Tag Archive | "Miami Dolphins"

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Blog & Tackle: NFL labor wars

Posted on 20 November 2010 by Chris Pika

In this version of “Stories you may have missed…”, I take a look at six pieces written in the last week that you should file away until the labor negotiations between the NFL and the NFLPA begin in earnest sometime after the start of 2011.

There will be a lot of posturing between now and then, but some of the key issues are starting to get attention in interesting ways.

First up, the 18-game schedule proposed by the league, and counterproposed by the NFLPA late October. There has been a lot of discussion on this point because of the amount of injuries that occur over the course of the current 16-game schedule, and how much or little offseason workouts or bye weeks the new agreement will have.

FOXSports.com’s Alex Marvez broke down the breakdowns on each NFL roster at midseason, and with the recent emphasis on player safety rules, adding to the amount of regular-season games is getting a lot of backlash from players and the media.

In “Injuries are becoming more common“, Marvez writes:

“But as it stands now, a 16-game docket seems rough enough. Dating back to the offseason, NFL teams have already placed 34 more players on injured reserve through 10 weeks (311) than at this point last year (277). The final numbers will assuredly be the highest since the NFL began playing with 32 teams in 2002.”

Of the five teams Marvez lists as “On Life Support”, three are playoff contenders: Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and San Diego. All five clubs in his “Intensive Care” section – Baltimore, Green Bay, Miami, New York Giants and St. Louis – are in the playoff mix.

One of the senior writers who covers the NFL, Clark Judge of CBSSports.com, says that current and former players should be involved in how discipline for hits on the field should be judged.

In his “Simple fix for NFL’s tough hits problem: Listen to players“, Judge writes:

“Look, I don’t care whether you agree with players’ complaints or not, but you can’t deny there are a lot of people out there who don’t understand what passes for good, clean, aggressive tackling anymore. So make them understand.

How? I thought you’d never ask. Assemble a panel that includes more than just members of the NFL officiating and operations offices. In essence, do what Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu suggests and include current and former players in the review process. Then maybe, just maybe, we start getting somewhere.

First of all, you’d have players join league officials in formulating a clear and consistent message. Second, you’d make a conciliatory gesture that could have repercussions in current and upcoming labor talks. I mean, if more players believed they were being heard by the NFL then maybe more players would be receptive to what the league had to say.”

Earlier this week, the NFL Players Association held a conference call with labor/union/issue bloggers to discuss the state of the negotiations between the league and the players’ association.

George Atallah, the NFLPA’s assistant executive director and NFLPA President Kevin Mawae made the presentation.

The full transcript, available, on NFLLockout.com (a site put together by the NFLPA), goes over the recent talking points. Atallah, in his opening remarks said this:

“We consider things like health and safety, employee work place issues, financial transparency, all of the things that come up in everyday conversations in businesses across America are the same conversations that we’re having on a daily basis. It’s gotten to the point now where we’re 107 days away from the expiration of the CBA and while we continue to talk with the league about the possible fair deals, and things of that nature, we still believe a lockout is coming, unfortunately. It’s gotten to the point now where we as a union, as players, and as fans, frankly, need to do everything we can to prevent it.”

Mawae, on the impact of a lockout on the community at large in NFL cites, said:

“What I’ve found out is our players are heavily involved and they’re very educated on our issues. I think that’s been one of our key initiatives over the last four years is to get our players up-to-date and educated on everything that’s happening in collective bargaining. They’ve done that. Some of the biggest concerns are the fact that we won’t play, that we won’t have a job, that our players won’t have a job next year when it’s time to kick-off to 2011 season. Another concern is what does it do to all the personnel that make an NFL game happen? That includes the stadium workers, the police officers that provide support and security, concession workers and the community as a whole, not just a national but in every NFL city. Those are real concerns for the players.”

As a point of emphasis, the league has their own web site where the NFL’s views on the state of the negotiations are posted: www.NFLLabor.com.

One of the NFL owners, the Dolphins’ Stephen Ross, was a featured speaker at this week’s Sports Business Journal’s Sports Media & Technology conference in New York. His remarks at the event made news in the labor wars, and might give some insight into how some of his fellow owners feel about where the game is going.

A blog on the South Florida Sun Sentinel by Sarah Talalay, “Dolphins owner talks NFL expansion, labor and the Super Bowl” gave some insight into Ross’ remarks, especially on expansion into Los Angeles or the move of a current NFL team into that market or internationally:

“On expansion: Ross said he believe there needs to be a team in Los Angeles, and perhaps two to make the economics a stadium there work.

“I think it’s important to the NFL to have a team in Los Angeles, you have the second largest media market in the country,” Ross said. “The question is how you pay for a stadium. There’s no money available for the stadium and the cost will be over $1 billion.”

Beyond LA, Ross suggests Toronto as a market to potentially land the Buffalo Bills.”

Ross also made several remarks about the proposed 18-game schedule that caught the attention of the NFLPA. From Talalay’s story, “Dolphins’ Ross still believes team can make playoffs“, this nugget:

“The additional games, the studies show will not really increase injuries,” Ross said. “We’re still playing 20 games, we’re eliminating two preseason games and adding two regular-season games, which is really what helps with the revenues, and make the fans a lot happier and those games will be a lot more meaningful. But in terms of the players, they’re still playing 20 games.”

And almost immediately, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith pointed out that Ross had lost two quarterbacks in the same game last week due to injury. The league defended Ross in statements from NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, repeated in this post from NFLLabor.com.

“‘Mr. Ross made basic factual points that have been made repeatedly — that we are not proposing to add to the current 20-game season and that the overall injury rate per game remains consistent,’ said Aiello. ‘DeMaurice Smith knows very well that the health and safety issues of converting to the proposed 18-2 season are being addressed with the union in a comprehensive way encompassing the year-found football calendar …”

As the regular season stretches into the final six weeks, there will be more reporting on these subjects. What you have read above will all play into a final agreement, whenever that is reached. And depending on who you believe, that agreement could come quickly, or NFL fans could miss on several weeks of the 2011 season.

Stay tuned …

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

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FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 10: Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens stripes the ball from Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots during the first quarter of the 2010 AFC wild-card playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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Losing to good teams on the road ensures your postseason plight …..

Posted on 15 November 2010 by Rex Snider

If you’re a casual listener of my show, you probably know about my opinion regarding the intersection of LOSSES and EXCUSES.

I’m blunt about it whenever the discussion comes up.

It’s a belief that was drilled into my head when I was very young.  It’s a belief that I’ve taught my one and only child.  And, it’s a belief I’ll take to my grave …..


Offering a dismissive, half-hearted reason for losing is nothing less than acknowledging that failure is acceptable.  It also guarantees you’ll get more of it – unless you change something.

To be very honest, it insults an intelligent mind when winnable contests in New England and Atlanta are summed up with the customary “the Ravens lost to a very good team on the road” defense.

Call that line exactly what it is ….. an EXCUSE.

I didn’t buy it after the loss against New England and I’m certainly not buying it after last Thursday’s loss, in Atlanta.

Do you wanna guess how many 4th quarter comebacks Tom Brady has engineered this season?  The answer is ONE.  And, we know all about that game, huh?

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 10: Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens stripes the ball from Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots during the first quarter of the 2010 AFC wild-card playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

I get the aura of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.  I know their careers very well, and I pay attention to that team.  But, I also know many football fans assume Brady pulls out last minute heroics every week, and that’s just not true.

In fact, Tom Brady has thrown only ONE game-impacting, 4th quarter touchdown, this season.  Once again, we know all about that game, right?

As for last Thursday’s loss in Atlanta, the Ravens defense orchestrated Matt Ryan’s elevation from budding star to full blown ROCK STAR, in just 80 seconds.

I’m pretty sure Ryan is being bestowed with the Congressional Medal of Honor on the front steps of the United States Capital, later this week.

But, here’s another meaningless stat for the excuse makers and believers …..

Do you know how many two-minute drives have been capped off with a winning touchdown in Matt Ryan’s season?  You are correct …. ONE FREAKIN’ GAME.

Of course, I think Tom Brady is approaching a legendary career.  And, I think Matt Ryan is one of the bright, young stars in the NFL.  But, I also think many fans and observers believe these quarterbacks are leading their teams to dramatic, come from behind wins, on a consistent basis – and, that’s simply not true.

But, they’ve made hay against the Ravens defense, recently.

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Paul Kruger

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Ravens DE Paul Kruger as ready for Falcons as he ever would be

Posted on 11 November 2010 by Ryan Chell

Paul Kruger
The Baltimore Ravens kick off the NFL Network Thursday night schedule of the 2010 season tonight against the Atlanta Falcons, and no one is more excited than Ravens defensive end Paul Kruger, who joined Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” Wednesday to discuss a battle between two similar teams atop their respective divisions.

“I think they are a great team,” Kruger told Forrester. “We have been watching tape as much as we can and you know I have nothing but good things to say. They do a lot of things well.”

The Ravens-along with the Falcons-are coming off a short week as Baltimore defeated the Dolphins 26-10 on Sunday, and had to prepare for a first-place team in Atlanta (6-2) in only several days of work.

“It’s tough,” Kruger said. “It’s definitely mentally and physically taxing but at the same time we are used to playing and the coaches have done a great job of getting us ready. You know, it has basically been full-go since we got done with the game on Sunday.”

But Kruger said they are ready to go.

“I think we are pretty prepared mentally,” Kruger said. “I think we are there and the trainers and staff have done an excellent job getting everyone ready for the game this week. A little more stretching and massaging, and more recovery this week with the real quick turnaround.”

The expectations for Kruger have been high since he was drafted in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft out of Utah. Not seeing much action in his rookie year due to his inexperience playing on special teams and not being up to standards when it came to conditioning, Kruger has seen action in three games this year and has been more of a need for the Ravens after Baltimore released Trevor Pryce early in the year.

Kruger said that he has put  a lot of effort toward improving that aspect of his game, wanting to be that pass rusher that the Ravens expected him to be when they drafted him high in last year’s draft.

“That is definitely something I have improved on a lot this off-season, and a real strength for me this year as a lighter guy is playing inside, kind of playing outside, and moving to different positions.”

And now healthy from a knee injury that he suffered early in October, he expects to be on the field each game out and he wants to perform in each of those games.

“I’m pretty sure I’m going to be playing from here on out unless I do something wrong or stop playing the way I can. The coaches have done a great job keeping me positive and informed me of everything going on.”

“And if anything is going to change, I am pretty much aware of it before anyone else is.”

And hopefully Kruger can make a play in Thursday’s game like he did in his only significant action in 2009.

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

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Spitgate: It’s time for Goodell to get the clowns in order

Posted on 09 November 2010 by Drew Forrester

It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

Or pregnant.

Or, now, spit on.

I was a little stunned at the reaction both in Miami and Baltimore yesterday as details emerged about “SpitGate” involving Le’Ron McClain and Channing Crowder.

People in both cities were “appalled” and “shocked” and “stunned” by the fact that McClain might have spit on Crowder during Sunday’s Ravens-Dolphins game in Baltimore.



You’re nuts.

I’m half expecting to see one of these guys pull a piece out and fire a shot into the other team’s huddle one of these days.

I don’t know if you’re watching the same NFL as I am, but the level of professionalism amongst the players has dropped dramatically over the last few years.

And that’s not a low blow…it’s a fact.

To my eyes, having watched the “ground level” footage somehow captured by a Miami TV station, it’s very apparent to me that McClain spit on Crowder. He lauches forward at him, his head rises up and it’s clear he makes some sort of projecting move towards Crowder’s face. Crowder reacts as if he’s a man who has just been spit upon. If I sat in the juror’s box and that was the ONLY piece of evidence I had, I’d convict McClain.

Or I’d just send those two clowns back to the circus and tell them to both do 5 shows without pay.

But that’s just me.

The Ravens, predictably, deny any such event took place and as one staffer pointed out to me last night during a give-and-take on “did he or didn’t he?”, the referee standing right in the mix of the altercation didn’t act as if McClain spit on Crowder while he tried to separate them. My answer to that is simple enough: Have you seen the refs this year? Hell, McClain could have spit on one of them and he might not know it. In other words, don’t EVER use the referees as a barometer for whether or not an infraction occurred. The only thing they’re good at seeing these days are reruns of Bonanza and The Andy Griffith Show.

Honestly, though, I don’t really care if McClain spit on Crowder or not. If he did, the league will punish him and whatever they decide to do with him is fine by me. I don’t condone it. And I’m not trying to be dismissive when I say “whatever they decide to do is fine…” — because I do think if you spit on a guy, the league should act swifty and harshly.

But it’s getting much easier for me to be dismissive of the behavior I’m seeing from the players because no one seems to want to do anything about it.

Roger Goodell has his hands tied with this “physicality issue”, as he sifts through every tackle in the league to figure out which ones are hard and fair and which ones are REALLY hard and maybe unfair.

It’s becoming somewhat of an embarrassment for Goodell, personally, in my opinion. Not only is he bringing the quality of play into question

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Marshal Yanda

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Ravens OL Marshal Yanda says Ravens struggled early on, finished game strong to prepare for Falcons

Posted on 08 November 2010 by Ryan Chell

Marshal Yanda

Ravens right tackle Marshal Yanda was a little sore Monday morning when he joined “The Morning Reaction” with Drew Forrester, but ultimately finishing Sunday’s game against the Dolphins strong and eventually winning 26-10 over Miami, his sores seemed to be not as painful as it seemed.

And even if the pain Yanda were feeling were a bit more severe, he said he certainly would have a ton of things on his plate today to occupy this thoughts as he prepares in a short week for the Atlanta Falcons, who the Ravens will face Thursday at 8:30.

“We’ve got to go in there today and watch the film and try to make our corrections quickly from yesterday,” Yanda told Forrester. “And then we’ll move right into Atlanta. We’ll be busy today…that’s for sure.”

What Yanda is referring to regarding their corrections had to be their performance in the first half against the Dolphins.

After the Ravens allowed Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown to run the ball down their throats and tie the game at 7 with 5:29 left in the first quarter, the Ravens started at their own 36 and moved the ball all the way down inside the Miami 10-yard line.

On a 3rd and 1 at the Dolphin 9-yard line, the Ravens tried to run the ball inside with fullback Le’Ron McClain but failed to earn the first down. The Ravens then settled for a 26-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff.

But the Ravens struggles inside the red zone did not stop there. On the next Dolphins series, Miami quarterback Chad Henne threw a pass intended for receiver Brian Hartline, which was subsequently intercepted by Baltimore corner back Lardarius Webb.

Webb returned the ball  to the opposing five-yard line, where the Ravens were poised to not only score, but put seven points on the board.

But a McGahee loss on a run, two sacks of quarterback Joe Flacco, a delay of game penalty, and having to waste a timeout to avoid a second penalty pushed the Ravens back all the way to the Miami 20, and the Ravens yet again were forced to settled for 3-points.

Or at least they wanted to-until the snap was botched by holder Sam Koch, and the Ravens got nothing out of the turnover.

And finally, on the Ravens last meaningful drive of the first half, the Ravens again found their way inside the visiting team’s red zone.  When the Ravens reached the Miami 9-yard line, the Ravens offense proceeded yet again to shoot themselves in the foot as Todd Heap committed a false start penalty and a sack of Joe Flacco followed that penalty.

Again, the Ravens found themselves backed up in yards by a double-digit margin and avoided the end zone for a third drive.

“In the first half, we kind of shot ourselves in the foot. You know down the stretch in the red zone…we get the  ball down there and we got some penalties. I did not do well. I gave up a sack in the red zone there with Cameron Wake. We needed to play better in the red zone.”

But the mood in the locker room at the half with the Ravens up 13-10 was not what you expect. The team as a whole was not going to let their frustrations in the first half destroy their chances at winning the game in the second.

“There was no panic,” Yanda said. “Cam came out and said ‘Hey, we are going to stick with our guns.’ And you know, we just need to play better. You know what you have to do and we understood what we had to do, and that we weren’t going to re-invent the wheel at halftime.”

“We understood we got down in the red zone, and we just wanted to score points. There were no significant changes, we just understand that we need to get this done fellas. We need to do this down in the red zone.”

And luckily, the Ravens were able to do that in the second half, as they out-gained the Dolphins 228-136 and put thirteen more points on the board to put the Dolphins away.

Joe Flacco found Derrick Mason for a 12-yard touchdown pass with 9:29 left in the third quarter to put the Ravens up 20-10.

They also picked off Chad Henne two more times, one coming from safety Ed Reed( his third in two games back) and Josh Wilson’s game-ending grab after he came in to replace the struggling Fabian Washington.

In the end, they hope their success in the second half against the Dolphins translates well to the 6-2 Atlanta Falcons on Thursday.

“Coach said they are going to give us time to recover for this game and then just make sure we are ready to go with the game plan for the Atlanta game. With these next two days, we’ll look at the schedule and go from there,” Yanda said.

WNST is your place for Baltimore Ravens news! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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It's time for the Ravens to stop acting like chicks.

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Pain Train or Ho-Train?

Posted on 08 November 2010 by Thyrl Nelson

It’s time for the Ravens to stop acting like chicks.


There are some things that I never expected to have to say, but it’s time for the Ravens to toughen up a bit. Maybe this is the trade off for bringing in the types of weapons that are required to make a team explosive. Whether or not these Ravens actually evolve into being offensively prolific, it’s fair to say right now that they’re at least prolifically offensive. Now we’ll have to see whether the tough talking coach, John Harbaugh is able to reel in this bunch at least enough to restore a modicum of decorum and professionalism.

While we all sort of knew that with the offensive upgrades that the team was looking to make, a certain amount of diva-ism would be par for the course. But with the season halfway in the books, the Ravens are still a middle of the pack team when it comes to offense, ranking 15th in the league in yards per game, passing yards per game and points per game (opponents notwithstanding). However, you’d be hard pressed to tell that by the humility, or lack thereof on the offensive side of the ball.


Consider already, that known diva TJ Houshmandzadeh in his short tenure with the team has seemingly produced as many incendiary sound bytes as touchdowns. At least with him, we expected it. But what about Derrick Mason?


Sure Mason has raised an eyebrow or two with some of the comments he’s made over the course of his Ravens’ career, but what wide receiver doesn’t do that? From his voiced exasperation over not getting the ball often enough, to his announced retirement and Super Bowl or bust proclamations, Mason has seemingly never been at a loss for words, nor has he seemingly cared about the impact that those words may have on his team. (On a side note: What’s with Mason getting the last intro when the offense is being introduced for home games? Is this in deference to his tenure with the team, or an attempt to appease him with more spotlight?) One might even make the argument, that while Mason should be applauded for volunteering his services to help in the punt return game, offering that tidbit to the media, during his self professed media blackout no less, could also be viewed as an unwelcome distraction.


So maybe we too should shoulder some of the blame for Sunday’s apparent meltdown, for simply being amused by Mason’s public undressing of Channing Crowder in the lead up to Sunday’s game. Indeed if we look at the context of Crowder’s comments in which he refers to Mason as an “old man”, surely he didn’t mean it as a slight. You can watch the video here, and Crowder’s comments come in the first few seconds. In addition to referring to Mason as the old guy, he also calls him “good as hell”. Also overlooked by Mason and the “incensed” Ravens offense was Crowder calling Ray Rice very good, LeRon McClain one of the best fullbacks in the game, plus fawning over the offensive line and Boldin and Houshmandzadeh. Perhaps what really set Mason off was being the last one mentioned by Crowder. Given Crowder’s Anne Frank reference in his own post game tirade, it’s fair to say that he’s not good with names, and that Mason’s probably slipped his mind honestly. For the record, he said nothing of Heap either…imagine the nerve.

Next, as it relates to context, let’s talk about the alleged spitting incident, and the series of events that led up to it. (Granted, the network didn’t cover it well to begin with, but here’s what it looked like from my end.)  NEXT PAGE


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1954:  A little boy feels abandoned at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children in London.  (Photo by Erich Auerbach/Getty Images)

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A Sunday I’d like to forget …..

Posted on 08 November 2010 by Rex Snider

A certainty for each and every NFL city is the guarantee of eight opportunities to host profitable, meaningful games. In Baltimore, yesterday served as one of those opportunities, as the Miami Dolphins paid a visit to M&T Bank Stadium for an early afternoon showdown with the Ravens.

For me, the day started out as normally, as possible. I knew we would be spending several hours at the game and enjoying the tailgating festivities, beforehand. Thus, a regimented schedule for doing things exists …..

I rolled out of bed around 8am and went to lay on the sofa for an hour or so. But, in typical Snider family style, I ensured that my wife was up by 10am …. and we were walking out of the house a half hour later.

Right on time !!!!

As we rolled down Hanover Street, I received a text message and glanced at my phone. And, that’s when I noticed the time of day – 945am !!!!

Yeah, that’s right, I totally forgot about setting the clock back an hour on Saturday night. I broke the news to Mrs. Snider and she flipped out into her best impression of our world’s next generation …..

1954:  A little boy feels abandoned at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children in London.  (Photo by Erich Auerbach/Getty Images)

God love her. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear I was riding to the game with a hybrid version of “Terrell Owens meets Nancy Kerrigan.”

The good news is she didn’t dig my eyes out and slit my throat with her nail file. So, we parked and headed to the tailgate lot …. at 955am !!!!

To be honest, this is where things got bad for me. And, it’s totally of my making …..

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Ravens produce workmanlike win over Dolphins, 26-10

Posted on 07 November 2010 by Drew Forrester

At this stage of the season, it really is a “win-is-a-win” celebration of sorts after each victory.

That’s how the Ravens handled Sunday’s 26-10 triumph over the Miami Dolphins.

Call it “workmanlike” or “professional” or “plodding”…but the Ravens used a balanced attack and assistance from a horrible tackling effort by Miami to move to 6-2 in the AFC North in advance of a Thursday night contest at Atlanta.  Baltimore’s intermission lead of 13-10 was hardly impressive, as they squandered three different red zone trips and were fortunate that the Dolphins themselves butchered a 3rd and one play late in the first half on the Ravens one yard line.  Both teams ran the ball well throughout the first 30 minutes, but it was the Ravens who made a significant personnel move in the third quarter, as John Harbaugh benched a lackluster Fabian Washington and inserted Josh Wilson at cornerback, a move that paid dividends throughout the final 30 minutes.  After getting torched in the Buffalo game two weeks ago, Washington didn’t fare much better in the opening half of Sunday’s game with Miami and Harbaugh made the switch, although afterwards he was evasive, as always, about both Fabian’s performance and his benching.

Despite the rather lopsided score at the end, the entire second half might well have changed on one play that WASN’T made by the Miami defense.  Trailing 20-10 with 2:59 to play in the 3rd quarter, the Dolphins were a play away from making it 20-17, but cornerback Sean Smith – stepping in front of a ball intended for Anquan Boldin near the sideline – dropped a sure-fire interception-return-for-a-touchdown.  Rather than 20-17, it turned into 23-10 and 26-10.  The play was eerily similar to two Sunday’s ago when Donte Whitner, in nearly the exact same location on the field, dropped a near-certain-INT-for-TD with Buffalo ahead 24-10 in the 2nd quarter.

Big plays – either made for your team or not made against you – change football games.  And Smith’s gaffe in the 3rd quarter of Sunday’s game was a game-changer in a bad way for the Dolphins.

Baltimore’s second half offensive effort was much more polished than what they produced in the first half.  Flacco was sharp throughout and Ray Rice ran it and caught it with similar success.  Derrick Mason produced a 3rd quarter TD catch on a sizzler from Flacco and two Billy Cundiff short-range field goals finalized the scoring.

That Miami didn’t score a point in the 2nd half was testament to Baltimore’s upgraded defensive effort.

That the Dolphins didn’t continue to run the ball at a Ravens defense that was suspect against the run throughout the first half is something for Tony Sparano to answer, I suppose.

The only question marks for the Ravens on Sunday?  Red zone offense and the lack of continuity running the ball in tight spaces.  Harbaugh and Cam Cameron can’t come up with one constant when it comes down to crunch time.  One series McGahee gets the bulk of the in-close work.  The next series, they throw the ball inside the 10.  And at some point later on in the game, Ray Rice picks up work in the red zone.  It’s a little odd, to say the least.  If it were effective, we wouldn’t be scratching our heads so much.  But it’s not.  Or, at least, it wasn’t today.

So Baltimore churns along at 6-2, looking very much like a team that can play as well as anyone for 30 minutes at a time. Turning that into a 60-minute effort remains the Ravens biggest task, but 6-2 is still 6-2.

And in the NFL, as evidenced by what happened on Sunday in Cleveland, you have to play at 100% every Sunday or you leave with your tail between your legs.

Today, Miami headed home a loser.

And that’s all that matters in Baltimore, where the Ravens protected their home turf once again.

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JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 21: Patrick Cobbs  of the Miami Dolphins runs for yardage during the preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on August 21, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

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A blunt reality? Ravens are very fortunate to be in Baltimore …..

Posted on 05 November 2010 by Rex Snider

I’m admittedly naive when it comes to the appeal of sports, as an entertainment vice in the landscape of American culture.

While I like to count myself among the more informed souls when it comes to how people really value their hard earned money, as it relates to sports entertainment, I acknowledge my shortcomings in understanding some distinct geographical differences.

In some ways, I simply assume the National Football League is a popular product throughout this country. But, yesterday, I really learned a valuable lesson about pro football’s lack of appeal in certain cities.

Yeah, I’ve seen the endless updates on television blackouts, on a daily basis. Yet, such examples are usually tied to markets where NFL franchises have been uncompetitive for a substantial string of seasons.

Tampa? I get it.

Oakland? I get it.

Detroit? I get it.

The teams in these cities have struggled for years. And, they’ve offered little, if any, hope for the hometown faithful. Thus, I understand why a greater group of fans choose to keep their money, rather than spend it on seeing their favorite team getting shellacked on a consistent basis.

Heck, I’ve even understood blackouts in San Diego. The weather in that city is usually impeccable, and the Chargers are probably the biggest “tease” in the NFL. So, the choice is between Sundays at the beach or Qualcomm Stadium. The people have spoken, I suppose.

As for a total trainwreck, like Jacksonville, the blame should be shared by Paul Tagliabue and his corps of supporters …..

JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 21: Patrick Cobbs  of the Miami Dolphins runs for yardage during the preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on August 21, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Do you see the above photo of the Jaguars hosting the Dolphins? Any chance we see that many empty seats when the Dolphins come to Baltimore, this week? No way ….

The Jaguars are not an awful team; they’re simply situated in a bad area for pro football. A large portion of the population is transient, thanks to the U.S. Navy.

And, college football is a huge attraction in the Jacksonville area – a few notable programs are in close proximity. It’s a storied tradition in this part of the country.

I think it’s very fair to suggest the NFL erred in awarding Jacksonville an NFL franchise, in 1993. The Jaguars have been set up to fail, since their inception. But, that’s Tagliabue’s sin to bear.

Yesterday, I learned that Jacksonville shares some distinct company to the northwest …..

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Ravens FB Le’Ron McClain content with role on team playing well

Posted on 05 November 2010 by Ryan Chell

Le'Ron McClain

Ravens fullback Le’Ron McClain has made it known in the past, whether it be vocally or on his Twitter account, that he wants to return to the form of two years ago when he was the team’s leading rusher from the fullback position.

However in that season, the Ravens had the liberty of having maybe the best fullback to ever play the game of football in Lorenzo Neal to fill McClain’s role so McClain could carry the load.

But now with Neal having been gone a season and a half, McClain has matured and come into his own knowing that he can still play a role in the running game by punishing opposing lineman and linebackers while clearing a hole for Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice and Willis McGahee.

McClain has actually found joy in helping his teammates get touchdowns-just as much as if he found paydirt himself.

“I feel like when I’m blocking when guys got it like Willis [did] it in the Bronco game, when I got that block on that guy, he came up right on my side and scored. I feel like I scored that one because I made a good block.”

McClain joined Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” Thursday to give WNST an update with his situation and the 5-2 Ravens as they prepare for the 4-3 Miami Dolphins on Sunday at 1PM at M&T Bank Stadium.

I’m getting ready to go into work,” McClain said to Forrester as he prepared to attend Thursday’s practice. “You know, getting ready for Sunday. They’ve been doing a great coming in on the road and controlling the clock and winning games. They’ve been doing a great job of it.”

McClain is of course referring to the note that the Dolphins are in a bizarre situation where they are 4-0 on the road while 0-3 at home.

But what plays into the Ravens factor is that the Ravens are coming off their bye.

Since 2002, the Ravens are 4-0 at home coming off their off-week.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” McClain said. “We’re on a good road now, 5-2 and fresh off a bye. Everybody’s fresh, and everybody’s going to come back healthy. We’re gonna get rolling.”

One player hopeful to return Sunday will be wide receiver Donte Stallworth, who is coming back from a broken foot suffered in the preseason.

His return gives the Ravens another weapon on offense, but Forrester was also quick to point out that Stallworth returning is another weapon on offense that might be adamant about getting the ball as much as everyone else on offense seems to be doing right now.

“We’ve got to understand that there’s only one football,” McClain said. “Joe gets the ball first and he’s gonna give it to whoever the play is called to. Everybody’s job is to do their job, and when the ball does get in your hands, make a play. Even if there’s one play in the game or twenty-six.

McClain said the team does come first, and their 5-2 record now should show proof of that belief.

“The ultimate goal as a team is to get a championship. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had no touchdowns or seven.”

Continue to follow WNST as we track the Ravens throughout the 2010 season! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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