Tag Archive | "Miami Dolphins"

Pain Train or Ho-Train?

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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.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLpa_Zx7lzY[/youtube]

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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A Sunday I’d like to forget …..

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

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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

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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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The reality of Trent Dilfer’s career …..

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The reality of Trent Dilfer’s career …..

Posted on 01 November 2010 by Rex Snider

Well, we’re coming down the homestretch of a week without Ravens football. With the team returning to practice today, my life is starting to feel normal, again.

Meanwhile, Baltimore’s football lovers have been pacifying their cravings by speculating about the impending future, as well as walking down memory lane.

Today, I will address the latter.

After all, we kinda look into the past in our everlasting effort to predict the future, right?

Last weekend, the Baltimore Ravens organization honored the 2000 Super Bowl Champions. Along with a pretty touching halftime ceremony, fans were treated to an array of tributes on the jumbotron and some pretty cool commemorative t-shirts.

** WNST.net provided a plethora of interviews with members of that memorable squad, to include Rod Woodson, Peter Boulware, Priest Holmes, Matt Stover, Michael McCrary, Jamal Lewis, Jamie Sharper, Brandon Stokley, Duane Starks and numerous others. You can find each interview, in its entirety, in the Buy A Toyota.com Audio Vault (RIGHT HERE)

In addition to the publicly recognized festivities, the Ravens also hosted a party for the former players, last Saturday evening. Obviously, I was not at the event and cannot responsibility speculate on the happenings of the affair. However, numerous accounts of an altercation between Trent Dilfer and Ozzie Newsome have spread throughout the local and national sports media landscape.

Trent Dilfer has addressed the encounter, and he termed it “nothing confrontational or juicy.” However, the story’s source suggested “Trent was pissed” regarding his departure from the team. You can find the article outlining the incident (HERE).

Once again, I was not at the party and I have no firsthand knowledge of anything regarding the event. Thus, I will not devote any further insight into it.

That said, I am going to devote some energy to chronicling the career of Trent Dilfer, which includes his brief time with the Ravens. It’s a career many quarterbacks would love to fulfill; he’s got a Super Bowl ring and a Pro Bowl appearance to his credit. These are pretty special distinctions.

28 Jan 2001:   Quarterback Trent Dilfer of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after defeating the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  The Ravens won the game 34-7. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr/ALLSPORT

I’m also fully aware of Trent’s reputation with Baltimore’s football fans. He’s a beloved guy, who garners a great deal of sympathy and storied support from a large sect of Ravens loyalists. You love the guy and your affection is easy to understand.

He was the quarterback of the only team to win a Super Bowl for this city, in nearly 40 years ….

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Where will the Ravens be in January?

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Where will the Ravens be in January?

Posted on 28 October 2010 by Rex Snider

Fast forward yourself a couple months to the week following Christmas. You will most likely be experiencing the typical holiday happenings – your kids are complaining about the things Santa did NOT leave under the tree …. your wife is counting down the days until school returns from the seasonal break …. and you’re simply trying to survive such an ordeal.

Oh yeah, and you’re also digesting the Ravens latest win, against the Cleveland Browns, in the final road game of the regular season. It will probably be a little tougher than most of us originally imagined, but beating the Browns will be a mandatory formality.

And, as certain as many parents are looking ahead to the second half of the school year, many of us are looking ahead to some pretty exciting circumstances …..

College football’s biggest bowl games are approaching …..

New Years festivities are being planned …..

Rex Snider is watching his new HAIR as it’s starting to grow …..
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And, the Ravens will be readying for the ultimate arrival of the Cincinnati Bengals in the season finale’ …..

Now, bring yourself back to this 28th day of October …..

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Be careful with this bye-week Ravens…the next few weeks are going to be rough

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Be careful with this bye-week Ravens…the next few weeks are going to be rough

Posted on 27 October 2010 by Ryan Chell

John Harbaugh

John Harbaugh, since taking over the coaching job here in Baltimore two and a half seasons ago, has certainly not ever taken his foot off the gas when it comes to his team’s preparation going into an NFL game.

Gone are the days of “Camp Cream-Puff” in training camp-which has been replaced by two-a-days and hours of just hitting the snot out of each other, and the same goes for their weekly practices.

The Ravens players over the last two-plus seasons may not have like Harbaugh’s approach at times when it comes to practice, but the preparation has set the team up for success, as the team has finished 25-14 under Harbaugh in his first two+ years in the regular season and has won playoff games in each of those seasons.

And the Ravens have set themselves up in good position going into the bye, as they are in second-place in the AFC North with a 5-2 record after beating the winless Buffalo Bills on Sunday 37-34 in overtime.

“As far as the game, we’re very pleased with the victory,” Harbaugh said in his Monday press conference. “That’s the mark of a good football team. Sometimes you don’t play your best but you find a way to win the football game.”

The Ravens will host the Miami Dolphins November 7th at home, who currently stand at 3-3, third-best in the AFC East.

What is ironic about the Dolphins is that they are 0-3 at home, while they are 3-0 on the road.

Chad Henne

The players were present at the facility Monday and Tuesday of this week, but Harbaugh still understood the need to keep his players’ bodies fresh.

“We’re not practicing this week,” Harbaugh told the media. “So, it’s not like we would have practiced less than we’re practicing. We set up the week with what really was in mind the fact of what we’ve done the first seven weeks of the season and how hard our guys have worked.”

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Why do some teams never have to complain?

Posted on 25 October 2010 by Domenic Vadala

I was in a bar watching football yesterday; the two games that I was primarily following were the Redskins/Bears and Ravens/Bills, and I saw the Ben Rothleisberger TD/fumble at the end of the Steeler game out of the corner of my eye. There were quite a few Steeler fans in the bar, and I actually heard one guy say that it was a fumble and that Miami probably recovered it…however the refs always officiate in Pittsburgh’s favor. Sure enough, referee (and Pittsburgh-area native) Gene Steratore ruled that it was a fumble, but he couldn’t figure out who recovered it so he gave the ball to the Steelers (fourth and goal at the one). Pittsburgh kicked a field goal and won the game.

That whole series of events rubbed me the wrong way. First off, that was a cowardly manner in which to officiate that play. (Replays showed that two Dolphin players were about to get the ball just as it disappeared, and a Miami player came out of the scrum with the ball…so basically since technically Steratore didn’t see a Miami player with possession of the ball, Pittsburgh got the benefit of the doubt.) However that comment by the fan is very telling. Am I the only one that notices that some teams never seem to have to complain about officials’ calls? I think that you could probably put the Yankees, Red Sox, Cowboys, Steelers, Duke, Carolina, and perhaps even a few others in that category. Let’s be frank…we’re only going to remember the bad or controversial calls in games. We all follow sports because we love it so much, however the one premise that all fans have is that the games themselves are fair. So think about it…umpire Rich Garcia awarded a home run to Derek Jeter in that infamous Oriole playoff game in 1996 when Jeffrey Maier clearly interfered with the play. That scene replayed itself in last week’s ALCS on a Robinson Canoe home run, in the identical part of the new Yankee Stadium. However when was the last time that a game was decided on a controversial play that left the Yankees bitter?

I’m not saying that teams who happen to be playing a team like the Yankees or the Steelers should get the benefit of the doubt. However I think that would most fans want is for the correct call to be made. In the Jeffrey Maier situation as well as in the Steeler game on Sunday, the correct call was not made. Granted that’s probably more of an opinion than a fact, however I would hesitate to say that it’s the opinion of most people. In fairness, I visited a few Steeler message boards to see what their fans had to say about the matter. Some of them said that a W is a W regardless of how it comes to be, and a few people even said that the Steelers were luck and the Dolphins got screwed. However many others took the stance that Miami had their chances to win the game, including on the subsequent drive after that play. That’s certainly a fair point to make, and without a doubt if you take care of your business previous to that point in the game the official isn’t in a situation where he has to make that decision. However that’s also their way of saying that they know they got away with one. Out of all of these responses, the one that bothered me the most was the guy who wrote that the Steelers were the ones that should have been complaining because Big Ben clearly crossed the plain of the goal line prior to the ball coming out. I don’t think that this was a joke posting in anyway, I think he was serious; he pointed to the fact that there could have been a “video error” on the play. Him and the guy in the bar with me who said that Pittsburgh always gets favorable officiating would get along great.

Here’s another example that hits closer to home: remember that monday nighter in 2007 when the Ravens played the Patriots? I seem to remember some favorable New England officiating in that game if my memory serves me, including an unsportsmanlike conduct foul when Ed Reed threw a flag into the stands. (I agree that should be a penalty, however the circumstances that prompted that incident were suspect.) Furthermore, wasn’t it against the Patriots last season that John Harbaugh got flagged for unsportsmanlike? I don’t know what percentage of football coaches get penalized like that, but I know it’s small. I want to believe that all games in all sports are fair, however the fact remains that in situations like this seemingly opponents of the same teams are the ones left complaining. And for the record, I also agree that in any of these situations if a team would only take care of it’s own business none of this would be an issue. However in the Miami example from yesterday, the momentum at that point of the game was with the Steelers. Steratore seemed very willing to go along with the momentum. Momentum was with the Yankees in that 1996 playoff game, and Garcia seemingly didn’t want to disrupt it. The Patriots had the momentum in that 2007 game against the Ravens, as well as in the game last year. Why not keep it going? So perhaps the point is that if you get momentum you’re going to get favorable calls from time to time. The Steelers are a good team (as much as it pains me to say that), and they’re going to have momentum in a lot of their games. But as good as they are, you can’t disregard the fact that they normally get calls like that down the stretch. And perhaps the worst part is that their fans know it.

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So much for the “losing to a good team on the road” excuse, huh?

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So much for the “losing to a good team on the road” excuse, huh?

Posted on 25 October 2010 by Rex Snider

For me, the challenge in writing a good blog is partly bound in highlighting a specific theme or idea that hasn’t been addressed by other writers. While such originality is usually my mission, it’s not always possible.

But, I still try ….. So, as I walked out of M&T Bank Stadium, upon witnessing the Ravens thoroughly destroy the Buffalo Bills, I envisioned the things we would hear on the radio and see in blogs, come Monday morning.

Heck, I was hearing it as we walked across the Hamburg Street bridge. My wife is not a football visionary. However, she is a passionate Ravens fan. Thus, her ensuing comments were as predictable as the sunset every evening. “You and your buddies said there was no way the Buffalo Bills would hang with the Ravens” ….. “You gonna blame today’s crappy 4th quarter on the opponent being a good team?” ….. “This might’ve been a win, but it’s an embarrassing win” ….. If I would’ve had a rope, I could’ve hanged myself – right there, above the train tracks. It was a better alternative than begging her to “PLEASE SHUT THE HE@# UP,” which is not a good idea with my wife. Trust me, I’ve done it and I’ve paid for it. Besides, she was

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