravens will be without nose tackle Terrence Cody and defensive end Pernell McPhee, who suffered a setback during practice this week after declaring himself 100 percent recovered from knee and thigh injuries on Thursday.
The injuries on the defensive line coupled with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata still being less than 100 percent could spell trouble for the Ravens against a Pittsburgh offense that figures to focus on its running attack against the 26th-ranked rush defense in the NFL. Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall returns from an Achilles tendon injury to form a three-headed monster with Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer.
Perhaps the biggest surprise among the Ravens’ inactives is veteran guard Bobbie Williams, meaning second-year lineman Jah Reid will start at left guard against the Steelers. Backup lineman Ramon Harewood is also inactive, which leaves rookie Gino Gradkowski as the only reserve interior lineman available in case of an injury. Of course, veteran tackle Bryant McKinnie will serve as an additional reserve along the offensive line.
Newly-signed veteran cornerback Chris Johnson and just-promoted safety Anthony Levine are both active. Rookie safety Christian Thompson was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury on Saturday, making room for the Ravens to promote Levine from the practice squad.
Of course, the Steelers are hurting just as badly as the Ravens as starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is out and will be replaced by veteran Byron Leftwich. Pittsburgh is also without safety Troy Polamalu and starting wide receiver Antonio Brown for Sunday night’s game.
Injured inside linebacker Ray Lewis is in Pittsburgh and will be on the sideline for Sunday night’s game.
The Ravens will wear white jerseys with black pants while Pittsburgh will wear their throwback jerseys that, well, you just have to see to believe.
Here are the inactives for Sunday night …
CB Jimmy Smith
CB Asa Jackson
DT Terrence Cody
G Bobbie Williams
G Ramon Harewood
WR Deonte Thompson
DE Pernell McPhee
QB Ben Roethlisberger
CB DeMarcus Van Dyke
S Troy Polamalu
LB Stevenson Sylvester
LB Adrian Robinson
OT Marcus Gilbert
WR Antonio Brown
Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the day as Nestor Aparicio and I bring live updates and analysis from Heinz Field.
Some of the luster has been lost in this one with the absence of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but the Ravens look to win their third straight regular-season contest at Heinz Field and seize overwhelming control in the AFC North.
Here’s what to expect as the Ravens try to improve to 15-18 all-time against Pittsburgh in the regular season …
1. The tight ends will play a major role for both teams. The reemergence of Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson in last week’s 55-20 win over Oakland couldn’t have come at a better time as the Ravens play five of their final seven games against 2011 playoff teams. The Steelers have relied a great deal on blitzes from inside linebackers Larry Foote and Lawrence Timmons to pressure the quarterback, which could leave the middle of the field open for Pitta and Dickson on third down. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh’s Byron Leftwich will depend on Heath Miller to help move the chains with short passes, and Ravens linebackers haven’t done a great job covering tight ends this season.
2. The Steelers will have the edge in time of possession with the more effective running game on Sunday night. Pittsburgh’s running game has been inconsistent, but the return of Rashard Mendenhall gives the Steelers a three-headed attack against the Ravens’ 26th-ranked run defense. The Baltimore defensive line has a banged-up Haloti Ngata and could be without both Pernell McPhee (doubtful) and Terrence Cody (questionable). Pittsburgh may not run all over the Ravens, but the Steelers will be successful enough to control the clock and limit the number of possessions for Baltimore. The Ravens will also avoid stacking the box in fear of Leftwich taking a deep shot with Mike Wallace or Emmanuel Sanders with no safety help. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will run often enough with Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce to keep the Steelers defense honest, but Pittsburgh is sixth against the run and limited Rice’s yards in last season’s game in Pittsburgh.
3. Justin Tucker won’t blink in his first trip to Heinz Field. The rookie has been terrific all season — going 17-for-18 — but faces his biggest challenge to date kicking in Pittsburgh where the winds swirl in the open end of the stadium. The 22-year-old hasn’t been fazed by pressure all season, and his straight kicks won’t be affected by wind as opposed to kickers who use draw or fade approaches. The forecast for Sunday night appears to be favorable (low 40s and minimal wind), so weather shouldn’t be too much of a factor for either kicker. If the game comes down to a late attempt, Tucker has shown no reason for Ravens fans to be concerned. He’ll make a big second-half field goal to finish off a scoring drive.
4. The team that wins the battle on third down will prevail in this one. In their two meetings last season, the Ravens went a combined 21-for-37 on third down while Pittsburgh was only 10-for-21. Baltimore won both games after winning the battle on third down in each contest. The Steelers will use their running game to set up third-and-short opportunities with a rusty Leftwich while the Ravens need third-and-manageable situations to utilize wide receiver Anquan Boldin and their tight ends. The Steelers possess the top-ranked third-down offense in the NFL, but you can throw that number out the window with the absence of Roethlisberger’s talents and improvisation. The Ravens have converted only 36.1 percent of third-down opportunities this season (20th in the league) and will need to be better in that department if they’re to come away with another win in Pittsburgh.
5. Joe Flacco will be the difference as the Ravens collect a narrow 20-17 victory at Heinz Field. Flacco has been the difference-maker in each of the Ravens’ last two regular-season wins in Pittsburgh as he’s orchestrated last-second touchdown drives for comeback victories. The fifth-year quarterback doesn’t need to have a perfect game, but he needs to step up his play on the road after modest progress against Cleveland in his last start away from M&T Bank Stadium. The criticism could be at an all-time high should he play poorly in Pittsburgh and the Ravens lose on Sunday night, and a good portion of it would be justified. Flacco said after last week’s win that he and the Ravens have played well on the road when they’ve needed to in the past, and this week certainly qualifies for that category. I’ll take him at his word to get the job done with an overmatched Leftwich on the opposing side. A touchdown pass, 200 yards, and turnover-free football should be enough from Flacco for the Ravens to win a third straight regular-season game against the Steelers for only the second time in franchise history. However, it won’t be easy going up against the league’s top-ranked defense in yards allowed.
I had handled it much better than I ever did in the past.
Unlike the last three seasons, I wasn’t on hand to see the Baltimore Ravens’ season come to an end last Sunday in the AFC Championship Game. Instead of making the trip to Foxborough, I stayed in studio at 1550 Hart Rd. in Towson for “The Nasty Purple Pregame Show” and “The Nasty Purple Postgame Show.” I watched the game only with my producer Ryan Chell and I IMMEDIATELY hit the airwaves after Billy Cundiff’s kick sailed wide-not allowing me much time to stew over the dramatic end.
After fighting with a caller who labeled quarterback Joe Flacco as “a bum” following the crushing loss to the New England Patriots, I genuinely felt as though I had moved on. It only took about 30 minutes. No eight hour drive home with other miserable Ravens fans for me, just a 25 minute drive home to Monkton where playing with my dog quickly made me feel better about a tough loss.
On Sunday afternoon the WNST crew (Drew Forrester, Nestor Aparicio, Luke Jones and myself) touched down in Indianapolis for week-long coverage of Super Bowl XLVI festivities at Radio Row. We do it every year, no matter when/where the Ravens’ season comes to a close. Immediately upon landing at Indianapolis International Airport, we were greeted by vendors selling Eli Manning and Tom Brady t-shirts. Everywhere we turned in Indy for the first 12 hours was remarkably similar.
New York Giants stuff here. New England Patriots stuff there. Live NFL Network video of Bill Belichick getting off the plane. Quotes filling up my GMail inbox from Tom Brady and Jerod Mayo as transcribed by the National Football League staff here on site. A replay of Super Bowl XLII following Australian Open coverage on ESPN2.
It all hit me like a ton of bricks. This was SO close to being the Ravens. Perhaps a Cundiff kick, perhaps a Lee Evans catch, perhaps a John Harbaugh timeout, perhaps Joe Flacco not throwing an interception to Brandon Spikes.
We could have gotten off the plane in Indy and been greeted by Ray Lewis t-shirts instead of seeing Alex Flanagan try to get Lewis to change his mind about retirement on the sideline during NBC’s coverage of the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. We could have been covering the first media gathering of the week for the AFC champs instead of sitting in the hot tub at the J.W. Marriott or celebrating Forrester’s birthday at Buca di Beppo. (Both of these things were nice…but we’d rather not be there.)
It wasn’t as painful to arrive for Super Bowl coverage the last couple of years as there was really no argument that the Ravens may have been the best team in the AFC. Two years ago they were clobbered by the Colts here at LucasOil Stadium. Last year there was the feeling they let one go against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field, but at least the loss didn’t come with a Super Bowl trip on the line.
This time there was a REAL feeling that we should be spending Media Day tomorrow chatting up Terrell Suggs instead of trying to track down Matt Birk for five minutes later in the week when he comes to promote the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
It wasn’t the only wound re-opened however.
As you can read about in Monday’s Indianapolis Star, there’s already a bit of a “friendly” back and forth going on between us and some of the folks in “The Friendly Heart of the Midwest.” While most of our comments have been made in jest, there is no doubt that seeing horseshoes everywhere I look and staring at a sign for the “Jim Irsay Collection” at the Indiana State Museum across the street have left a bad taste in my mouth.
The team my father fell in love with is now the reason why a city hundreds of miles from Charm City is experiencing a financial boon. The likes of Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore and Art Donovan left sweat and blood on the field at Memorial Stadium, the value of which has allowed governor Mitch Daniels to make millions of dollars-which will in no way benefit the city of Baltimore.
We don’t REALLY want the Colts back in Baltimore as I joked with the Indy Star reporter. We want an entire civic injustice reversed. We know it’s impossible.
The wounds are fully re-opened here. We’ll make it through (covering a Super Bowl in Indianapolis is STILL better than having to cover the Baltimore Orioles), but there will be a number of times this week where I’ll look over and say “damn.”
The Baltimore Sun’s Kevin Van Valkenburg joined me in studio Wednesday on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net. We held a very special year-end awards show that we cleverly titled “The Van Clarkenburgs.” Here is a rundown of our winners…
Glenn Clark: O’s decision to bring Zach Britton up with team from Spring Training
Kevin Van Valkenburg: Britton’s May 18 start vs. New York Yankees
Glenn: Birds’ decision to demote Britton midway through season
Kevin: Mike Flanagan suicide death
Glenn: Terrell Suggs
Kevin: Drafting Torrey Smith
Glenn: Trading for Lee Evans instead of signing free agent Malcom Floyd
Kevin: 12-7 loss to Jacksonville Jaguars October 24
“Best Other Local Sports”-
Glenn: Towson University Football
Kevin: Graham Motion trained Animal Kingdom wins Kentucky Derby
“Worst Other Local Sports”-
Glenn: Randy Edsall’s first season in College Park
Kevin: Kevin Anderson’s handling of Mike Leach, Sean Miller
What topic deserved more conversation in 2011?
Glenn: Novak Djokovic’s incredible season
Kevin: Ugly nature of NCAA/College Sports
What topic received too much conversation?
Glenn: Tim Tebow
Kevin: LeBron James
Who did the best coaching job in 2011?
Glenn: Joe Maddon
Kevin: Rick Carlisle
Who did the worst coaching job in 2011?
Glenn: Norv Turner
Kevin: Norv Turner
What was the best game you attended in 2011?
Glenn: Maryland’s 4-3 2OT soccer win at UMBC
Kevin: Baltimore Ravens’ 23-20 win over Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field
What was the best game you watched on TV in 2011?
Glenn: World Series Game 6 St. Louis Cardinals/Texas Rangers
Kevin: Women’s World Cup Quarterfinal Team USA/Brazil
What about sports were we “better off” for in 2011?
Glenn: NBA starting on Christmas Day
Kevin: Appreciation of Women’s World Cup
What sports media type do you love but hate to follow on Twitter?
Glenn: Gregg Doyel (CBSSports.com)
Kevin: Darren Rovell (CNBC)
I tried explaining to everyone it wouldn’t matter if the Cowboys blew out Oklahoma Saturday night in Stillwater. Every time someone asked a question like “what if the Pokes win by a score of 50-0?” I responded with a simple “it won’t matter.”
I was right. Louisiana State will face Alabama again in the BCS Championship Game and OSU will get to watch after playing Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl.
It’s a shame, as Oklahoma State certainly looked like a team capable of making things interesting in New Orleans on Saturday night. The shame is that their Bedlam rivalry win was marred by 13 fans being injured when they rushed the Boone Pickens Stadium field. It’s also a shame the Big 12 Champs aren’t Bayou bound because we’d all like to see more of Mike Gundy dancing…
It’s not that I don’t think highly of Oklahoma State (or Alabama), it’s just that the Tigers have been pretty dominant. See Badger, Honey.
It appears as though Tyrann Mathieu’s punt return TD shouldn’t have counted, and he actually had another return later in the game that didn’t result in a TD that was more impressive. But this was still a lot of fun to watch him run all over the Georgia Dome field in the SEC Championship Game.
It’s awfully early, but I’ll go ahead and call a Tigers win over the Crimson Tide in the title game. Just going out on a limb without having to at all. All balls, that Glenn Clark. At least that’s what my 4th grade teacher always said.
I picked the Denver Broncos to beat the Minnesota Vikings on “The Friday Football Frenzy” this week; but I gave myself an out. “If Von Miller doesn’t play the Broncos lose” I said.
What I didn’t know is that the great Tim Tebow had the “throw a 41 yard touchdown to Demaryius Thomas while running out of bounds” in his repertoire…
Tim Tebow is better than you. And thanks to an Oakland Raiders loss we’ll get back to later in the game, he’s in first place in the AFC West.
Some Tim Tebow haters won’t give it up, including Merrill Hoge. He told the New York Post that Tim Tebow hasn’t proven anything because he hasn’t won a Super Bowl. Yep. That’s solid analysis. Well done sir.
Since we’re here, here’s this humorous picture of Matt Willis and Willis McGahee.
And also, this is apparently a photo of a fetus (or unborn child if you will) Tebowing. If you don’t want to look at it, don’t. I have no idea what I’m looking at myself.
CJ2K has gone over 100 yards three times in his last four games, a feat he accomplished just once in in his first eight games.
That would be better if you were confused while playing along at home.
It was 153 yards and two TD’s Sunday as the Tennessee Titans topped the Buffalo Bills, a team I SWEAR had been good at some point during their existence…
Things get a BIT more difficult for the Titans next week, as they battle the Saints in Nashville. They find themselves still alive in the AFC South race but also still in the AFC Wild Card mix. AND they’re in the mix for the Cotton Bowl. Or something like that.
The Jets scored 3 TD’s in the final five minutes of Sunday’s game at FedEx Field and got big plays from Aaron Maybin to avoid the upset.
A few things to giggle about here.
One-If the Skins manage to win two of their last four games this season, Mike Shanahan will manage to tie the great Jim Zorn’s record through the first two seasons! Big stuff!
Two-Washington’s Fred Davis and Trent Williams are suspended for the next four games for a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. I don’t think the substance has been officially announced, but I think I have a guess…
Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”
It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.
This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.
Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 23-20 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field…
Glenn Clark’s Plays…
5. Billy Cundiff 51 yard field goal (2nd quarter)
4. Terrell Suggs intercepts Ben Roethlisberger (3rd quarter)
3. Steelers called for delay of game before Shaun Suisham 47 yard FG attempt (4th quarter)
2. Anquan Boldin 10 yard catch from Joe Flacco on 4th & 1 (4th quarter)
1. Torrey Smith 26 yard touchdown catch from Joe Flacco (4th quarter)
Joe Flacco left his with a fat lip, bloodied and in need of stitches, in the aftermath of Sunday night’s thriller in Pittsburgh.
I guess that’s one way of handling the criticism, huh? Drive the team 92 yards in one of the most hostile environments in the league, against one of the NFL’s best defenses, and throw the game-winning strike to a rookie with eight seconds left in the game.
Do you need a towel for all that blood?
Despite being the only quarterback in the NFL to have won a playoff game in each of the last three seasons, Flacco saw the critic’s bandwagon swell this year as the Ravens paced their way to a 4-1 start before a disastrous night in Jacksonville gave the “told ya this guy stinks” fraternity more ammunition.
I wonder how full that fraternity’s belly is this morning, what with all that crow they stuffed in their mouths on Monday as they were forced to discuss Joe’s heroics on Sunday night?
Flacco, for one, privately enjoyed sticking it up his critic’s hind quarters. When asked about it after the game, Joe just meekly let out that “you know the answer but I’m not saying it” grin and said, “Anytime you win a game here, it’s good, because you know there were people who didn’t think you could do it.”
That’s as close to an “f-you” as you’ll ever get from Flacco, but it was good enough.
He knows the drill. He knows it all too well, in fact.
When the team wins and he plays well, he’ll get some credit for it.
When the team doesn’t win, he gets most of the blame.
That’s the way it is in New England, Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Green Bay (except they don’t really lose anymore in Green Bay). And that’s the way it’s probably going to be in Baltimore too, because Flacco – in case you haven’t seen the stats since 2008 – has done a lot more winning than losing in his time in purple.
It’s fair to note, by the way, that the Ravens were privately concerned about Joe’s play in the Jacksonville and Tennessee losses, because he in no way resembled the same guy who performed so well against Pittsburgh in the season opener. But no one over in Owings Mills was EVER doubting Flacco’s long-term viability as the team’s franchise quarterback.
It’s always good to beat the Steelers, particularly in Pittsburgh.
And it’s always a joy to see someone face his critics head on and offer a quick jab to the mouth that reminds them once again who’s in charge.
It’s Joe Flacco’s football team.
Get your face cleaned up and enjoy the rest of the season.