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Ravens escape Bengals despite offensive slumber party

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Ravens escape Bengals despite offensive slumber party

Posted on 10 November 2013 by Drew Forrester

There are two ways to look at Sunday’s 20-17 Baltimore win over Cincinnati.

Season saved.

Or, torture extended.

Honestly, I’m thinking we’re a lot closer to torture-extended than saving the season, but that’s why they play the games.

I’ll just ask the question directly instead of beating around the bush:  This Ravens offense can’t possibly be good enough to win six more games between now and New Years, right?

I don’t see how it can happen.

They can’t run the ball.  Anywhere.  And the passing game, while decent enough at times, just can’t prop up a one-dimensional offense like the one the Ravens are utilizing these days.

Now, this takes nothing at all away from the overtime win over the Bengals.  A loss by the Ravens – after being up 17-0 – would have been about as disappointing as The Hangover 3.  And, with the win, the season and hopes for a rebound in the second half are alive and well, despite the offensive ineptness.

A win IS a win, no matter how many times we’ve heard that over the years.

And, we’ve heard it a lot.

But, it’s true.  The standings will reflect that Baltimore won on Sunday to improve to 4-5 and the Bengals lost to fall to 6-4.  Bellyaching about the team’s offense – like I just did above – won’t change those facts.  Lamenting about James Ihedigbo’s mental error on the game’s final play of regulation won’t alter the outcome, either.

I assume Bengals fans might want to wring Marvin Lewis’s neck for a series of bizarre decisions throughout the afternoon, but none will be talked about more than his decision to take the overtime kick off and give the Ravens the choice of which end zone to defend.  It essentially flipped the field on Cincy in OT, as they elected not to try and kick a 50 yard field goal into the windswept end and instead went for it on 4th and 2 from the Baltimore 33 yard line.  When the Bengals lost 11 yards on the play, the Ravens got the ball on their own 44 yard line.  Even a bad Baltimore offense can scoot the ball along 25 yards without coughing it up, which is exactly what happened to give Tucker his 46 yard game-winner.

Lewis will regret not punting on 4th and 2.  And he’ll be questioned about taking the ball to start overtime and giving the Ravens the easy end of the field to work with, wind-wise.  That said, neither of those elements dwarf his team’s biggest problem on Sunday:  Andy Dalton stunk up the joint.  If he’s a championship quarterback, I’m the lead singer for Alice in Chains.

Truthfully, from the first whistle until Green’s miracle grab on the final play, the Bengals had zero business even being in the game.  They were disjointed, undisciplined and largely more interested in accumulating penalty flags than points throughout most of the afternoon.  It wasn’t until Baltimore’s offense fizzled in the final two minutes of the game that the visitors even had a breath of life.

If ever the Ravens grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat, Sunday’s game did just that.

And that’s after they allowed the Bengals to meander their way back into the contest when it looked like they weren’t all that interested in doing so.

That’s what happens when your offense can’t put teams away.

And that’s how it goes when you’re playing with fire defensively, knowing any small mistake can put your team behind the eight ball.

The Ravens outplayed the Bengals on Sunday.

It wasn’t an ass kicking or anything, but the Baltimore defense manned up all afternoon and put John Harbaugh’s team in position for a relatively easy win.

Then, the Baltimore offense stalled.

Again.

And the whole thing got a lot closer than it needed to get.

This Ravens team – as a whole – just doesn’t appear to be all that good.  But, they’re 4-5 and still alive in the race for an AFC playoff spot.  A win in Chicago next week and they’re still very much in the thick of things.

Let’s see if the offense makes the trip to Soldier Field.

If it doesn’t, we won’t be crowing about “a win is a win” this time next Sunday night.

 

 

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Bengals defense curls up and says “please don’t hurt me” in 44-13 drubbing

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Bengals defense curls up and says “please don’t hurt me” in 44-13 drubbing

Posted on 10 September 2012 by Drew Forrester

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis strolled into his post-game media press conference at M&T Bank Stadium on Monday night and didn’t look all that concerned about the battering his defense took in a 44-13 drubbing at the hands of the Ravens.

I must have watched a different game than he did from the sidelines.

“We weren’t bothered by the (Ravens) no-huddle, we just didn’t make any plays,” he claimed.

I guess that’s one way of trying to justify a game with no turnovers created, which the Bengals defense didn’t do on Monday night.

From my vantage point, I saw a Bengals defense unprepared for the next play in front of them.  Time and time again, the Bengals failed to put any pressure on Joe Flacco and the 5th year quarterback picked them apart with ease, going early and often to a host of pass catchers, including Jacoby Jones and Anquan Boldin, who caught a 2nd quarter TD pass.

It all started off magically for the Ravens.  The season’s first offensive play for Baltimore was a 52-yard completion from Joe Flacco to Torrey Smith, a sign of things to come for the rest of the night.  The victim was Leon Hall, who took his fair share of humiliation on Monday along with the rest of the Cincinnati secondary.  Flacco looked polished, assertive and hungry, picking apart the Bengals with throws both across the middle and deep down the field.  It was, Lewis hopes, perhaps a case of opening night nerves for the visitors, but the Ravens offense moved the ball at will throughout most of the evening.

Interestingly enough, the Cincy offense rattled off three consecutive long drives in the second and third quarters, going for 76, 79 and 81 yards en route to collecting their 13 points.  It’s rare that a Ravens defense allows three drives of that nature, but Baltimore wasn’t exactly the ’85 Bears on Monday night, as they put little outside pressure on Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and didn’t stop the run with the kind of regularity we might have expected.

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Join us for WNST Purple Roadtrip to Cincinnati (Dec. 29-31)

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Join us for WNST Purple Roadtrip to Cincinnati (Dec. 29-31)

Posted on 27 April 2012 by WNST Trips

Ring out the 2012 season and year with us as WNST presents a two-night trip to Cincinnati as the Baltimore Ravens take on the Bengals on Dec. 30 in Ohio.

Our trip departs on Saturday, Dec. 29 and will arrive in Cincinnati in time for you to enjoy the downtown entertainment district.

All WNST Purple Roadtrips are sponsored in 2012 by our friends at Jiffy Lube and Miller Lite. Not only will we be again enjoying ice cold Miller Lite on all trips we’ll be giving you a 15.70% discount to use at Jiffy Lube this season to keep your car or truck going.

Everyone who goes on a WNST Purple Roadtrip this fall saves money on their next oil change in Baltimore!

We will be staying two night at Millennium Hotel downtown where plenty of bars, restaurants and shopping are nearby.

WNST will host a Saturday event along for all WNST Purple Roadtrip travelers.

Trip includes:

Roundtrip airfare on Southwest Airlines (leaving BWI on Dec. 29, returning on morning of Dec. 31)

Three nights deluxe accommodation at Millennium Hotel in Cincinnati

Upper deck game ticket for Bengals-Ravens

Party admission for Saturday’s WNST Purple Pep Rally

COST:

SINGLE: $999

DOUBLE: $899

TRIPLE: $849

QUAD: $799

Simply click on ADD TO CART below…

How many in your room?

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Ravens’ karma trending in wrong direction for meeting with Bengals?

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Ravens’ karma trending in wrong direction for meeting with Bengals?

Posted on 28 December 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — No matter which way you look this week, it’s impossible to ignore the signs of bad karma as the Ravens prepare for the most important game of their season and, perhaps, in the regular-season history of the franchise.

There was the organization’s decision to delay the mailing of playoff tickets until next week. It’s clearly a financially-prudent choice, but it doesn’t exactly scream confidence in the Ravens winning in Cincinnati when looking from a superficial level.

The Bengals then announced they sold out Paul Brown Stadium for Sunday’s showdown at 4:15 p.m., eliminating the potential for a listless atmosphere such as the one in which the Ravens played in Cleveland earlier this month. Poke all the fun you want at the two-for-one deal the organization offered its season-ticket holders, but there will be 65,000 fans in attendance, even if several thousand make the trip from Baltimore to support the Ravens.

Of course, putting the interesting — but inconsequential — footnotes aside, the Ravens are dealing with a plethora of injuries as wide receiver Anquan Boldin has already been ruled out, leaving behind a passing offense that struggled to find its way against the Cleveland Browns last Saturday. Marshal Yanda, their Pro Bowl right guard, is dealing with rib and thigh contusions, leaving his status up in the air against the fifth-ranked run defense in the NFL.

And, yes, the Ravens own a 3-4 record on the road this season. It’s the reason why they covet the AFC North title, a first-round bye, and a guarantee of a second-round playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium, where they are 8-0 this season.

The Ravens want the home cooking, but they may need the time to allow their bodies to heal even more.

“When you get that bye, you’re able to play fresh throughout the whole game, and it makes a big difference, a huge difference,” running back Ray Rice said. “Needless to say, this week is a playoff game. It’s big for them, and it’s even bigger for us.”

Treating this one as a playoff game is a common theme shared by many in the Ravens’ locker room this week. The notion of this one being bigger for the Ravens than it is for the Bengals sounds great if you’re peering through purple-tinted lenses, but it goes against all reasonable logic.

Regardless of what happens on Sunday, the Ravens know they’re playing another game; the Bengals own no such luxury. And for a Baltimore team that’s struggled to maintain focus on the road throughout the season — often faltering in weeks that followed a significant win — it’s a concerning circumstance.

With so much emphasis on winning a championship with veterans such as Ray Lewis and Ed Reed in the twilight of their careers, are the Ravens too focused on the big picture of Indianapolis to pay close attention to the necessary stops along the way?

“This game pays off, if we can this this game,” coach John Harbaugh said. “But, whatever happens, we’re going to play the next game, too. So, our focus is on this game. You can’t play games in the future, and you can’t play any games in the past.”

The head coach said it himself. The Ravens still have outs if they lose on Sunday, even if you don’t like their odds having to go on the road for the fourth consecutive postseason.

Meanwhile, the Bengals’ opportunity to make the playoffs diminishes significantly with a loss in what’s turned out to be a remarkable season under head coach Marvin Lewis. Cincinnati is that desperate man with nothing to lose, the one you don’t want to meet in a dark alley.

Rookie Andy Dalton demanded the Ravens’ attention after throwing for 373 yards and a touchdown in Cincinnati’s 31-24 loss in Baltimore last month. The Bengals possess three dangerous weapons in tight end Jermaine Gresham and wide receivers A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson for Dalton to target.

It falls short — in both height and statistics — of the Chargers offense that humiliated the Baltimore defense in a nationally-televised game two weeks ago, but it’s similar enough to raise concern if the uninspired Ravens show up like they did in road performances at Tennessee, Jacksonville, Seattle, and, most recently, San Diego.

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Ravens-Bengals: Five predictions for Sunday

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Ravens-Bengals: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 19 November 2011 by Luke Jones

With a share of the AFC North lead in the balance, the Cincinnati Bengals travel to M&T Bank Stadium to take on the Ravens in the teams’ first meeting of the season.

Both right on the heels of 7-3 Pittsburgh, the Bengals are trying to rebound from a tough defeat to the Steelers while the Ravens want to erase the hangover from another loss to a sub-.500 team after falling in Seattle last week. Baltimore also hopes to avoid losing consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 2009.

Despite going through a number of changes in the offseason, the Bengals have provided plenty of problems for the Ravens over the last two seasons. Cincinnati has won three of the last four meetings, with the only Ravens win coming in an ugly 13-7 final in the regular-season finale last year.

The Ravens lead the all-time series, 16-14, and are 10-5 in games played in Baltimore. They are also looking for their seventh straight win at M&T Bank Stadium and 15th in their last 16 games at home. Their only loss over that stretch came against Pittsburgh in a Sunday night game last December.

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Here’s what to expect when the Bengals and Ravens meet on Sunday …

1. The Bengals will use Cedric Benson as their workhouse to keep the Ravens defense on the field as long as possible. Some concern has been raised over the Baltimore run defense after it’s allowed more than 100 rushing yards in three of the last four games, but the Ravens remain tied for third in the league in rush defense and have allowed only 3.3 yards per attempt, best in the NFL. That said, opposing offenses appear content in grinding it out on the ground as was the case with Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew, Arizona’s Beanie Wells, and Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch last week. With rookie quarterback Andy Dalton making his first trip to Baltimore against the sixth-ranked pass defense in the league, the Bengals will use Benson as much as they can. Defensive leader Ray Lewis is very unlikely to play on Sunday, so the front seven will be more vulnerable than normal with either Dannell Ellerbe — coming off a hamstring injury — or the undersized Brendon Ayanbadejo filling in at the inside linebacker spot next to Jameel McClain. Cincinnati would like to give Benson 25 or more carries, and an early lead would go a long way in accomplishing that.

2. Ray Rice will get double-digit carries, but most of his damage will come as a pass catcher. After carrying the ball only five times in last week’s loss to the Seahawks, critics have been screaming for Rice to be more involved in the offense. Of course, three turnovers in the first 35 minutes of the game didn’t exactly help the Ravens in controlling the tempo. Offensive Cam Cameron has plenty of pressure on him to feed the ball to Rice early, but Cincinnati’s second-ranked rush defense won’t make it easy for the star running back to get his yards. Other than an early rout of the St. Louis Rams, the Ravens haven’t been able to run against four-man fronts all season, so it’s difficult to envision that changing against Mike Zimmer’s talented defense. However, the Bengals have been vulnerable in underneath coverage, so Rice should be able to exploit their outside linebackers Manny Lawson and Thomas Howard for nice yardage as a receiver out of the backfield.

3. As has been the case in previous games between these AFC North foes in the John Harbaugh era, the team that wins the turnover battle will win the game. Of the six games played between the Ravens and Bengals over the last three seasons, the team that’s committed fewer turnovers is 4-0. Giveaways have become a problem for the Ravens as they’ve committed at least one in their last eight games and have two or more in six of their last eight. Baltimore is 2-3 when losing the turnover battle this season, and coaches and players talked most of the week about their need to take better care of the football. Winning the turnover battle is a simple principle obeyed by successful teams, but the Ravens have only done it once in their last five games. They’re 3-2 over that stretch, but that trend is unlikely to continue. Cincinnati’s 13 takeaways are tied for seventh in the AFC and their plus-3 turnover ratio is tied for 10th in the NFL. The Ravens’ 18 takeaways rank fourth in the AFC, but their pace has slowed considerably with just four forced turnovers in their last five games.

4. Ed Reed will break his eight-game interception drought with an important second-half pick of Dalton. With Lewis expected to miss his first game since the 2007 season, Reed becomes the elder statesman of the Baltimore defense. The Ravens have several veterans to try to fill the void of Lewis’ leadership, but they would surely benefit from a big play by the free safety, who’s been very quiet since sustaining a shoulder stinger in the loss to Jacksonville on Oct. 24. The Bengals will try to keep their offense moving on the ground, but Dalton will have to try to make a few plays to beat the Ravens in their home stadium. Rookie phenom receiver A.J. Green is unlikely to be available, meaning the Bengals will lack a deep threat to consume Reed’s attention in the backfield. That will allow him to freelance a bit more, making him especially dangerous against an inexperienced signal caller. Reed will bait Dalton into throwing an interception in the second half, setting up the Ravens offense on a short field for a key score.

5. It won’t be aesthetically pleasing if you’re a fan of offense, but the Ravens will do enough to earn a 20-16 win over Cincinnati. It lacks the high-stakes feel of the Pittsburgh rivalry, but the Ravens and Bengals have played a number of physical, low-scoring affairs of their own over the last few seasons. Joe Flacco will have an easier time against the cornerback tandem of Nate Clements and Kelly Jennings than he had in the past against Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall, but the Bengals’ front four does a nice job of creating pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Baltimore will do just enough offensively against a formidable Bengals defense, but the home-field advantage will give the Ravens the edge where they are 4-0 this season. The Bengals are a good team, but they remain a bit of an unknown due to a soft schedule. Marvin Lewis is deserving of Coach of the Year honors, but his young team is not in the same class as Baltimore and Pittsburgh — this season, at least.

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Ravens, Flacco try to solve struggles against Bengals defense

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Ravens, Flacco try to solve struggles against Bengals defense

Posted on 17 November 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — For as much difficulty as the Ravens have had in getting past the vaunted Pittsburgh defense in recent years, they’ve faced similar frustration when facing the Cincinnati Bengals.

Having lost three of the last four meetings to Cincinnati, the Ravens have scored just 44 points and committed eight turnovers over that stretch as head coach Marvin Lewis has watched his defense frustrate quarterback Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense. Much has been said about Flacco’s struggles against the Bengals’ Cover 2 defense in the past — his 62.3 quarterback rating in six regular-season games vs. Cincinnati is his worst among opponents he’s played more than twice — but the Ravens point to their talented personnel as well as multiple looks that have given them the NFL’s fifth-ranked defense.

“They’re just a good defense,” offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. “I think you’ve got to look at other quarterbacks that played against them as well. They really do an outstanding job. They’ve got an outstanding scheme, and they’ve got really good players. … We have to play hard in this game. We have to execute. The Cover 2 scheme, that’s gone out the window. I think once everybody realized it wasn’t a fact, everybody realized that it’s just a matter of them having a good defense that plays hard.”

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What else has changed with the Bengals is their personnel in the secondary. After struggling against cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall in the Cincinnati defensive backfield for years, Flacco will not have to face either on Sunday. Joseph, of course, found a new home in Houston via free agency while Hall was lost for the season after suffering an Achilles tendon injury against the Steelers on Sunday.

Nate Clements and Kelly Jennings — veterans in their first year with Cincinnati — will now be expected to hold down the cornerback spots along with the volatile Adam “Pacman” Jones in place of the dynamic duo that haunted Flacco in the past. The Bengals rank 10th in pass defense but have only four interceptions, two of those granted to Hall before he was lost to the season.

“Obviously, you look at that and say, ‘OK, it’s obviously not their starting corner, the guy that they initially would like to have in there,’” Flacco said. “But at the same time, you can’t really underestimate people or try to do any of that. You have to go in there, you have to execute the game plan. Like I said, hopefully we can take advantage of that, just like we hope to every week when we go out there and play against a team.”

In order to find success in the passing game, Flacco expressed more concern with having ample time to deliver the football than trying to decipher different coverages defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer might throw his way at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday.

The Bengals have accumulated 25 sacks in their first nine games, including 4 1/2 from second-year defensive tackle Geno Atkins. And they’ll offer another 4-3 front, a defensive look the Ravens have struggled with all season. Cincinnati has forced its opponent to go three-and-out on 33 percent of drives, the best mark in the NFL.

“I think they have a front four that is playing really well right now,” Flacco said. “I think the main thing is to stop the front four from getting pressure and not creating lanes to run the ball in. I think if we do that, then we are going to do a good job. These guys have done a good job all year and in the past of playing well up front against us. I think if we eliminate that the way we are capable of, then we are going to have success.”

All eyes will be on Cameron and his commitment to giving opportunities to running back Ray Rice, who was limited to only five carries after the Ravens fell behind by two possessions in the first half of their loss to Seattle. The Ravens have stated all week their need to be more productive in the running game, no easy task against the Bengals’ second-ranked run defense.

In order to move into a tie with Pittsburgh atop the AFC North — the Ravens own the tiebreaker after sweeping the regular-season series — Baltimore will have to display an attitude hellbent on running the football and playing a more physical style on offense, according to the star running back who’s seen his touches fall off this season.

“One thing we are going to do – hang our hats on – going forward, is establishing a run game,” Rice said. “You have to hang your head to it. That’s what the teams – Seattle did it, Jacksonville did it – the teams that want to run the ball, no matter what situation, they are going to do it. We all know this is the NFL; we are going to face top defenses. But at the same time, we have to make them defend the run.”

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Tuesday Ravens musings for Week 11

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Tuesday Ravens musings for Week 11

Posted on 15 November 2011 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens enjoying a day off before returning to work to prepare for a big AFC North showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, here are five thoughts to ponder …

1. Has anyone seen Ed Reed lately? The future Hall of Fame safety started the season with a bang by collecting two interceptions of Ben Roethlisberger in the Ravens’ Week 1 dismantling of the Steelers. A few weeks later, Reed followed it up with a sack and strip of Mark Sanchez on the first defensive play from scrimmage that led to a Baltimore touchdown. The 33-year-old Reed has been quiet ever since, getting burned by Jacoby Jones for a long touchdown in the win over Houston and recording just one pass breakup in the Ravens’ last five games. Reed’s current eight-game span without an interception matches the second-longest of his career (2008) and ranks behind a nine-game stretch in 2005 in which Reed missed six games due to an ankle injury in the middle of that drought. Given Reed’s health issues over the last few seasons — he suffered a shoulder stinger in the loss at Jacksonville last month — some will question whether Father Time is beginning to catch up with the 2004 AP Defensive Player of the Year. However, the aforementioned eight-game interception drought in 2008 was followed by a six-week stretch in which Reed intercepted eight passes and scored two defensive touchdowns in arguable the greatest stretch by a defensive player in NFL history. In other words, just because the ball-hawking safety may be lying in the weeds doesn’t mean he won’t be ready to pounce in the final two months of the season.

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2. Joe Flacco has the third-most passing attempts in the entire NFL. The fourth-year quarterback only trails Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford in that category and has thrown more passes than Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, and MVP frontrunner Aaron Rodgers. It’s clear the Ravens have handed the keys to the offense to Flacco, even if it means Ray Rice has become less of a factor as a result. The problem is Flacco’s 6.39 yards per attempt ranks 27th in the league in a clear sign the Ravens are not getting the return on the commitment they’re making to the passing game. An inexperienced group of wide receivers and an inconsistent offensive line haven’t helped matters, and the Ravens would much prefer to get back to a more balanced attack if they can get an early lead in games, something they’ve been unable to do in road losses to Tennessee, Jacksonville, and Seattle. If the Ravens are to play deep into January, they need to find more offensive balance and more consistency from Flacco, whose 75.6 quarterback rating would be a career low.

3. Not only have the Ravens struggled to take care of the football, but the defense hasn’t been taking it away from the opponent of late, either. Baltimore played a near-flawless game against the Steelers to open the season, forcing seven turnovers without giving the ball away in return. However, the Ravens have managed to turn the ball over at least once in their eight games since, with six of those games having two or more turnovers. Not surprisingly, the Ravens lost the turnover battle in all three of their losses this season. While the Ravens offense has failed to take care of the football, the defense has not been as opportunistic since their bye on Oct. 9. After forcing 14 turnovers in the first four games of the season, the Baltimore defense has just four takeaways in their last five games. As a result, the Ravens turnover differential that was plus-7 after Week 1 has been minus-6 over the last eight games (plus-1 for the season). If the offense continues to be careless with the football, the Ravens need more takeaways to make up for the miscues.

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The 15-7-0 Might Be Tricky, But It’s Always A Treat

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The 15-7-0 Might Be Tricky, But It’s Always A Treat

Posted on 31 October 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. With the entire country winning, Andrew Luck looked like a Heisman Trophy winner and future #1 pick Saturday night in Los Angeles.

It’s a shame the USC Trojans gave the ball away just outside the endzone in overtime number three against Stanford. Not only because I picked the Cardinal to lose last Thursday when I played John Allen (of Charm City Devils fame) in “Everybody Beats Glenn”, but also because it was a hell of a game.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rx7vpD_D4g0[/youtube]

I’ll go ahead and move Luck ahead of Boise State QB Kellen Moore on my Heisman Watch list. Yeah, I guess I’m a sellout. But it’s hard not to like what you see with this kid. Alabama RB Trent Richardson is third on my list; which now ends at three because one of those guys will be your winner.

Going back to Saturday night, Andrew Luck also did this…

luck

2. Marvin Lewis is (very deservingly) the winningest coach in Cincinnati Bengals history.

I get more and more concerned about the Ravens’ pending matchups with the Bengals every time I watch them…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0an-M9us5Y[/youtube]

They did all of that without Cedric Benson and they were playing the Seahawks IN Seattle.

By the way, did you know Adam “Pacman” Jones was still in the NFL? Me neither.

3. I’ll assume Frank Gore is particularly happy to no longer be thought of as “the best player on a bad team.”

Also part of the San Francisco 49ers’ win over the Cleveland Browns? Joe Staley playing the role of “Offensive Lineman” in “Offensive Lineman makes catch, runs with football”….

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDTJcYX4hQA[/youtube]

Just beautiful. By the way, I guess the Niners have to be number two in my new NFL power rankings, right? How’s that possible?

4. Penn State controls their own destiny to reach the Big Ten Championship Game, but their schedule leads you to believe Ohio State is still very much in the mix.

Joe Paterno passed Eddie Robinson as the all-time winningest coach in Division I history as Penn State beat Illinois. It was the only time the word “pass” was used in Happy Valley Saturday. I don’t care for much of anything about the Nittany Lions, but I respect their students for packing in behind the goalposts to try to make the Illini’s tying field goal try harder…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-4XhbiILGI[/youtube]

Things get VERY difficult for PSU now, as they host Nebraska in State College next week before finishing conference play with trips to Columbus and Madison. Speaking of which…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwuXzK5Mehs[/youtube]

Wisconsin fans were once again hoping a penalty flag could save them, but Braxton Miller did NOT cross the line of scrimmage before throwing the game winner to Devin Smith. Russell Wilson’s Heisman hopes are totally up in smoke, and the Badgers are now a long shot (at best) for the Rose Bowl, while the Buckeyes are still very much in the picture.

5. Nebraska is firmly back in the race for the Other spot in the Big Ten title game, and Michigan is by no means out of the picture.

Michigan State had no magic left after an incredible two weeks-or more realistically had no answer for some dude named Rex Burkhead, who reportedly plays for the Cornhuskers…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiYLzEwG16Y[/youtube]

Elsewhere in the world of bizarre football names, the Wolverines stomped Purdue thanks to a running back whose name is (seriously) Fitzgerald Toussaint. Shouldn’t he be playing for Dartmouth?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXTWG9xmjgs[/youtube]

Not part of the Big Ten title picture? Iowa. They lost to Minnesota. Yes. That Minnesota.

6. Stephen Tulloch may have shut down the internet after sacking Tim Tebow in the Detroit Lions’ win over the Denver Broncos.

We’ll start with the highlights…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tc7Zp6FdEVU[/youtube]

And now for those that missed it in the video…

tulloch

I like Tim Tebow. I also like this. It is what it is.

7. I guess we can assume the Philadelphia Eagles are just fine at this point.

The Eagles DESTROYED the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. Sadly the highlight of the game was a Laurent Robinson catch that didn’t count at all…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FwDZz-a6r8[/youtube]

The SNF broadcast was obsessed with Philly O-Line coach Howard Mudd. I actually have no issue with that. Howard Mudd is awesome. Otherwise they’d have been obsessed with Rob Ryan, and I’m about done with that.

Also of note, Jason Kelce snapped the ball off his own ass at one point…

kelce

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There Is No Bye Week For The 15-7-0

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There Is No Bye Week For The 15-7-0

Posted on 10 October 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. I guess it’s safe to say Rob Ambrose made the right decision to not redshirt Terrance West

Especially seeing as how his 4TD’s helped Towson improve to 4-1 on the season with their win over Richmond Saturday night at Unitas Stadium….

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cT4vlLi_vWo[/youtube]

The Tigers are now 2-0 in the CAA for the first time EVER. Remember when they were picked to finish last in the conference? Nice call there.

(Editor’s note: Spiders QB-and USC transfer-Aaron Corp completed 31 of 34 attempts Saturday night. I still can’t figure out how Towson was ever able to stop them. How does someone go 31 or 34 and win???)

2. When they weren’t fighting, there was a pretty fun football game being played between the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers

For some reason, Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins decided to fight about a pretty impressive Steve Smith touchdown from Cam Newton…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sq7gVv7I4MA[/youtube]

…Yeah I really have no explanation for that. I will reiterate what I’ve been saying about the Saints all season however. You can tell me all you want about their defense not being great. Based on how good Drew Brees and company are, they’re fine.

3. We want to write the Pittsburgh Steelers off, but Ben Roethlisberger just won’t let us

Sitting on my fantasy football bench, Big Ben managed to toss FIVE touchdowns for the Steelers in the win, pissing off everyone in the world who has no connection to the Steel City. Oh, and Daniel Sepulveda executed a perfect fake punt just to rub it in…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rChOUXR7JyQ[/youtube]

Jonathan Dwyer also ran for over 100 yards as the bad guys beat the Tennessee Titans. That answers the age old question, “who is Jonathan Dwyer?”

4. BCS apologists might get their chance to say LSU-Alabama and Oklahoma-Oklahoma State ARE a playoff system for college football

We’ll start with LSU’s big win over Florida, a blowout that included a would-be touchdown on a fake punt-had it not been for a taunting call that we can all agree was questionable at best…

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

Seriously?

Next, The Crimson Tide started the season with a quarterback controversy. In their big win over Vanderbilt Saturday night, AJ McCarron reminded everyone why that didn’t last very long…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQrJYCbUFK0[/youtube]

Oh yeah. Trent Richardson is still pretty good too.

Elsewhere, Texas came into the Red River Rivalry this year with higher hopes based on the (Case) McCoy-(Jaxson) Shipley Combo Part 2. Landry Jones quickly ruined those hopes…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7BEMeOhYwQ[/youtube]

The path to the BCS Championship Game is also easier for the Sooners this year based on the fact that there is no more Big 12 Big 12 Championship Game.

Which leads us finally to Oklahoma State, who finished on the good end of a 70-28 beatdown of Kansas Saturday…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fgH624Jn-Y[/youtube]

Before you pencil Oklahoma into the national title game, a reminder that the Cowboys host this year’s “Bedlam” game in Stillwater. It’s significant.

5. Kellen Moore remains atop my “Heisman Trophy watch” personally, but I understand why everyone is so hot and bothered by Andrew Luck

Here’s my problem. Everyone always beats up the Boise State QB because the Broncos don’t play top-notch competition. For example, they shredded Fresno State most recently…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Moapfuyqut4[/youtube]

…but thus far, the best team Stanford has beaten all season is Duke-and Duke was NOT playing with Miles Plumlee, Mason Plumlee, Marshall Plumlee or any other Plumlee anywhere on the planet…that I know of.

The Cardinal’s victim Saturday night was a less than impressive Pac 12 newcomer-Colorado. You only know anything about the game because Tiger Woods took a break from being crappy at golf to show up and watch the thing with John Elway…

tiger

Woods finished tied for 30th this weekend at an event won by some dude named Bryce Molder. Tied for 30th. Bryce Molder. Oh…and some dude threw a hot dog at him while he was playing. REALLY…

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

6. Cincinnati Bengals defense plus AJ Green equals late season games could be more interesting for Ravens than we want them to be

AJ Green was immediately more popular just for NOT being Chad Johnson or Terrell Owens. Now it looks like he’s really good to boot…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-FUlm0MGeI[/youtube]

I don’t think Cincy can stay in the AFC playoff race all season by any stretch of the imagination, but it looks like they’re not going to fall apart either. Marvin Lewis’ team will have two chances to make life miserable in Charm City later this season.

7. Sooo….maybe Jim Harbaugh WAS worth all that money?

Until this point, I have refused to believe in the San Francisco 49ers despite their early season success. After their blowout win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, I might have to start buying stock…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59UTGUCaWo0[/youtube]

I’d say the Josh Morgan injury would hurt them, but they play in the NFC West. I get the feeling they could lose half their roster and still be in the mix.

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Comparisons to 2000 Ravens premature, but this year’s defense could be exceptional

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Comparisons to 2000 Ravens premature, but this year’s defense could be exceptional

Posted on 06 October 2011 by Luke Jones

We just can’t help ourselves, can we?

After more than a decade of defensive excellence in Baltimore, we always compare the latest eye-popping Ravens defense to the platinum standard of that 2000 unit. It was that group, of course, that lifted a caretaker offense — rookie running back Jamal Lewis being the lone exception — to the franchise’s lone Super Bowl championship.

It was a once-in-a-generation defense, yet we refuse to acknowledge that type of group won’t come along again — even if we say otherwise.

We did it in 2003 when Ray Lewis led a young group of budding defensive stars to the No. 3 overall defensive ranking and an AFC North title.

It happened again in 2006 as the Ravens finished 13-3 and first overall in both points and yardage allowed, something the 2000 group wasn’t able to do.

And the similarities were examined between that championship group and the 2008 defense – ranked second overall behind only the Steelers — coached by Rex Ryan in his final year in Baltimore before taking his antics to the Big Apple.

It sure feels a lot like 2000, doesn’t it?

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It’s not surprising the whispers have already started about the 2011 edition of Ray Lewis and company after a 3-1 start in which the Ravens rank third overall in total defense, third against the run, tied for seventh against the pass, and first in the NFL with 14 takeaways. The pass rush is improved with 11 sacks already after posting a franchise-low 27 in 2010. The Baltimore defense has already set single-game franchise records when it forced seven turnovers against Pittsburgh in Week 1 and scored three defensive touchdowns against the Jets last Sunday night.

But, are we really going to start talking about comparisons to 2000 after only four games?

For the sake of the argument, comparing the two units through the first four games of the season — one small sample deserves another if we’re going to be fair — shows the championship group with the upper hand. The 2000 Ravens allowed fewer yards (996 to 1,138), gave up fewer points (55 to 57), and recorded two shutouts while this year’s defense has yet to post a goose egg for 60 minutes. However, this year’s 14 takeaways trumps the 10 forced by the 2000 group.

Those first four games in 2000 included two of the four largest point totals surrendered by that defense in the regular season, including the 36 scored by Jacksonville in a thrilling 39-36 shootout win in Week 2. This year’s Ravens have faced only one offense currently ranking in the top half of the league (Pittsburgh is ranked 13th), but the 2000 group faced only one top-10 offense (Jacksonville was seventh overall in 2000) through four games.

As fun as it is to draw comparisons between the known and the unknown, the reality is it’s too early to determine where the 2011 defense will even rank among the many good defenses in the 16-year history of the franchise, let alone talk about any potential similarity with one of the greatest units in NFL history. The only link between the two defenses is Ray Lewis, who depends far more on his intellect as a 36-year-old than he had to as a 25-year-old wrecking machine.

Moving beyond the statistics, Chuck Pagano’s 3-4 hybrid defense is far more similar to a Ryan-coached unit than Marvin Lewis’ record-setting defense from 11 years ago. The current unit relies on deception and blitzing to create pressure, disguising its intentions until the last possible minute. Lewis, on the other hand, largely played his 4-3 defense straight up, using a dominating front four that created pressure on the quarterback and a brick wall impenetrable for running backs.

And here is where we get to the largest discrepancy that should end any real discussion between the championship group and this year’s edition.

The secondaries.

Continue >>>

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