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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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McKinnie catching up, trimming down in preparation for Steelers

Posted on 09 September 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Plenty has been written and discussed about the Ravens’ new left tackle Bryant McKinnie.

His addition looks great on paper, inserting the former Pro Bowler on the left side and sliding third-year tackle Michael Oher to the right where he thrived in 2009.

McKinnie has yet to play a snap in live-game action for the Ravens, making Sunday’s debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers all the more nerve-wracking for everyone involved. Getting reps in practice is well and good — even against the bullish Baltimore defense — but trying to keep the likes of LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison away from quarterback Joe Flacco is an altogether different challenge.

A little over a month ago, McKinnie was dismissed by the Minnesota Vikings after nine seasons as a result of his weight ballooning to a near 400 pounds and team doctors having concerns with his cholesterol level. Since signing with the Ravens on Aug. 23 and reporting at a weight of 370 pounds, the offensive tackle had shed 10 more pounds after two weeks of practicing.

“I feel pretty good,” said McKinnie, who did not play in the preseason and hasn’t taken part in a game since last January. “I’m just looking forward to going out here and finally playing in a game. I’m just real anxious to go out here and just play.”

Sunday’s temperatures are not expected to be as high as they can be in September home games, but McKinnie’s conditioning will be monitored closely by everyone wanting to see the Ravens snap their seven-game losing streak to the Steelers when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is playing in the game. The former Outland Trophy winner at the University of Miami says he’s also gained more comfort in grasping offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s system after a shaky start in practices.

“I think I’m pretty comfortable. At the beginning — when you’re new to something — it seems like everything is moving fast, but now everything is starting to slow down because I’m starting to get familiar with what’s going on. I’m going to just take this game, go out there and give the best I can give, and then just keep rolling for the next two or three weeks and then I should be back where I left off.”

Hopefully McKinnie’s best is good enough against the Steelers, who the Ravens desperately want to beat in order to gain the early advantage in what figures to be a two-team race in the AFC North. A home loss to the Steelers would put the Ravens in a sizable hole immediately, making the Nov. 6 rematch in Pittsburgh all the more critical if Baltimore wants to win the division to earn a home playoff game for the first time since 2006.

McKinnie will figure heavily into the Ravens’ fate, both Sunday and throughout the season despite his checkered past that includes run-ins with the law and an embarrassing dismissal from the 2009 Pro Bowl for skipping too many practices. The team can only hope McKinnie backs up the many encouraging words he’s spoken since arriving in Owings Mills.

Fortunately, the man to McKinnie’s right on the offensive line, Ben Grubbs, is one of the better guards in the AFC. With linemen needing to communicate while dealing with crowd noise and adjustments at the line of scrimmage, Grubbs has assisted in bringing the former Viking up to speed quickly with new terminology.

“He’s been pretty helpful, because he communicates well, and we’re able to discuss what’s going on with the defense,” McKinnie said. “It kind of gives me a better idea of what I need to do.”

NOTES: Tony Corrente’s crew will officiate Sunday’s game in Baltimore. … The Ravens will wear their white jerseys, forcing Pittsburgh to don black with temperatures expected to be in the low 80s. There is a 30 percent chance of isolated thunderstorms, according to Weather.com. … The offense will be introduced before the game as the Ravens will forgo announcing Ray Lewis and the starting defense prior to taking on their hated rivals.

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NFL Week 1 game notes: Ravens vs. Steelers

Posted on 09 September 2011 by Chris Pika

Week 1 of the 2011 NFL schedule features a pair of teams that have waged one of the fiercest rivalries in the NFL over the past decade, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens.

Sunday’s 1 pm (CBS) game in M&T Bank Stadium may prove to be everything the NFL Kickoff opener was not Thursday night — a healthy dose of strong defense.

In our second edition of “From the notes …” for Week 1, we look inside the weekly PR game notes produced by the Steelers and Ravens PR departments and the NFL Communications office via the Elias Sports Bureau.

Pittsburgh won the AFC North last season with a 12-4 record. The Steelers were the AFC Champions, and the club advanced to Super Bowl XLV, where they lost to the Green Bay Packers:

SUDDEN START: Due to the labor impasse the 2011 offseason was all but lost, leaving just over a week for teams to sign undrafted rookies, free agents and their own draft picks that they selected back in late April.

For the Steelers the main focus was on resigning their own players to keep a nucleus in tact that had reaped tremendous success over the past few years.

Pittsburgh’s appearance last year in Super Bowl XLV marked the franchise’s third trip to the title game since 2005. The Steelers bring back 20 players that started in that Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh will also return 18 players that started at least 11 games last season, including 15 players that started 14 or more games.

Key players that the Steelers resigned in the offseason included CB Ike Taylor, LB LaMarr Woodley, OT Willie Colon, OT Jonathan Scott, K Shaun Suisham and NT Chris Hoke. Pittsburgh also signed LB Lawrence Timmons to a five-year contract extension.

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Nothing’s changed; the Steelers still OWN the Ravens ….

Posted on 07 February 2011 by Rex Snider

Welcome to Baltimore, Maryland …. home of Edgar Allan Poe, The Star Spangled Banner (thanks Christina !!!!), Berger Cookies, National Bohemian and some of the most fickle sports fans in America.

As this 48th day of winter greets the citizens of our city, you can bet the most predictable conversations will evolve among sports fans in every workplace and social gathering area. 

After all, today is cause for a celebration here in Charm City, because the second most-celebrated scenario unfolded before our very eyes, last night …. 

I don’t think any purple kool-aid drinking Baltimorean can imagine a happier moment than seeing the Ravens conquer their second Super Bowl Championship.

But, rest assured, the second most desirous outcome is seeing the Pittsburgh Steelers lose a Super Bowl.

That’s how the typical Baltimore football fan “rolls”, for better or worse.  And, to a point, I understand the passion.  The Steelers are ENEMY #1 in this town – they’re the Ravens archrival and cast with characters that are easy to dislike.

So, as the final seconds of Super Bowl XLV expired and the confetti rained upon the Green Bay Packers, my hometown undoubtedly became the third most celebrated CHEESEHEAD community, in America – tagging closely behind Milwaukee and Green Bay, itself.

Today’s conversations among Ravens fans will more than likely be spirited along some very predictable lines …..

“So much for that whole 7th HEAVEN thing, huh?”

“That awesome Pittsburgh defense choked.”

“I guess Roethlisberger really isn’t a winner, after all, huh?”

These are the things we’re saying today, as the perceived passion bleeds from our souls.  And, a couple distinct reasons serve as the purpose for Baltimore’s collective group of fans heralding a Super Bowl loss, as opposed to a win:

A)     We are jealous of the Steelers success ….

 

B)     Misery loves company – and we want Steelers fans to join in ours ….

But, make no mistake about the reality that existed before last night’s game.  It’s a reality that has existed for the overwhelming portion of the last fifteen years.  And, it’s a reality that proved quite true as recently as three short weeks ago.

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5 lowest moments of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry

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5 lowest moments of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry

Posted on 14 January 2011 by Luke Jones

You have to remember where you’ve been in order to get where you want to go.

In this case, Ravens fans can only hope it’s a trip to the AFC Championship after a win at Heinz Field on Saturday after countless disappointments against their biggest rivals.

Perhaps you’ve clicked this link because you’re a football masochist, secretly preparing yourself for the worst should Baltimore fall short yet again with the stakes as high as they’ve been since the conference championship game two years ago.

A bloodcurdling look back at the low points in the history of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry reminds us that as enjoyable as the highs have been for the Ravens, the lows have been that much more devastating over the 15 years the two teams have battled on the gridiron.

Beating the Steelers on Saturday would immediately become the greatest Baltimore moment in the rivalry’s history while a loss would only mark the latest chapter of bitter disappointment.

With a few honorable mentions to get things started, here are the five lowest Baltimore moments of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry:

Honorable mention >>>

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Blog & Tackle: A look at Ravens-Steelers PR game notes

Posted on 13 January 2011 by Chris Pika

Every game of the NFL Divisional Playoff Weekend is a regular-season rematch as both of the AFC games are between division opponents — the first time since 2000 that two games feature teams playing for a third time in a season.

The nastiest matchup of the weekend is the first on the docket: Baltimore at Pittsburgh. The teams have waged wars in the AFC North over the years, and 2010 was no exception. Each team scored 27 points total in the two games, and the games are as physical as any in the NFL over the previous decade.

The Ravens continued to have playoff success on the road as they beat Kansas City last Sunday 30-7 in New Arrowhead. It was the third straight season with at least one playoff victory for Baltimore, the only club in the NFL to do so over the period. QB Joe Flacco joined Bernie Kosar (1985-87) and Dan Marino (1983-85) to start a playoff game in each of their first three seasons in the league. The Ravens will try to advance to the AFC title game for the first time since the 2008 season.

Pittsburgh survived the loss of QB Ben Roethlisberger to a four-game suspension to get to a 3-1 start which included a home loss to the Ravens. The Steelers won six of their last seven games, including a road win at Baltimore for the division title. Roethlisberger Has thrown a personal-best 158 straight passes without an INT, the longest for the Steelers since QB Kordell Stewart had a streak of 159 consecutive pass attempts without an interception in 2001.

The teams split the regular season meetings, with the Ravens winning in Pittsburgh 17-14 in October, and the Steelers winning in Baltimore 13-10 in December.

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This is Baltimore, you can help in winning this game …..

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This is Baltimore, you can help in winning this game …..

Posted on 12 January 2011 by Rex Snider

As we stand just a few days away from this latest showdown between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, many of us are starting to imagine a proposed sequence of events unfolding at Heinz Field.

If you share my optimistic “feel” for this matchup, you’ll likely envision a game that features some very grueling and aggressive play from both sides of the field, right? I think we all expect to see the typical hardnosed style of football, which has been branded by the NFL’s most intense rivalry.

There will be at least a couple broken plays where Roethlisberger escapes Ravens defenders and finds his tight end for a crucial first down …..

On the flip side, Polamalu will likely get sniffed out on one of his blitzes; leaving a Houshmandzadeh or Mason wide open downfield …..

Don’t get too overconfident, I’m sure that even a “bearded” Flacco suffers a smashing visit or two, from Mr. Harrison ….

We just need to hope Lewis, Ngata, Suggs and company can deliver a more punishing effort against the Steelers offense ….

Whatever it takes to win the contest, right? After all, a trip to the AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME for a 2nd time in 3 years hangs in the balance. Obviously, we all feel a guarded optimism as Saturday inches even closer.

However, as this week comes to an end and a final result is realized in this latest chapter of slugfest football, the truth is life will go on. Win or lose, the sun will rise on Sunday morning and every day afterwards.

And, this is where today’s story and message becomes much more meaningful than anything we can feel from a football game …..

Last Saturday, my friends, Scott and Heather Speert lost their Westminster home to the one enemy homeowners fear most; a FIRE. Their loss included every furnishing, belonging and article of clothing owned by the family …..

Scott and Heather are blessed with the greatest gift that could emerge from such a tragedy; their son and daughter escaped the fire unharmed. However, the reality is their lives are in an extremely vulnerable state, right now.

They are surrounded by family and comforted under a warm roof by those who love them most. But, they have an immense challenge before them, as they cope with trying to rebuild their lives and ultimately a home in the harshest time of year.

The winter’s cold – which delivered a few inches of snow, last night, is one of the greatest challenges the Speert’s will face in dealing with the immediate aftermath and fallout from losing their home. As I said, they lost every piece of clothing – except what they wore upon their backs !!!!

But, these circumstances also serve as a very vivid representation of what WE AS A COMMUNITY can do to help the Speerts in their greatest time of need …..

They need clothing …. and they need it NOW.

The cost will not be minimal, as the Speerts are faced with furnishing both inner and outerwear for a total of four family members. But, as I’ve said, it’s an absolute necessity in these coldest months of the year.

I’m inspired with hope by my knowledge and experience in this WNST community. I know you’re generous and sensitive to the needs of neighbors. At WNST, we’re your community sports source, and you’re our stakeholder, right?

Together, WNST and the Baltimore community have done very special things – especially when it comes to helping our needy and ill. Today, we have special opportunity to help a different cause; a neighbor family that has simply been beset by tragedy.

In truth, the Speerts find themselves in circumstances that could affect any family, in Baltimore and beyond. Last week, they had the things many of us are taking for granted. Today, all of those things are gone.

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Five Ravens Named to AFC Pro Bowl Roster

Posted on 28 December 2010 by Glenn Clark

Five Baltimore Ravens were amongst the players named to the AFC Pro Bowl roster Tuesday.

LB Ray Lewis (12th selection), S Ed Reed (7th), LB Terrell Suggs (4th), DT Haloti Ngata (2nd) and K Billy Cundiff (1st) were all selected to participate in the NFL’s annual All-Star Game. Lewis, Reed and Ngata were selected as starters.

“Wow, No. 12 feels like No. 1,” Lewis said via a team press release. “Every year is a different year, and you prepare each offseason for one year at a time. I tell my teammates that I am going to train to be a Pro Bowl player that season, and my focus paid off again this season. This never gets old. This is the greatest honor ever, because this is from the fans, the coaches and your peers. You can never take anything for granted, and I never take this for granted. I am blessed with great teammates, and I wouldn’t be here without them. I feel this is a team award.”

“This is awesome,” Suggs added in the same press release. “The only thing that would be better than this is a Super Bowl. It has been a long few years, and to come back and be recognized by your peers is amazing. This is something you can’t do by yourself; it takes a unit. I have to thank my teammates, especially the defense – and particularly Haloti [Ngata] – for pushing me to do the little extra things when I didn’t want to.”

Cundiff was selected to his first Pro Bowl barely more than a year removed from being unemployed.

“I am humbled, as this is such a great honor,” Cundiff said in the press release. “This is the result of having great teammates and coaches surrounding you. The rapport that (Punter) Sam [Koch] and (LS) Morgan [Cox] and I developed during training camp was invaluable this season. I worked my butt off to prove to our coaches that they made the right choice, and hopefully, this gives them a little gratification.”

“This is a testament to Billy’s hard work and determination,” Ravens assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg added in the press release. “Billy has shown incredible perseverance throughout his career, and he has always remained dedicated to becoming a great kicker in the NFL. I believe that the other players in this league not only respect what he has done, but also how he has done it.  He never lost faith in himself, and he continued to improve.  He is richly deserving of this honor, as is his wife, Nicole, who has been tremendously supportive.”

The 2011 Pro Bowl will be played January 30 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, HI. Should the Ravens make it to Super Bowl XLV (which is one week later in Arlington, TX), players would not participate in the Pro Bowl game.

A number of Ravens players were also selected as Pro Bowl alternates.

Koch, FB Le’Ron McClain and G Ben Grubbs were named 1st alternates. QB Joe Flacco and OT Michael Oher were named 3rd alternates. WR Anquan Boldin, RB Ray Rice and S Dawan Landry were named 4th alternates.

“I’m happy for those who made it,” Ravens executive vice president and general manager Ozzie Newsome said in the press release. “I’m also pleased for the alternates who get to know that players and coaches around the league think highly of them. Plus, it gives them something to shoot for.”

Only the Atlanta Falcons (7) and New England Patriots (6) had more players named to the Pro Bowl than the Ravens. The Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys also had five players named Pro Bowlers.

Former Ravens who were selected to the Pro Bowl included Falcons FB Ovie Mughelli (1st selection) and Pittsburgh Steelers LB James Harrison (4th selection).

TEAM CHOOSING BETWEEN TWO LONG SNAPPERS: During his weekly radio show Tuesday night on WBAL, Head Coach John Harbaugh said the Ravens were set to choose between two of the long snappers who tried out at the 1 Winning Drive facility in Owings Mills.

The Ravens selection will replace Cox, who will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL suffered in the team’s Week 16 win over the Cleveland Browns.

National Football Post reported late Tuesday the choice will be between former Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints LS Kevin Houser and former Houston Texans LS Bryan Pittman.

Former Washington Redskins LS Ethan Albright and former Patriots LS Jake Ingram were also amongst those who reportedly tried out.

NOTES
: Cox joined Drew Forrester Tuesday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST, hear that chat now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……WR Donte’ Stallworth met with reporters Tuesday after being selected as the team’s Ed Block Courage Award recipient last week. “It [winning the award] means a lot, especially with this being my first year on the team, said Stallworth. “It lets me know that I have made some kind of impact on these guys in the locker room. I’ve always been a person of integrity and tried to always do the right things. It means that people see that that’s the kind of person that I am once they get to know me”……Former Ravens/current Redskins DT Ma’ake Kemoeatu and Former Maryland Terrapins/current Oakland Raiders LB Eric Barton were announced Tuesday as Ed Block Courage Award winners for their respective teams……The Ravens will return to practice Wednesday; Harbaugh, Lewis, Flacco and Rice are amongst the players expected to meet with the media

-G

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Inexplicable decision bites Ravens in endgame

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Inexplicable decision bites Ravens in endgame

Posted on 07 December 2010 by Thyrl Nelson

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Can the Ravens count on James Harrison and his bag of blunders?

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Can the Ravens count on James Harrison and his bag of blunders?

Posted on 02 December 2010 by Rex Snider

As the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for their prime time showdown, on Sunday evening, some interesting storylines are beginning to unfold …..

Will the Ravens finally beat Ben Roethlisberger in a meaningful game?

Will the Steelers be able to stave off a plethora of injuries and retake the AFC-North lead?

Can Joe Flacco drive a second straight stake through the collective hearts of every RAT-FINK Baltimorean who calls this town home, yet they root for the Steelers?

Can both teams live up to the hype surrounding the National Football League’s most riveting rivalry of the past decade?

We’re gonna find out in just three days.

Yet, amid all the hoopla and anticipation that accompanies a Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh matchup, another factor or storyline is emerging …..

Can James Harrison finally start abiding by the NFL’s newest policies, as they regard the defender’s helmet in tackling?

ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: James Harrison  of the Pittsburgh Steelers rises after hitting Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Buffalo Bills during their game at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 28, 2010 in Orchard Park, New York. Harrison was flagged for roughing the passer during the play. (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images)

I don’t like the new rules …..

You don’t like the new rules …..

Most players, with exception to quarterbacks, don’t like the new rules …..

But, opposition and dissent will not change things. The new rules are firm and if players cannot abide by them, they’ll fork over cash, as a result.

While I don’t particularly care for these changes, especially considering the hard-hitting nature of football, I absolutely understand the NFL’s mission. They’re obligated to protect the players from themselves, and their equally obliged to protect the league from future lawsuits.

Our sports society is well aware of the NFL’s mission to address concussions and subsequent brain injuries. A vast number of former players serve as prime examples of the detrimental effects concussions can have on life AFTER FOOTBALL.

Technological advances have discovered a correlation between brain injuries and dementia. And, the NFL is under the spotlight when it comes to dissection of this health concern.

It’s really only a matter of time until a former player sues the league over a perceived negligence, as it relates to rule changes or measures taken to prevent brain injuries from occurring.

Sure, it’s quite easy for us to bemoan the new rules, while proclaiming …. “THIS AIN’T FOOTBALL.” Heck, we’re right in our assessment. But, we’re not the ones who’ll be defending our respective livelihood when the lawsuits start trickling into the NFL’s offices.

That’s the spirit of the new rules …..

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