Posted on 30 January 2014 by WNST Audio
Posted on 16 October 2013 by Luke Jones
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Ravens running back Ray Rice knew nothing but success in the first five years of his NFL career.
With three Pro Bowl selections, over 5,000 rushing yards, and more than 2,700 receiving yards, the 26-year-old had firmly cemented his place as one of the league’s top running backs and appeared on schedule to easily supplant Jamal Lewis as the Ravens’ all-time leading rusher at some point late in the 2014 season. That’s what makes his start to the 2013 season that much more alarming as the Ravens figured to lean more on the running game after the offseason trade of wide receiver Anquan Boldin and the long-term hip injury suffered by tight end Dennis Pitta in the first week of training camp.
Baltimore ranks 27th in the league in rush offense with just 72.7 yards per game and is 31st of 32 teams with an anemic 2.7 yards per carry. Through the first six weeks of the season, Rice has managed just 197 yards on 71 carries and has averaged 2.8 yards per carry, 1.7 yards lower than his career average entering the season.
Labeling himself “a little frustrated” with the overall lack of production in the running game following Sunday’s 19-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers, Rice has run for no gain or negative yardage on 20 of his 71 carries this season. No one would blame him for being frustrated as he finds himself with a long run of 14 yards on the season and ranked 34th in the NFL in rushing as even three quarterbacks — Michael Vick, Russell Wilson, and Terrelle Pryor — have collected more yards on the ground than the 2008 second-round pick.
Once holding the undisputed title as the Ravens’ most explosive offensive weapon, Rice is now part of a running game on pace to shatter the franchise record for fewest yards per attempt average as the 2006 Ravens — a team that ironically finished with a franchise-best regular-season record of 13-3 — collected 3.4 yards per rush for the lowest mark in the team’s 18-year history.
“Ray has handled it as well as you can,” wide receiver Torrey Smith said. “Obviously, you’re going to be frustrated, especially when you’re him [and] you’re used to producing a certain way. He’s not putting himself above anything else. The biggest thing is that we haven’t been winning and we haven’t been doing as well as we wanted to on offense. It’s not necessarily about him and his own stats.”
Of course, no one would dispute the poor performance of the offensive line as the greatest cause for the running game woes — Rice and second-year backup Bernard Pierce are each averaging 2.8 yards per carry and aren’t finding any consistent room to run — but trying to evaluate just how well Rice is performing has been tricky this season. Before offering any potential criticism of Rice, it’s fair to acknowledge Pierce hasn’t fared any better after many wondered in the offseason if the Ravens should use more of a 50-50 split this year.
Any assessment of Rice’s play must acknowledge the left hip flexor strain he suffered in the Week 2 win over the Cleveland Browns, an injury that forced him to miss his first game since his rookie season when he was sidelined for three games with a shin injury. While not a serious injury by nature, a hip ailment would understandably hamper any shifty runner such as Rice who depends on lateral movement and the ability to change direction quickly.
Coach John Harbaugh deferred to Rice when asked how healthy his starting running back was — Rice wasn’t made available to the media on Wednesday — but it isn’t unfair to wonder how healthy the sixth-year back may be as the Ravens play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday before entering next week’s bye.
“He was banged up for a couple weeks, and this is really his first couple weeks back,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “Anytime you get a little banged up and aren’t 100 percent, you have to take a little bit of time before you can really expect to be back there and have full explosion.”
While the offensive line has faced the most scrutiny as its struggled to adapt to run-game coordinator Juan Castillo’s zone blocking schemes, Harbaugh has acknowledged the need for the running backs to show better vision in reading blocks and being more explosive in hitting their running lanes — no matter how small they might be.
Many observers have opined that both Rice and Pierce have appeared hesitant in hitting holes, pointing to examples over the first six weeks of the season where holes were missed or cutback opportunities weren’t taken when the offensive line managed to do its job effectively. Just like any other position on the field, a running back isn’t immune from losing confidence in not just the players around him but himself when the ground game isn’t clicking.
Lewis, one of only seven players in NFL history to run for over 2,000 yards in a season, recalled times in his career in which a lack of confidence in what was happening up front hindered his ability to make plays even when the running lanes were there. The Ravens’ Ring of Honor member saw his 5.3 yards per carry average in his 2003 Pro Bowl season drop nearly two full yards per attempt just two years later.
“I’ve had a few years where you were hesitant [and] not sure in your line’s ability in blocking this scheme,” Lewis told AM 1570 WNST on Tuesday. “Is your line too light for the scheme you are running? When you do that, and that sinks in, it’s a mental thing that can really hurt you. You’ll never get on track. It’s kind of feeling it out, dealing with it, finding a solution to the problem. But, you just can’t have the hesitation because there’s going to be wide-open holes and you’re going to miss [them]. It’s more of a ‘hit it where it’s supposed to go.’
“Look at Adrian Peterson. When he hits the hole, if it’s closed, he bounces off and he hits the next one. At the same time, this is the NFL, it closes up quickly. It’s not always a hole as wide as all daylight.”
Posted on 03 September 2013 by WNST Audio
Posted on 29 August 2013 by WNST Staff
NFL HOSTS KICKOFF EVENTS IN BALTIMORE TO CELEBRATE SUPER BOWL CHAMPION RAVENS & RETURN OF FOOTBALL
Events Will Take Place September 3-5
2013 NFL Kickoff will bring music, youth football, and a spirit of community to Baltimore as fans nationwide get Back To Football.
The following are opportunities for fans and media to take part in the Kickoff celebrations throughout Baltimore. Fans and media should visit www.nfl.com/kickoff and follow @NFL345 on Twitter for the most up-to-date Kickoff details.
NFL KICKOFF CONCERT STAGE ARRIVAL
On Monday, September 2 at 6:00 a.m. the NFL Kickoff concert stage will be tugged into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor across from the Maryland Science Center. Media can capture the first shots of the stage that KEITH URBAN will perform on Thursday night as part of the unprecedented celebration for the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
B-ROLL OPPORTUNITY: RAVENS LOGOS PAINTED ON YOUTH FIELD
On Monday, September 2 at 12:30 p.m., media can capture the iconic Baltimore Ravens logo being painted on the field that will be home to the NFL PLAY 60 Youth Football Festival at UTZ Field at Patterson Park. Baltimore Ravens Director of Fields and Grounds DON FOLLETT will be on site along with executives from the NFL’s Creative Department.
NFL KICKOFF COMMUNITY LEGACY PROJECT
Former Ravens players JAMAL LEWIS and DUANE STARKS will join volunteers from the NFL, United Way and the National Dairy Council for a community service project at Hilton Elementary (3301 Carlisle Ave.) on Wednesday, September 4 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Baltimore Mayor STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE will take part in the event at 11:30 a.m., followed by a ribbon cutting ceremony. Hilton Elementary was identified by the Ravens and the National Dairy Council for their successful participation in the Fuel Up to Play 60 program. Volunteers will transform the outdoor area behind the school adding a greenhouse and garden beds. In addition, a new active play space will be built to inspire creativity, learning and cooperation among students.
The NFL Kickoff Village will be open to fans on Wednesday, September 4 from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Thursday, September 5 from 10:00 a.m. to 8:15 p.m at McKeldin Square and the Harborplace Amphitheater. This fan zone is free and open to the public and brings fans closer to the NFL through sponsors’ activations and dynamic promotions. Sponsors include: Bridgestone, GMC, Pepsi, Snickers and Verizon. NFL Legends will be on hand both days to sign autographs for fans.
For more information including interview opportunities with NFL executives, contact Joanna Hunter (Joanna.email@example.com).
NFL PLAY 60 YOUTH FOOTBALL FESTIVAL
The NFL PLAY 60 Youth Football Festival will take place Wednesday, September 4 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Thursday, September 5 from 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Former Ravens players including Hall of Famer ROD WOODSON and JAMAL LEWIS, KYLE RICHARDSON, JAMIE SHARPER, DUANE STARKS and MATT STOVER will team up with more than 850 students from the area to celebrate the start of the NFL season at UTZ Field at Patterson Park (200 S Linwood Ave). Students will learn NFL FLAG drills and Heads Up Football skills from USA Football coaches and participate in activities with players. Children will also learn about hydration, helmet fitting, and concussion awareness. NFL PLAY 60 partners HOPSports, National Dairy Council and Under Armour will be on-site as part of their ongoing commitment to motivate youth and families to be active.
FULL CLINIC SCHEDULE:
Wednesday, September 4
Thursday, April 25
UNDER ARMOUR | GE PRESS CONFERENCE ON HEAD HEALTH CHALLENGE II
The NFL, GE and Under Armour will team up to kick off the second portion of the Head Health Challenge: Innovative Approaches for Identifying and Preventing Brain Injury on Wednesday, September 4 at 3:00 p.m. at Under Armour Global Headquarters (120 Hull Street, Baltimore). The event will include NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL, founder and CEO of Under Armour KEVIN PLANK, and SUE SIEGEL CEO of GE healthyimagination. BOOMER ESIASON will host the event, which also features CAL RIPKEN, JR.(MLB), LAVAR ARRINGTON (NFL) and STEELE STANWICK (Major League Lacrosse), and KELLY O’HARA (National Women’s Soccer League).
NFL BACK TO FOOTBALL RUN & PLAY 60 FUN RUN
The special NFL Back To Football Run and NFL PLAY 60 Fun Run will take place Wednesday evening, Sept. 4 at M&T Bank Stadium. The Run Series invites fans to celebrate the return of football with a 5K starting at 7:00 p.m.; in addition, a half mile Play 60 Fun Run for youth fans begins at 6:00 p.m. (ages 6-12). Fans 5 and under can also participate in a run at 6:20 p.m. on the field. The participants will experience the once in a lifetime chance to finish their race on the field of the very stadium where their Super Bowl champions play. Ravens cheerleaders and mascot Poe will be in attendance, and fans have an opportunity to receive autographs from Ravens alumni and take their photo with the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Ravens alumni JAMAL LEWIS and KYLE RICHARDSON will be in attendance to help kick off the run and cheer on the runners.
Fans interested in participating in the run may sign up here: http://nflrunseries.com/
“NFL KICKOFF 2013 PRESENTED BY PEPSI” CONCERT
Grammy Award-winning singer KEITH URBAN will perform live, with activities beginning at 6:00 p.m. (ET) on Thursday, September 5 for “NFL KICKOFF 2013 PRESENTED BY PEPSI,” the NFL’s 11th anniversary Kickoff celebration to kick off the season and celebrate the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. The event is free and open to the public. Urban will perform from a floating stage barge in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor adjacent to the Maryland Science Center. The event will include music, fireworks, a showing of “America’s Game: 2012 Baltimore Ravens,” and a water light show.
To ensure public safety and security, the following items are prohibited: weapons, alcohol, food, beverages, all glass containers, fireworks, all chairs, tents of any kind, barbecue grills of any kind, umbrellas, blankets of any kind, cameras with lens over 12”, obstructive signs and animals other than service animals.
All attendees are subject to search, and prohibited items may not be abandoned at security checkpoints. Please allow adequate time to pass through security checkpoints before activities begin.
Guests can enter the concert site at the Baltimore Visitor Center on Light Street at Conway Street or off of Key Highway between the Science Center and Rash Field. The entrances will open to the public beginning at 6pm on Thursday, September 5.
Guests may view the concert from the general public viewing areas, which are adjacent to the Maryland Science Center and are directly in front of the stage. Access to the general public viewing areas is first come, first served. Guests also may enjoy the concert from West Shore Park and along the Inner Harbor promenade.
Guests planning to attend the event should follow @NFL345 on Twitter for the most up-to-date concert details.
Simulcast coverage of the 60-minute pregame show will air from 7:30 to 8:30 PM ET on NBC and NFL Network. The show leads into the season opener between the Ravens and the Denver Broncos at Sport Authority Field at Mile High (NBC, NBCSports.com, Westwood One Radio Sports, 8:30 PM ET).
Posted on 08 June 2013 by Luke Jones
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The Super Bowl ring ceremony was quite the extravagant party in Owings Mills that served as a reunion for the 2012 Ravens as well as the final big celebration of the second championship in franchise history.
Yes, Baltimore’s home opener against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 15 will include the unveiling of a second Super Bowl championship banner, but that ceremony will be overshadowed by an actual game and won’t include those who’ve moved on to other organizations but were able to return to the team’s facility to receive their lavish Super Bowl rings.
Media access was limited at Friday night’s event as it was a party for members of the organization, but the Ravens provided an interesting foursome of players to speak to the media minutes after the rings were unveiled.
Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Joe Flacco, and Torrey Smith all stood at different stages of their career as they received their championship rings with the 38-year-old Lewis speaking to reporters first. Having retired after winning his second championship, Lewis spoke as a fatherly figure throughout the postseason and once again expressed his satisfaction over not only having the opportunity to go out on top but to see his teammates experience what it meant to be a champion.
“I always told them I wanted them to really feel what the confetti felt like. Now to be here, to have something that symbolizes it, it’s the ultimate because now it connects us forever,” said Lewis, who also wore his Super Bowl XXXV ring after receiving the Super Bowl XLVII one to wear on his opposite hand. “It took me 12 years to get back and get another ring. I want them to cherish what this moment feels like right now while we’re world champions.”
Flacco, the Super Bowl MVP, responded only how he could with the honest assessment of a gaudy ring that includes white gold and 243 round-cut diamonds. As Lewis pointed out, Flacco won a championship in his fifth season — like the linebacker did with the 2000 Ravens — and the championship surely provided validation in the minds of those who wondered whether he could lead Baltimore to a championship.
The quarterback admitted he probably won’t wear the ring, but it won’t be sitting locked up in his closet either.
“It’s kind of unwearable,” said Flacco, drawing laughter from reporters. “When I see people for the first time, I’m sure they’re going to have some interest in seeing it or at least I’m going to have some interest in showing it off to them. I’m definitely going to bring it a couple of places. I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m going to wear it, but it’s pretty special.”
Entering his third season, Smith represented the younger players on the roster fortunate enough not to wait long to taste Super Bowl glory in their NFL careers.
And the former University of Maryland product struggled to keep his eyes off the hardware as he spoke to media.
“I told you all what I was going to be like. I didn’t cry or anything, but I can see how women feel when they get a ring,” said Smith as he laughed. “It has a lot of different meanings. There will never be another season like this. We can win the Super Bowl every year while I’m in the league and there will be nothing like this one.”
The most intriguing of the four to speak was 11th-year linebacker Terrell Suggs, who finally earned the Super Bowl ring he’s dreamed about after starring on the vaunted Baltimore defense for a decade. While Lewis, Flacco, and future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed received most of the attention for different reasons, Suggs won his first championship after the most difficult season of his career in which he recovered from a torn Achilles tendon in late April and then played with a torn biceps for the final two months of the 2012 season.
Always one to provide a colorful quote and having the reputation of being the class clown of the Ravens locker room, Suggs’ sincerity in describing how he felt upon finally seeing his first piece of championship jewelry was the highlight of the brief session.
“To have it so close, it finally hit me what exactly we accomplished together,” said Suggs, who figured out his ring was hidden in front of him when he was discouraged from moving his seat at the beginning of the ceremony. “It didn’t take a year. It took me 11 years to get it. It took coach [John] Harbaugh from when he got here in 2008 — we’ve been chasing this. It finally paid off, all that blood given. There’s not a word that describes what I’m feeling right now and all the emotions.
“The journey was long, but it was worth it. But I will tell you this, I damn sure want to feel like this again.”
Owner Steve Bisciotti took care of former members of the organization by not only awarding Super Bowl rings to David and John Modell, the sons of the late owner Art Modell, but to the five members of the team’s Ring of Honor who played on the Super Bowl XXXV championship team. It appears Bisciotti is setting a precedent by giving rings to Jonathan Ogden, Peter Boulware, Michael McCrary, Matt Stover, and Jamal Lewis, but fellow Ring of Honor member Earnest Byner wasn’t included in that group.
Byner was the only member of the Ring of Honor to have played for the Ravens — the Hall of Fame members of the Baltimore Colts are also honored — who did not receive a ring, so it appears this is a subtle way of ignoring the former Browns, Redskins, and Ravens running back’s inclusion, which was never accepted by fans from the time Byner was inducted in 2001.
He was a favorite of the late Modell, but seeing Byner’s name listed among Ravens greats as well as the Hall of Fame Colts has always looked out of place.
Posted on 01 August 2012 by WNST Staff
JONESBORO, Ga. — Former NFL running back Jamal Lewis has been released from a Georgia jail after he was arrested for allegedly not paying child support.
Clayton County sheriff’s spokesman Capt. Brian Crisp says the 32-year-old Lewis was charged with child abandonment, a misdemeanor. Crisp says Lewis was released on bond shortly after midnight Wednesday.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Lewis was booked in the Clayton County jail around 11 p.m. Tuesday. An arrest warrant alleges that Lewis had no contact with his son for more than a year.
Lewis filed for bankruptcy in April, listing $14.5 million in assets and $10.6 million in debts.
Lewis retired in 2009 after nine seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns. In 2003, Lewis ran for 2,066 yards – the second-highest total in NFL history.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
Posted on 16 July 2012 by WNST Staff
Lost in the shuffle of Monday’s signing of current running back Ray Rice, the Ravens are honoring one of their former ones.
With Monday’s release of season tickets for the 2012 season, the Week 4 ticket revealed a nice little surprise for Ravens fans.
Hosting the Cleveland Browns in a Thursday night game on Sept. 27, the Ravens will induct former running back Jamal Lewis into their Ring of Honor at halftime.
Lewis spent seven years in Baltimore and was named to one Pro Bowl in 2003. Of the six seasons he played for the Ravens — Lewis missed the entire 2001 campaign with an ACL injury — he rushed for at least 1,000 yards in all but one season (2005).
The fifth overall pick of the 2000 draft, Lewis was a key piece of the Ravens’ Super Bowl XXV championship team and is the franchise’s all-time leading rusher with 7,801 career rushing yards.
In 2003, Lewis recorded one of the most memorable seasons in NFL history as he became the fifth member of the 2,000-rushing-yard club, galloping for a franchise-record 2,066 yards to join O.J. Simpson, Eric Dickerson, Barry Sanders, and Terrell Davis in an exclusive group. In 2009, Tennessee running back Chris Johnson became the sixth member of the club.
In that same season, the massive back ran for 295 yards against the Cleveland Browns in a Week 2 win, setting an NFL record that would stand until Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson rushed for 296 in a 2007 game.
Those accomplishments would lead to Lewis being named the Associated Press 2003 Offensive Player of the Year.
Lewis left the Ravens after the 2006 season and played the final three years of his career with the Cleveland Browns but never found the same level of success as he had in his prime with Baltimore.
Posted on 12 June 2012 by Thyrl Nelson
The ceremonial retirement of Derrick Mason as a member of the Ravens on Monday was a chance to remember all of the positives that he brought to the team, and now with some time having passed a chance to put to bed any lingering animosity that fans may have developed toward him as his career was winding down, both here in Baltimore and elsewhere, we celebrate him. It also seems to assure us that some day soon we’ll be seeing his name raised to the “Ring of Honor” in a sappy and nostalgic ceremony. Given the inconsistent criteria of the current “Ring of Honor” inductees, it’s probably a good time to consider a few cases.
Although the criteria are, as mentioned, inconsistent I should mention that there’s one rule in weighing a player’s “ROH” merits as far as this discussion is concerned. That rule is simply that you can’t invoke Earnest Byner as a benchmark. Byner’s place in the ROH is charitable at best and based on things beyond his achievements on field as a Raven. I don’t begrudge his admission, but he can’t be used as a measuring stick for the merits of others.
It honestly wouldn’t have surprised me a bit if Mason had retired as a member of the Tennessee Titans, and we could certainly discuss the possibility that the absence of Jeff Fisher from that organization is as much a part of Mason’s decision to retire as a Raven as anything. For 6 seasons Mason was a Raven, through and through, but in the minds of fans, always a former Titan too. Old rivalries die hard, and the additions of Mason and Samari Rolle and Steve McNair and Lorenzo Neal may have helped to bridge that healing gap over time too. But some will always likely remember Mason as a Titan.
For all of his statistical achievements in Baltimore, what I’ll remember most about Mason coming here was his coming here. Apparently given the choice between the Ravens and Patriots, Mason went with the underdog organization and his leap of faith was rewarded (albeit not with a Super Bowl title). His was a misguided faith in Kyle Boller as well, and for that we can all be thankful.
Mason topped 1000 yards 4 times as a Raven, played on 4 playoff teams and was seemingly always the guy most on the same page with his quarterbacks. He scored 29 TDs as a Raven, or 6 more than Randy Moss in 2007 with the aforementioned Patriots.
His tendency to talk may have gotten him in some hot water with fans during his tenure here, but that’s all water under the bridge and truly of little consequence now. Statistically it’s a bit of a reach, but given the offensive limitations of the team during his tenure here, those stats should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Let there be little doubt, Mason will be in the ROH.
That said, the accomplishments of both Jamal Lewis and Chris McAlister would seem to trump Mason and just about any other former Ravens who might be lying in wait, in addition to overshadowing most of the current member of the ROH. It would have been nice to see either or both of them afforded the chance to let bygones be bygones and retire as well. In McAlister’s case, because of the nature of his departure it always seemed unlikely, but in Lewis’ case not so. Not so, that is until Lewis signed on as a plaintiff in the concussion lawsuit against the NFL.
Current member of the ROH, who played for the Ravens, are Byner, Michael McCrary, Peter Boulware, Jon Ogden and Matt Stover with Mason likely to follow. Todd Heap will likely be a member when he finally hangs up his cleats (hopefully as a Raven too) and Kelly Gregg should make for an interesting debate. Jarret Johnson could have a case I suppose too.
And what about Jermaine Lewis? Is he also a guy whose bad publicity was too much for the Ravens to ignore, or just an overlooked omission or a guy on the wrong side of the fringe? Given some of the stories of Lewis’ life lately, he could probably use a little positivity and recognition and Ravens fans would likely be happy to pay it to him.
There’s little doubt that Mason will be honored in the ROH as he should. The question though is should he be the next?
Posted on 06 January 2012 by Thyrl Nelson
Lingering legends aside, Ray Rice might be the most popular and productive Raven today. One thing’s for sure…at $550K or so in the final season of his contract, Ray Rice is easily the Ravens best pound-for-pound bargain, and arguably the league’s best. One other thing that seems assured is that Rice is going to get paid. When, how much and where that happens however may not be as much of a foregone conclusion as it would seem.
This has been “the year of…” lots of things in the NFL, the year of the 5K quarterbacks, the year of the rookies, the year of the power forwards at tight end and the year of the disgruntled running back.
As running backs league wide from Chris Johnson to Frank Gore, from Matt Forte to Peyton Hillis have barked and in some cases dogged it (allegedly…and no pun intended) over their “contract to performance ratios”, Rice with arguably the strongest case of all has remained silent. Silent about the contract that is, on the field he has been anything but silent or dogged.
It’s been a running topic of conversation all season on the MobTown Sports Beat and everyone seems assured that Rice will be taken care of by the Ravens and some have speculated that there’s no reason Rice shouldn’t feel confident that the team will take care of him.
It’s all but 100% (in my mind at least) that Rice will be back next season, but under what circumstances and for how long are still debatable.
If you subscribe to the school of WWBBD (What would Bill Bellichick do?) the answer is to franchise Rice. Given Adrian Peterson’s new contract, the franchise tag will be a big number, but only for one season. Whether Rice would maintain his decorum for another season under similar (albeit more lucrative) circumstances to this one would remain to be seen as well.
In addition to Peterson’s contract, his injury will also likely factor heavily into the Ravens impending decision of whether to franchise Rice or to pay him long term money. Peterson’s injury is a not so subtle reminder of just how quickly a running back in particular can see his season (or even his career) ended. Having all of your eggs in that proverbial basket is a high-risk high reward proposition (as we learned in 2001 with Jamal Lewis’ injury).
The value of NFL running backs is on the decline, but the pay scale on the top end of the position is still rising. There are lots of Pro Bowl caliber and highly compensated running backs in the NFL watching the playoffs from home this season, and most of the league’s most productive offenses have plug and play backfields and use the running game as an afterthought for little more than window dressing it would seem at times.
Only one running back went in the first round of the last NFL draft and while still promising, Mark Ingram has done little to make teams sorry for passing on him. DeMarco Murray, taken on the second day of the draft was the league’s best rookie at the position.
One year prior, Ryan Matthews, CJ Spiller and Jahvid Best all went in the first round and all were summarily outperformed by undrafted rookies LaGarrette Blount and Chris Ivory. An undrafted practice squad player from one season earlier led the league in rushing last season and the Packers marched through the Super Bowl after losing their bell-cow in Ryan Grant and replacing him with little known and lightly regarded James Starks.
Posted on 25 November 2011 by Luke Jones
As you pick through the remains of the turkey and scrape the bottom of the mashed potatoes bowl — or try to finally enjoy a turkey-induced nap as I was unable to do on Thursday — we take a final look back at the Ravens’ first ever Thanksgiving game.
- Of course, the story of the night was one of the finest defensive performances by the Ravens in recent memory — without Ray Lewis, ironically — as they tied a franchise record with nine sacks. It ranks as the second most in an NFL game this season, topped only by Buffalo’s 10 sacks against the Washington Redskins in Toronto on Oct. 30. It topped the previous season high of six against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 8.
The relentless effort matched the Ravens’ nine sacks against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 26, 2006 in a 27-0 blowout at M&T Bank Stadium famously known for the violent hit Bart Scott delivered to Ben Roethlisberger. Baltimore also record nine sacks against the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 16, 1997, a game that ended in a 10-10 tie at old Memorial Stadium.
Baltimore also continued the impressive streak of 19 consecutive games without allowing an opponent to score on its opening drive of the game.
- Three defensive players tied or set a career high in sacks on Thursday night as Terrell Suggs matched his personal best with three sacks, Haloti Ngata tied his best total with two, and Cory Redding set a career best with 2 1/2 sacks.
It was the second time this season Suggs had reached the three-sack mark after doing it in the season opener against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11. The Ravens are an impressive 47-17 all time when Suggs records a sack and 12-1 when the Pro Bowl linebacker tallies at least two sacks.
Redding’s previous career high was two when he played for the Detroit Lions on Nov. 12, 2006 against the 49ers.
- While 16 points and 253 yards won’t raise many eyebrows, the Ravens offense was efficient in completing only its second turnover-free game of the season, the other coming against the Steelers in Week 1. Baltimore did not allow a sack for the first time this season as the offensive line did an exceptional job in protecting quarterback Joe Flacco.
The effort allowed Flacco to continue his impressive play at M&T Bank Stadium where he has now won 16 of his last 17 home starts. The fourth-year quarterback has completed 61.1 percent of his passes for 4,038 yards, 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions over that stretch, good for a 98.4 quarterback rating.
- With his 83 total yards against a formidable San Francisco defense, Ray Rice moved into second place on the Ravens’ all-time yards from scrimmage list. The running back passed wide receiver Derrick Mason and now has 1,259 yards from scrimmage this season.
Rice only trails former running back Jamal Lewis, who accumulated 9,166 scrimmage yards from 2000 to 2006.
- Much has been made about Billy Cundiff’s struggles from 50 yards and out, but the kicker has been flawless on field goal tries in the fourth quarter since 2010. Cundifff is a perfect 14-for-14 after connecting on a 39-yard field goal with 3:10 left in the fourth quarter on Thursday night.
- The Ravens are now 9-2 all time when wearing their black jerseys, including a 6-0 mark under coach John Harbaugh. It was the fourth time Baltimore has donned the alternate jersey with white pants, a look in which the Ravens are undefeated
The win over San Francisco improved the Ravens’ mark in prime-time games to 9-5 under Harbaugh and earned them their first Thursday win in four tries. The Ravens had previously lost Thursday night games against Kansas City in 1999, Cincinnati in 2006, and Atlanta in 2010.
The Ravens are now 29-5 when scoring first in a game during the Harbaugh era. Cundiff’s 39-yard field goal in the first quarter gave them a 3-0 lead, and Baltimore improved to 6-0 when striking first this season.
Baltimore is now 8-3 for just the second time in team history, matching its mark through 11 games last season. However, the impressive record trails the 9-2 start the Ravens posted when it finished a franchise-best 13-3 in 2006.