Tag Archive | "Hines Ward"

Injuries and absences aside, toppling Steelers far from easy task

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Injuries and absences aside, toppling Steelers far from easy task

Posted on 13 November 2012 by Luke Jones

Long before Kansas City linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston flattened quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on Monday night, we knew this year’s two-act drama of Ravens-Steelers would be different from those witnessed in previous years.

The previous elder statesmen of the best rivalry in the NFL, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, will be nowhere to be found on the Heinz Field gridiron Sunday night. Lewis will be relegated to the sideline as he recovers from triceps surgery while Ward now only runs his mouth as an NBC analyst instead of as the antagonist hated most by Baltimore fans.

In fact, neither Lewis nor Ward will be featured in a meaningful Ravens-Steelers game for the first time since before the NFL’s best rivalry actually mattered.

(Both players missed the 2007 season finale played in Baltimore, but that contest was of little consequence to either team.)

Health concerns are abundant on both sides as Steelers strong safety and defensive leader Troy Polamalu is likely to miss his sixth straight game and speedy wide receiver Antonio Brown is questionable to play. In addition to Lewis’ absence, the Ravens have already lost top cornerback Lardarius Webb for the season and are leaning on a banged-up Haloti Ngata and recovering Terrell Suggs to lead their defense.

Of course, all those absences and injuries took a backseat after Roethlisberger suffered a right shoulder sprain that leaves him questionable for Sunday night’s nationally-televised game against the Ravens. Make no mistake, his potential absence transforms the Ravens from the underdog in Pittsburgh to a group with a great chance to beat a Steelers team that could be led by backup quarterback Byron Leftwich, who’s made a total of five starts in the last five seasons.

Should Roethlisberger’s shoulder injury keep him out, it will compel me to pick the Ravens to win after previously thinking the Steelers were playing too well in recent weeks to predict a Baltimore victory in Pittsburgh.

Inflated optimism is understandable and appropriate, but if you think the Ravens are going to Pittsburgh and moonwalking their way to victory, you’re setting yourself up to be disappointed.

With the 2011 season-opening 35-7 win being the lone outlier, nothing has come easy against Pittsburgh in the John Harbaugh era. Of the teams’ last 10 meetings (including two postseason games), all but two have been decided by seven or fewer points.

History even suggests the Ravens won’t flatten the Steelers on Sunday night if Roethlisberger is sidelined after he sat out two other times in recent years.

In 2009, it was Dennis Dixon — yes, the same quarterback the Ravens cut from their practice squad earlier this month before he was re-signed Tuesday — who nearly led the Steelers to an upset in Baltimore before the Ravens prevailed in overtime. A year later, veteran Charlie Batch was in line for a win over the Ravens before Joe Flacco threw a game-winning touchdown pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh in the final minute.

The last time I checked, Roethlisberger isn’t a member of the league’s top-ranked defense and that’s why no one should be tallying a victory just yet for a Ravens team averaging only 17.5 points per game in four road contests. The Steelers currently rank sixth against the run and first against the pass as Flacco and the Baltimore offense will need to turn in a strong performance at Heinz Field in order to win there for the third straight time in the regular season.

“It was greatly exaggerated, no doubt,” said Harbaugh when asked about the perceived demise of the Pittsburgh defense earlier this year. “They are playing great. They are the No. 1 defense in the league – run, pass, big plays, sacks; they are still getting sacks. It’s just a premier defense, no doubt.”

As impressive as the Ravens looked in scoring a franchise-record 55 points against Oakland in Week 10, are you really that confident as they face the Pittsburgh defense on the road?

Two weeks ago, the Steelers made New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning look sickly in his home stadium, holding the two-time Super Bowl winner to just 125 passing yards and an interception in a 24-20 comeback victory for Pittsburgh.

Offensively, Leftwich wouldn’t figure to pose much of a threat through the air, but the Steelers have found a formidable running game in recent weeks with the combination of Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman turning in three 100-yard rushing performances in the last four games. And while the Ravens’ run defense has improved over the last two weeks, it still ranks 26th in the NFL and will be tested by the Steelers’ improved offensive line.

Pittsburgh may not have their star quarterback on Sunday night, but plenty of others will be waiting for the Ravens, including James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, Heath Miller, and Mike Wallace.

Would Roethlisberger’s absence swing the advantage in the Ravens’ favor come Sunday night?

Absolutely.

But if you think the Ravens are just going to cruise to victory in Pittsburgh, you haven’t been paying attention to this rivalry.

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Baltimore still loves to “hate” Hines Ward

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Baltimore still loves to “hate” Hines Ward

Posted on 23 September 2012 by WNST Staff

Apparently, former Pittsburgh Steelers WR Hines Ward is still persona non grata in Baltimore. With the return of NBC’s Sunday Night Football to the Charm City for Ravens vs. Patriots, Ward is in town as part of the pre-game broadcast crew.

He posted on his Facebook page yesterday that he has not received a friendly welcome here in Baltimore:

From Hines Ward:

I had to share this with all of you, my loyal fans:

Heading to Baltimore tonight to do the Ravens-Pats game and as I’m at the gate heading to Baltimore, a flight attendant comes up to me and asks me, “You are Hines right?” and I said “Yes.” He says, “I HATE you!” So… I’m on the plane and the guy next to me says, “Are you Hines?” I say “Yes”. He says “I HATE you!” I’m thinking I’m about to have to fight this guy. As I’m flying, I’m praying the good Lord above isn’t a Ravens fan (Haha). When I get off the plane in Baltimore, the fine people at NBC have the car service guy hold up a sign under an alias name because they don’t want people to see my name in Baltimore. I get to the hotel and the lady hands me my key to my room and says, “thank you for staying with us today Mr. Ward, and by the way I HATE you” (Haha). I go to my room and the cleaning lady recognizes me from DWTS. She congratulates me but says, “I still don’t like you” (wow). Now I love crab cakes. It’s one of my favorite foods and Baltimore is known for their awesome crab cakes. But I’m too scared to order any from room service because I don’t want to be poisoned or have someone spit on them. I’ll starve myself today I guess. Guess what Ravens fans: I HATE you too but I will miss you guys the most. I had a great 14-year run here and besides the Super Bowls, I will always cherish the Ravens-Steelers rivalry. THANKS for the great memories Ravens fan. But I’m part of a new team now, NBC. I’m even picking you guys to win tonight because I know how hard it is to play in the LION’s DEN. But come on, I really just wanted to taste some of your great crab cakes. Can’t we all just get along? (Haha) – Hines

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PFW’s Mike Wilkening Says Foster Deal Helps Set Rice Parameters

Posted on 06 March 2012 by WNST Audio

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With All of the Losses, Even the 15-7-0 Is Now in the BCS Title Picture

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With All of the Losses, Even the 15-7-0 Is Now in the BCS Title Picture

Posted on 21 November 2011 by Glenn Clark

You know how it works. 15 positive football observations, 7 “not so” positive football observations and one “oh no” moment from outside the world of football.

(As a reminder, we don’t do Baltimore Ravens analysis here. We do PLENTY of that elsewhere. This is about the rest of the world of football.)

15 Positive Observations…

1. I have no concrete proof that Towson University is building a statue for Rob Ambrose, but I don’t know why they wouldn’t.

A lot of people are surprised by the Tigers’ success, but not me. I’m so effing stunned I’m still not a hundred percent certain it actually happened…

There’s no way anyone…in the world…could have ever seen a CAA Championship coming this season. This team still has more work to do though. They won’t feel incapable of beating anyone they play in the NCAA playoffs, starting with Lehigh December 3rd at Unitas Stadium.

Seriously…this is Towson we’re talking about. This can’t be real.

2. I thought I was happier to see the Washington Redskins lose when they play miserably, but I think I was even happier to see their fans suffer heartbreak Sunday.

I will admit that I thought those a-holes in DC were done after Tony Romo hit Jason Witten from 59 yards away…

…but somehow Mike Shanahan’s team stayed in the thing long enough to have a kick to win in overtime. Graham Gano of course missed the kick and DeAngelo Hall channeled DeAngelo Hall to help the Cowboys survive.

I celebrate your misery, clowns. May you never win another game…unless for some reason you play the Steelers. Even then, I dunno.

3. Tony Sparano is giving Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross something very similar to what Lou Brown gave Rachel Phelps.

Does anyone remember earlier this year when the Buffalo Bills were good? No? I swear I thought they were…

Stephen Ross started interviewing coaches before bothering to fire Sparano. Sparano used that to fire up his team, convincing them to win in order to piss off the ownership there that wanted to get new players and coaches. Suddenly Matt Moore and Reggie Bush are playing like real National Football League players and there’s a problem on South Beach…at least for now.

It’s very similar to what Lou Brown did back when he was managing the Cleveland Indians…

Did we ever find out if Brown won American League Manager of the Year that year? He was a hell of a skip.

(Side note. Every time the Orioles tried to hire a General Manager this offseason I assume the calls went awfully similar to that time when Charlie Donovan called Brown at Tire World to offer him the gig with the Tribe.

“How would you like to be the Birds’ GM?”
“Gee. I don’t know.”
“What do you mean you don’t know? This is your chance to be a Major League Baseball General Manager!”
“Let me get back to you, will you Peter? I got a guy on the other line asking about some white walls.”)

4. Andrew Luck has an impressive lateral motion towards the Heisman Trophy.

Do you get the feeling the Stanford quarterback is saying to himself, “Well, if no one else wants it…”?

I’d show you something from the Cardinal’s win Saturday night over rival California, but there wouldn’t be anything that would convince you Luck has locked up the award.

Instead, here’s Lee Corso dropping the “f-bomb” on ESPN’s College Gameday Saturday morning from the University of Houston. There’s no real reason to share the video, other than the fact that it includes the f-bomb.

5. If ANYONE has put their name back in the Heisman mix, that person is Baylor QB Robert Griffin III.

The Bears’ QB almost singlehandedly made sure next weekend’s “Bedlam” game was uninteresting to the rest of the country by throwing (and running) all over Oklahoma Saturday night…

It’s probably too little, too late as far as the Heisman is concerned-but it is certainly a reminder that RG3 has been one of the most entertaining players in the country all season. This TD pass to Kendall Wright however is probably not one he should take credit for…

Also humorous? Erin Andrews took the worst of a Gatorade shower intended for Griffin…

AND…in the hysteria on field after the win in Waco, America fell in love with a gal rushing the field on crutches…

6. At times, Matthew Stafford is one of the best quarterbacks in the world.

But if he did this more often the Detroit Lions wouldn’t have to make dramatic second half comebacks week in and week out like they did Sunday against the Carolina Panthers…

This game also involved Lions TE Tony Scheffler invoking an AT&T Flash Mob commercial in a TD dance…

And a note to Fantasy Football owners: Lions RB Kevin Smith ran for over 100 yards in this game. The physics of that alone are stunning, really.

I’m well aware it’s a different guy, but can we talk about this picture for a second? I say this as a HUGE Silent Bob fan. WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? Are those shorts? Is it some sort of jean skirt? Is it a denim quilt? Holy hell.

7. No one knows how to pronounce his name, but Chris Ogbonnaya had himself a fine day Sunday.

Well, I feel like a bit of a silly goose for taking fantasy advice and playing the Jacksonville Jaguars defense against the Cleveland Browns Sunday.

The only meaningful highlight in this one came from Jags RB Maurice Jones-Drew, who invoked Cleveland “hero” LeBron James by tossing powder in the air after scoring a TD…

And in an unrelated story, here’s a 6 year old kid crying about the New York Jets after their loss to the Denver Broncos the other night. He has an awful mother…

El oh el.

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Ravens-Steelers: Five predictions for Sunday night

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Ravens-Steelers: Five predictions for Sunday night

Posted on 05 November 2011 by Luke Jones

Little needs to be said about what’s at stake when the Ravens travel to Pittsburgh for the first time since their crushing 31-24 defeat in the divisional playoffs last January. The winner of Sunday night’s game gains control of the division — with apologies to the unproven Bengals — and emerges with the psychological upper hand should these teams meet again in January.

Sunday night marks the 32nd all-time meeting between the Ravens and Steelers in the regular season, with Pittsburgh holding an 18-13 edge. The Ravens will attempt to win their second straight regular-season game at Heinz Field and only their sixth game ever in Pittsburgh. Eight of the last 10 meetings (postseason included) between the teams have been decided by one score or less despite the Ravens’ 35-7 beating of the Steelers in Week 1.

The Ravens are 3-1 on Sunday Night Football during the John Harbaugh era, but Sunday marks the first time Baltimore has played on the road for Sunday Night Football since the game moved to NBC in 2006.

A win would give the Ravens a 6-2 start for the second consecutive year and for the third time in team history (2006 being the other).

Follow BaltimoreLuke on Twitter

Here’s what to expect when the Ravens travel to Heinz Field to take on the Steelers to complete the season series …

1. Ray Rice will gain enough yardage to offset the Steelers’ edge in the passing game. The Ravens bulled over the Pittsburgh defense to the tune of 170 rushing yards as an offensive line playing together for the first time exceeded even the most optimistic expectations in the regular-season opener. Ben Grubbs hasn’t played since then as the group has failed to reach that same level of dominance in his absence. The left guard will be a game-time decision, but it’s no coincidence Grubbs appears primed to return against the Steelers. Pittsburgh holds the edge at quarterback, but the Ravens can offset Ben Roethlisberger’s advantage over Joe Flacco by being productive enough on the ground to help control the clock and keep the Steelers’ passing game off the field. Pittsburgh’s run defense has improved, but Arizona and New England aren’t exactly dominant ground teams. Arian Foster ran for 155 yards and Maurice Jones-Drew gained 96 against the Pittsburgh defense, so it’s not out of the question for Rice to run for 80 yards on the ground — in addition to what he provides as a receiver out of the backfield.

2. The Ravens will win the turnover battle against a Pittsburgh defense that hasn’t created takeaways all season. Unsurprisingly, the teams find themselves occupying the top two spots in total defense, but a dramatic difference lies in their ability to create turnovers. Baltimore’s 16 takeaways is tied for second in the AFC while the Steelers have only forced three turnovers through their first eight games, last in the NFL. On the flip side, the Ravens and Steelers have each turned the ball over 13 times. Critics will point to Flacco’s inability to protect the football, but the Steelers’ preference to throw plays right into the hands of the Ravens, who are healthier in the secondary than they’ve been all season. If Flacco and the Ravens can make just enough plays in the passing game, it will force Roethlisberger to take more chances, increasing the likelihood of turnovers. The Ravens have the better, more opportunistic defense, and it will pay dividends on Sunday night.

3. The Steelers will miss LaMarr Woodley more than they’ll benefit from the return of James Harrison — at least in this game. After playing coy on his Twitter page earlier in the week, Harrison returns to the lineup after missing four games with a fractured orbital bone. However, Woodley’s nine sacks had him in the Defensive Player of the Year discussion before the linebacker suffered a hamstring injury last week. Harrison is as tough as they come, but the month-long layoff will leave some rust, and the Ravens can devote more attention to him without Woodley on the opposite edge. Left tackle Bryant McKinnie played his best game of the season against Harrison in the season opener, so the Ravens are hoping for a similar, motivated effort in Pittsburgh.

4. Terrell Suggs will continue to own the Steelers no matter what they try to throw at him. Max protection, tight end help, and double teams don’t matter when the Pro Bowl linebacker takes on Pittsburgh. Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians called Suggs the best pass rusher he’s ever had to face, and the ninth-year linebacker has sacked Roethlisberger more often than any other defender in the NFL. After accumulating six sacks in his last two games (one of those coming last January) against Pittsburgh, it’s clear the Steelers have no answers in stopping his harassment of Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh will hope veteran Max Starks’ insertion at left tackle will have an impact after Suggs abused Jonathan Scott in Baltimore, but he’ll need as much help as possible to keep Suggs’ shadow away from the quarterback. Playing in prime time, Suggs will collect two sacks of Roethlisberger and create a critical turnover in the second half.

5. It won’t match their 35-7 showing in Baltimore, but the Ravens will sweep Pittsburgh for just the second time in the 16-year history of the series, winning a 21-20 nail-biter. While it’s true the Steelers are entering Sunday having played better football than the Ravens recently, many have been too quick to dismiss what transpired in the regular-season opener. Yes, it’s extremely unlikely the Ravens force seven turnovers again, but the Baltimore defense completely overwhelmed the Pittsburgh offense in the most recent meeting between the teams. If we’ve learned anything about the Ravens so far this season, it’s their reputation for playing to the level of their competition. There’s never any shortage of motivation and passion when they meet the hated Steelers. If — and it’s a major one — Flacco can take care of the football and make just a few big plays at opportune times (215 passing yards and a touchdown pass), the defense will take care of the rest by pressuring Roethlisberger and creating a critical turnover that swings the game in the Ravens’ favor.

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Ravens’ Suggs thrives on being “bad guy” in Pittsburgh

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Ravens’ Suggs thrives on being “bad guy” in Pittsburgh

Posted on 02 November 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — You get the sense Terrell Suggs would have made one heck of a professional wrestler in another life, walking to the ring while playing to the crowd — the man everybody loves to hate. Continue Reading

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Ravens G Marshal Yanda on Sunday: “That Pittsburgh win was the big one”

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Ravens G Marshal Yanda on Sunday: “That Pittsburgh win was the big one”

Posted on 14 September 2011 by Ryan Chell

Ravens coach John Harbaugh and similar coaches around the NFL sometimes institute a policy known as “The 24-hour rule.”

This particular practice essentially allows the team that amount of time to either celebrate or dwell on a win/loss that Sunday before moving on to next week.

24 hours. 1,440 minutes. 86,400 seconds.

And not one minute more.

But rules are meant to be broken right? And what more reason to do so when you annihilate your divisional rivals 35-7?

Ravens guard Marshal Yanda said that there was no better time than Monday to push the envelope.

“We’ve all been there,” Yanda told Glenn Clark on “The Reality Check” Monday after the Ravens 35-7 victory over the Steelers Sunday. “It’s a huge win. No doubt about it. Everybody was really excited.”

He could tell right off the bat in their film sessions from the lightheartedness and congratulations for guys like Jarret Johnson punishing WR Hines Ward, he knew that the excitement of Sunday couldn’t be contained to a day-long time frame.

“It was great to go over the film, and to watch guys flying around making plays. It’s always good when you get a win, especially against Pittsburgh which is our rivalry,” Yanda said.

Yanda said that win immediately popped up to his all-time favorite one in a Baltimore uniform.

“For me with my career with the Ravens, that Pittsburgh win was the big one as far as getting after them well,” Yanda told Clark.  “And to play that well for a week one game of the season, we couldn’t get off to a better start.”

Yanda was an essential part in the Ravens churning out 170 yards rushing against a stout Steelers defense, including 107 yards from RB Ray Rice.

Photos Courtesy of Rob Carr-Getty Images

That was the game-plan from the start, Yanda admitted.

“We planned on getting after them. But we didn’t think we were going to gash them that much. For Ray to get over 100 and for Ricky to get 60, that’s pretty good versus the Steelers. They usually don’t give up too many yards on the ground, and for us to do that, we’re excited.”

He along with the rest of a veteran offensive line-debuting the likes of tackle Bryant McKinnie and the return of center Matt Birk-also performed the difficult task of protecting quarterback Joe Flacco to its purest form.

Yanda said if there was anyone who deserved profiting off their hard work Sunday, it was Flacco.

“Joe has that quiet calmness to him. We all love Joe, and the man’s a competitor. He’s become quite the tough SOB,” Yanda said. “We love him back there. He’s a great quarterback, and it’s good  to put all that media stuff behind him and to get those people off his back.”

Yanda said he and his fellow offensive linemen were the epitome of what the Ravens had to do as a team.

Trust in each other.

“We knew that he had good players,” Yanda replied. “We all played well. Mike did well at right, and I felt comfortable playing inside. I think we’re going to do some good things this year, and we’re just going to build on it and keep working hard.

Left tackle Bryant McKinnie got a ton of praise thrown his way for his dominance of All-Pro LB James Harrison in run and pass-blocking situations, and the former tackle in Yanda said he knew McKinnie had in it him all along.

“We didn’t have to say anything to him,” Yanda said of acclimating him to Raven football.  “He knew. He’s a professional. He’s played nine years. He knows what he had to do.”

And Yanda was quick to point out that McKinnie admitted he’s not just there yet. That’s kind of scary if you’re looking at it from a defensive perspective.

“And he’s still working at it. I would definitely say that he’s taking the right steps and that’s he’s going in the right direction. He’s losing the weight, and he’s taking it day-by-day. We didn’t have to say anything to him. He’s a pro and he’s doing well.”

And even if McKinnie doesn’t get to be 100 percent, Yanda still thinks that this could not only be the best line he’s ever played with, but one of the best in the league.

“I would have to think about it, but for right now at the top of my mind, I would say yes. With McKinnie, Birk and Grubby and Mike, that’s a pretty good front five…that’s for sure.”

Clark asked Yanda where that symmetry and cohesion came from for a unit that had not played at all together across the starting five throughout the preseason and with guys in new positions.

Yanda included.

“We all work hard, and it was nice to get after Pittsburgh and just to play our butts off, especially after the lockout and with the fans not knowing what’s going on. To go out there and not miss a beat, that was a hell of a way to start.”

That’s where Yanda said John Harbaugh’s practices made all the difference in the world.

“We work really hard in practice. There are some guys who take practice at half speed trying to get ready for the game by taking it easy. We’re out there practicing hard, and that stuff pays off.”

Yanda’s hope is that they don’t tire out too quickly; instead he hopes a momentous win such as Sunday’s gets them going so fast they can’t stop.

“What’s next is we keep grinding and hopefully get off to a good start,” he said.  “Now we’re just going to keep practicing hard and try to stack wins”

“If you can get off to a fast start, you’re helping your chances as the weeks go on. We’ll just start game-planning for Tennessee, practice hard, and get ready for them.”

WNST thanks Marshal Yanda for joining “The Reality Check” with Glenn Clark! Follow me on Twitter @RyanChell87! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 13 September 2011 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Auto Racing-NASCAR Geico 400 (Sunday 2pm from Joliet, IL live on ESPN), IndyCar Series Indy Japan 300 (Saturday 11:30pm from Motegi, Tochigi live on VERSUS); High School Football: Towson @ Perry Hall (Friday 7pm), Glen Burnie @ Northeast (Friday 6:30pm), Hereford @ Franklin (Friday 7pm); Tennis: Davis Cup-France @ Spain (Friday 6am Saturday 9am Sunday 6am from Cordoba, Spain live on Tennis Channel); NHL: Washington Capitals Rookie Camp (Tuesday & Wednesday 10:30am Kettler Capitals IcePlex)

10. Chris Brown/Kelly Rowland/T-Pain (Saturday 7pm Verizon Center); KEM (Saturday 6:30pm Pier Six Pavilion); Lupe Fiasco/Wale (Friday 5:30pm Merriweather Post Pavilion), HFStival feat. Avett Brothers, Flogging Molly, Gin Blossoms (Saturday 10am Merriweather Post Pavilion); Mr. Greengenes (Friday 6pm Power Plant Live); 10 Years (Friday 7:30pm Rams Head Live), Legwarmers (Saturday 7pm Rams Head Live); Mobb Deep (Sunday 8pm Baltimore Soundstage); Virginia Coalition (Friday 8pm 8×10 Club); Rhett Miller (Saturday 1pm Rams Head On Stage); Mary J. Blige (Thursday 7pm Fillmore Silver Spring), Bruce In The USA Bruce Springsteen Tribute (Friday 7pm Fillmore Silver Spring), John Legend (Saturday 7pm Fillmore Silver Spring), BlackStar (Sunday 7pm Fillmore Silver Spring)

I like Lupe Fiasco. I LOVE Wale. I love him even more for rapping about Terrapins QB Danny O’Brien…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsNrinr4SDM&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

The thing they’re doing at Merriweather CERTAINLY isn’t an HFStival (even the HFS people know that), but it would have been a semi-decent event if they had charged 15 bucks for tickets. The Avett Brothers are quite good…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t43VgJ4U9_Q[/youtube]

And don’t you DARE say a negative word about the Gin Blossoms, who mean more to me than some family members…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ah5gAkna3jI&ob=av2e[/youtube]

I hate singing the praises of a DC rapper (Wale) and then following it up by praising an act from Northern Virginia (Virginia Coalition), but VACO is freaking awesome…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Orrs6LeIbWQ[/youtube]

9. Maryland Wine Festival (Saturday & Sunday Carroll County Wine Museum); Monster-Mania Con (Friday-Sunday Hunt Valley Marriott); Second City: Charmed & Dangerous (Thursday-Sunday Center Stage); Maryland Renaissance Festival (Saturday & Sunday RennFest Fairgrounds Crownsville); “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” Season 7 premieres (Thursday 10pm FX)

To be honest, the first couple of these things aren’t for me. The only wine I know I enjoy is Boordy Jazzberry, but I’m not sure they’d even have that out at the Wine Festival.

I’ve enjoyed a scary movie or two in my day, but the Monster thing…no thanks.

You already know I enjoy RennFest. If you don’t, you simply haven’t been paying attention to me swigging beer from goblets or throwing axes. I’m all in.

I saw Second City the last time they invaded Charm City. They were outstanding. I recommend going to see them.

But of all of these things, I’m ABSOLUTELY most excited about the new season of Always Sunny. WILD CARD!!!!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYtjpIwamos[/youtube]

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Our Ravens-Steelers “Pats on the Ass”

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Our Ravens-Steelers “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 12 September 2011 by Glenn Clark

On Sunday’s “Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net, Ryan Chell and I introduced a new segment. It will be a segment you hear on the postgame show following every Baltimore Ravens game this season.

We call the segment “Pats on the Ass”, in celebration of the one motion every man participates in during an athletic competition. As men, we except the fact that there is no justifiable explanation for the “pat on the ass”, but we do it anyway. We follow up the pat on the ass by saying “good game” or “good play” in hopes of making the motion seem less uncomfortable.

We’re not bothering with any of that. We’re just celebrating manliness by offering pats on the ass to members of the team for special play in each game.

There are simple rules. Two offensive players get pats. Two defensive players get pats. An additional “Wild Card” gets a pat-it can be a special teams player, a coach or someone else from the team who deserves a pat for a special reason. One of the five receives a “pat on both cheeks”, it is our variation of a “Player of the Game” award.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” for the Ravens’ 35-7 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium…

Ryan Chell’s Pats…

Haloti Ngata

Don’t think Haloti Ngata deserves a pat on the ass? Perhaps we should ask Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dsLwPgWaQA[/youtube]

Ed Reed

Two interceptions at this point are pretty much just common for Reed. Perhaps Reed is more deserving for his hit on Steelers WR Hines Ward. I’m sorry there isn’t a better video on YouTube…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2HtB2VcgPE[/youtube]

Joe Flacco

flacco

17-29 for 224 yards and 3 TD’s. Nice day, but what does LaMarr Woodley think?

Bryant McKinnie

You know why Ray Rice had so much room in the video below? (Sorry there isn’t better video again.) Bryant McKinnie. If he got a bonus just for his weight, what does he get for actually playing well?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7O6ysWPURU[/youtube]

Chuck Pagano (two pats)

pagano

Hell of a way for your first game after replacing Greg Mattison to go, huh?

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Rating the Ravens after Baltimore’s 35-7 victory over Steelers

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Rating the Ravens after Baltimore’s 35-7 victory over Steelers

Posted on 12 September 2011 by Ryan Chell

The 2011 season opener could not have gone any better for the Baltimore Ravens.

Not only did they get a divisional win-they earned it against the hated Pittsburgh Steelers. They kicked the living crap out of the defending AFC Champions, 35-7, and left the Steelers leaving Baltimore with their tails firmly entrenched between their legs.

The win may feel like a Super Bowl victory to Raven nation, and while it certainly puts the momentum in the AFC North in the Ravens’ corner for now, no win in the NFL is perfect. Every coach-especially John Harbaugh-will tell you that.

But boy, did it feel like it.

John Harbaugh (Rob Carr-Getty Images)

Quarterback-”B”-Joe Flacco finished Sunday’s contest 17-29 for 224 yards and three touchdowns-one to Ray Rice,  Anquan Boldin, and Ed Dickson respectively. Flacco’s 27-yard pass to Boldin on the Ravens’ first drive of the game-the third play-could not have been in a better position over the outstretched arms of Steelers CB Bryant McFadden, and his 18-yard pass to Dickson after the Steelers’ third turnover at the start of the third quarter essentially was the nail in the coffin for Pittsburgh.

However, Flacco wasn’t perfect. He had several balls thrown at Lee Evans that were nowhere near the receiver and sailed out of his reach. And for a quarterback who wasn’t sacked-let alone touched-till the start of the fourth quarter, Flacco often dumped the ball on the check down way too quickly when he could have waited for a play downfield to develop.

But no turnovers on Flacco’s part combined with three touchdown passes and getting the monkey off his back? Okay in my book.

Running Back-”A”-The only reason why this isn’t a perfect A+ is because the Ravens interior running game still had its issues running up the middle against the Steelers. But that’s expected-especially against the likes of NT Casey Hampton. But what wasn’t expected was Ray Rice having this kind of success against a stout Steelers front seven. Rice became the first running back since-well, himself-to rush for 100 yards against Pittsburgh, and he did so with all the help in the world from FB Vonta Leach, T Bryant McKinnie, and guard Ben Grubbs.

Ray Rice (courtesty of Rob Carr-Getty Images)

And it didn’t take long. Rice made his impact from the start on the first play of the game, rushing for 36 yards behind Leach and McKinnie. He finished with 149 total yards of offense and two scores. Leach made his presence known in his first regular season game as a Raven, delivering punishing blocks on the opposing linebackers. Ricky Williams had a quiet but impressive 63 carries on 12 touches in his Raven debut, showing that he still has gas left in the tank.

Wide Receiver/Tight End-”B-”-Anquan Boldin was the only wide receiver to catch a pass  and finished with 74 yards on four catches and the opening touchdown. Ed Dickson had a spectacular debut in his first game as a starter in 2011, catching five balls for 59 yards and a score. He had a 34-yard grab negated by a hold on Bryant McKinnie, but it looks as if Dickson and Pitta’s job Sunday could easily put the nightmare of not having Todd Heap anymore to rest. Lee Evans played decoy all game long, but they need him and second-rounder Torrey Smith to produce something should opposing defenses key on Boldin and Dickson.

Offensive Line-”A”-The same reasoning behind the almost-perfect score for the running backs-the offensive line was outstanding Sunday, but some penalties and not having the best day running up the middle prevent them from the 100% grade. But Flacco stayed completely upright till the fourth quarter and they gave the fourth-year man all day to throw. Birk, Grubbs, and McKinnie were all called for holding in the game, and those mental mistakes can be disastrous sometimes.

Defensive Line-”A+”-The Ravens sacked Ben Roethlisberger four times-three of them coming from Terrell Suggs. Suggs also forced two fumbles. The Ravens have made it clear that they intend to have Suggs rush the passer first and foremost now as opposed to sending him out in coverage. It doesn’t make use of his skills if they don’t. Suggs said of Big Ben after the game, “God can have his soul, but his ass is mine.

Haloti Ngata continued his case toward earning a long-term deal from owner Steve Bisciotti by forcing a fumble of Rashard Mendenhall as well as batting a ball up in the air that linebacker Ray Lewis came down with for one of the Ravens three interceptions.

Linebackers-”B+”-Ray Lewis of course leads this unit, and he finished with seven tackles, a forced fumble, and an interception. Other than Jarret Johnson’s half sack and his batted ball that led to an INT, this unit was pretty quiet on the day depending upon if you count Suggs as DE or a LB. With the Steelers trailing big, Roethlisberger found guys like Mike Wallace and Hines Ward in the holes left by the linebackers, so their coverage skills may have to improve week-by-week.

Secondary-”A-”-Ed Reed-on his birthday-had two interceptions and could have very well had a third. Not only was Reed’s ball-hawking skills on full display, he appeared to be flying toward the ball-carrier and making solid tackles. Reed for the last several years has battled neck and shoulder injuries, and it appeared like Sunday, he was healthy for the first time in a long while. Lardarius Webb led the team in tackles with 11, and Cary Williams also had a solid game starting at corner back.

Special Teams-”A”-K Billy Cundiff was 2-for-2 in field goals with his longest coming from 30 yards out. Four of his seven kickoffs went in the end zone for a touchback. Sam Koch had five punts averaging 41 yards. And you have to give the special teams credit when they score a 2-point conversion…especially from the punter!

Agree with my grading? Disagree? Call into “The Reality Check” 2-6PM EST with Glenn Clark, tweet me @WNST or @Ryan Chell87, or comment below! Would love to hear from you! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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