Tag Archive | "Mcalister"

What the hell do these people want from Joe Flacco?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

What the hell do these people want from Joe Flacco?

Posted on 28 July 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

I love it when Joe Flacco talks dirty. Somehow it hasn’t raised a lot of eyebrows or created a ton of conversation just yet but Joe Flacco’s “Welcome Home” meet up with the media on Wednesday afternoon sure created some stir in my mind. Perhaps a lot of folks haven’t heard it yet or really processed it the way I did but you can listen here.

About his skills, Joe Flacco said: “I’m pretty damned good.” And you know what? I agree with him. And his perspective on the whole situation – “there’s only one good quarterback and 31 others who aren’t” – is dead on.

Joe Flacco “gets it.”

Look, I was as dumbfounded as the rest of you when the Ravens picked him three years ago, especially when on draft day the organization managed to keep it a state secret about their affection for the pride of Newark and all of Blue Hendom. Small school kid, almost geekish in his passion for football, sports and very little else, but he’s made everyone in the scouting department look like a genius with three consecutive January road playoff runs and wins every year.

He’s done everything that Kyle Boller — and everyone before him and like him, botched first-round picks in tons of cities around the NFL — have failed to do. Flacco has instantly won football games and given his team a chance every January to win a Super Bowl. He’s been nothing but a winner since he’s been here.

OK, so he hasn’t won the Super Bowl but neither have most any other quarterbacks just three years into their tenure. And I already like his odds better than some “successful” quarterbacks like Philip Rivers, Carson Palmer, Matt Ryan, etc.

As I watch this furious action around the league and see the likes of Donovan McNabb and Matt Hasselbeck being given more starting opportunities, I’ve come to the grand conclusion that I’m happy  having “the other No. 5” on our side.

I’m a Joe Flacco man. I’m a Joe Flacco fan. I believe he can win a Super Bowl (or four) here in Baltimore. I think the Ravens made a good choice picking him and I think they’re wise to count their blessings for what they have and continue to support him in winning a championship here.

And it might’ve taken his rant on Wednesday to convince me because sometimes he seems a bit shy, reserved, unaffected but I’ve never really doubted his fire. And maybe that’s because I stand next to him three days a week and I can pull him up after the game and chat with him. He’s anything BUT “not affected” after losses. He just handles the wins and losses like a grown up and not like a maniac.

It’s the Joe Flacco way.

Joe Cool.

That’s really a PERFECT nickname for him. He’s always cool.

I’ve seen and heard him drop massive F bombs, swearing a blue streak

Comments Off on What the hell do these people want from Joe Flacco?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

With Big Ben & Polamalu out, no excuses for Ravens tonight

Posted on 29 November 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

As we all now know, the Steelers will play tonight’s game here in Baltimore without their two best players, with the late subtraction of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger joining safety Troy Polamalu in the black and gold infirmary.

It is not lost on any Ravens fan that tonight it’s clearly: advantage Baltimore.

Big Ben, as ‘yins from ‘donton affectionately call him, has been poison for anything in purple since he entered the league. He is the Ravens kryptonite. Polamalu’s interception of Joe Flacco in Pittsburgh last January must be considered the most heartbreaking play in the history of the franchise.

I don’t think I need to remind you that the Ravens are on a three-game losing streak to our friendly neighbors from the northwest.

Or that this is their first appearance on Baltimore turf since hoisting a second Lombardi Trophy to the Tampa skies last Febuary.

Or that, at 5-5, a loss to the Steelers tonight will effectively end the Ravens season.

I hate the Steelers. You hate the Steelers.

Let’s hope that attitude — and a few first downs and quarterback pressures along with some goofy white towels we’ll all be waving — are enough to keep the Ravens season alive tonight.

I get the feeling we’ll be feeling the loss of Fabian Washington more than we realize — just like when Chris McAlister went away two years ago — but there are no excuses for a Ravens loss tonight.

We can’t cry about Terrell Suggs not suiting up (of course, John Harbaugh has played the cat and mouse injury report game all week with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.)

Flacco needs to be crisp and sharp. Billy Cundiff can’t miss field goals. Matt Katula needs to snap straight. The offensive line can’t create pre-snap penalties. The defensive front seven must make Dennis Dixon run for his life like the rookie quarterback he is tonight.

The game is on national television. It can’t be a coming out party for some guy from Oregon we’ve never heard of.

The only thing worse than losing to the Steelers at home to effectively end our season with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving would be the thought that it happened at the hands of some guy named Dennis Dixon putting on a black and gold cape.

A disturbing thought.

Let’s hope we don’t go there…

The Ravens must win tonight.

My updated prediction: Ravens 34, Steelers 9

Comments Off on With Big Ben & Polamalu out, no excuses for Ravens tonight

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

‘Twas The Night before the Ravens opener…

Posted on 12 September 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

It kinda reminds me of Christmas Eve with anticipation. We’ve been waiting…and waiting…and waiting…and finally, football season is really here in Baltimore.

Wash away those ghosts of Troy Polamalu – the ones from the AFC Championship Game in January not the one from Thursday night – and let us begin a season anew.

First up, it’s the woeful Kansas City Chiefs. The general vibe around town all week has been one of supreme confidence. Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed began their Wednesday press conference with dancing. John Harbaugh has sounded confident. Joe Flacco seems like a veteran all of a sudden.

I’ve quizzed several Kansas City media members and I had a chance to watch parts of two of their preseason games (both without Matt Cassel). No one is brimming with confidence in the land of the red Chiefs and no one really expects them to win tomorrow.

The Vegas line started at 10 ½ and has now moved to 13 points. Even if Matt Cassel plays on Sunday – and that seems to be a sure bet given their backup options with Tyler Thigpen and Brodie Croyle – the Chiefs are a team of nobodys and “who is thats” coming in to serve the purple patrons an Opening Day patsy.

The Ravens should win on Sunday. There should be no excuses.

The team has looked brilliant in virtually every facet of first-team play through four preseason games. They’ve almost made it look too easy, even without Terrell Suggs for long stretches.

Confidence is high. Tailgates are sizzling with Roma Sausage and cold beer. Even the weather looks to be strong – forecast is 78 degrees and zero chance of precipitation.

So, just how will the 2009 season go for the Ravens?

The fans are abuzz with talk of depth at the wide receiver position. The offensive line is trying to find some depth to open up holes for a running back-by-committee arrangement with Willis McGahee, Le’Ron McClain and Ray Rice, who will probably be the leading rusher if they all stay healthy. And the health and productivity of Todd Heap is certainly a question mark.

But, offensively, it feels like Flacco will be asked to do more and looks more than capable of stepping up to that challenge.

Defensively, the eyes will always be on Ray Lewis, who is fighting Father Time with every season. Consider that he’s now survived two years longer than Jon Ogden and the likes of Peter Boulware, Jamie Sharper, Chris McAlister, Duane Starks – who all entered the league after No. 52 – all seems to be done in the NFL. Lewis was considered a surefire Hall of Famer five years ago is now continuing to pile on his own legacy.

What kind of a year will it be for Lewis?

And Ed Reed, who has had neck issues and certainly doesn’t appear set for a long, long career given his style of play and reckless abandon and penchant for physical contact?

Terrell Suggs appeared injured during most of camp but quieted all questions for me in the Atlanta game, when he looked dominant and healthy.

The secondary will have a fresh look with Dominique Foxworth and Fabian Washington mixing it up with Frank Walker, who has to earn a little more confidence from the purple crowd and probably will vs. Kansas City.

The defensive line appears to be the strength of the defense, led by Haloti Ngata who had a mysterious injury appear earlier this week.

Questions and more questions. We’ll have 16 weeks of this marathon.

The answers begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Bring on the season. Bring on the Chiefs. Bring on the roadtrips!

My prediction: Ravens go 12-4 and win the Super Bowl.

Baltimore 31, Kansas City 13

Comments Off on ‘Twas The Night before the Ravens opener…

Tags: , ,

CMac is selling crib in 90210 & getting back in NFL next week

Posted on 10 September 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Here’s the direct quote from Chris McAlister in today’s Los Angeles Times: “I will be back in full force on Sept. 15. I can’t say what team yet, but I will be playing again.”

His crib is on the market for $7.8 million in Beverly Hills.

I’m wondering where CMac will end up or if this is a smokescreen?

Either way…just passing it along!

Comments Off on CMac is selling crib in 90210 & getting back in NFL next week

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Who will the Ravens pick this weekend? Some clues here…

Posted on 24 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

You gotta love the NFL. The league hasn’t snapped the football in almost three months and the buzz is as strong for the draft as it is for Week 7 of the regular season. It never ends this love of American football. So much enthusiasm and energy and talk about the 26th pick on Saturday for the Ravens.

Amidst that, there are all sorts of stories and storylines:

What will happen with Anquan Boldin and are the Ravens really involved?

My gut AND my sources tell me that it’s not very likely. The notion that Ozzie Newsome would trade a No. 1 and a No. 3 and then have to back up a brink’s truck for Boldin is highly unlikely. Plus, the cap issues of taking on another superstar making a super premium salary seem daunting. If the Ravens had that kind of money, they should’ve kept Bart Scott, right?

Who are the players the Ravens really like and would select at No. 26?

It’s always a crapshoot on draft day when you pick so low. The Ravens were greatly affected by the Atlanta trade for Tony Gonzales yesterday because it’s clear that the Falcons won’t be taking tight end Brandon Pettigrew with pick No. 24. Every name that comes off the board in the first 25 spots – and every trade up or back, and we expect a few – will affect what’s left when the 26th pick hits the clock.

So, when people ask me today and all day tomorrow, “Who will the Ravens pick?” I tell them the same thing every year: “Even Ozzie Newsome has no idea who they’ll wind up getting with a pick so low.”

That said, I’ll take a low pick on draft day every year into perpetuity. The joy of a single-digit pick is far outweighed by the agony of dealing with 16 weeks of bad football during a 6-10 season. Let Cincinnati and Cleveland pick early every year from now until the end of time.

All of these weeks and months of mock drafts are just that: a mockery. One unexpected trade on draft day – and with lunatics like Al Davis, Mike Brown and Daniel Snyder running drafts there’s always somebody doing something – not to mention other legitimate trades for more picks or value, it’s more impossible to predict a mock draft correctly than filling out a perfect March Madness pool. I think you’d have a better chance of hitting the lotto tonight for $150 million.

And once one team or one player goes awry, the whole draft changes. Everyone tries to handicap it but it’s a futile effort.

But this much I know: The Ravens would LOVE to trade a few times over the weekend, which is all the more reason to be on our text service. They only have six picks. They’d rather have seven or eight.

Here are some names of guys — and some key positions of need for the Ravens — that you should keep an eye on over the weekend as the names come off the board:

Center – Alex Mack, California. The Ravens brought him into town and checked him out thoroughly. He’s a tough, smart “Raven” kinda guy. If they trade out of No. 26 to move backward (and I still think this is VERY likely because they really want more picks), Mack would be a early 2nd rounder that will help the team. The only question is whether he can help the team at guard because the team already has a two-year solution at center in Matt Birk.

Tight end – A “dream” scenario for the team would be if Brandon Pettigrew fell to them at No. 26. The Philadelphia Eagles at No. 21 would be the one team to tie them up but that’s looking less likely. Again, the Falcons deal yesterday to acquire Gonzales helps the Ravens if they indeed covet Pettigrew, who is a beast at 6-6 and could help the pass protection and provide a safety valve for Joe Flacco.

Wide receiver – While the whole universe seems to think the Ravens are desperate for a wide out, I’m not convinced they’ll take one in the first round. Perhaps they’d select Kenny Britt of Rutgers if he’s still on the board but I don’t think Hakeem Nicks will be their choice. I’ve been saying for two months that WR is not the team’s most acute need nor should they burn a first-round pick on the riskiest of all positions on draft day.

Defensive back – Vontae Davis and Darius Butler. You can never have too many cornerbacks. They’re like pitchers in baseball. If you don’t get one in the first round you’re probably not getting one you feel comfortable in calling a starter. It’s the toughest role this side of QB to fill in the NFL. Davis comes with some immaturity and a little bit of baggage, but he’s the closest thing to a poor man’s Chris McAlister in this draft.

Defensive line/LB – Rey Maualuga. He’s probably the only player in the No. 26 range that the Ravens would consider and this isn’t their greatest need. If they were to take a LB here it would tell you a lot about how highly rated this player would have to be on their overall board. Honestly, all of the USC linebackers look attractive and will almost certainly be gone by the time the Ravens get on the clock in the second round with pick No. 55.

Here’s my hope: Brandon Pettigrew

Here’s my “prediction”: Rey Maualuga

The real story of the Ravens’ drafts and their relative success since 1996 has been tied to what happens AFTER the first round. Between Newsome, Eric DeCosta and Phil Savage and their staffs, over the years the Ravens have become the best team in the league on the last weekend of April. It’s how Newsome and this department has survived so long in one place. It’s an absolute anomaly.

Think about it: What were the odds that in 1996 when Ozzie Newsome passed on Lawrence Phillips and selected Jon Ogden and then went on to take Ray Lewis instead of Leland McElroy at the No. 26 pick that he’d STILL be here in April 2009 making decisions for Baltimore’s football team?

Newsome is still here because he’s really, really great at evaluating talent. He’s got a gift. He’s not always right but he’s been right more than virtually anyone on the planet at doing this.

And most experts say this draft is NOT deep for starting talent beginning Sunday morning. For whatever reason, most scouts aren’t feeling great about finding the next Adalius Thomas or Jason Brown late in the day on Sunday.

It’s a great weekend to be a football fan. It’s a great weekend to be a draftnik. Or just a nerd, like me.

I’ll be bellied up to the bar at Padonia Station at 3 p.m. drinking $2 Michelob Ultras and watching the draft and sending texts to everyone on the text service.

We’re having a “Textathon” weekend because this is the one weekend when we know we’ll be sending you a lot of stuff.

We hope if you’re not on the service you consider joining. And, if you are, we hope you’ll forward our texts to your PSL, purple-loving friends so they know the news and know about WNST.net and our cool text service.

Thanks!

Comments Off on Who will the Ravens pick this weekend? Some clues here…

Tags: , , , , , ,

Ravens release Chris McAlister this afternoon

Posted on 16 February 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

As has been suspected, reported and speculated, the Chris McAlister era in Baltimore has come to an end. ProFootballTalk.com first reported that McAlister will be released. His $8 million base salary was too much for Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh to stomach. His antics at the team’s hotel in Miami were legendary and it was no secret that Harbaugh thought the team was better off without him. And, of course, the team came four minutes away from going to the Super Bowl without him.

Newsome met with McAlister earlier today in Owings Mills and told him that he would be released.

Here is the Ravens’ official press release:

Feb. 16, 2009

For Immediate Release

McALISTER

The Baltimore Ravens terminated the contract of CB Chris McAlister this afternoon, it was announced by Ozzie Newsome, the team’s general manager and executive vice president.

McAlister, a three-time Pro Bowl standout, played 10 seasons for the Ravens after being selected in the first round (10th pick) in the 1999 draft. A starter on the 2000 Super Bowl championship Baltimore team, “C-Mac” produced 26 career interceptions, good for third place on the franchise’s all-time list (behind S Ed Reed, 43, and LB Ray Lewis, 28). McAlister also scored seven career touchdowns – six by interceptions and one on a missed field goal return, which set a then-NFL record for longest play (107 yards).

McAlister, who will be 32 in June, played in six games in 2008, starting five, before being placed on Injured Reserve with a knee injury on Nov. 11. Before being hurt, he stole three passes and made 19 tackles (17 solo).

“First, we want to thank Chris for all he did for the Ravens in the past 10 years,” Newsome explained. “He was a major contributor to many big wins, including the Super Bowl. To play the type of defense we have used here, you have to have corners who can cover one-on-one. He was one of the best at that for us. He was physical, and he could run with the best.”

“All of us who had the opportunity to coach Chris for the first time this season have an appreciation for all the good things he did for this team through the years,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He’ll be remembered by us and the fans as one of the best to ever play for the Ravens. He’s a tough guy and loves football. He’ll play again, and he’ll play well.”

Comments Off on Ravens release Chris McAlister this afternoon

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Beating the Giants would make Ravens a legit force in AFC

Posted on 16 November 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

As I wake this morning the Baltimore Ravens – and, yes, they used the word “Baltimore” before it was “comprehensive branding effort” – are 6-3 and could be in sole possession of first place in the AFC North if a series of positive events transpire later today at the Meadowlands and in Pittsburgh, where the Steelers host a desperate San Diego Chargers club coming east to play with their season in the balance.

No matter what, we’re gonna learn a lot about January today.

In my 13 years of fandom I’ve never seen a purple team this hard to read. Are they this good? Or were THEY that BAD?

I’m not really sure.

Here are the irrefutable facts:

• The Ravens have played nine games and have played eight of them well enough to win. That includes solid, representative efforts in Pittsburgh and here against the undefeated and “unstoppable” Tennessee Titans.
• The Ravens played one of the biggest turds in the history of the franchise in Indianapolis and any horse player might “throw this one out” if they can legitimately run with the New York Football Giants.
• Their only wins have come at the expense of the likes of the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals and Oakland Raiders – the literal dregs of the league and darlings of next April’s NFL Draft.
• The road has been far from a nuisance for rookie quarterback Joe Flacco, who after appearing to have been playing the rope-a-dope in that game against the Colts, has rebounded nicely with huge efforts in Miami, Cleveland and Houston.
• The injuries have mounted – Kelly Gregg, Chris McAlister, Marshal Yanda and Dawan Landry are all done for the season – and the “next man up” has gotten the job done. Winning teams do that!
• The team has a rookie head coach, a rookie quarterback, a rookie left tackle and aging players at a variety of positions from wide receiver to defensive line to middle linebacker and week after week they’ve brought impressive moxie to the field no matter the circumstance. The secondary has been ravaged but is still percolating and when the front seven brings the heat this is a 3-and-out waiting to happen.
• They know how to come back from behind on the road as was witnessed in Cleveland, where they effectively ended their bitter division rival’s playoff aspirations on Halloween weekend.
• And finally, the Giants are 8-1. So let’s just assume they’re pretty good.

These are the facts. But how this game sets up is anyone’s guess.

The Giants are a prohibitive favorite. The weather is slated to be kinda chilly at 49 degrees. And we’re taking 57 purple WNST fans up to the game via the “Miller Lite Roadtrips.”

The rest is why we take the video camera…

Will the Ravens defense shut down the Big Blue running game – Earth, Wind and Fire – which leads the league in rushing?

Will Rex Ryan’s blitz packages get after Eli Manning or will the Giants solid offensive line give him their signal caller a chance to exploit a depleted secondary?

And how will No. 5 fare up the Turnpike from his home in New Jersey as the Giants disguise packages and send the blitz of Justin Tuck and company?

This is why I love football.

Can the Ravens go into the Meadowlands and defeat the reigning World Champions today?

That’s what we’re all wondering…

The bus leaves at 7 a.m.

Casey Willett, Drew Forrester and I will all be at the Meadowlands.

Blogs, stories, videos and hopefully, a victory, will be coming back with us.

Comments Off on Beating the Giants would make Ravens a legit force in AFC

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Young and Restless

Posted on 14 November 2008 by Brian Billick

As I prepared for my game this week between the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs I had a chance to see first hand what the Chiefs are going through with their purging of their roster and building anew this franchise. Trading away their best defensive player (Jared Allen to the Minnesota Vikings) and loading up on draft choices this year you can clearly see the commitment the Chiefs have made to the future, and the growing pains they are experiencing at 1-8.

Seeing Herm Edwards and Carl Peterson put this plan in motion, I can’t help but think back to the 2002 season when Ozzie Newsome and I were faced with the same task.

As much as we as coaches would like to think otherwise, our jobs (particularly that of a head coach) are inexorably linked to the finances of any given situation. In 2000 the Baltimore Ravens reached the top of the professional football pyramid winning Super Bowl XXXV and then returning to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs in 2001. The price was unavoidable, however.

In 2002, the Ravens fielded the youngest team ever (19 rookies) in the history of the NFL. The decisions made in the preceding years to the “Cap Purge” of 02’ were all made with the consensus agreement that the team would have to be gutted after the 2001 season. With every signing leading up to the Super Bowl year General Manager Ozzie Newsome would make the obligatory observation, “Now we all know the piper has to be paid in 2002, right.” It was an acknowledgment by all involved that the expenditure “over the cap” had an unavoidable consequence in today’s NFL. That for every dollar “over the cap” you spend you will be devoid of those dollars in subsequent years.

At the heart of the Ravens’ Championship year were players like Shannon Sharpe, Priest Holmes, Rob Burnett, Duane Starks,Tony Siragusa, Qadry Ismail, Sam Adams. Jeff Mitchell, Jamie Sharper, Jermaine Lewis and even future Hall of Fame Rod Woodson would all be victims of the financial “balancing of the books” that every team must come to recon with.

It was only fitting that the cover of the 2002 Ravens’ Media Guide adorned the oil portraits of myself and Ozzie. Indeed, we where left with the task of rebuilding a championship team with our “financial” hands tied behind our backs. We did so in the only way left to a team in this situation and that is to draft and draft well.

Draftees like Jamal Lewis, Adalius Thomas, Todd Heap, Gary Baxter, Casey Rabach, Edgerton Hartwell, Ed Reed, Anthony Weaver, Dave Zastudil and Chester Taylor would team with holdovers Chris McAlister and future Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Jonathan Ogden to form an AFC North Division Championship team in 2003. They key was the franchise’s willingness to take the dramatic steps to “purge” their championship team of older and more expensive talent and replace it with younger more affordable players.

The problem lies in being a victim of your own success. When you draft well, even though the young player comes cheaper, they play themselves into the higher priced market that makes it increasingly tough to keep all of your good players. Ultimately, the successes of drafting Ed Reed, Todd Heap and Terrell Suggs then forced the Ravens to let go of Jamal Lewis, Adalius Thomas, Gary Baxter, Casey Rabach, Edgerton Hartwell, Anthony Weaver, Dave Zastudil and Chester Taylor. It has become a vicious cycle, in a reverse of nature, the “young eating their old.”

In training camp of the 2002 purge year Todd Heap had a humorous, but acute observation. We had long had a tradition on our team that the most veteran players got to sit in first class when we traveled. Typically that would be seven or eight players, usually with 10+ years in the league. Todd Heap, who was just entering his third year in the league, at our first OTA with this young group observed, “Coach, looks like I am going to be in first class this season.”

Having spent the day with Herm Edwards, it’s clear he is finding the same things I did in 2002. Though tough getting through the loses, it was one of the most enjoyable years I have had coaching. Working with and developing the young talent is what being a coach is all about. Herm will also find that by having to play so many young players you are going to learn a great deal more about them than you might otherwise have a chance to do. Next year when he looks at his roster and sees a bunch of 2nd and 3rd year players he will not have to worry about how they will play in their first starts. They will all have 10 to 16 games of playing experience.

Comments Off on The Young and Restless

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The afterglow of Cleveland

Posted on 03 November 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

Talk about snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

With just over a quarter remaining in yesterday’s key divisional AFC North matchup, the Ravens were 14 points down on the road, the Browns fans were coming to life with a chorus of “Hang on Sloopy” (don’t ask…just watch the video!) and the vultures were circling our black birds at Cleveland Stadium.

Some of the Cleveland “faithful” had already begun to pile out onto the street to watch Bruce Springsteen perform before the Barack Obama rally, which was literally adjacent to the stadium (think as close as Oriole Park is to M&T Bank Stadium).

The Browns had our rookie quarterback on the run. Our beaten defense had been pushed around for 30 minutes – or as Terrell Suggs said: “We were getting our asses handed to us.” And staring at a two-touchdown deficit on the road in a hostile environment, it didn’t feel as though a comeback was in the offering.

Todd Heap hadn’t caught a pass. Willis McGahee was on the pine. The backend of the secondary, while not looking like Ike Booth and Donny Brady circa 1996 was still not Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle in their prime for sure.

But, as we learned in the locker room after the game, it was about that time that Ray Lewis came to the forefront on the sidelines and talked about playing a full 60 minutes of football. He talked about believing and not quitting. All of the stuff many may view as “rhetoric” when it doesn’t work was viewed as gospel once the Ravens came storming back to score 24 unanswered points during the final 16 minutes of the game.

And, lo and behold, the Ravens created their first miracle of the John Harbaugh administration and gave us our best memory of Cleveland yet, a stunning 37-27 victory on The Lake. (Well, it’s at least the the best memory in Cleveland since the Roberto Alomar homer back in 1996.)

While the real world is in a seemingly constant state of financial crisis and life isn’t a whole lot of fun for most of us from the gas pump to the checkbook, it’s stupid stuff like sports that can create a little bit of fun and a diversion from daily life. At least here in Baltimore with the fantasyland that sports provides us, it’s turning into a very good year for our football team, which makes for nice Monday mornings.

Hell, it makes for great WEEKS in my world, where everywhere I go and everything I do leads me into a conversation about football and the Ravens.

So, on a personal note, there’s nothing more gratifying than when the Ravens win.

It helps WNST morale. It helps the morale of the community. And it makes food taste a little better and the beer is, to quote Chuck Thompson, a little colder.

The Ravens are 5-3, headed off to play Houston in six days and apparently will draw the Sage Rosenfels quarterback card instead of Matt Schaub, who left the Texans’ game early yesterday.

Ray Lewis is playing like a man possessed, showing himself to be the veteran leader in his “walk” year that we’ve been wanting to see as fans.

It’s officially time to start talking about “Festivus.”

(Does John Harbaugh even know about this sacred football holiday?)

And then there are the three “rookies” who stepped to the podium after yesterday’s gritty, improbable win.

Ray Rice had as big of a day on the road when it mattered against a division rival as you can imagine a rookie having. (Although he’ll be hearing about getting knocked out of bounds short of the end zone a few times this week from teammates.)

Joe Flacco was almost flawless in his effort yesterday and continues to show poise, confidence and ability that are beyond his years.

And rookie coach John Harbaugh is starting to show results in the only place it really matters: the team is 5-3 and could be in first place by the end of the night.

Only time will tell if yesterday’s offense-defense bonding on the Lake will take root and this will be a playoff team (or maybe even a true contender for a Super Bowl title in this oddest of seasons).

The conversations here and around town will talk about the obvious problems: the lack of a bye week, the powerful NFC North teams looming during the holidays and tough games and the secondary will probably be a question mark until proven otherwise. There will be plenty of time to debate all of this, week to week, as the team continues to mature.

But yesterday was one for the books — a classic, an unexpected gem to begin the Festivus season. Not even being stuck in the Cleveland airport for three extra hours last night could wipe the smile off of my face.

As I walked to the subway after hearing about 25 minutes of Springsteen (as many of you know, one of my favorites), we strolled to Tower City Mall as Bruce broke out an acoustic version of “The Rising” and dedicated it to Barack Obama, who was about to take the stage.

Bruce could have just as easily sent that one out to the purple birds, who were trying to navigate the insane scene of 100,000 people on the square downtown en route to the airport for a “rising” of their own.

The rising to the top of the AFC North, creating even more separation from the whole state of Ohio.

The rain began to fall on the Cleveland night as the sun set before 5 p.m. for the beginning of a long, cold winter on Lake Erie.

The Ravens are 5-3. The Browns are 3-5.

Going in opposite directions once again.

The bad news?

We’re all stuck rooting for the Redskins tonight.

Comments Off on The afterglow of Cleveland

Tags: , , , ,

Off to Cleveland

Posted on 02 November 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s always the best way to visit Cleveland – in and out. So, I’m on the 8:05 flight and we’ll be checking in throughout the day on WNST.net.

I’m checking out the parking lots in downtown Cleveland on wnsTV (always interesting). The folks there still have such venom for Art Modell that it’s impossible for anything mentioning the word “Baltimore” with them that doesn’t set them off.

And it’s always a little “rowdy” in Cleveland on gameday. The atmosphere is always fun and threatening, because the home fans are inspired. Or at least until the guys in the orange helmets do something wrong.

Then it turns into a home game for the Ravens.

It should be a good game, maybe the best on the docket for the weekend for pure “who’s is going to win” debate.

No C-Mac (we think, anyway).

A two-game winning streak. The Browns receiving corps could make it interesting. Ray Lewis loves going to Cleveland.

It’ll be 60 degrees. Close game. Could come down to Matt Stover.

Hey, I’m just guessing.

Gonna be a fun day…

Comments Off on Off to Cleveland