Tag Archive | "Jim Harbaugh"

“Rating the Ravens” following 16-6 victory over the 49ers

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“Rating the Ravens” following 16-6 victory over the 49ers

Posted on 25 November 2011 by Ryan Chell

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done this because of some late games, but boy did I pick a good one to get back at it.

In a competitive battle between brothers, division leaders, and conference elites, the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers 16-6 in the Ravens’ first ever contest on Thanksgiving night.

While saying the Ravens defense was the star of the game may be obvious, there is no where else to show praise.

The defense sacked Niners quarterback Alex Smith nine times, and with a second half lead (albeit 6-3 at the half; 13-6 in the fourth quarter), they forced the game into Smith’s hands.

It is another defining win the Ravens can put on their resume as Baltimore pulls away in the AFC North from the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals in the last few weeks, and with the win, you can definitely feel confident in saying the Ravens are the best team in the AFC right now.

Quarterback

Joe Flacco didn’t have the blowout numbers that he’s had in several games this year. Despite going up a sometimes suspect 49ers passing defense this year, the 49ers had some players in their defensive backfield in corner back Carlos Rodgers and Donte Whitner at the safety position able to make some plays.

Flacco finished 15-of-23 for 151 yards and one TD-the go-ahead pass to tight end Dennis Pitta with 7:34 in the fourth quarter that put the Ravens up 13-6.

Of those completions, 12 of them came on third-down conversions.Four of them came on the drive cultivating in Pitta’s score.

He did throw an early interception to 49ers CB Tarell Brown with 6:15 left in the second quarter shadowing WR Torrey Smith, but the officials ruled that Brown shaded Smith so much, he interfered with his ability to come down with the ball.

The flag led to a 50-yard gain for the Ravens offense, bringing the ball to the San Francisco 35-yard line. The ball was placed down near the goal line, but couldn’t punch it in-instead settling for three points to go up 6-3 at the half.

Several Ravens we talked to over the last several weeks have emphasized the importance of giving up personal success for a Ravens win, and Joe Flacco I’m sure would say the same.

Rating: B-

Running Backs

This is another position where the stats will not tell the true story of the game.

The 49ers came in as one of the league’s best against the run, having not allowed a rushing touchdown in the team’s first 10 games of the year.

Much like Ravens teams of the past, Patrick Willis and the 49ers defense had gone 32 straight games without allowing a 100-yard rusher.

But the Ravens didn’t allow that threat to make them one-sided.

They kept themselves honest running the football 21 times with Ray Rice, and Vonta Leach can definitely put himself in position to ask for a game-ball for his help in both pass and run blocking.

You can really only fault Rice for not cutting the ball up the field at the one-yard line on the 2nd and GL with four minutes in the first half.

Rice lost four yards on the play, and the Ravens missed out on the opportunity to draw first blood on the 49ers unblemished record when it came to allowing touchdowns on the ground.

Rating: B-

Wide Receivers

Other than Dennis Pitta’s score and Anquan Boldin continuing his success against an old NFC West rival, the receiving corps was relatively quiet.

Torrey Smith finished with two catches for 23 yards, and drew the 50-yard pass interference call that led to a Ravens field goal.

Lee Evans made his first catch since Week 2 of the regular season against the 49ers, but on his one catch, he fought through a tackle for four yards to get a first down out of it, drawing praise from John Harbaugh post game.

But that being said-what Boldin and Pitta did on third down is the story of the night for the Ravens offense.

To have themselves backed up with a long distance to maintain the drive, the Ravens executed every opportunity to perfection.

Rating: B

Offensive Line

The Ravens’ offensive line certainly had its hands full going into Thursday night having to stop a defensive player of the year candidate in DE Justin Smith-a man Baltimore knew all too well from his time with the Cincinnati Bengals earlier in his career.

Smith had made several game-saving plays the last several weeks, and with that, tackles Michael Oher and Bryant McKinnie appeared as if they might have needed help against the pass rusher.

Smith beat McKinnie early Thursday for a quarterback hit/pressure, but after that, Vonta Leach and the backfield did an excellent job in helping the front five in pass protection.

Center Matt Birk-who a month ago was determined to be washed up and needed to be replaced by Andre Gurode-had maybe the best game of the season against 6’2 330-lb NT Isaac Sopoaga.

The Ravens offensive line didn’t allow a sack to the 49ers and allowed Ray Rice to do enough in the running game to keep San Francisco’s defense honest.

Rating: B

Defensive Line

In 2010, the Ravens had 27 total sacks as a team.

Against the 49ers, they earned one third of that total (9) against Alex Smith alone.

Three Ravens finished with two or more sacks including Cory Redding (2.5), Haloti Ngata (2), and Terrell Suggs (3).

Pass rushers Pernell McPhee and Paul Kruger did not earn sacks themselves, but they were key as well in getting pressure on Alex Smith flushing him out of the pocket and into the arms of another defender.

And on top of a dominating pass rush, lineman Terrence Cody and Brandon McKinney also did their part in stopping running back Frank Gore, who finished with just 39 yards on 14 carries.

Even more crucial to point out was that the Ravens really weren’t overloading San Francisco with elaborate blitzes or stunts.

Much like Haloti Ngata on guard Mike Iupati, it was the man in front of them just getting beat over and over again.

Rating: A+

Another good performance from this group without the presence of Ray Lewis in the lineup, who of course missed his second straight game with a foot injury.

Brendon Ayanbadejo and Jameel McClain played admirably in place of Lewis, but let’s hope this isn’t a permanent substitution lest it become a problem.

Many thought that fellow linebacker Dannell Ellerbe would suit up alongside McClain in the middle, but he too was inactive Thursday night. In his place was longtime special teamer Albert McClellan, who played okay but was a liability in coverage when it came to covering the speedy Niners’ receiving corps.

Credit Jarret Johnson with another steady game as well for the veteran in keeping contain on Gore.

Rating: A

Secondary

This unit didn’t have to do too much later in the game with Alex Smith’s eyes gradually looking toward the opposing pass rush Thursday.

However, they did remain honest to themselves and didn’t take the night off despite the success up front.

Lardarius Webb made it two straight games with an interception, taking a pass away from Braylon Edwards-a receiver who has owned Baltimore in his career when he was with the Cleveland Browns.

Bernard Pollard led all Ravens in tackles with eight from the safety spot, and was all over the field.

Ed Reed nearly made his second straight game with a pick, and Cary Williams rebounded after struggling early in the game against the speedy Ted Ginn.

On the 49ers’ drive to start the second quarter trailing 3-0, Smith found Ginn for what appeared to be a 75-yard score beating the likes of Williams.

But the play was nullified by an illegal chop block on Frank Gore on Bernard Pollard in the backfield.

Those points taken off the board, combined with Webb’s pick in the end zone-kept the 49ers behind and without the ability to control the clock throughout the game.

It forced Alex Smith to go to the air early, and that’s where the Ravens wanted him.

Rating: B-

Special Teams

Billy Cundiff continues to rebound from a tough stretch of games for him, as he went 3-for-3 against the Niners in a defensive struggle where field position and converting points on long drives is key.

Sam Koch dropped two of his four punts inside the 20 and David Reed and Tom Zbikowski both played decent enough in their roles as gunners and kick returners respectively.

Rating: A-

Like my analysis? Disagree? Call into “The Reality Check” with Glenn Clark Friday afternoon to share your thoughts! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A look inside Thanksgiving feast of Ravens-49ers

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A look inside Thanksgiving feast of Ravens-49ers

Posted on 24 November 2011 by Chris Pika

One of the more-hyped games of the 2011 schedule once it came out in April is tonight’s Thanksgiving game in Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium when the broithers Harbaugh meet as the San Francisco 49ers take on the Baltimore Ravens (8 pm ET; NFL Network).

The 9-1 49ers have a stranglehold on the NFC West and can clinch the division with a victory and either a loss or tie by Seattle on Sunday or a tie and a Seattle loss.

The 7-3 Ravens lead the AFC North, and are tied for the AFC’s best record.

The combined 16-4 record (.800) of the two teams is tied for fourth-best between Thanksgiving Day combatants since 1970.

It will be Baltimore’s John vs. San Francisco’s Jim, and Jim, and according to NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, who will help call the game with Brad Nessler, this matchup is one to watch:

When you combine the surprising success of San Francisco, along with Baltimore being pretty much where you expect them to be, we’ve got one of the best games of the season on Thursday night.

In a national teleconference to promote the game earlier this week, Jim mentioned how brotherly love goes out the window once competition is involved:

Leading up to this, John has talked freely and openly about football with me. Now, it’s more talking in code. I’m being serious. I can see there are limitations to what he’s telling me. I thought love had no boundaries, but now I see that it does.

— Jim Harbaugh, on football communication with John since the 2011 NFL schedule was announced

For John’s part, it is a continuation of competition that has gone on since they were kids:

We were in the same room for 16 years, and we had to draw a tape line. If you stepped across, there was a fight. The last time we fought, I was 27. He was the quarterback for the Bears. He got up to 6-4, 230 pounds. I was 195, something like that. He takes us on vacation to Florida, we’re on the beach, and we get into this wrestling match. It’s getting a little aggressive and works its way over to the water. He gets a shot in; I get a shot in. I’m starting to think maybe I can hang with the big little brother. Next, he grabs me in a headlock, picks me up, and slams me into three feet of water. My head is on the sand underneath the water. Of course, he’s not going to drown me, but I’m thinking maybe he’s snapped. My dad’s trying to pull him off, but he’s too strong. I’m going to drown. Before I died, he pulled me up. He didn’t do mouth-to-mouth; that would have been against the rules. I then realized I’m never going to fight my brother again. He’s too big.

— John Harbaugh on his brother

The first-ever coaching matchup between two brothers in NFL history is a testament to their father, Jack, himself a former college head coach:

Their father gave them a gift; by making them and teaching them how to compete. If we can instill competition in our kids, that’s all we want. We want them to go out in the world and compete.

— NFL Network’s Marshall Faulk on the relationship between Jack Harbaugh and his sons, Jim and John

Baltimore is coming off a 31-24 victory over AFC North rival Cincinnati at home last Sunday:

NOTE OF THE WEEK: SMITH SOARS

  • Ravens rookie WR Torrey Smith leads the NFL with a 20.3 yardsper-catch average (29 receptions for 590 yards).
  • Impressively, 4 of Smith’s 5 TD receptions have covered at least 25 yards (74, 41, 38, 26 and 18 yards), and he’s averaging a sensational 39.4 yards per TD catch.
  • Smith now owns the Ravens’ single-season (590) and single-game (165 vs. Cin. last week) records for receiving yards by a rookie.
  • Never before has a Ravens’ wideout posted dual 150-yard receiving games in a season (165 vs. Cin. and 152 at STL).
  • Smith also owns the top two receiving yards performances by a rookie in the NFL this season.
  • Smith’s 590 receiving yards this season rank second in the NFL among all rookies (635, Cincy’sA.J. Green).
  • Last week, Smith joined Ken Burrow (2 in 1971) and Randy Moss (3 in 1998) as the only rookies in NFL history to have multiple games with at least 150 receiving yards and a touchdown catch.

WEEK 12 QUICK HITS:

  • The Ravens have won 15 of their last 16 games at M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore is 24-5 at home under head coach John Harbaugh, tied (New England) for the NFL’s most home wins since 2008 (as of games played by 11/20).
  • The Ravens aim for their eighth consecutive win at home and sixth this season (5-0 in 2011).
  • Baltimore’s seven-game winning streak at home currently ranks as the NFL’s second longest (Green Bay is first at 10 games).
  • Baltimore aims to reach 8-3 for just the second time in team history (2010 season).

STOUT VS. NFC: Dating back to the 2008 campaign, when head coach John Harbaugh took over in Baltimore, the Ravens have posted a 10-5 record (.667) vs. the NFC, good for the fourth-best mark among AFC teams against the “other conference” during that span.

AFC’s BEST RECORDS VS. THE NFC
(since 2008)
1t. New England Patriots 12-2 .857
1t. Tennessee Titans 12-2 .857
3. Pittsburgh Steelers 10-4 .714
4. Baltimore Ravens 10-5 .667

San Francisco is working on an eight-game win streak, and beat NFC West rival Arizona 23-7 last Sunday at home:

WINNING WAYS: With the win last week vs. Arz. (11/20), head coach Jim Harbaugh became just the 3rd rookie head coach in franchise history to start his career with a 9-1 record.

  • The 49ers have won eight consecutive games, making Coach Harbaugh’s eight-game winning streak the fourth longest by a rookie head coach since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Jim Caldwell’s Colts won 14 in a row in 2009. Steve Mariucci’s 49ers won 11 in a row in 1997. Ted Marchibroda’s Colts won nine in a row in 1975. Bobby Ross’Chargers won seven straight in 1992.
  • With a 9-1 record to start 2011, the 49ers are tied for the 4th-best start since the team joined the NFL in 1950, behind 1984 (15-1); 1990 (13-1); 1997 (11-1); 1989 (9-1).
  • Harbaugh became the first rookie head coach in franchise history to inherit a team with a losing record and lead them to a 9-1 start in his first season.

GOLDEN NUGGETS:
A HOT START

  • With a 9-1 record to start 2011, the 49ers are tied for the 4th-best start since the team joined the NFL in 1950, behind 1984 (15-1); 1990 (13-1); 1997 (11-1); 1989 (9-1).

ROAD WARRIORS

  • With a 4-0 record on the road, the Niners join the Green Bay Packers as the only two teams in the NFL to remain undefeated away from home.

THAT’S THE DIFFERENCE

  • The 49ers have outscored their opponents 256-145. The +111 scoring differential ranks 2nd in the NFL.

A SHORT FIELD

  • The 49ers have started 25 drives in their opponents territory, ranking 1st in the NFL, and have scored 81 points on those drives, ranking 3rd in the NFL.

YOU WANNA START SOMETHING?

  • The 49ers average starting field position is at their own 33.1-yard line, ranking 1st in the NFL.

LONG WAY TO GO

  • The 49ers rank 1st in the NFL with an opponents average starting field position of the 24.3.

BRINGING IT BACK

  • The 49ers rank t-1st in the NFL with 7 PRs of 20+ yds, while ranking 2nd in the NFL with a KOR avg. of 28.0 yds.

POINTS HARD TO COME BY

  • The 49ers have allowed just 145 points on the season, ranking 1st in the NFL for the fewest points allowed.

SHORT AND TOUGH

  • The 49ers have allowed just 16 first downs on 3rd and less than 4 yds. (15 of 33 – 48.5 pct.), ranking 2nd in the NFL.

EFFICIENCY ON D

  • The 49ers defense has allowed opponents to score on just 24.0 pct. of their possessions, ranking 1st in the NFL.

STICKY FINGERS

  • The 49ers have only committed 9 turnovers on the year, ranking t-1st in the NFL for fewest turnovers (Houston – 9).

PRODUCTIVE ON FIRST

  • The 49ers offense has gained 4+ yds. on 52.2 pct. (142 of 272) of their first down plays, ranking 4th in the NFL.

THE COMEBACK TRAIL: Four, 4th quarter come-from-behind-win epitomizes the never quit attitude the 49ers embody this season. One player in particular can parallel his career to the theme, QBAlex Smith. Smith is now tied with NYG QB Eli Manning for the most comeback wins by an NFL QB this season.

Smith became just the second quarterback in franchise history to record 3, 4th qtr. comebacks on the road (QB Joe Montanta - 4 in 1989 and 3 in 1990).

For up-to-date Tweets on the NFL and the Ravens, please follow me on Twitter (@BlogAndTackle). For more national NFL stories, please visit my personal site at BlogAndTackle.net.

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Putting Harbaugh hype aside, Ravens offense has tall order in front of it

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Putting Harbaugh hype aside, Ravens offense has tall order in front of it

Posted on 23 November 2011 by Luke Jones

After a few days, I admit it.

I’m a little Harbaugh-ed out.

With no disrespect to either John or Jim Harbaugh and the remarkable story of the two becoming the first brothers in NFL history to meet as opposing head coaches, neither will play a snap in a nationally-televised game on Thursday night. The storyline was originally meant to inject life in a game appearing to be a mismatch when the schedule-makers pegged it for Thanksgiving night back in April.

But this matchup is stimulating, whether two brothers are facing off or the opposing head coaches wouldn’t recognize each other walking down the street. The Ravens are roughly where most expected them to be through the first 10 games of the season — overlooking the sub-.500 opponents their three losses have come against — but Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers are the biggest surprise of the 2011 season, having won eight in a row and suffering their only loss of the season in overtime back in Week 2.

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Even with a short week that clearly puts the 49ers at a disadvantage having to travel across the country, this game is simply too appealing to spend too much time focusing on the Harbaughs.

Much like John’s first year in Baltimore in 2008, the younger Harbaugh has made his stamp on a San Francisco team that had plenty of talent but needed new direction after failing to reach expectations under the previous regime. He has already guided San Francisco to its first winning season since 2002, and the 49ers are right on the heels of the undefeated Green Bay Packers for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. They’ve done it just like the Ravens did in 2008 — a strong defense and a power running game.

Meanwhile, the Ravens have their eyes on the top seed in the AFC — currently tied with New England, Pittsburgh, and Houston at 7-3 — and sorely need a win when taking into account the Patriots’ and Steelers’ favorable schedules over the final six weeks of the regular season. For the sake of their playoff positioning, Thursday is a game the Ravens really can’t afford to lose.

The Baltimore offense will need to bring its best effort against a 49ers defense that prides itself on stopping the run and taking the ball away from you at a prolific rate. Led by inside linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman and imposing defensive end Justin Smith, San Francisco owns the top-ranked run defense and has not allowed a rushing touchdown all season.

Though they found the elusive balance between the run and pass in last Sunday’s 31-24 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, the Ravens will be challenged to gain positive yardage on the ground against the 49ers’ front seven. The possibility may push Baltimore to slip back into the more one-dimensional offense we’ve seen in recent weeks.

“It’s [about] whatever is going to move the football for us and get us first downs,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “If we’re able to do both of those things and hit chunks [of yardage via the pass] here or there, then that’s what’s going to be important.”

The San Francisco pass defense is less impressive, ranking 27th in the NFL, but it’s opportunistic nature (15 interceptions) highlights the biggest area in which the Ravens need to be concerned.

Turnovers.

No team in the NFL has done a better job of protecting the football while causing the opponent to fail in doing so. Not only are the 49ers tied for fewest giveaways (nine) in the league, but their defense has forced an incredible 26 takeaways to lead the NFL. San Francisco’s plus-17 turnover margin is easily the best in the league.

In contrast, the Ravens’ 18 giveaways are tied for sixth-most in the AFC. Following a turnover-free performance in a Week 1 win over Pittsburgh, the Baltimore offense has committed two or more miscues in six of its last nine games and at least one in all nine games.

The 49ers have won the turnover battle in all but one of their games this season while the Ravens have committed more miscues than their opponent in five of their 10 games, still managing to win three of them.

Short week or not, the Ravens will have their hands full on Thursday night against one of the best defenses in the league. It’s a unit that can make you pay if you’re not on your toes, protecting the football and setting the tempo by gaining just enough on the ground to keep the front seven honest.

If not, the Ravens will have no choice but to let the passes fly from Flacco’s right arm and, with it, a greater chance for a turnover against defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s attacking San Francisco defense.

In recent weeks, the Ravens have spoken ad nauseam about their need to get the running game going and to take better care of the football. They’ll have their chance on Thanksgiving against the best team in the league in stopping the run and taking away the football from the opposition.

“I know it’s going to be a challenge, but I don’t plan on forcing anything,” said running back Ray Rice, who reached the 100-yard rushing mark for the first time since Week 6. “I have to take what’s given and I’m looking forward to one of those Pittsburgh Steelers kind of games with [that] defense. They’re in a different division, but they play like our defense and they’re going to be tough.”

It’s not a season-deciding game, but a win over the 49ers would go a long way in determining where the Ravens wind up in their potential playoff journey.

And that’s far more important than who happens to be coaching on opposite sidelines.

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49ers PBP voice Ted Robinson looking forward to another memorable post-game handshake with Harbaugh brothers

Posted on 23 November 2011 by WNST Audio

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Ravens preparing for efficient San Francisco offense

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Ravens preparing for efficient San Francisco offense

Posted on 22 November 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Much of the credit for the San Francisco 49ers’ 9-1 start has been bestowed upon their impressive defensive in leading the once-proud franchise to its first winning season since 2002.

However, new head coach Jim Harbaugh has transformed a once-inept offense into an efficient, improving unit taking advantage of the enviable positions presented by a defense that leads the NFL with 26 takeaways. As a result, the 49ers have used their league-best average starting field position to average 25.6 points per game, tied for seventh in the NFL with the Ravens. San Francisco ranked 24th in points per game (19.1) last season. The 49ers have also done an excellent job taking care of the football, tied with Houston with a league-low nine turnovers this season.

The 49ers’ formula for offensive success is no secret: feed the ball to Frank Gore as much as possible. The seventh-year back is third in the NFL in rushing attempts and has 870 yards on the ground this season to pace San Francisco’s sixth-ranked rushing offense.

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“He is very special,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “He runs angry. He runs very aggressive. We like that. We like the rough stuff.”

Even with the league’s fifth-best run defense, the Ravens could find their hands full trying to fend off a tough San Francisco offensive line — especially on the left side with tackle Joe Staley and guard Mike Iupati — wanting to control the line of scrimmage. And with Ray Lewis’ status for Thursday night remaining a mystery, Baltimore could once again be without its defensive leader.

On the surface, the 49ers’ passing game appears to be the Achilles heel of an otherwise impressive 9-1 team, but the Ravens are looking beyond their low ranking and seeing a far more efficient aerial attack than the numbers indicate.

“Sometimes stats can be deceiving a little bit,” cornerback Chris Carr said. “A lot of times you’ll have teams that have to come from behind and so they have to throw the ball a lot and they get a lot of passing yards. With San Francisco, they’ve been in the lead in a lot of games so they’re going to run the ball and they’re not going to have to throw the ball downfield as much. And so even though they rank 27th [in the NFL], it’s kind of deceiving.”

The numbers aren’t gaudy, but former No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith has experienced a renaissance under Harbaugh and new offensive coordinator Greg Roman. After widely being considered a failure in his first six years in San Francisco, Smith has a 93.9 quarterback rating and is tied among starting quarterbacks with a league-low four interceptions.

The perception of Smith being a game manager in the 49ers offense may have been true in the early weeks of the season, but he has posted five straight weeks of increased passing yards, with six touchdowns and three interceptions over the stretch of time.

Smith is finally showing a few glimpses of what the 49ers saw when they selected him with the first pick of the 2005 draft out of the University of Utah despite his 75.5 career quarterback rating.

“The games that we have watched, he looks like he can throw it to me,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “He is making every single throw. He is making the throws on the deep sideline, from one hash to the other hash. He is making throws downfield. It is very much a downfield passing attack.”

While only averaging 188.3 passing yards per game, Smith has plenty of viable options to target, including tight end Vernon Davis (five touchdowns) and wide receivers Michael Crabtree (455 receiving yards) and Braylon Edwards. Though not robust in its production, the Baltimore defense sees a passing offense capable of giving different looks and making low-risk plays with positive results.

“I think their scheme is the best offense we’ve seen so far this year,” Carr said. “They have multiple sets and they can get in three tight end sets and can run four receivers down the field. They have all the concepts in every single formation so they really keep you off balanced. They shift a lot and get teams confused. I think that’s one of the reason [Smith's] been so successful. He’s not trying to throw the ball into tight spots too much. He takes what the defense gives him. He knows that their defense is playing really well. He’s playing like a veteran quarterback, very smart. With their players and their scheme, it’s very difficult for a defense because there is a lot to prepare for.”

However, the 49ers will have plenty to prepare for in facing the fourth-ranked defense in the league. With or without Lewis in the lineup, San Francisco may have to turn in its best offensive performance of the season to hand the Ravens their first home loss in 2011.

“This is going to be a dogfight,” Suggs said. “Like I said, I don’t think they could have picked a better game of the season [for Thanksgiving night].”

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 22 November 2011 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Golf-PGA Tour World Cup of Golf (Wednesday-Saturday 10:30pm from Shenzhen, China live on Golf Channel); Boxing: Canelo Alvarez vs. Kermit Cintron (Saturday 10:30pm from Mexico City, Mexico live on HBO); Mixed Martial Arts: Bellator Fighting Championships 59 (Saturday 9pm from Atlantic City live on MTV2); College Soccer: NCAA Tournament Louisville @ Maryland (Sunday 5pm Ludwig Field); Women’s College Basketball: St. Joseph’s @ Maryland (Tuesday 7pm Comcast Center)

10. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band (Friday 8pm 1st Mariner Arena); The Bridge Farewell Show (Wednesday 8pm Rams Head Live), Staind (Sunday 6pm Rams Head Live), Reel Big Fish/Streetlight Manifesto (Monday 6pm Rams Head Live); Crack The Sky (Saturday 8pm Recher Theatre); Airborne Toxic Event (Tuesday 7pm 9:30 Club), They Might Be Giants (Saturday 8pm 9:30 Club); Leon Russell (Tuesday 8:30pm State Theatre); Kirk Franklin (Saturday 7pm Lyric Opera House); Daughtry “Break The Spell” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

I can’t go to Bob Seger Friday night. It’s an incredibly long story (my family celebrates holidays a day late) that I don’t want to talk about. But in honor of the festive weekend, I’ll just go ahead and assume he’ll break out “Little Drummer Boy”…

I can’t believe this is the last time Cris Jacobs and the boys from The Bridge will be playing together. It’s almost impossible. The show is sold out. I might tear up a bit.

I don’t know if I’m an Airborne Toxic Event “fan”, but I know I’m a fan of this tune…

Kirk Franklin is a legendary gospel performer. In one of the most inexplicable moments in music history, he had a smash hit on MTV/Pop radio in 1997. You know you know the words…

9. Glenn Clark’s Thanksgiving Plans (Thursday); Festival of Trees (Friday-Sunday Timonium Fairgrounds); Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (Thursday 9am from New York live on NBC); The Muppets & “Arthur Christmas” out in theaters (Tuesday); Judah Friedlander (Friday & Saturday DC Improv)

I spent much of my adolescence wanting to be Fozzie Bear. If you don’t sing along to this you’re just a bad person…

Also, I’m looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with the Clark family, but I’ll admit I’m a bit confused by why it is that my mother has requested my girlfriend bring buffalo chicken dip to dinner this year. It’s just kinda weird. Whatever we consume, I know one thing. This Saturday I’ll be enjoying a “Thanksgiving Sandwich.” Wheat bread, turkey, potatoes and barbeque sauce. It sounds weird to you, but trust me on this one.

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Harbaugh quiet on Lewis’ status against 49ers on Thanksgiving

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Harbaugh quiet on Lewis’ status against 49ers on Thanksgiving

Posted on 21 November 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With no time to revel in their 31-24 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, the Ravens returned to work on Monday with only three days to prepare for a Thanksgiving night contest with the red-hot San Francisco 49ers.

Jim Harbaugh’s team comes to town riding an eight-game winning streak and enjoying an insurmountable lead in the NFC West. Meanwhile, John Harbaugh saw his Ravens regain control of the AFC North by improving to 7-3 and 5-0 at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Much of the hype surrounding Thursday’s game will center around the first ever meeting in NFL history where two brothers face each other as head coaches. Both Harbaughs are acknowledging the special occasion but attempting to redirect the focus on their talented football teams.

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“It’s going to be a hard-fought game,” John Harbaugh said. “It’s not going to be a ‘trick-them’ game. There will be something that you’ll try, and they’ll try something, but it’s a short week. It’s two very physical teams. It’s two teams with quite a lot at stake. It’s two teams that play a very similar style of football. It’s going to be a great night for football. If you’re a football fan, I wouldn’t think you’d want to miss this game.”

Many are wondering whether star linebacker Ray Lewis (toe) will miss the unprecedented Thursday night game after he sat out his first game on Sunday since the finale of the 2007 season, snapping a string of 57 consecutive games played. Lewis was not present on the field during the Ravens’ walk-through on Monday evening, and his status will remain in question until inactives are released 90 minutes prior to Thursday’s 8:20 p.m. kickoff on the NFL Network.

When asked about Lewis’ status in a Monday teleconference, Harbaugh was predictably tight-lipped regarding the chances of his defensive leader suiting up against the 49ers’ sixth-ranked run offense.

Does Harbaugh think Lewis will be able to play in the nationally-televised game?

“Is that something I really want to share right now, you think?” Harbaugh replied to the questioner. “Would there be any value in doing that?”

Defensive tackle Arthur Jones (concussion) was also missing from the open portion of the walk-through while wide receiver Lee Evans (ankle), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring), safety Tom Zbikowski (leg), and running back Anthony Allen (thigh) were all present for the open portion.

 

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Take A Good Look At The 15-7-0, It’s On A Boat!

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Take A Good Look At The 15-7-0, It’s On A Boat!

Posted on 14 November 2011 by Glenn Clark

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

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

15 Positive Observations…

1. The Towson University football team is a win away from a CAA Championship? The Towson University football team is a win away from a CAA Championship.

Terrance West ran for 265 freaking yards as the Tigers beat the New Hampshire Wildcats Saturday. They’re now a win over Rhode Island next week away from claiming the CAA title…

This can’t be right, can it?

2. Tom Brady hasn’t lost three straight games since 2002. Holy hell.

I don’t know what’s more embarrassing for New York Jets fans-the fact that Mark Sanchez was eaten alive by some dude named Rob Nankovich or that Deion Branch owned Fireman Ed after catching a touchdown…

Rob effing Nankovich. A dude named Rob Nankovich just played hero for the New England Patriots. Maybe Bill Belichick really is better than the rest of us.

3. Still think the San Francisco 49ers haven’t proved themselves?

It’s crazy how much the Niners are different under Jim Harbaugh. Justin Smith is playing like a Defensive Player of the Year, Carlos Rogers is playing like a capable National Football League cornerback and Alex Smith…wait, Alex Smith is still playing semi-respectable football? No way…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfX7gbCnlRg

I’m trying to put a Ravens-related spin on some of the things in the 15-7-0 this week. For example, the 49ers are a GOOD team, so when they play the Ravens on Thanksgiving we can be certain the Ravens will win, right?

4. Brandon Weeden was brilliant and Kansas State/Texas A&M was incredible. Ladies and gentleman, your weekend in the Big 12.

After a big performance in Oklahoma State’s rout of Texas Tech Saturday, Weeden’s Cowboys are now two wins away from the BCS Championship Game…

The Wildcats and Aggies played a four overtime thriller IN Manhattan. It was way more fun to watch than the game I was at Saturday night…

5. After a disastrous week for everyone at Penn State, almost everything that happened Saturday in Happy Valley was positive.

The Nittany Lions fell short against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, but this pre-game moment will probably be more memorable…

Elsewhere in the Big Ten…you know there wasn’t all that much going on elsewhere in the Big Ten. Well, Goldy Gopher DID attempt to frog splash Bucky Badger through a table; but not much else.

bigten

6. The Dallas Cowboys might have just put more points on the Buffalo Bills.

Let me get this straight. The Cowboys beat the Bills 44-7 and after the game the only thing anyone was talking about was the ONE Bills TD???

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6WvmOGoZ2E

The story is that Bills WR David Nelson caught a TD and then gave the ball to his girlfriend Kelsi Reich, who is a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. This is a fantastic reason for me to post a picture of Kelsi Reich…

kelsir

7. The Chicago Bears defense scored more fantasy points than a number of quarterbacks this weekend. 

Included in the Bears’ huge NFC North win was (inexplicably) ANOTHER punt return TD for Devin Hester…

What’s the worse idea? Predicting the Orioles will sign a significant free agent or kicking the ball to Devin Hester?

With things clearly not going their way, the Detroit Lions started fighting with the Bears. It’s weird because nothing about the team made me think they’d do something like that for no reason.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqyyZDR1kxA

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shanahan

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The 15-7-0 Of The Century

Posted on 07 November 2011 by Glenn Clark

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

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

15 Positive Observations…

1. If you have to make a trip to Orono, Maine you might as well go ahead and get a victory.

Which is what I guess the Towson Tigers figured they would do to move back into a first place in the CAA…

Terrance West ran all over the Black Bears, much like he’s done to everyone else in the conference. Towson has a completely legitimate chance to win the conference. I almost can’t believe I’m typing that.

2. Julio Jones did something Sunday you’re not capable of.

The Atlanta Falcons traded away many things to get this man on their team. If he keeps playing like he did against the Indianapolis Colts it will go down as one of the greatest decisions in National Football League history…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yNx7EyDECQ

As far as Indy in concerned, things have gotten so bad that at one point QB Curtis Painter threw two forward passes on the same play. No really, this actually happened. He wears the same number as Bert Jones. That’s where the similarities end.

3. Remember when the New York Giants and San Diego Chargers swapped Eli Manning & Phillip Rivers? The Giants put another point on the scoreboard Sunday.

There were many amazing things about the Giants’ come from behind win over the New England Patriots in Foxborough, notably the plays made from Eli Manning to Jake Ballard to win the game. But NOTHING I could share with you would be as good as the footage of Michael Strahan celebrating the win while the cameras were “off” at FOX…

During the Sunday Night Football halftime show, Bob Costas pointed out that Ballard’s number (85) was the same number worn by David Tyree in Super Bowl XLII. Pretty good.

(Puts on “Superfriends” announcer voice)

“MEANWHILE….IN SAN DIEGO….”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPr0Z4q_vXk

Phillip Rivers nearly figured out a way to beat the NFC (and NFL)’s best team. The reason why he “nearly” figured it out is because part of beating the best team in the the league is NOT repeatedly throwing the ball to them.

I feel like Aaron Rodgers is getting dangerously close to “so good we can’t possibly like him” territory by the way.

4. You only get to win a “Game of the Century” every now and then, so I’m pretty LSU doesn’t care how ugly things were Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.

And now we deal with the fact that we might well have to see the Tigers face Alabama again in the BCS Championship Game if Oklahoma State and Stanford falter.

Don’t get me wrong, this was a great game even if it wasn’t always beautiful to look at. LSU now has the fast track to a national title and it’s hard to imagine anyone not named Alabama beating them.

5. While Kellen Moore has done no wrong, Andrew Luck can clinch the Heisman Trophy next week against Oregon.

Kellen Moore wasn’t necessarily brilliant, but he surpassed Colt McCoy as the all-time winningest quarterback in NCAA history in Boise State’s win at UNLV…

Kellen Moore’s season only remains interesting however if Luck begins to stumble. Their national TV (ABC) game Saturday night against Oregon will be Luck’s chance to follow up on his performance against USC with a “clincher”. Probably. He had some early struggles, but was good again Saturday against Oregon State…

Trent Richardson remains third on my list-but he’s currently third on a list of two. Case Keenum heads the “others receiving votes” category.

6. Tim Tebow we love you again…at least for now.

Tim Tebow by no means beat the Oakland Raiders on his own (Denver Broncos teammates Willis McGahee, Eddie Royal & Eric Decker certainly helped), but what the hell do we care about anyone who plays in the Mile High City not named Tim Tebow?

By the way, the Broncos are only a game out of first place in the AFC West. And thank God the Raiders solved all of their problems by trading for Carson Palmer.

7. The New York Jets have bounced back well enough that Rex Ryan should say something idiotic any moment now.

The Jets kicked the Buffalo Bills’ asses Sunday in Orchard Park. Instead of showing the highlights, let’s all laugh at Mark Sanchez flinching when lined up out wide against Drayton Florence…

That’s more humorous than Ashton Kutcher on “Two & A Half Men.” But then again, what isn’t?

There’s a mess atop the AFC East, as these teams and the Pats all have three losses. I hope they all end up with six personally.

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Harbaugh sidestepping brother’s controversy, Ravens’ Monday night snubs

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Harbaugh sidestepping brother’s controversy, Ravens’ Monday night snubs

Posted on 17 October 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — In the aftermath of the Ravens’ 29-14 win over Houston on Sunday evening, coach John Harbaugh was asked whether he had heard about the altercation involving his younger brother following the 49ers’ big road win over Jim Schwartz and the Detroit Lions earlier in the day.

Harbaugh only spoke in general terms on Sunday since the incident occurred as Baltimore’s 4:05 game with Houston was getting underway.

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

A day later, the Ravens coach was asked whether he had spoken to Jim Harbaugh about the incident to get his view of what transpired. Predictably, Harbaugh would not reveal specific details of what he talked about with his brother but gave a clear indication who he was supporting — to no one’s surprise.

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“I think I know who was right, but whoever was right or wrong, I know whose side I’m on,” said Harbaugh, drawing laughs from the media. “I’m definitely taking sides — the same side I’ve always taken.”

The younger Harbaugh has been criticized for the handshake and slap on the back he offered Schwartz following San Francisco’s impressive 25-19 win. Schwartz took issue with Harbaugh’s decorum in celebrating the Week 6 victory as the two had to be restrained during a heated argument.

However, John Harbaugh chose to focus on the success his brother is having with the upstart 49ers after their 5-1 start. The Harbaughs will face off on Thanksgiving night in what’s shaping to be a far better matchup than anyone anticipated prior to the season.

“Everybody’s got a lot to learn, so I guess, right now, he’s 5-1,” Harbaugh said about his younger brother. “If the biggest lesson he has right now is how to shake hands post-game after a victory, he’s doing OK.”

Prior to being asked about his brother, Harbaugh was pressed about the Ravens not having a Monday night game during his first four seasons in Baltimore. The Jacksonville Jaguars will host the Ravens next Monday night, making it their second straight year with a home game featured on ESPN’s broadcast.

So, would the coach like to see a Monday night game in Baltimore?

“Aren’t we in enough controversy in the family right now to get me involved in that?” said Harbaugh, garnering laughter. “We’re happy to go play wherever they put us. Someday we’ll get a Monday night game, but you know we had a big Sunday night game [against the Jets]. We’ve got a big Thursday night game [against the 49ers on Thanksgiving night] coming up, so we’ve had some really cool games here. This year, it’s good that way, but one of these years, we’ll get a Monday night game.”

While many fans have taken issue with the absence of Monday night games at home, the Ravens have received plenty of exposure on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, which became the NFL’s marquee primetime game beginning in 2006. The Ravens have hosted a Sunday night game in each of the last five seasons.

Baltimore’s last Monday night home game came on Dec. 3, 2007 when the Ravens lost a heartbreaker in the final minute to the undefeated New England Patriots, 27-24. It was the infamous game in which former Ravens linebacker Bart Scott hurled a penalty flag into the stands after taking issue with a questionable call late in the game.

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