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Ravens emerge from Week 13 action holding No. 6 seed in AFC

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Ravens emerge from Week 13 action holding No. 6 seed in AFC

Posted on 01 December 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

Armed with the luxury of sitting back and watching the rest of the NFL’s Week 13 action play out Sunday after a 22-20 win over Pittsburgh on Thursday night, the Ravens maintained control of the No. 6 seed in the AFC.

Miami was the only other of the six 5-6 teams entering Week 13 to emerge with a victory to improve to 6-6, but the Ravens hold the tiebreaker due to their Week 5 win over the Dolphins in early October.

The bad news on Sunday came in the form of the Cincinnati Bengals’ 17-10 win over San Diego that allowed them to keep a two-game lead over the Ravens with an 8-4 record in the AFC North. However, a Bengals loss to the Chargers would have forced a three-way tie for the sixth spot in the AFC, a scenario that would have resulted in Miami winning the current tiebreaker due to a superior conference record over the Ravens and San Diego.

The Ravens will welcome the Minnesota Vikings to town next Sunday while Miami travels to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh to take on the 5-7 Steelers.

Of course, the road to the playoffs will grow much more difficult for the Ravens after that as they play three projected playoff teams to conclude the regular season — two of them coming on the road.

Here are the Week 14 games impacting the AFC playoff picture next weekend:

Minnesota (3-8-1) at Baltimore (6-6)

Indianapolis (8-4) at Cincinnati (8-4)

Oakland (4-8) at New York Jets (5-7)

Miami (6-6) at Pittsburgh (5-7)

Tennessee (5-7) at Denver (10-2)

New York Giants (4-7) at San Diego (5-7)

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Deserving or not, Ravens remain firmly in AFC playoff hunt

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Deserving or not, Ravens remain firmly in AFC playoff hunt

Posted on 18 November 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

They don’t deserve to be in the postseason and certainly don’t look like a playoff team.

The eyeball test warrants a failing grade.

Too little consistency and too many bad losses will cost them at the end of the season.

They’re simply not good enough.

The following statements have been used over and over in describing the Ravens as they’ve lost four of their last five games to fall to 4-6 on the season and 2 1/2 games behind division-leading Cincinnati in the AFC North.

And those same descriptions can and have been used to describe the seven other teams currently jockeying for the final wild-card spot in the AFC playoff picture. In fact, “plodding” might be a better term to use in describing the race for the No. 6 seed in the conference.

Unless commissioner Roger Goodell elects to eliminate the final spot, a team with an underwhelming résumé through Week 11 will find itself playing in January as the final seed in the single-elimination tournament. The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins hold the slight edge at the moment over the rest of the pack at 5-5, but their flaws are as apparent as any of the six 4-6 teams chasing them.

“What it goes to show you is how close it is, and what a razor-thin margin it is in the National Football League,” coach John Harbaugh said in describing the current playoff picture. “That’s what makes the National Football League great. We would all rather be sitting here talking about being atop the division and chasing a home-field advantage or something like that. And that’s something that we were shooting for. We wanted to be in that position. We haven’t done the things we needed to do to be in that position.”

The frustration is understandable after a 4-6 start, but deeming the Ravens undeserving of the playoffs and writing them off are subjective statements that would be true in most seasons but are made in isolation from the rest of the field through Week 11. While I’m unwilling to say they’re definitively better than any of the other seven teams fighting for the final spot, you won’t convince me that any of those competitors are superior to the Ravens, either.

The truth is the AFC is mired in mediocrity once you look beyond Denver, New England, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Kansas City, making it difficult to predict which team — if any — will make a strong run over the final six weeks to sneak in. At this point, 10-6 would virtually guarantee the final playoff spot, but 9-7 has a good shot of being the season-ending target.

As mediocre as the entire field of 5-5 and 4-6 teams has looked, even an 8-8 record — or, gasp, 7-9? — with a favorable tie-breaker arsenal could conceivably be awarded with the No. 6 seed. Whether you elect to embrace that possibility with any level of enthusiasm is your choice.

With a head-to-head tie-breaking win over Miami and a meeting with the Jets this Sunday, the Ravens have an opportunity to gain the upper hand against the two teams they’re currently chasing in the wild-card race. That doesn’t mean they have the advantage over the rest of the field, but their chances appear no worse than any other team — even if you must hold your nose while saying that.

“We are right there. We can do it, and we’re good enough to do it,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve got every tool we need; all we have to do is go get it done. But that’s on us. We believe we have what it takes, but it’s up to us to prove it, and we’ve got to go prove it by winning these games.”

Whether the Ravens can do it remains to be seen, but three straight games at home starting Sunday provides a crucial opportunity to stack wins and ease the pain from their current 1-5 record on the road.

Here’s a look at the rest of the race for the AFC’s No. 6 seed in the current order in which teams stand based on tie-breaking procedures, which I’ll forgo including beyond conference records for now:

6. NEW YORK (5-5)
Conference record: 2-5
Remaining schedule: at Baltimore, Miami, Oakland, at Carolina, Cleveland, at Miami
Case for: Only one game remaining against a team with a winning record, league’s top-ranked run defense
Case against: Struggling rookie quarterback Geno Smith, minus-85 point differential (worst among the eight contenders for No. 6 seed)

7. MIAMI (5-5)
Conference record: 4-3
Remaining schedule: Carolina, at New York Jets, at Pittsburgh, New England, at Buffalo, New York Jets
Case for: One of the NFL’s better pass rushes, potential of young quarterback Ryan Tannehill
Case against: 31st in total offense, fallout from the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito saga

8. OAKLAND (4-6)
Conference record: 4-3
Remaining schedule: Tennessee, at Dallas, at New York Jets, Kansas City, at San Diego, Denver
Case for: Fourth-ranked run offense, sixth-ranked run defense
Case against: Unrest at quarterback position, 25th-ranked pass defense

9. TENNESSEE (4-6)
Conference record: 3-4
Remaining schedule: at Oakland, at Indianapolis, at Denver, Arizona, at Jacksonville, Houston
Case for: Seventh-ranked pass defense, fifth in conference in takeaways
Case against: Season-ending injury to quarterback Jake Locker, four remaining road games

10. PITTSBURGH (4-6)
Conference record: 3-4
Remaining schedule: at Cleveland, at Baltimore, Miami, Cincinnati, at Green Bay, Cleveland
Case for: One game remaining against teams currently above .500, veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger
Case against: 30th-ranked rush offense, 26th in run defense

11. BALTIMORE (4-6)
Conference record: 4-4
Remaining schedule: New York Jets, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, at Detroit, New England, at Cincinnati
Case for: Expected return of Dennis Pitta, four remaining home games
Case against: 31st in yards per carry and 30th in total offense, three games remaining against teams currently above .500

12. CLEVELAND (4-6)
Conference record: 3-4
Remaining schedule: Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, at New England, Chicago, at New York Jets, at Pittsburgh
Case for: Fifth in total defense, play-making ability of wide receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron
Case against: 26th-ranked rush offense, 10th in AFC in takeaways

13. SAN DIEGO (4-6)
Conference record: 2-5
Remaining schedule: at Kansas City, Cincinnati, New York Giants, at Denver, Oakland, Kansas City
Case for: Fourth-ranked passing offense, plus-4 point differential (best among the eight No.6 seed contenders)
Case against: 27th in pass defense, four games remaining against teams currently above .500

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The 15-7-0 is jealous of fans of good NFL teams. Like the Panthers. And the Jets.

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The 15-7-0 is jealous of fans of good NFL teams. Like the Panthers. And the Jets.

Posted on 04 November 2013 by Glenn Clark

15 positive observations from the weekend of football, seven not so positive observations and we acknowledge a “zero” from outside the world of football. A reminder, there’s never any Ravens game analysis here. We do plenty of that elsewhere. It’s a trip through the weekend of football via videos, GIFs, memes, pictures, links, Tweets and shtick.

Jake Peavy and I had similar weekends. He took a ride through Boston on a duck boat and then drove the thing to Foxborough the next day. I took a bath on the Breeders’ Cup Classic Saturday after getting a terrible tip on Moreno. Wait. Did I say we had similar weekends? What I meant was that “F*ck Jave Peavy.”

15 Positive Observations…

1. The New York Jets are one of the best run offenses in football. Their backs are Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell. I give up trying to understand this damn game.

Geno Smith did his best Davone Bess impression in this one…

It wasn’t all bad for the Saints…

2. Florida State got a real test* from Miami Saturday night. (*Oh. By “test” I meant they absolutely clobbered them like they have everyone this season. I’ve got to start doing a better job of differentiating these types of things.)

Jameis Winston is good at football, even more gooder at handshakes.

College Gameday was in Tallahassee, where we learned spelling isn’t really a thing at FSU.

Elsewhere in the ACC, Clemson somehow did this.

3. Geez Ohio State. We get it already. We were wrong. Let’s just move on. What’s that? You need to hear us say we’re sorry? Well I don’t think that’s appropriate. Hey…don’t leave. We can work this out. We’re all adults here. Okay! We’re sorry! We’re sorry! Now can we please settle down? We have to go to my parents’ house later.

Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Nebraska had kind of a neat finish against Northwestern…

And then there was the Iowa quarterback…doing…I have no freaking idea.

Michigan State got a big win over Michigan, so here’s Sparty doing some sort of chop. It was that kind of college football weekend.

Plus Travis Jackson celebrates and America rejoices.

And finally elsewhere, the Penn State punter flops EXACTLY the way you’d expect a man named Butterworth would.

4. Everyone wants to know what the best plays are in Andy Reid’s playbook. It’s actually not that complicated. It’s called “give the ball to the defense”.

Because when that happens…

Also, this girl Deadspin found had a better Halloween than you.

5. Nick Foles threw seven TD passes Sunday. I wasn’t able to catch his postgame press conference, but I’ll just assume he said the number seven was special because he wanted to honor Emilio Estefan Jr.-who was won seven Latin Grammy Awards in his career.

Riley Cooper had a big day in the win. This did not go over well with everyone.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 29 October 2013 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Mixed Martial Arts-Bellator MMA (Saturday 7pm from Long Beach, CA live on SpikeTV); Soccer: New Zealand @ Team USA women (Wednesday 7:30pm from Columbus live on USSoccer.com); Golf: World Golf Championships HSBC Champions (Wednesday-Saturday 11pm from Shanghai live on Golf Channel), Champions Tour Charles Schwab Cup Championship (Thursday-Sunday 4:30pm from San Francisco live on Golf Channel); Exhibition Women’s College Basketball: Catholic University @ Maryland (Tuesday 7pm Comcast Center), Holy Family @ Maryland (Saturday 2pm Comcast Center); Boxing: Gennady Golovkin vs. Curtis Stevens (Saturday 10pm from New York live on HBO)

10. Drake (Thursday 7pm Verizon Center); Matt Nathanson (Friday 9pm Rams Head Live); Brett Dennen (Friday 8pm Baltimore Soundstage); Third Eye Blind (Friday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Cypress Hill (Thursday 8pm Howard Theatre); Fitz and the Tantrums/Capital Cities (Wednesday & Thursday 6:30pm 9:30 Club), The Head and The Heart (Monday 7pm 9:30 Club); India.Arie (Wednesday 8pm Warner Theatre); Marc Broussard (Thursday 7:30pm Birchmere); Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors (Wednesday 7:30pm The Hamilton), Blue Oyster Cult (Thursday 7:30pm The Hamilton); Common (Friday 8pm Meyerhoff Symphony Hall); Bootsy Collins (Thursday 8pm Strathmore), Travis Tritt (Friday 8pm Strathmore); Barenaked Ladies (Monday 7pm Lincoln Theatre); Passion Pit/Joy Formidable (Thursday 8pm Echostage); Arcade Fire “Reflektor”, Linkin Park “Recharged” and Bad Religion “Christmas Songs” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

I enjoy Brett Dennen and his music. And popsicles.

By law, you’re not allowed to tell anyone how much I like Third Eye Blind without my approval.

Fitz and the Tantrums is more fun than hanging out with your best girl. Unless you’re hanging out and listening to Fitz and the Tantrums.

The Head and The Heart are pleasant. Except when they fight. Jerks.

9. Mark Curry (Friday & Saturday Baltimore Comedy Factory); Tony Rock (Thursday-Sunday DC Improv); Ender’s Game” and “Last Vegas” out in theaters (Friday); Monsters University” and “R.I.P.D.” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday); Punkin Chunkin (Friday-Sunday Wheatley Farm); Greek Food & Cultural Festival (Friday-Sunday Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation); The Gathering: Food Truck Rally (Friday 5pm McHenry Row); Maryland Brewers’ Harvest (Saturday 12pm & 5:30pm Meyerhoff Symphony Hall)

I don’t really see what people enjoy about Punkin Chunkin, really.

Oh. Okay now I do. As far as Monsters University is concerned…

Excellent.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 Ravens – Week 5

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D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 Ravens – Week 5

Posted on 08 October 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

Below are our Tuesday Top 7 Ravens players in the 26-23 win over the Miami Dolphins in Week 5. We’ll track our rankings throughout the 2013 season using the following point system:

No. 1 – 7 points
No. 2 – 6 points
No. 3 – 5 points
No. 4 – 4 points
No. 5 – 3 points
No. 6 – 2 points
No. 7 – 1 point

You can hear Jones’ full explanation HERE and Forrester’s HERE.

Luke Jones’ Top 7 …

7) Haloti Ngata
ngata

6) Lardarius Webb
webb

5) Elvis Dumervil
dumervil

4) Justin Tucker
tucker

3) Torrey Smith
smith

2) Joe Flacco
flacco

1) Terrell Suggs
suggs

CONTINUE ON NEXT PAGE >>>>>

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Dolphins

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Dolphins

Posted on 08 October 2013 by Glenn Clark

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

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

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

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 26-23 win over the Miami Dolphins Sunday at SunLife Stadium…

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

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Haloti Ngata/Josh Bynes tackle Lamar Miller for no gain on 3rd & 1 (1st quarter)

4. Torrey Smith 22 yard catch from Joe Flacco on 3rd & 10 (3rd quarter)

3. Tandon Doss catch from Joe Flacco on 3rd & 2 (4th quarter)

2. Joe Flacco 14 yard run on 3rd & 5 (3rd quarter)

1. Elvis Dumervil sacks Ryan Tannehill at Ravens’ 39 (4th quarter)

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Incomplete product still keeping Ravens firmly in AFC picture

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Incomplete product still keeping Ravens firmly in AFC picture

Posted on 06 October 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

A 26-23 bounce-back win on the road against the Miami Dolphins can’t mask a plethora of concerns for the Ravens through the first five weeks of the season.

A better effort in the second half doesn’t change the reality that the Baltimore offensive line had its behind kicked in the first 30 minutes of football. The soon-to-be-replaced Bryant McKinnie will receive the bulk of the criticism, but the Ravens’ problems up front won’t be solved by newcomer Eugene Monroe unless he has the ability to play all five positions along the line because no one played well in the first half.

The protection was so bad in the first 30 minutes that you feared for the safety of quarterback Joe Flacco and the run blocking managed just 33 yards on 15 carries at the intermission. To the unit’s credit, the Ravens were able to wear down the Dolphins’ front seven in the Miami heat in the second half by running 25 times for 100 yards and giving Flacco time to make several key connections at critical junctures to Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss.

Their second-half effort is something on which to build, but run-game coordinator Juan Castillo and offensive line coach Andy Moeller have a colossal amount of work to do in the coming weeks to find consistency up front to give the Ravens a better chance to win on a weekly basis.

Running back Ray Rice had his best game of the season, gaining 102 total yards on 33 touches, but more than a few observers have noticed a lack of explosiveness from the sixth-year back. It’s certainly fair to remember his recent hip flexor injury and the line’s shoddy play, but Rice hasn’t looked like the home-run hitter of past years and coughed up his second fumble of the year.

The defensive effort was strong overall, but the secondary was guilty of giving up five passing plays of 20 or more yards, including an inexplicable 46-yard completion to Brandon Gibson on fourth down that gave the Dolphins a last-ditch field goal attempt to tie the game. The secondary has been vulnerable at best this season and depends on great pressure from the front seven to be successful, which they received more often than not on Sunday.

But even with all those concerns that don’t appear to be going away anytime soon, the Ravens are tied for first place in the AFC North and don’t appear to be going away in the AFC playoff picture. In fact, Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Cleveland are each 3-2 with a plus-7 point differential through five weeks, evidence that nothing has come easy in the division.

The truth is no team beyond the Denver Broncos — with a forced nod to the 5-0 Chiefs since no one has beaten them yet, either — looks like a clear juggernaut in the conference. The Ravens may not pass the eyeball test, but neither have the likes of other perceived playoff contenders like the Texans and Dolphins, two teams Baltimore has disposed of already this season.

There’s plenty not to like about the Ravens, but there’s enough there to argue they’ll be in perfect position to make their sixth consecutive trip to the playoffs this January.

The wide receiver and tight end positions have been albatrosses thus far, but Torrey Smith is blossoming into one of the best receivers in the AFC after he recorded six catches for 121 yards against the Dolphins on Sunday. Smith has recorded no fewer than 85 receiving yards in any game this season and that’s while often facing bracketed coverage limiting his ability to go vertical like he would in his first two seasons. His 556 receiving yards puts him on pace to not only shatter his career high but to also record the best receiving season in franchise history.

Smith got some help from Doss and second-year wideout Deonte Thompson on Sunday, and Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown should be back in the picture as early as next week. It would be foolish to jump to conclusions based on a couple nice catches against the Dolphins, but even tight end Ed Dickson reined in a 43-yard reception in the first half at Sun Life Stadium.

Despite its vulnerability in the secondary, the Ravens defense was monstrous up front against quarterback Ryan Tannehill with six sacks. Linebacker Terrell Suggs recorded the fifth three-sack game of his 11-year career and has dispelled any concerns that he couldn’t be the same player that he was before last year’s Achilles tendon injury. He’s now on pace for 22 sacks this season and has been everything the Ravens could have asked for defensively.

After a poor decision by offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell to call for a pass on third-and-22 deep in Ravens’ territory led to a game-tying interception return for a touchdown to tie the game with 8:03 remaining, Suggs responded with two sacks on the next defensive series when Miami had a chance to march down the field to take the lead. And after the excruciating deep completion to Gibson on the Dolphins’ final series of the game, fellow outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil — who’s been quiet after the first two games of the season — collected a sack that turned a potential 52-yard try into a long 57-yarder that harmless wobbled wide left with 33 seconds remaining.

Even if there is some hope for offensive improvement in the coming weeks, it’s becoming obvious that the Ravens will live and die with their defense as both losses this season included poor showings from that side of the football.

Kicker Justin Tucker was huge on Sunday — dismissing any hint of concern when he missed two field goals in the home opener last month — in connecting from three field goals 42 yards or more, including the game-winning 44-yard try with 1:42 remaining. An offense with little margin for error can take some consolation in knowing they’re virtually guaranteed a minimum of three points when they manage to move inside the opponent’s 35-yard line based on Tucker’s overall body of work since last season.

But perhaps the biggest reason to have hope over the final 11 games of the season is the steady hand of Flacco, who bounced back from last week’s five-interception debacle with a courageous effort in which he was battered for most of the second half. His interception returned for a touchdown came after McKinnie allowed rookie Dion Jordan to blow by him to hit the quarterback’s arm as he threw, but Flacco’s final statistics don’t explain how well he was able to hold up.

Flacco had only three healthy receivers and stood behind a porous offensive line without injured left guard Kelechi Osemele for a gritty 60-minute performance. Much like the Ravens on Sunday, his performance wasn’t pretty, but it was good enough.

As was the case last year when they ultimately won their second championship in franchise history, the Ravens aren’t easy on the eyes and have much about them not to like. Only time will tell if they’re able to overcome their potentially-fatal flaws, but they’re finding ways to win early in the year.

And that’s not a different story from most of the AFC, leaving them right in the mix with a 3-2 record at the start of October.

 

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Our Ravens/Dolphins “Pats on the Ass”

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Our Ravens/Dolphins “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 06 October 2013 by Glenn Clark

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

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

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 26-23 win over the Miami Dolphins Sunday at SunLife Stadium…

Glenn’s Pats…

5. Ed Dickson

4. Courtney Upshaw

3. Justin Tucker

2. Lardarius Webb

1. Torrey Smith (Pat on both cheeks)

(Continued on Page 2…)

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How loud was the Baltimore crowd in Miami?

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How loud was the Baltimore crowd in Miami?

Posted on 06 October 2013 by WNSTV

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Flacco doesn’t let frustration show in win over Miami

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Flacco doesn’t let frustration show in win over Miami

Posted on 06 October 2013 by WNSTV

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