Tag Archive | "Justin Tucker"

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Patriots

Posted on 24 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 41-7 loss to the New England Patriots Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Joe Flacco pass intended for Dennis Pitta incomplete on 4th & 10 (4th quarter)

The “ender”.

4. Jimmy Smith called for 34 yard pass interference after Tom Brady pass intended for Julian Edelman incomplete (1st quarter)

Got everything started. 

3. Logan Ryan breaks up Joe Flacco pass intended for Jacoby Jones on 4th & 3 (3rd quarter)

Questionable decision, more questionable execution.

2. Logan Ryan intercepts Joe Flacco pass intended for Jacoby Jones after Dont’a Hightower tip (1st quarter)

Didn’t take long to make it 14-0. 

1. Ray Rice runs for no gain on 4th & 1 (3rd quarter)

There was no (realistic) coming back from this. 

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Justin Tucker as Ravens MVP? Sure…after all, who else could it be?

Posted on 24 December 2013 by Drew Forrester

Not that it matters, because it’s nothing more than a side-note in a player’s media guide biography, but Justin Tucker won the Ravens MVP award on Monday afternoon.

That shouldn’t be too startling if you’ve followed the Ravens through the first fifteen weeks of the 2013 season.  After all, Tucker has actually been the only “regular” on the team who has played above the bar of excellence typically reserved for players who earn MVP status.

Oddly enough, voting for Tucker for team MVP (as I did, admittedly, when the media ballots were distributed last week) was just as much a vote of deduction than anything else.

The other candidates were the three Smith’s — Jimmy, Daryl and Torrey, plus quarterback Joe Flacco.

None of those five came close to duplicating the overall excellence of Justin Tucker this season.

Now, if you’re one of those people who thinks it’s absurd for the team’s kicker to be the Most Valuable Player of the team, I’ll agree with you on that point.

Yes, I voted for Tucker.  I told you that already.

But, voting for the guy and also acknowledging it’s weird to have the kicker be the team’s MVP are entirely possible when you look at what transpired this season.

In short:  The Ravens offense stunk in 2013.

That eliminates Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith from the discussion.

And, while the defensive Smith’s were solid, neither of them came close to establishing the overall consistency of Tucker.

I don’t know that Jimmy Smith or Daryl Smith won any games for John Harbaugh’s team.

Justin Tucker did.

And, when you’re 8-7 and still have a puncher’s chance of making the post-season, the kicker who made the difference in four of those victories deserves the nod as the team MVP.

Sad?

Sure.

The kicker sure as hell isn’t the MVP in Denver, Kansas City, Seattle, Carolina or Cincinnati.

Flacco is the lightning bolt topic when it comes to the Tucker verdict in Baltimore, because he’s the $60 million man and much was expected from him after holding up both the Lombardi and MVP trophy at last February’s Super Bowl in New Orleans.

The real truth about his 2013 campaign?  It’s been average, at best.  Some would say he’s been less than average; some would counter and say with what he’s had to work with, Flacco has been better than average.

Mix all the opinions together, look at the team’s record and Flacco’s numbers and you get:  Average.

Now, were there issues outside of Flacco’s area of responsibility?

Lack of pass blockers to protect him?  You bet.

No running game to help support his arm?  Absolutely.

Wide receiving group still short a quality contributor – or two?  Yes, indeed.

Injury to Pitta a tough pill to swallow?  Of course.

But, 19 interceptions don’t lie.

It’s one thing if Flacco doesn’t produce a 30 TD, 4,000 yard season given the limits I listed above, combined with the anticipated “Super Bowl hangover” that nearly every veteran has likely experienced to some degree in 2013.

But, he hasn’t even reached 20 TD’s yet.  And he’ll need 280 yards passing at Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon to eclipse the 4,000 yard mark for the first time ever.

Not only has he thrown the ball to the other team nineteen times, and, yes, not all 19 of those are completely “on” Flacco, — a handful of the pics were deflections or balls that should have been caught by his receivers — but he’s also fumbled it eight times, with two of those recovered by the opposition.

(Please see next page)

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Tucker selected as 2013 Ravens’ team MVP

Posted on 23 December 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — In a season in which the Ravens have stumbled offensively far too often, they’ve leaned on Justin Tucker to provide points and to even win games on several occasions.

The second-year kicker was recognized by the local media as the team’s 2013 Most Valuable Player, becoming the first special-teams performer to win the award since it was introduced in 2003. The highlight for Tucker’s 2013 campaign came in Week 15 in Detroit when he booted six field goals and a franchise-record 61-yarder in the final minute to give the Ravens an 18-16 victory.

For the season, Tucker is 35-for-38 and can eclipse Matt Stover’s team record for field goals in a season with one in Cincinnati on Sunday. His remarkable streak of 33 consecutive field goals without a miss came to an end on Sunday when he misfired from 37 yards, leaving him three field goals shy of Stover’s franchise record.

Tucker has already become one of the NFL’s best kickers in just his second year after being signed as a free agent from the University of Texas in the spring of 2012 and beating out incumbent Billy Cundiff for the job. As a rookie, he went 30-for-33 and made the game-winning 47-yard field goal in double overtime in the Ravens’ divisional round win over Denver.

“He’s a year older, he’s a year better, [and] he’s a year ahead in terms of technique and perfecting his craft and all those kinds of things,” coach John Harbaugh said earlier in December. “But there are still a lot of things he needs to work on. He’d be the first to tell you that. There are a lot of kicks he doesn’t have in his tool bag yet. But the main kick he’s got in his tool bag is kicking it straight when it’s a field goal — in all kinds of conditions — and that’s a pretty important one.”

The selection of a specialist as the team MVP is a reflection of the lack of a great candidate this season as the Ravens have gone 8-7, but Tucker’s 15 field goals over the recent four-game winning streak — the Ravens scored only five touchdowns during the stretch — and four games in which he kicked four or more field goals are too difficult to overlook in assessing his value. Of Baltimore’s eight wins this year, four have come by a field goal or less and Tucker connected on a field goal from at least 46 yards in each of those victories.

He also has made six field goals from 50 yards or more this season.

Tucker was the winner over four other finalists: quarterback Joe Flacco, cornerback Jimmy Smith, linebacker Daryl Smith, and wide receiver Torrey Smith. Those four have played well for stretches of the season, but it would be difficult to argue that any showed the same level of consistency as Tucker, who missed two field goal tries in Week 2 and didn’t miss again until Sunday’s attempt sailed wide left in the 41-7 loss to New England.

In addition to awarding Tucker the team MVP, the local media tabbed Flacco as the annual Good Guy Award winner, which is given to the player considered to be most cooperative with reporters during the season. Flacco’s blunt honesty, which hasn’t always been received well by outsiders and those within the organization, has been refreshing for reporters throughout the season.

Considering he is one of the biggest stars on the team, the quarterback has remained approachable in the locker room in addition to his weekly podium session and is usually willing to answer a quick question or to simply chat casually with reporters.

Torrey Smith, tight end Ed Dickson, defensive end Chris Canty, and safety James Ihedigbo were the other candidates nominated for the Media Good Guy award.

Harbaugh admits fourth-quarter mistake

In what was just one of several questionable coaching decisions over the course of a miserable 41-7 defeat to New England on Sunday, Harbaugh sent Tucker into the game early in the fourth quarter for a 37-yard field goal try with the Ravens trailing 20-0.

Tucker missed the attempt, but the Ravens didn’t stand to benefit much from the conversion as they still would have trailed by three possessions with 14:19 remaining. Asked about it following the game, Harbaugh erroneously suggested that the kick would have created a two-score deficit and then admitted he wanted to revisit the game situation.

Asked again when he met with the media for his Monday press conference, Harbaugh wished he had a mulligan for the fourth-quarter situation.

“If I had to do that one again, I would have gone for that,” Harbaugh said. “I’d have gone for all four of [fourth-down situations], looking back on it. We had just gone for the one previous to that that was on the 4-yard line with a foot to go [late in the third quarter]. Obviously, this is fourth-and-five on the 20-yard line. It’s a little bit different and, during the flow of the game, I think I felt differently about it at the time. Looking back on it, I would agree with anybody that feels like we should have gone for it.”

The Ravens were 0-for-3 on fourth-down attempts in the second half.

Injury updates

It was apparent to observers that Flacco’s left knee injury impacted his play in some way during a two-interception performance against New England.

Harbaugh acknowledged that reality by connecting it to the big picture of few players being fully healthy after the first 15 games of the regular season. Flacco wore a bulky brace on his left knee and struggled to move comfortably in the pocket, especially in the first half, after he was diagnosed with a mild medial collateral ligament last week.

“I can’t think of one player who is 100 percent who has played,” Harbaugh said. “Joe has played every single play the whole season. He’s definitely not 100 percent on that knee. But to say how much or to what degree is just impossible to say. I think he fought through it, he gutted it out, he battled, and that’s what you do this time of year. And that’s what makes Joe who he is. He’s a tough, hard-nosed competitor. We appreciate that about him.”

The head coach did not address any other injuries specifically, only stating that no player has been ruled out for Sunday’s regular-season finale in which the Ravens need a win and a loss by either Miami or San Diego to secure the No. 6 seed in the AFC.

Defensive tackle Arthur Jones sustained a concussion in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss, but the Ravens did not officially report any other injuries following the game. Linebacker Daryl Smith (heel) and wide receiver Marlon Brown (hip) both missed time with injuries but returned to the game.

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Ravens handed worst home loss ever as Patriots deliver “cleat of reality”

Posted on 22 December 2013 by Drew Forrester

This time, there was no late-game heroics to save the Ravens.

No half-a-world-away kick from Justin Tucker.

No final minute punt return from Jacoby Jones.

No last gasp drive from Joe Flacco and the offense.

This time, it was just football for sixty minutes.

And, the Ravens got their rear ends handed to them by Tom Brady and the Patriots.  There’s no other way to slice it.  No fancy way to sugarcoat it.  Not on Sunday.  It was 41-7 in favor of the Patriots and the beating was as bad as the score would indicate, even if two of the New England TD’s were scored in garbage time.

It was a day to forget for Joe Flacco and the offense.  Going up against a beleaguered and injured New England defense, the Baltimore offense simply laid a colossal Christmas egg, coughing up the ball on four different occasions and failing to pick up a first down on two separate 4th and short situations in the second half.

On the first occasion, the Ravens were faced with a 4th and 2 at the New England 39.  They had already run the ball twice in the series — once for five yards and the other for three yards, but offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell eschewed the reasonable solution of running off the edge and instead asked Flacco to connect with Jacoby Jones on a short pass.  It failed.

Later on, at the New England four yard line, the Ravens had two chances to pick up one yard.  On 3rd and 1, Caldwell again called for a pass play, which was incomplete.  Facing a 20-0 deficit, the Ravens rightfully went for it on 4th down.  Flacco initially lined up in the shotgun with Rice to his right.  Just prior to the snap, the QB scooted under center and gave Rice the ball off tackle, where he was stopped for no gain.  Was that the play design coming out of a Baltimore time-out where the Ravens discussed a critical play-call?  If so, it looked sloppy at best, ill-executed at worst.

Those two 4th down failures didn’t cost the Ravens the game, but you can’t win football games in the NFL when you can’t pick up two yards and one yard with your season perhaps on the line.

Later, the Ravens made the wrong call on a field goal decision that all but sewed up the game for the visitors.  Trailing 20-0 and faced with a 4th and 5 at the Patriots’ 19 yard line early in the 4th quarter, John Harbaugh elected to send Justin Tucker on the field for a 36 yard field goal.  That Tucker would miss the field goal was almost poetic justice, for even if he would have connected, the Ravens still trailed by three scores at 20-3.  He missed it.

Sure, Tucker should make a 36-yarder every time, but the call there should have been to go for it on 4th down to try and get a TD on that series and make it a two score game.

If the game wasn’t over prior to Tucker attempting the field goal, it was over when he failed to connect.

The Baltimore offense has now scored one touchdown in its last eight quarters of action.  Six field goals last Monday night in Detroit and one “we don’t care if you score” TD allowed by New England on Sunday.  In fairness, one of those days where the ineptness of the offense finally catches up to the Ravens was bound to happen.  Other Sunday’s, Flacco and Company would figure out a way to put up a TD or two and add a few Justin Tucker field goals to win 23-20.

This was the Sunday where the football gods finally said, “You boys are gonna have to play some legit football on offense today.”

And, the Ravens didn’t answer the bell.

The Baltimore defense got picked apart early by Tom Brady, who used Julian Edelman like a fiddler with his bow.  When the Patriots took advantage of a pass interference call on Jimmy Smith in the end zone and a Flacco interception to go up 14-0, all they had to do from there was play smart, use the clock and not turn the ball over.  What quarterback in the world is better than doing those things than New England’s #12?

Brady expertly used the middle of the field as the Ravens’ secondary played a soft cover-2 that put little emphasis on physicality.

One week ago in Detroit, the Ravens defensive backs went toe-to-toe with Calvin Johnson from the first whistle and physically challenged him.

Against New England, there was very little of that press coverage scheme from Jimmy Smith or Corey Graham, although it’s fair to note Lardarius Webb was tight on his man most of the day.

The Baltimore defense put little pressure on the quarterback all afternoon.  Strong?  Yes.  Big in size?  Yes.  But the Ravens lack pace and speed in their defensive front seven and when they face a quick-release quarterback like the one in New England, there’s not much damage being done.

When Brady gets time to do his thing, it can get ugly.  Like it did on Sunday.

On the flip side, the Ravens offense was unable to solve the mystery of the New England defense that somehow constructed a method to beat Baltimore on the inside and give Flacco something to think about most of the day.  Horrible against the run, the Patriots weren’t challenged that much by Caldwell, who went to the air 42 times.  It was a weird combination, it seemed.  New England WANTED the Ravens to throw it and the Baltimore coaching staff did just that.

It all added up to the worst home loss of the John Harbaugh-Joe Flacco era.  With their playoff lives on the line, the Ravens turned in a stinker for the ages, at home no less, and made next Sunday’s game in Cincinnati a must-win affair.

Everyone’s shorts smelled on Sunday.

The coaches had a long day.

The offense had a longer day.

And the defense, which played respectably overall, got a lesson in how Tom Brady operates when the calls and the balls are both working in his favor.  He’s tough to beat.

Hell, Justin Tucker missed a 36 yard field goal.

You know you’re not winning if that happens.

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Tucker named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week

Posted on 18 December 2013 by WNST Staff

CHIEFS RB JAMAAL CHARLES, DOLPHINS S MICHAEL THOMAS & RAVENS K JUSTIN TUCKER NAMED AFC PLAYERS OF WEEK 15

Running back JAMAAL CHARLES of the Kansas City Chiefs, safety MICHAEL THOMAS of the Miami Dolphins and
kicker JUSTIN TUCKER of the Baltimore Ravens are the AFC Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams Players of the
Week for games played the 15th week of the 2013 season (December 12, 15-16), the NFL announced today.

SPECIAL TEAMS: K JUSTIN TUCKER, BALTIMORE RAVENS
 Tucker converted all six field-goals, including a game-winning 61-yarder in the Ravens’ 18-16 win at Detroit on
Monday Night Football.
 Tucker’s 61-yard field goal marked the third-longest come-from-behind game-winning field goal in the final minute
of the fourth quarter in NFL history.
 His six field goals of 29, 24, 32, 49, 53 and 61 were the most in the NFL in Week 15.
 He scored all 18 of the Ravens’ points in the game.
 Tucker has made 33 consecutive field goals, the longest active streak in the NFL.
 Through Week 15, Tucker has converted an NFL-best 35 field goals.
 In his second season from Texas, this is Tucker’s third career Special Teams Player of the Week Award (all in
2013). He previously won the award in Week 12 and Week 10.

 

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Lions

Posted on 17 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 18-16 win over the Detroit Lions Monday night at Ford Field…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Louis Delmas called for unnecessary roughness after Joe Flacco pass intended for Marlon Brown incomplete on 3rd down (2nd quarter)

Ended up giving the Ravens three points in a spot where they would have gotten nothing.

4. Daryl Smith sacks Matthew Stafford for five yard loss at Baltimore 47 (1st quarter)

Lions had moved the ball at will on first two drives until this play, game appeared to be headed to a shootout or even a blowout.

3. Matt Elam intercepts Matthew Stafford pass intended for Nate Burleson (4th quarter)

The “ender”.

2. Jacoby Jones 27 yard catch from Joe Flacco on 3rd & 15 (4th quarter)

The significance of this play has somehow been lost.

1. Justin Tucker 61 yard field goal GOOD (4th quarter)

I still don’t believe it.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Ravens Defeat Detroit "Just-In" Time to Keep AFC North Title Hopes Alive

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Ravens Defeat Detroit “Just-In” Time to Keep AFC North Title Hopes Alive

Posted on 17 December 2013 by Nick Dorsey

 

The Ravens faced a crucial 3rd and 10 with just over a minute left on the road during an important December contest. The Ravens had a little ways to go before getting into presumed “field goal range.” Baltimore ran a draw play to Ray Rice, which gained only two yards. The Ravens faced a 4th and long with the clock still running and Joe Flacco trying to get a play call to his teammates on the field. Coach Harbaugh finally called a timeout with 43 seconds remaining on the clock.

Ravens fans were questioning the draw play call on a third and long situation and were left even more puzzled when kicker Justin Tucker marched onto the field after the timeout. Tucker had kicked a perfect 5 for 5 during the game, responsible for all the teams’ points. Tucker told Coach Harbaugh he could make the kick, so the coach trusted the kicker and put him on the field.

It was a 61-yard field goal attempt that Harbaugh decided to go with instead of taking a chance on a long fourth down conversion. Both sidelines holding their breath as the snap went back to the holder and the kick was up. As close as it got, Justin Tucker made the 61-yard field goal game winner, the longest kick in a dome in NFL History. Detroit was in complete disbelief, but still had a chance to go up field with several timeouts left. Matthew Stafford on the ensuing possession, overthrew Calvin Johnson across the middle, right into the arms of rookie Matt Elam. What a coincidence, Matt Elam intercepting the game sealer off of the arms of the “old” Calvin Johnson.

The last two weeks for Baltimore have been as bizarre as it can get for a franchise this late in the season. It is not every day you see a coach trust his kicker to make a 61-yard field goal with the playoffs on the line. Harbaugh took the chance and was rewarded for the gutsy call.
This was not a pretty win for the Ravens, as they were 0-3 in the red-zone during the first half, settling for field goals. They kept Detroit around the whole game, despite three turnovers by the Lions. Even with being handed good opportunities by the defense, the offense still could not convert throughout the game. Instead, Baltimore relied on their kicker to single-handedly outscore the NFL’s second best scoring offense. It was not a pretty win, but by all means, a win is a win in the NFL. It is so hard to win today in the NFL, especially when it counts in December.

The Ravens now have a tremendous opportunity for the rest of the season; they control their own destiny. In even better news, they control their own destiny for not the wild card, but the AFC North title. It almost seemed impossible at mid-season that Baltimore could get back in the hunt for the North title. They turned near impossibility, into a reality after last nights win. The rest of the way will not be easy for Baltimore; they will have to earn it. They face the New England Patriots at home next week, who had just lost the previous match-up to the Miami Dolphins. Both teams extremely hungry, as a win would do wonders for both franchises in the playoff race. Then the regular season ends at Cincinnati, where Baltimore will have the chance to take down the current division leaders. The next two weeks of the regular season will be challenging for the Baltimore Ravens, but it is fully up to them if their season ends during the regular season or if their season is just beginning once again, for a chance at repeating as Super Bowl champions.

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“Justin Tucker” — It’s OK, go ahead and name your next son “Justin Tucker”…it works

Posted on 17 December 2013 by Drew Forrester

Heard over the years on WNST Radio —

Drew: “I’m telling you, if I ran a NFL franchise, the first thing I’d do is determine which kicker in the league was the best one and as soon as he was available, I’d double his salary to kick for me.”

Listeners:  “This guy is nuts.”

Drew: “Other than the quarterback, there isn’t one other individual player who will directly impact winning and losing as much as your kicker.”

Listeners:  “This guy is nuts.”

Drew:  “Kickers absolutely belong in the NFL Hall of Fame.  The great ones have put their stamp on the game and then some…”

Listeners:  “This guy is nuts.”

——————————————–

Maybe I’m not so nuts after all, huh?

Remove for a second the two people on the Ravens’ 53-man roster — Justin Tucker and Sam Koch — and put the other 51 names in a hat.

Draw them out at random and hand them a football to throw.

Nearly every guy, even the Haloti Ngata types whose size would indicate they’d be better at eating the football than throwing it, can usually put the proper grip on the ball and throw it.

Lots of defensive backs in the NFL are ex-high school quarterbacks with limited size, hence their late-teens transfer to the defensive side of the ball.

Plenty of non-quarterbacks in the NFL could throw a perfect spiral if you gave them the ball and said, “Hit Pitta on a 15-yard out route here in the practice facility.”

If you put 25 balls in the “Jugs” machine and asked guys like Courtney Upshaw and Marshal Yanda to catch balls as they came sizzling out of that contraption, they could do it.

Now — line up those 51 players again and ask them to kick a 30-yard field goal.  Keep in mind you’re in the practice facility.  Just goofing around.  No pressure.  No rush.  Nothin’.  Just for fun.

They would all get a visit from our old friend – “The Cleat of Reality” – and a reminder of how special kickers are in the NFL.

They’re so special…no one else can do what they do.

—————————————————–

Justin Tucker rescued the Ravens on Monday night.

Again.

John Harbaugh’s team has now won straight times at the perfect moment to do so in the regular season.

And, in those four victories, the Baltimore offense has how many touchdowns?  Think.  Quickly.

Did you say, “Five!”?

If you did, you’re a winner.

One TD vs. the Jets in a 19-3 win.

One TD vs. the Steelers in a 22-20 win.

Three TDs vs. the Vikings in a 29-20 win.

Zero TDs vs. the Lions in an 18-15 win.

Five touchdowns in four wins.

How many field goals in those wins?

Glad you asked.

Fifteen field goals.

Oh, I probably should add.

That’s 15-for-15 in chances attempted/chances made.

———————————————-

Justin Tucker is so good, the Orioles could sign him and I assume he’d be an upgrade over one of the no-names they’ve added in their not-so-Hot-Stove-month of activity.

———————————————

I’m done trying to figure out how the Ravens win games in the NFL with their almost laughably-inept offensive inabilities in the red zone.

It defies all logic.

Teams that drive up and down the field but can’t convert those efforts into touchdowns not only shouldn’t win, a football purist would contend they don’t DESERVE to win.

I’d say, “You’re right, sir!”

But, this Ravens team wins games in ways no other team in the league does.

That’s why they’re a championship organization.

As Malcom X once said:  “By any means necessary.”

In 2013, “any means necessary” usually involves Justin Tucker doing things very few human beings on the planet could replicate.

Oh, and in the case of Monday’s win specifically, “by any means necessary” also included an assist from Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz, who probably needs a concussion test after Monday night’s debacle.

How else can you explain his clock management at the end of the game?

Had to be a concussion.

 

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Tucker, Ravens tear up book on how to win with wild night in Detroit

Posted on 17 December 2013 by Luke Jones

All the details seemed to be pointing to a valiant effort but a disappointing loss for the Ravens to the Detroit Lions on Monday night.

The offense was 0-for-3 inside the red zone in the first half and could only muster field goals in trying to go toe to toe with the league’s second-ranked offense, leaving the Ravens defense with little breathing room before it finally buckled and gave up a go-ahead fourth-quarter touchdown as it has on more than a few occasions this season.

A last-minute drive orchestrated by a gimpy Joe Flacco moved the Ravens to the Detroit 45 before they inexplicably handed the ball to Ray Rice for a 2-yard gain on third-and-10 and called timeout with 43 seconds remaining. Already 5-for-5 on field goals for the night, Justin Tucker trotted onto the field to attempt a 61-yarder to put the Ravens ahead 18-16.

Really? They couldn’t be serious, right?

John Harbaugh explained after the game that his second-year kicker had told him he would be successful kicking a field goal from that great distance before the Ravens called for the unorthodox run to Rice on third-and-10. The coach would have justifiably faced weeks — and likely an entire offseason — of criticism and second-guessing had Tucker not made the longest kick in franchise history to give the Ravens their fourth consecutive win to improve to 8-6 and retake their current spot as the No. 6 seed in the AFC.

Having faith in your players is one thing, but to willingly attempt the third-longest field goal to win a game in NFL history — and to have made up your mind to do it a play earlier — bordered on lunacy.

Yet it worked.

Of course, much has failed to make sense for these Ravens over the last calendar year except the all-too-familiar outcome of winning when it matters most.

They can thank their 24-year-old kicker who is already entering the previously-unspoken territory of comparisons to Matt Stover, a Ring of Honor member and one of the most beloved players in franchise history. Even the great Stover never had a night like Tucker had Monday in booting a franchise-record six field goals — three from 49 yards or longer — and providing one of the wildest finishes in franchise history.

Tucker has now made 33 straight field goal tries — three shy of Stover’s team record — and his 61-yard field goal to win the game was the longest ever made in a dome and only the 14th of 60 or more yards in NFL history.

The discussion centered around a kicker being a team’s most valuable player is typically absurd when acknowledging how few plays in which he’s actually involved over the course of a game, but it’s impossible to overlook how important Tucker has been for the Ravens as they’ve battled offensive inconsistency all year. Teams never want to settle for field goals in lieu of touchdowns, but a guaranteed three points is wholly valuable with an above-average defense that put forth an exceptional effort against All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson and the high-octane Detroit offense on Monday.

Yes, the Ravens collected another win that could only leave you scratching your head and asking how they did it at the end of the night, but that’s nothing new with Harbaugh’s team.

There is still plenty of work remaining as the Ravens return home to face Tom Brady and New England on Sunday before a potential Week 17 trip to Cincinnati for the AFC North title if they can win their fifth straight in Week 16 against the Patriots.

Baltimore is healthy and appearing poised to make a run once again if they can complete the difficult task of overcoming a 4-6 start to make the postseason for the sixth consecutive year.

But perhaps the best quality the Ravens have is their faith in one another as Harbaugh inexplicably showed in his young kicker to make one of the longest kicks in league history to win a game they desperately needed. It didn’t make sense in the seconds leading up to the try and left you still shaking your head after the ball sailed between the uprights at Ford Field.

The Ravens failed to score a touchdown against the Lions and have gone 4-for-14 inside the red zone over their last four games. The defense once again played well before surrendering a late-game touchdown that threatened to doom them for the third straight week.

And, still, Baltimore has won in each of the last four weeks despite their imperfections and shortcomings.

The Ravens certainly went against the book on how to beat a quality team on the road Monday night as Tucker did his best to earn a key to the city. Even so, the Ravens won’t and shouldn’t apologize for the win, either.

They’ve shown time after time that the unconventional works perfectly for them.

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Our Ravens/Lions “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 17 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Creative Deck Designs Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor.

We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches each.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 18-16 victory over the Detroit Lions Monday night at Ford Field…

Glenn Clark’s Pats…

5. Dean Pees

4. Daryl Smith

3. Jacoby Jones

2. Joe Flacco

1. Jimmy Smith (Pat on Both Cheeks)

(Continued on Page 2…)

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