Tag Archive | "James Harrison"

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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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)

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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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The best seat...In the house (Wednesday Edition)

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The best seat…In the house (Wednesday Edition)

Posted on 01 December 2010 by Thyrl Nelson

Here’s a look at the night that was on Tuesday and the one that lies ahead on Wednesday along with a few random musings from the best seat in the house, literally, at home in front of the TV.

Yesterday, I speculated here that there was little chance that Pat Riley had any intentions of replacing Erik Spoelstra on the Miami Heat bench because their level of chemistry, commitment, and overall play, and the lack of assuredness that Riley himself would be able to get much more from this squad. With 24 hours to think on it, I might amend that line of thinking and say that Riley may replace Spoelstra, but he won’t likely jump back onto the bench himself. Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojinarski wrote this piece about how James’ me first act is a safe bet to wear thin pretty quickly, and speculates that it was James’ inner circle that began floating the “Spoelstra is panicking” rumors in the first place. With the Heat, and James headed to Cleveland on Thursday, the drama, and attention are bound to continue.


Speculation also abounds today that perhaps Roger Goodell’s main motivation behind not suspending Andre Johnson and/or Cortland Finnegan for their brawl on Sunday is because the Texans are playing on Thursday night. As it related to Johnson, Finnegan or even a possible James Harrison suspension (that won’t happen either), it would seem that the NFL’s appeals process would have allowed all 3 the chance to play this week, and every other until their appeals were heard. Maybe the NFL was afraid that Johnson would decline an appeal and serve his suspension to spite the league. I wonder if Goodell is compiling a manual of precedents for the punishments that the league is dishing out, seemingly at random, this season.


Jim Harbaugh, the Stanford coach, former Ravens’ quarterback and brother of Ravens head coach John Harbaugh projects to be one of the hottest commodities on the market as schools begin to make and fill coaching vacancies. Michigan seems like the natural fit, if they choose to part company with Rich Rodriguez, but some believe that Harbaugh would be crazy to leave Stanford, where success is measured in academics and his feet aren’t likely to be held to the fire anytime soon, even if his now successful program took a dramatic U-turn. I would be at least mildly surprised if Jim Harbaugh didn’t have at least one eye on the NFL if he has any desire to change jobs. It should develop into an interesting off-season story line.


With all of the purple towel resistance building before Sunday night’s game, crowd noise is becoming topical. Now there are talks of a “No means no” chant for Ben Roethlisberger. On the surface, it’s funny, hilarious actually, but that’s from my perspective. I’m guessing there’s another side of this issue that would find it tasteless and appalling. In other words, it might make the Steelers fans that are on hand a little more comfortable. Count me out on the “no means no” chant, but I’ll be listening, and laughing a little inside.


I have to say that no matter how the Derek Jeter negotiations work out, I am amused. I’m not sure what Jeter’s value might specifically be to the Yankees, but I’m pretty certain that 4 Derek Jeters wouldn’t be worth the kind of money that both sides are discussing to any other team. His legend is intact, his skill set is declining, and we’re talking about projecting him beyond his 40th birthday. The one thing that has never failed Jeter in his opportunistic Major League career has been his timing. From the ball hit to Jeffrey Maier, to the inexplicable flip to get Jeremy Giambi at the plate, to seeking out his last payday with hit #3000 on the horizon, Jeter’s always been the guy in the right place at the right time.  


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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 20 October 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Wednesday!

It’s a Happy Wednesday for me because I get to name a couple new “Greatest Song(s) of All Time This Week.”

Have you heard the new Kings of Leon CD “Come Around Sundown”? NO? This is no one’s fault but your own. You’re missing “The End”…

And in the “retro” category, TGSOATTW is my current Facebook status (add me as a friend by searching “Glenn Clark” and clicking on the best looking guy you find). It’s the amazing “Hunger Strike” by Temple of the Dog…

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. The AP says New England Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather fined $50,000 for hit on Ravens TE Todd Heap

The more you looked at the hit, the more you realized he was very deserving of being HEAVILY fined. Meriweather’s hit was ABSOLUTELY in the “cheap shot” realm-the type of hit that the NFL will be looking to lay out a suspension for moving forward.

With Heap having come back into the game Sunday-it appears as though he’s fine and it seems like we can move forward from Brandon Meriweather-gate.

Now-and a tip of the hat here to KDKA in Pittsburgh-the league IS doing something right in cracking down on hits where a player leads with his helmet. In order to that, it is absolutely UNACCEPTABLE and frankly downright SHAMEFUL that they are currently selling this picture of James Harrison’s fine inducing hit on Mohamed Massquoi…


In their “NFL Photo Store.”

The league should be absolutely ASHAMED.

2. National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson says John Harbaugh thinks “execution” cost Ravens in loss to Pats, not “conservative” play calling

Maybe I should just leave this one alone.

Of course…I won’t.

John Harbaugh is ABSOLUTELY right in this case. The Ravens’ failure to execute on big plays-mixed with New England’s consistent execution-were why the Ravens lost the game Sunday.

Sadly, Cam Cameron had nothing to do with Billy Cundiff kicking the ball out of bounds, or Le’Ron McClain’s personal foul, or Tom Brady finding Rob Gronkowski for 24 yards on 1st and 25, or Chris Carr not catching a Zoltan Mesko punt.

Those plays lost the game Sunday.

But that’s the end of it. As of this moment, I’m not discussing it any more.

I promise.

I think.

3. BaltimoreRavens.com’s Mike Duffy says Trent Dilfer, Jonathan Ogden, Jamal Lewis, Michael McCrary, Rod Woodson amongst those expected in attendance for Super Bowl XXXV anniversary celebration Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium

The shame is that the entire team can’t be there. Brandon Stokley (Seattle Seahawks WR) has a game Sunday and Shannon Sharpe, Brian Billick and Tony Siragusa are broadcasting for CBS and FOX. Unfortunately, the Ravens do not have a home game this season that isn’t on a Sunday, so there really isn’t a game where the schedule would work out better.

And I’d like to take this time to honor these guys as well. To do so, here’s a picture of Petra Silander. Thanks Guyism!


4. Washington Examiner’s Jim Williams says annual Ravens-Redskins game possible if NFL adopts 18 game schedule

Which means I’ll have an annual opportunity to be flamed on Deadspin. Count me in!

Before we move on from the Ravens, a couple of things…

-The Ravens return to work at 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills today, and we’ll of course be back out there with full coverage. Ed Reed and Brendon Ayanbadejo are scheduled to return to the practice field; and we’re expecting to hear from Harbaugh, Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis, Ray Rice and others while we’re out there. Stay tuned to AM1570 WNST, follow us on Twitter @WNST and make sure you’re checking WNST.net throughout the day!

-Did you miss Yahoo! Sports NFL analyst Jason Cole Wednesday with Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST? Make sure you head over to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault today here at WNST.net to have a listen. Some other things you can hear in the Audio Vault include…

  • Rich Dubroff (Carroll County Times)-who talked Ravens with Drew Wednesday morning
  • Jay Jaffe (Baseball Prospectus)-who talked ALCS and NLCS with Drew Wednesday
  • Matt Hendricks (Washington Capitals Forward)-who talked puck with Drew Wednesday morning
  • Jamey Eisenberg (CBSSports.com)-who talked Fantasy Football with Rex Snider Tuesday on “The Afternoon Drive”
  • Tuesday afternoon’s edition of “The MLB Report” with Rex and Allen McCallum
  • Mike Goldberg (UFC Play by Play Voice)-who joined Thyrl Nelson and John Rallo Tuesday on “The MMA Report” to preview Brock Lesnar-Cain Velasquez Saturday at UFC 121
  • Othello Henderson (Former UCLA and NFL safety)-who joined Thryl Tuesday on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” after being named as accepting money from Josh Luchs in last week’s SI story

It’s all in the Audio Vault, so make sure you check it out today. Of course you’ll want to thank me later for planning your day. I accept my Thank You’s in the form of CASH.

5. The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish won’t be an option for Orioles

Hear that sound? That’s the sound of me ripping up the World Series tickets I had already purchased for 2011.

Eh. Maybe instead Andy MacPhail and the Birds will spend their money on a real pitcher like Cliff Lee. I mean, I know they won’t-but it’s early and I’m tired. I guess I must be dreaming.

While we’re on the O’s, I wasn’t NEARLY as worked up about the Robinson Cano home run last night as some fans were. I giggled thinking about Jeffrey Maier, but it certainly didn’t anger me.

I love seeing the New York Yankees lose-TRUST ME on that. I was grinning from ear to ear. But unless it was Tony Torasco standing in Right Field, it wasn’t going to bother me that the Yanks got a questionable call.

If it had been Tony Torasco; I would’ve walked around Perry Hall Middle School completely dejected today just to remember the feeling.

6. MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli says O’s prospect Ryan Adams named Player of the Week in Arizona Fall League

Unfortunately, Ryan got the bad news today that winning this award in the AFL DOESN’T mean you get a date with Kimbyr Leigha. Thanks The Smoking Jacket!


7. Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Danny O’Brien to start at QB for Maryland again Saturday against Boston College

And it looks like Ralph Friedgen is going to try to get Jamarr Robinson to learn the “Josh Portis Package”, so hopefully Robinson will actually take some time and learn the playbook.

Sticking with O’Brien seems to be the best way to go for the Terps, as he looks like he’ll give them the best chance to win. My guess is that a win won’t come against a tough Eagles defense Saturday in Chestnut Hill; but he might give them a chance to win next Saturday against Wake Forest.

8. D1scourse’s Patrick Stevens says new Terrapins AD Kevin Anderson guaranteed more than $400,000 this season

It’s a little bit more than Debbie Yow was making, but I think that was to be expected. The salary might also say something about why they went with Anderson for the top job in College Park instead of one of the rockstar names (UConn’s Jeff Hathaway, Oklahoma’s Joe Castiglione) who probably make more money staying where they are.

I feel like if I were putting together a contract for a significant job, it would read more like a concert rider than it would a real contract.

“Mr. Clark requests 4 Vitamin Waters and a table of Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in his suite for every game at Byrd Stadium.”

Sure it would probably cost me some cash, but it would be freaking AWESOME.

9. Annapolis Capital’s Bill Wagner says Navy will be without kicker Joe Buckley Saturday against Notre Dame

You don’t expect that this will make a difference against the Fighting Irish, but given that the last three games in the series (including two wins for the Midshipmen in South Bend) have all been decided by six points or less, this clearly COULD have an impact.

The bigger issue will be whether Ricky Dobbs and the Mids’ offense is back on track after a big second half against SMU. If so, this is certainly a winnable game in East Rutherford Saturday.

10. CAASports.com says Towson basketball picked to finish 10th (of 12) in CAA

But there’s good news! Despite being picked 10th, the Tigers still get to look at this picture of Melissa Satta…


And finally, I leave you with this.

Hat tip to Deadspin for this one. Somebody is WAAAY too excited about something that happened in Madden 11. (Language is ABSOLUTELY NSFW!!!)

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…


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Ravens Win in Pittsburgh for First Time in John Harbaugh era thanks to Joe Flacco's Arm and Jeff Reed's Bad Leg

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Ravens Win in Pittsburgh for First Time in John Harbaugh era thanks to Joe Flacco’s Arm and Jeff Reed’s Bad Leg

Posted on 03 October 2010 by Ryan Chell

The Baltimore Ravens made some costly mistakes Sunday against the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers, but with a late touchdown pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh with just 37 seconds left on the clock, the Ravens defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers for the first time in the Joe Flacco-John Harbaugh era.

“There’s only one way to describe it-it’s a team victory,” Harbaugh said. “”To come in here and win this game, it’s important for us. It’s important for a lot of reasons. But, it’s mostly special because of who we’re playing.”

“That football team is a tremendous football team, and this is a tough place to play in. That’s our arch rival and we found a way to beat them in their place, and that’s what makes it so special.”

The win-on top of the Bengals’ 23-20 loss to the Browns-puts the Ravens atop the AFC North due to a head-to-head win over the Steelers.

With the Ravens trailing 14-10 with 2:44 left to play on the Steelers 2-yard line on fourth down, the Ravens elected to throw a fade into the back of the end zone. With no healthy backs, the Ravens really had no choice but to throw, but a bad pass and a bad route by Boldin allowed the ball to fall out of bounds and incomplete.

John Harbaugh and the coaching staff also decided to go for the win instead of kicking the field goal to make it a one-point game and give the ball back to the Steelers with two timeouts and the two-minute warning.

The Ravens blew their second timeout attempting to avoid a delay-of-game penalty before their chance at the end zone to keep it at the 3-yard line.

However, the Steelers then struggled getting out of their own 5-yard line, committing two penalties and were forced to punt to the Ravens, who had wasted their two remaining timeouts before getting the ball back from the Steelers.

“I felt like we were going to win the game when we had the ball earlier when they stopped us on downs,” Houshmandzadeh said. “It’s the one thing with this defense. You know we’re going to get the ball back. I don’t think they wanted to take a chance throwing the ball…and we were able to capitalize.”

With 1:08 left on the clock, Flacco found Boldin for the first two plays of the drive, while Flacco then found Houshmandzadeh twice more, the second being the go-ahead score at 0:32.

The linebackers bit on the coverage with Boldin, and Houshmandzadeh beat Bryant McFadden for the 18 yard score.

“I came to Baltimore to make a lot of plays,” Houshmandzadeh said. “Not to sound cocky, but that’s what I’m supposed to do…it feels good to make a play considering what’s been going on. I feel like that’s what I’m supposed to do.”

Linebacker Ray Lewis then picked off a Charlie Batch pass intended for Hines Ward to seal the win for Baltimore (3-1, 2-1 AFC North).

The Ravens overcame two third quarter turnovers-a Willis McGahee fumble on the Ravens first drive of the third quarter with 12:12 left to play, and an Ike Taylor interception of Joe Flacco intended for Derrick Mason with 2:10 left in the period.

But the real difference in the game was Steelers kicker Jeff Reed missing field goals of 45 and 49 yards on the Steelers’ drives to keep six points off the board for Pittsburgh.

Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff also missed a 46 yard field goal on the Ravens first drive in an attempt to help Baltimore jump out 3-0, but the attempt went wide-right.

But give the Ravens offense credit.

Joe Flacco engineered his fourth career fourth-quarter comeback, and some would believe that this is his first ever comeback against a big-time opponent.

“There’s not too many better ways to win a game,” Flacco said, “especially when you come to Pittsburgh. To blow someone out, that’s fun and all, but when the game is that close all the way through it and you go down and win it on the last drive, and once you’ve done it, there aren’t too many better ways to win a game. It was awesome.”

He finished 24-of-37 for 256 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

“I think there are going to be a lot of defining moments for Joe,” Harbaugh said. “This is going to be one of them. This is going to be one all the Ravens fans out there remember for a long time.”

The three Ravens receivers had exceptional games. The Ravens established Derrick Mason early, and he ended up leading the team in receiving yards with 80. Anquan Boldin had 7 catches for 68 yards in only his second career game against Pittsburgh, and longtime Bengal T.J. Houshmandzadeh put the nail in the coffin with his 18-yard score.

The Ravens also made the most of their opportunities with what they had. Each of their backs-Ray Rice(knee), Willis McGahee(head), and Le’Ron McClain (shoulder) battled or received injuries in Sunday’s game-maybe forcing Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to rely more on the passing game as opposed to grinding the ball down the field or getting that short yardage conversion.

They only gained 70 total yards rushing, with McGahee’s 39 yards and a score standing out before leaving with the head injury he received on the hit from linebacker James Harrison.

But a win-especially against the Steelers in Heinz Field-is all that matters, and the Ravens will look to build on the momentum they built up when they host the Broncos next Sunday at 1 PM.

The Steelers will be on a bye next week and had been looking for their first 4-0 start since 1979. Two weeks from now, Ben Roethlisberger will be eligible to come back from his four-game suspension when they take on Cleveland on October 17th.

Tune into WNST and WNST.net as we continue to track the Ravens throughout the 2010 NFL Season! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Trevor Pryce

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Live From Owings Mills: As Ravens Prepare for Steelers, Rex Ryan Grabs Another Raven

Posted on 30 September 2010 by Ryan Chell

On a rainy, dreary day heading out to Owings Mills Thursday, a cloud seemed to hang over the heads of the Ravens as news broke out early this morning that Trevor Pryce, who was released by the team Wednesday, reportedly has signed a deal with the New York Jets.
Trevor Pryce

Linebacker Terrell Suggs wrote on his Twitter account early this morning that Pryce had moved on to join Rex Ryan, his former defensive coordinator here in Baltimore. It was believed that the Ravens had released Pryce with the intention of bringing him back next week after Sunday against Pittsburgh when he was healthy, but with Pryce a Jet, his time as a Raven will have come to an end.

Written in marker on the white board in the Ravens locker room, it said-“R.I.P Trevor…You’re a comeback good man”. Suggs in the locker room before the afternoon practice said that the move “shocked” him and that he wished him all the best and to “call him from the big city.”

I’m shocked. I’m stunned. I’m still waiting from a call from him. I called him a few [unpleasant] words…just joking. That’s my man…all the best,” Suggs said.

If Pryce’s time in Baltimore is over as it appears to be, he will have finished his career as a Raven with 26 sacks in five seasons, including a team-high 6.5 last season. He is fourth on the active career sacks list with 90 quarterback drops, and his 13 sacks in 2006 were third most in team history for a single season.

Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison had not heard about the move when he spoke to the media this morning, but he did make sure to wish him all the best for his time under his guidance.

“We loved having here and he was a tremendous addition in our meeting room and we wish him the best of luck,” Mattison said.

Status of Ray Rice

Running back Ray Rice made himself available to the media Thursday after being barred from talking to reporters Wednesday.

He was also available to head coach Cam Cameron and the offense Thursday, as he practiced in pads Thursday afternoon with the offensive line, as he tested his bruised knee making as many cuts as possible.

He also wore a red , non-contact practice jersey that are usually designed for the quarterback and has been used by the likes of safety Ed Reed in the past.

Terrell Suggs, when entering the practice arena, saw Rice immediately and called out to Rice, saying “you look cute in that [expletive] jersey.”

His status is still uncertain for Sunday, and while Rice did say he was feeling better, he said it’s up to the coaching staff to decide and he said he wouldn’t risk it if it isn’t 100%.

“At the end of the day, Sunday is the ultimate test. And that decision will be up to coach. Let’s see how I look in practice, but right now, I feel great.”

Rice said the injury occurred due to a bad plant, and it will be interesting to see how things go on Sunday against an even more intimidating defense in the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Rice is confident he wont miss a snap of action.

“My initial thought I was scared,” Rice said. “But then it was new life…and I don’t expect to miss any time.”

“I’m an optimistic guy. If I’m able to cut and I’m able to run…if I’m able to do the things I can do and be the Ray Rice I can be, there’s no question whether I’ll play or not.”

In fact, he has all the confidence in the world that the Ravens coaching and training staff are not only going to make sure he is healthy, but that he will be as safe as can be if he suits up against the Steelers.

“I don’t think there is any risky point when you find out it’s a bruise. Any knee situation is scary. Any guy that has to deal with a small tweak, you do have to take precautionary measures. I think our team does a great job of that.”

Ravens Avoid the Flood by Going Indoors

Other Ravens practicing Thursday included tackle Tony Moll, who was limited in practice Wednesday with a hip injury. He suited up in full pads and was active in the pass blocking drills.

Donte Stallworth(foot) and Tavares Gooden(shoulder), and Edgar Jones(thigh) were the only regular Ravens to not practice, but a strange no-show was tackle Jared Gaither, who is battling a thoracic disk injury.

Gaither was limited in practice yesterday and it was the first time he had done so since the first week of training camp. With him missing practice Thursday, he could have had a setback in his recovery from his disk injury. WIth Moll and Oniel Cousins both back and healthy, Gaither may miss his fourth game of the year.

The Ravens have said throughout the week that he would only be active if he were to play every snap, and with Gaither appearing to not be at full strength, it is likely he will not play on Sunday or will be a game-time decision at the latest.

The Ravens are going to have their hands full dealing with two top-of-the-line pass rusher in Lamar Woodley and  former Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison, who are devastating pass rushers around the edge.

“We just have to block them up,”  Marshal Yanda said, who could be starting his fourth game of the season at right tackle. “That sounds pretty simple. It sounds overly simple. But it is. We just need to put a hat on a hat and block them when they come and use good technique.”

“If I get help, I get help. If I don’t, I don’t. You always plan on not getting help, cause most of the time you don’t.”

Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said those two have been in the back of his mind as the week has gone on.

“They’re obviously two of the best in the league. You come up with what you think is a sound plan,”  Cameron said. “Sometimes you double them. Sometimes you single them. Sometimes you triple them.  And then you rely on the trust between the quarterback and the receivers to get the ball out quickly.”

Defensive end Paul Kruger(shoulder) practiced on special teams lining up in punt and kick block, and as he returns from a labrum injury he sustained in the preseason.  Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison is happy to seeing him getting closer to being plugged in on defense.

“He’s a very important part of our defense. He’s improved a great deal in the switch, and if he is one of the guys in the active this week… he will be a big part of this game as he was last year,” Mattison noted.

And with Trevor Pryce in New York, Kruger is one step closer to seeing the field with his pass-rush abilities.

Another body-a big body-who could see playing time against a Steelers power running game is defensive tackle Terrence Cody, who is recovering from a knee injury.

Mattison has been impressed with Cody’s resolve in coming back from a knee injury such as his-something Mattison said he hasn’t seen too often.

“He’s another one that’s  in the mix.  But we’re not sure. Terrence Cody is back. He is working very hard and we worked really hard last week.  I’m really excited about him playing again,” Mattison said.

Tune into WNST and WNST.net as we continue to track the Ravens throughout the 2010 NFL Season! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Ravens Defense

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Ravens-Steelers Always Hard Hitting, Defensive Battles

Posted on 29 September 2010 by Ryan Chell

Ravens Defense

Rivals for years, the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers have always been similar teams with the same kind of philosophy: punch the other team in the mouth, run the football, and command the ball in every category of the game.

Especially when it comes to the defensive side of the ball, with the Ravens and the Steelers controlling the tempo of the game and keeping their opponents off the scoreboard.

In the NFL in the salary cap era, players come and go. But for years, these two teams have had the same scheme and philosophy defensively.

“I will say this about our identity and I think it’s been established,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said in the team’s weekly release. “We want to be a physical football team, a fundamentally sound football team and rough and tough in everything we do.”

The Ravens have had Chris Mcalister, Duane Starks, Rod Woodson, Jamie Sharper, Peter Boulware, Michael McCrary, Sam Adams, Tony Siragusa, Adalius Thomas ,Samari Rolle, and Bart Scott all lining up and playing at a high level on the Ravens defense.

Meanwhile, the Steelers have had destructive pass rushers and quality linebackers like Joey Porter, Kendrell Bell, Jason Gildon, and good system corners in DeShea Towsend and Chad Scott.

And of course there have been the stalwarts over the years in Baltimore in safety Ed Reed, LB Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, and LB Ray Lewis.

For the Steelers, fellow tackling machine James Farrior has made a name for himself since coming over from the Jets earlier in his career, Casey Hampton and DE Aaron Smith command so much attention in the middle when they play, and James Harrison and Troy Polamalu have garnered national attention as one of the best defenders in the league.

James Harrison

Since 2000, the Steelers rank first in total defense, allowing 280 yard per game, while the Ravens are right behind them with 283 yard allowed.

During that span, the Ravens have allowed a league-low 286 TDs, while the Steelers are right behind them with 309 scores against them.

The Ravens have allowed the fewest points per game (17 ppg.) while the Steelers again trail Baltimore (17.3). The Ravens also have the most takeaways since 2000 with 339 and interceptions (213).

The two teams have used each other as models as to how to play the game the right way, as both teams have won Super Bowls in this decade.

“If you see what Pittsburgh is doing now, you win with defense in this league. That has not changed,” Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome said. ”

It’s all about stopping teams on defense…I think we can continue to do that, because those are the ingredients to winning, and that’s what we’re doing in Baltimore.”

And as the Ravens come into Pittsburgh on Sunday, Baltimore boasts the league’s top defense yet again, allowing 244 ypg. and also holding their opponents to a league low 30% conversion rate on third down.

Pittsburgh’s defense meanwhile has the most turnovers(10) on their resume as well as the best turnover ratio(+6).

With these two top defenses, Sunday’s Ravens-Steelers should be close as it always has been. In three of their last four meetings, the margin of victory has been a field goal.

Last season, both contests between the AFC North foes were decided by three points, with a Ravens win on November 29th in overtime(20-17) and a December 27th Steelers victory (23-20).

And in the contests between those teams, it has been much like it was last year. The Baltimore-Steelers rivalry has always been a see-saw, back-and-forth battle.

Only three times over the last 8 years has one of the teams swept the season series, with Baltimore winning twice against the Steelers in 2006, and the Steelers won a trio of games against the Ravens in 2008-2009, including the the AFC Championship game, and they won each contest in 2002.

In the overall series, the Steelers lead in wins 17-11, but those stats are a big slighted toward Pittsburgh as the Steelers often took advantage of a young expansion team in the late 90’s.

But the numbers do not look good in Pittsburgh for the Ravens. In Pittsburgh, the Ravens are 4-10 all-time-including 0-2 in the postseason-as opposed to when the Ravens host the Black and Gold, when the series is tied 7-7.

If anything, the Ravens are looking to leave an impression on the Steelers even if Pittsburgh should go on top Sunday at Heinz Field.

But with first place on the line in the AFC North, the Ravens would like the opportunity to grab that chance when they can on top of drawing some attention their way.

“Respect isn’t given. It’s earned,” LB Ray Lewis said. “We’re not here to be liked. But when we get off the field, we will be respected.”

Tune into WNST and WNST.net as we continue to track the Ravens as they play a huge divisional game against the rival Steelers on Sunday! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Blog & Tackle: How I see Ravens-Steelers 2

Posted on 27 December 2009 by Chris Pika

Deep down, everyone knew that the playoff road for the 2009 Ravens would have to go through Heinz Field in Week 16. That week is here, even if the order is different than most had it. Instead of the Ravens and Steelers playing for the AFC North title, it’s survival time for Pittsburgh, and a chance for Baltimore to close the door on its most-bitter rival while taking a big step toward the playoffs.

Ravens-Steelers Purple Haze Live Chat

The Ravens won the first meeting in overtime in a game that many thought would be a Baltimore blowout with the absence of QB Ben Roethlisberger. Dennis Dixon managed to get the Steelers to overtime, but an interception and subsquent field goal gave the Ravens a huge victory at home.

This time, Roethlisberger and the man who criticized him for not playing in the first meeting, Hines Ward, will play in this one. But Pittsburgh will be without safety Troy Polamalu once again. Pittsburgh is 3-0 with him in the lineup, but 4-7 without.

To get the cliches out of the way early, the game will be a physical, brutal affair once again. These two clubs play hard against each other, and revel in leaving the winner bruised and bloodied from the fight. The loser drags their wounded back to the locker room and wonder if they’ll have enough bodies for the next game.

Since the emphasis for both clubs is not allow the other to score, how do the Ravens and Steelers dent the scoreboard? Let’s break it down, thusly.

RAVENS OFFENSE: This point is obvious to football observers, but scoring first is paramount. The team that gets the lead can dicate their playbook to the opponent. Fall behind, and because of the defenses, you might take more chances than usual. Baltimore is 7-1 when scoring first in 2009, 1-5 when the opposition does.

To those who don’t like the Ravens to throw as much as they have this year, you might want to avert your eyes. The Steelers secondary is vulnerable, and there will be opportunities for big plays. But Baltimore has to set it up. Run the ball with Ray Rice, Le’Ron McClain and Willis McGahee, and make Pittsburgh stack the line. Once that happens, then QB Joe Flacco can look for the receivers downfield, or just a mid-length pass to TE Todd Heap to move the chains.

Baltimore has run the ninth-most short pass plays (less than 15 yards) to the right with 171. The Ravens’ average gain on those passes, 6.8 yards, is second in the league. That’s where Rice and Heap live. Baltimore is also seventh in both plays (37) and average gain (13.8 yards) on passes 15 yards or more to deep left.

The big key here is to keep Flacco upright at all costs. Baltimore might get help if James Harrison misses the game with an biceps injury. A strong run game keeps the rushers at home and buys the Ravens’ QB needed time when he goes to the air. Pittsburgh has to protect its struggling secondary, and one way is to rush the passer consistently. Flacco needs to make the right decisions when the pocket collapses.

The Ravens have four games with 400-plus yards of total offense in 2009, including the three top outputs in club history.

RAVENS DEFENSE: The same problem on defense haunts the Ravens as well. Can the Ravens get after Roethlisberger enough to force turnovers and keep Santonio Holmes and Ward from getting open deep against the Ravens’ second-string corners?

Roethlisberger is hard to bring down, and harder still to corral when he gets out of the pocket. Baltimore needs to bring enough pressure from the edges to make Roethlisberger go through his receiver progression without benefit of rolling to the outside.

When the Steelers pass, they look deep middle, where they’ve tried 40 plays (second in the NFL) or deep right (35 plays; 10th in NFL). Pittsburgh has thrown just over 100 times more than they have run this season. Besides Ward and Holmes, TE Heath Miller has almost 700 yards and five TDs. Six players have 20 or more catches.

The run game is no slouch as Rashard Mendenhall needs 22 yards for 1,000 on the season. Mendenhall has six of the nine rush TDs for the Steelers. Willie Parker has settled into the backup role with almost 300 yards and no TDs.

The Steelers like to run to the right with 79 attempts each up the middle and to right guard, and 63 times to right tackle. Compare that to 31 plays each to left guard, left tackle, and 33 plays to left end.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A big question for the Ravens in the wake of losing Lardarius Webb for the season is: With Carr taking a bigger role in the secondary, will the Ravens let Carr return kickoffs and punts. Ed Reed (if he is able to go) will not return punts, so reports have Jalen Parmele returning kicks and Carr returning punts.

Not to be overstated, the turf at Heinz Field gets in bad shape in December with the amount of games played on it and the recent snowstorm. Field goals, especially from long distance, will be dicey. That will force both teams to make offensive decisions knowing that 3s will not be automatic at any point.

NFL.com Ravens-Steelers Video Preview

PREDICTION: The Steelers will try (like every other opponent) to take out Rice. Flacco will have to throw the ball effectively under pressure to find seams in the Pittsburgh secondary. Both teams’ key defensive performer (Reed and Polamalu) will not play in the game. This will be the usual knock-down, drag-out game as the defensive lines try to help their respective secondaries in coverage. Baltimore gets an early score and will spend the rest of the day holding off the Steelers’ desperate charge. I wouldn’t be suprised to see this game (like the first) go to overtime. Ravens 20, Steelers 17.

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Ravens vs. Jerks

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Ravens (8-6) @ Steelers (7-7)

Posted on 26 December 2009 by Derek Arnold

Ravens vs. Jerks

Squealer Stats09 2

The Ravens once again clash heads with the Pittsburgh Steelers this week. For the fifth consecutive meeting between these two teams, 1 game or less separates them in the standings. Fortunately, though, the Ravens have a slightly higher margin for error right now than Pittsburgh does. A Ravens loss would not preclude them from backing into the playoffs with a win in Oakland next week, though they would likely need at least some help. A Steeler loss, and the “Stairway to Seven” BS stops until 2010.

Realistically, the Steelers are living on borrowed time as it is. Any hopes they had for the postseason SHOULD have ended last week at the hands of the Green Bay Packers. Of course, some boneheaded “prevent” defense from Green Bay in the final minute, along with a ridiculous illegal contact flag that negated what should have been a game ending interception, sprinkled in with some patented Pittsburgh dumb luck all made for a last-second win for Baby Ben and his minions of infighting teammates.

If the Ravens can manage a season sweep, they can be the ones to deal the knock-out punch to the Steelers’ season. Like most Ravens fans though, I hardly get the “warm and fuzzies” any time the Ravens play in the Steel City, even in a season where the enemy has lost to such powerhouses as Oakland, Kansas City, and Cleveland. They’re still a respectable 5-2 at ketchup-mush field, and the Ravens have only won there once this decade (a glorious 34-7 shellacking in 2006).

The Ravens have had two weeks to basically warm-up for this game, with Detroit and Chicago putting up very little resistance. On the bright side, the offense appears to be firing on all cylinders, and the defense forcing turnovers like it was 2008 all over again. However, let’s hope they haven’t forgotten that not all teams are so eager to roll over and die, and that they aren’t shocked and confused when the guys that can only afford logos for one side of their helmets hit back a little bit.

Joe Flacco has followed up the worst game of his career, the Monday Nighter at Lambeau, with two of his best. Since throwing 3 interceptions that night, he has 5 touchdowns and no picks in his last 55 attempts. The Pittsburgh secondary is playing their worst football in years, and will again be without Troy Polamalu to make everything better. The way to attack them is to spread them out, but with the Ravens a bit nicked up at WR, that may be a tenuous prospect. Mark Clayton and Kelley Washington are both expected to play, but it remains to be seen how effective they will be after missing some time. The emergence of Demetrius Williams lately has Ravens fans cautiously optimistic – if “Completrius” can show some consistency by having a big game in the land of 1000 bridges, it will go a long way towards a Ravens victory.

Also promising was Todd Heap reappearing in the offense to score twice against the Bears. Joe Cool will need as many weapons as possible running wild in the Pittsburgh defensive backfield Sunday, as that is where the Steelers are most vulnerable. Up front, the line will have to play like they did in the first half of the first Pittsburgh game, and give those guys time to find the holes. If Lamarr Woodley and James Harrison can get cranked up like they were able to in the 2nd half in B’More, it could be a long day for Joe and Ravens fans alike.

Defensively, the Ravens could be in more than a little trouble. The loss of Lardarius Webb has the potential to be HUGE, not just this week, but for the Ravens’ season in general. Dominique Foxworth may have been the AFC Defensive Player of the Week last week, but now he goes up against Baby Ben, who was his counterpart on the Offensive side of the ball in Week 15. Ben threw for over 500 yards against Green Bay, and he is no doubt salivating at the idea of seeing Foxworth, Chris Carr, and Frank Walker out there chasing his guys around. If there is one glimmer of hope, it is that Ed Reed practiced on Friday, and could finally get back into a game this week. Keep your fingers crossed.

The loss of Webb hurts doubly, as the Ravens are now less equipped to take advantage of Pittsburgh’s other glaring weakness, their return coverage. The Ravens have yet to announce who will handle kickoffs, but rest assured, whoever it is, does not worry the Steelers like Webb would have.

The offenses look poised to dominate a Pittsburgh-Baltimore matchup – what kind of crazy, backwards world is this that we are living in?

Just keep reminding yourselves, Ravens fans, a loss does NOT doom the Ravens this week.

We may have to make it our mantra.

Steelers 31 Ravens 24

(sprinkles some of Santa’s magic dust on the score prediction)

Ravens 27 Steelers 26

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Top 25 Sports Moments of 2009

Posted on 16 December 2009 by Glenn Clark

This is my companion piece to yesterday’s local version. Please feel free to chime in about either. Tomorrow will be my “Top 10 Games of 2009.”

Honorable Mention:
Bemidji State Makes a Run For the Little Guys, Rod Woodson and Bruce Smith Enter Pro Football Hall of Fame, Ms. Patrick Goes to NASCAR, Dwight Howard takes Magic to Finals, Michelle Wie Wins First LPGA Event, Syracuse Gets Another Lax Title, Kimbo Slice Goes to UFC, Thierry Henry Cheats France into World Cup, Serena Williams Loses her Mind, Del Potro Stuns Federer, Utah Gets Another Non-BCS BCS Win, Usain Bolt Does it Again, Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta Get Big Wins for Girls, Philadelphia Loses a Voice, Alabama Ends Tebow’s Run, Michael Jordan goes to Springfield

25-Jimmie Johnson Makes it 4 Straight


24-Rickey Gets to the Hall

23-Bobby Bowden Hangs ‘Em Up


22-Favre is Back. Again.


21-Manny Being A Cheater


20-Phelps Outduels Cavic Despite Scientific Disadvantage


19-Texas Survives to Play For Title

18-Plaxico Burress Goes to Jail


17-Syracuse/UConn Play College Hoops Classic

16-Nick Adenhart Dies in Car Crash


15-Sid The Kid Wins First Cup


14-US Soccer Pulls Absolute Stunner

13-Erin Andrews Video Shuts Down Internet


12-Mine That Bird Wins One for the Little Guys

11-Michael Vick Comes to Philly


10-Tom Watson NEARLY Does It

Do you even REMEMBER that Stewart Cink won the British Open? Neither do I. In a sport that is completely irrelevant without its biggest star, it took a man on the verge of turning 60 to somehow find relevance. It was a fun weekend, even for those of us who don’t necessarily enjoy golf.

9-A-Rod Comes Clean

My how quickly a year goes by. If the Yanks don’t win the AL East (or World Series)-this might be the #2 story of the year, as it would have been one more time where one of the greatest players of all time let his team down. BUT-the Yanks won, and we all sorta forgot about this awkward moment in Spring Training. Could it cost Alex Rodriguez a place in Cooperstown one day? Maybe.

8-Brock Lesnar Gives UFC Biggest Moment in History


The biggest fight moment of the year was also the biggest moment in Mixed Martial Arts history. (Of course, if they could somehow figure out a way to get Brock, Fedor and Kimbo into the same ring at one time-the world might explode.) Dana White hit a home run with Brock Lesnar. He brought in someone with major appeal due to his background as an amateur wrestler, WWE champion and a failed NFL attempt. Lesnar rose quickly in a watered-down heavyweight division; and with one win over Randy Couture-he went from “The Next Big Thing” to “The Thing” at UFC 100 in July. Everyone watched, everyone talked about it; and the UFC finally had their crowning mainstream moment.

7-Michigan State Lifts Detroit….Until Falling to Carolina

The “moment” belonged to the Spartans. The city of Detroit was DESPERATE for something to rally around given the dire state of their economy, and the run to the Final Four by Michigan State game them exactly that. None of this takes anything away from what North Carolina accomplished, either. Tyler Hansbrough will go down as one of the all-time great college basketball players in history, and what happened in Detroit was his moment even more than it was Michigan State’s.

6-Tim Tebow Gets His

Hate Tim Tebow all you want, but he’s been nothing short of amazing in his college football career. Plus, he’s been amazing off the field as well. His halftime rally was arguably greater than his on-field performance…..

And hell-as far as moments go, his return to Gainesville may have been just as good….

How did Sports Illustrated manage to screw this up??? This was a NO-BRAINER for Sportsman of the Year.

5-Federer Moves Past Sampras with Wimbledon Classic over Roddick

Was it as good as Federer-Nadal in ’08? I don’t know. It’s easy to say know; but watching the highlights again-wow. These two put on an epic match without the #1 vs. #2 billing or the rivalry status that Roger and Rafa had in ’08. It seemed like a fitting way for Pete Sampras’ career major title record to be broken, as Federer had to withstand the greatest career performance by the top American tennis player.

4-Kobe Gets Redemption

Some people said he couldn’t win without Shaq. Others said he wasn’t the same after what happened in Colorado. They were all wrong. Kobe Bryant was just fine. The group of players around him (Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher, Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, etc.) certainly lacked the “sex appeal” of previous Lakers teams, but it didn’t limit their effectiveness. And even more remarkably; Phil Jackson broke the record for most NBA Championships by a head coach (10, surpassing Red Auerbach’s 9)-arguably the most significant record of the year and yet mostly unnoticed.

3-Yankees Do It Again

The excitement surrounding the New York Yankees winning their 27th World Series title had about as much to do with the anger most MLB fans felt towards the idea that the Yanks “bought” their title as it did with any actual celebration. Sure, the Yanks rolled out the equivalent of an All-Star lineup just about every night; but they still had to win the thing. Meanwhile, there were reports that baseball was played over the summer in Baltimore. We have not been able to confirm them just yet.

2-Steelers Win Super Bowl Classic

God I hate admitting that anything they do is good. But this one certainly ranks amongst the greatest Super Bowl games of all time, thanks to the remarkable individual efforts of Ben Roethlisberger, Santonio Holmes, James Harrison, Kurt Warner, etc. Now let’s all hope that nothing good ever happens to those a-holes in Pittsburgh again.

1-Tiger Shows He’s Human


Was the moment Tiger Woods hit a tree in Florida the biggest moment of the year? Maybe not. But the collective “moment” that has extended from Thanksgiving to the end of the year has certainly been; mostly because it has obviously transcended sport. He’s the biggest athlete in the world-and he has peaked everyone’s interest; even if you don’t really care who he slept with. If Tiger eventually comes back and wins the Masters, this will be a story of redemption. If Tiger never wins another major, this will go down as one of the all-time great career declines in the history of sports. Probably the greatest. Enough to move Tim Finchem to alcohol…..


Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…..


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