Tag Archive | "New England Patriots"

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Are you upset about last night? I’ll straighten you out …..

Posted on 12 November 2010 by Rex Snider

Many of us are reflecting back on the Ravens latest trip to New England, as we compile the pieces to last night’s failures, in Atlanta. That’s where we saw some initial cracks to the formation of a storied defense, right?

I had my suspicions then, and I’m certainly agonizing over those suspicions, now.

But, for me, I’m blessed with a silver lining that avails a truly profound perspective into the football season’s last month.

When the Ravens squared off against the Patriots, I gathered with a large group of friends to watch the festivities. Most of us live here and all of us share a love for Ravens football. It was a great day at our favorite watering hole, mixed with a bad ending in Foxboro. But, we still enjoyed ourselves.

That Sunday also marked a special situation for many members of our group.

One of our friends has been battling an opponent much tougher than the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets, combined.

That’s right, he’s fighting for his life against the “BIG C” …..

He’s been worn down by the effects of chemotherapy. His last six weeks have been tougher than anything the Buffalo Bills have endured.

Still, he was there with us, rooting for the Ravens to survive Tom Brady, Wes Welker and Deion Branch.

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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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Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre and wide receiver Randy Moss slap hands after a completion against the New England Patriots in the third quarter of their NFL football game in Foxborough, Massachusetts October 31, 2010.    REUTERS/Adam Hunger   (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

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Randy Moss: has baggage …. will travel

Posted on 02 November 2010 by Rex Snider

Just go ahead and admit it …..

As soon as you’re convinced Bill Belichick has finally outsmarted himself and pulled the trigger on a dumb deal, he figuratively fools all of us and snookers another sucker.

Tomorrow marks the one month anniversary of the very public divorce between Randy Moss and the New England Patriots. It’s offically been 27 days, so my conflicted memory still recalls the morning the news broke, quite vividly.

While the deal was not an earth-shattering shocker, it did fuel reaction from a lot of sideline critics. As the football world learned Bill Belichick dealt his sole deep threat receiver to the Minnesota Vikings, a collective bewildering day of sports talk commenced.

Randy Moss was returning HOME, to the team and city where his Hall Of Fame career began. And, all seemed right in Minneapolis ….

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre and wide receiver Randy Moss slap hands after a completion against the New England Patriots in the third quarter of their NFL football game in Foxborough, Massachusetts October 31, 2010.    REUTERS/Adam Hunger   (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Brett Favre was being teamed with a guy who could catch those Sportscenter-highlighted touchdowns.

Brad Childress was acquiring the player who could validate all the effort devoted to kissing Favre’s ass for an entire offseason.

And, poor Bill Belichick was selling on the “short” …. while walking away with just a measly 3rd round pick in next April’s NFL draft.

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ATLANTA - OCTOBER 24: Terrell Owens  of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates his touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons with Chad Ochocinco  at Georgia Dome on October 24, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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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 …..

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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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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Buffalo Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson (L) catches a pass for a touchdown in front of Baltimore Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb in the second quarter of their NFL football game in Baltimore, Maryland October 24, 2010.   REUTERS/Joe Giza (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

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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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Seriously ..... Buffalo?

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Seriously ….. Buffalo?

Posted on 21 October 2010 by Rex Snider

When it comes to the landscape of cities serving as homes to America’s elite level of professional sports franchises, I’ve been perplexed by some of the towns that hold such distinctions.

A few such cities or metroplexes are really just a misrepresentation of the TRUE demographic …..

How did the Texas Rangers end up in Arlington? That’s easy, they really serve the greater Dallas-Ft. Worth area.

The same can be said for the New England Patriots, who play in Foxboro, but represent Boston’s fan base. And, lets not forget the Golden State Warriors, who count the basketball lovers of Oakland/San Francisco as their regional hometown supporters.

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Bill Belichick: "We played a lot more COVER TWO in the 2nd half" ....

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Bill Belichick: “We played a lot more COVER TWO in the 2nd half” ….

Posted on 20 October 2010 by Rex Snider

Are you still smarting after Sunday’s loss to the New England Patriots? Umm …. let me change that …. are you still pissed-off about the Ravens blowing a double-digit lead in the 4th quarter?

Let me assert that I’m not the kinda guy who dwells on things or refuses to build a bridge, while facing the inevitability of getting over unchangeable circumstances.

At some point, you gotta let it go.

Put it in the rear view …..

Toss it in the trash …..

Flush it down the toilet …..

Choose your rightful path of persuasion. Sum it up in a sensible way and face the sobering reality of losing a game. But, for God’s sake, don’t lie to yourself. Don’t dismiss an obvious wound or vulnerability – just to see it reemerge a few weeks later.

Alas, putting hardship behind us is always productive ….. if we learn from the misgivings and find a way to improve on the things that inhibit success.

That’s all I really ask.

Maybe it’s me, but I’ve grown to expect a lot from the Ravens. They’re an organization that expects an awful lot from themselves. In a roundabout way, I guess they’ve rubbed off on me.

And, I think that’s a good thing.

It’s also the exact factor that prohibits me from simply saying “they lost to a very good team on the road …. no big deal.” To hell with that. It’s an excuse, and excuses are for LOSERS.

Something went wrong on Sunday. Steve Bisciotti knows it – did you see his face after the game? And, I have no doubt he’s refusing to buy the old worn out “we lost to a good team” reason.

After all, if that’s really the cuplrit, we can justify upcoming losses in Atlanta and Houston, right? The Falcons are a damn good team; arguably better than the Patriots. Wait, I know ….. that loss will get pinned on the short week and travel to Atlanta, right?

As for the Texans, if the Ravens surrender a two score lead to Tom Brady, Deion Branch and that little running back from THE WIZARD OF OZ, I’m assuming they won’t fare much better against Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Arian Foster.

As I said yesterday, I’m a huge fan of Brady’s success. But, we’re talking about the reincarnation of Deion Branch. Wasn’t he scoreless in Seattle? And, Danny Woodhead needs platform cleats to get on most roller coasters.

Did they really beat the Ravens on Sunday? Maybe not …..

According to the COACH, Bill Belichick, the Patriots switched things up against Joe Flacco in the 2nd half of the game. During his Monday conversation with the folks at WEEI radio, Belichick uttered those words we’ve heard when teams talk about their gameplans against Joe Flacco.

That’s right, when asked what the Patriots did adjustment-wise, Belichick stated “we played alot more COVER TWO in the 2nd half.” “We knew he (Flacco) was looking inside for the tight end and slot receiver.”

Don’t take my word for it, go HERE and listen to the conversation for yourself. Those very telling words begin at 10:30 of the conversation.

What do we know about Bill Belichick? Aside from being that charismatic, personably-engaging guy, he’s also known for his knack to find the opponent’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities. On Sunday, he decided to employ his 2nd half defensive attack in the same way the Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts feast upon a Flacco-led offense.

Heck, he admitted it during a Monday phone conversation !!!!

My translation is he saw what the Bengals did to the Ravens, just a short month ago. And, he used the most crucial part of the game to switch up and see if the Ravens young quarterback has improved on past transgressions. That’s TEXTBOOK BELICHICK …..

He attacks and exploits a weakness AFTER halftime, when there are no opportunities to re-collect composure.

This is a PROBLEM.

It’s not tied to playing a very good team on the road. That’s bunk. Every game is its own animal. Every game stands on its own merit. Every game is defined by 60 minutes, in two separate halves, between the sidelines.

Accountability is key, and to simply suggest that it’s no big deal to lose a road game against a very good team, is nothing more than a mechanism for accepting a loss. The Patriots found a way to shutdown the Ravens offense, late in Sunday’s game. They simply did.

And, yes, it’s the very same Patriots team that won a close 38-30 game against the Buffalo Bills in the most recent home contest before the Ravens came calling. You got that? The BUFFALO BILLS SCORED 30 POINTS ON THE SAME FIELD, just a few weeks earlier.

Perhaps, the underlying message to this blog is DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE BILLS, THIS SUNDAY. They’re scrappy, and they’re looking for their first win.

Do I think Buffalo comes to Baltimore and wins, on Sunday? No, but they’re not going to simply walk in and walk out, either.

The greater emphasis of this message is that the smoke continues to get thicker and thicker when it comes to the signals regarding Joe Flacco’s production as a starting quarterback. As much as many of us believe the team needs to let the guy lead the offense, we must also face the prospect that the coaching staff still sees the very vulnerabilities Bill Belichick admittedly exploited in Sunday’s late stages.

I’m always willing to admit the depth (or shallow void) of my football knowledge. That’s why I do what I do …. and Cam Cameron does what he does. I’m an ignorant man, when it comes to such intricate measures.

But, I’m not naive. I don’t simply follow the group or herd, and blowoff a loss to good team, because “it happened on the road.”

Screw that.

Something went wrong, Sunday.

And, if you don’t fix it, it will happen again, and again, and again, and again. It will continue to happen, until it is fixed.

Perhaps, the real difference is the VERY GOOD TEAMS find a way to exploit Joe Flacco’s vulnerabilities. At the same time, the lesser teams don’t find a way.

Look back at the Pittsburgh game …..

Joe Flacco hit T.J. Houshmandzadeh in the back of the end zone to wrap up the win. But, ask yourself where Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark found themselves on that play. They were blitzing – which left the cornerbacks alone and responsible for the downfield, inside threats. Boom …. touchdown.

That didn’t happen Sunday.

And, Bill Belichick has told us so …..

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What does Tom Brady think of the Baltimore Ravens and Terrell Suggs?

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What does Tom Brady think of the Baltimore Ravens and Terrell Suggs?

Posted on 19 October 2010 by Rex Snider

By now, we pretty much know how Baltimore’s purple kool-aid drinking, smash-mouth football fans feel about Tom Brady ….

I’m assuming you respect his on-field achievements, especially as it regards his overall prowess as a championship winning quarterback, and a stat-logging machine.

Tom Brady has been recognized as the National Football League’s Most Valuable Player. He is the only quarterback in the game’s modern history to lead a team to an undefeated regular season record. And, he is the only quarterback to throw for 50 touchdowns in a single season.

Yet, more importantly, Tom Brady has been on the winning end of 102 of his 135 regular season contests. Yes, that’s a .755 winning percentage. Or, for those scoring on the 16-game measuring stick, he wins an average of 12 games per season. Not too shabby, huh?

Of course, the most impressive part of Brady’s resume’ is his postseason mark of 14 wins and 4 losses, accompanied by 28 touchdowns, 4100 passing yards and THREE OF THESE …..

Hard to beat such accomplishments, huh?

Count ’em, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers, Matt Hasselbeck, Matt Schaub, Joe Flacco, Carson Palmer, Tony Romo, Kyle Orton, Matt Ryan, Donovan McNabb, Jay Cutler, Mike Vick and the CHOSEN ONE – Mark Sanchez, combined, have not won as many Super Bowls as Tom Brady.

Combine the achievements and distinctions with Brady’s character as a good citizen and unblemished ambassador of the game, which separates him from the likes of Ben Roethlisberger and Brett Favre, and the story of a guy who’s universally adored is a given reality, right?

Not so fast …..

While Tom Brady is everything specified, thus far, he’s also known for one disintegrating trait, which grows louder and LOUDER …..

That’s right, on top of being everything an American kid could hope for in life, Brady has also been hampered and psychologically scarred by an incident that paved and demolished his 2008 season.

If you’re just a casual football fan, chances are you still recall this image from the NFL’s “Opening Day,” just a couple years ago …..

It’s only been a couple years, but I will always remember that season-ending injury for Tom Brady. I felt bad for the guy and I still do. As I mentioned earlier, he’s the perfect role model citizen and he’s a freakin’ winner. I also dig the fact that all 32 teams passed on him NUMEROUS TIMES in the NFL Draft.

But, in the couple years since returning from his debilitating injury, Brady has been earning a reputation that will likely stick a negitive stigma to his otherwise stellar reputation. In fact, this perception and belief people are developing can be a KILLER for a “man’s man.”

Tom Brady is being viewed as SOFT.

Tom Brady is being viewed as GUN SHY.

Tom Brady is being viewed as a SISSY.

There, I finally said it. After all the lathering of accolades I’ve smered on the guy, I’ve gotta be honest about the way many people are viewing Tom Brady, these days. It’s an impression I’ve resisted for more than year; that’s how much I really LIKE and RESPECT the guy.

But, with each passing game, I’m being swayed further and further to the side of the guys who question Brady’s mental and physical toughness …. or even his courage.

That’s a very damning thing to say or write …..

In last year’s October matchup, all of us distinctly recall Tom Brady lobbying officials for penalties against Ravens defenders for incidental contact and rather meaningless/harmless touches. At first, I perceived it to be gamemanship from Brady. I imagined that he would complain with a demonstrative vigor, but ultimately walk back to the huddle with a snicker, while knowing he was gonna get some yellow hankies thrown in his favor.

As last season dragged on, so did Tom Brady’s antics. And, he was getting louder about it.

Everyone was taking notice.

For me, the culmination of Brady’s complaining about contact really culminated in Sunday’s game. He was hit CLEAN upon releasing the ball on a completed pass, late in the 4th quarter. Yet, he still slammed his hand to the ground, while chewing the referee’s ass. He was looking for a penalty. And, yes, I saw Terrell Suggs’ hand graze the quarterback’s helmet.

Fortunately, the officials didn’t bite and a penalty was not assessed. Doing so could’ve killed the impending reality of overtime.

Is that how Tom Brady really wants to win?

Is that what he’s reduced to?

I’m not buying it. I don’t think it’s a competitive tool or gamesmanship. To be blunt, I think Tom Brady is legitimately concerned about getting hurt, again. And, while I can understand his plight, it’s also the professional path he’s chosen.

Getting slammed by Ray Lewis HURTS. Getting drilled by a Cliff Lee fastball HURTS. Hitting the wall in Jeff Gordon’s Chevrolet, at 180 mph, HURTS. I get it, I really do.

Evidently, Tom Brady really gets it …. and he doesn’t like it. Thus, we’re treated to his weekly antics …..

Believe me, I see the business aspect tied to guys like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. They’re the marketing darlings or “cash cows” for NFL Properties. Thus, the league does everything possible (including rules changes) to ensure these guys stay on the field.

But, at some point, you’ve gotta play football, right? Heck, some folks think the game has already been watered down by the rules changes.

Still, Tom Brady complains – every single week.

I suppose he accomplishes what he wants. And, on Mondays, he denies everything.

Each Monday, Brady joins the Dennis & Callahan Show, on Boston’s WEEI Radio, for a phone conversation. During yesterday’s call, he downplayed his on-field complaining. In fact, he called all the Ravens hits “CLEAN.”

He also dished on his thoughts of Terrell Suggs and the predictability of the Ravens defense, inside the red zone. He said, “they’re either blitzing or putting 8 men in the end zone.”

He also said, “they do a lot of talking for a team that has beaten us once in 9 times, since I’ve been here.”

You can find the conversation HERE

While I still like Tom Brady and remain in awe of his career-defining accomplishments, I really would like to remember him as a guy who did things the right way and played with a physical/mental toughness demanded of the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks.

Today, I’m not so certain I still believe in his heart and courage.

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It was bound to happen; Ravens give game away

Posted on 18 October 2010 by Rex Snider

When it comes to yesterday’s loss to the New England Patriots, I suppose John Harbaugh’s team could point fingers in a few differing directions.

But, as we know, that’s not how the Baltimore Ravens absorb losses. Well, that’s not the way they publicly accept a loss, anyway.

In quite the contradictory manner, it’s EXACTLY how we cope with seeing the Ravens lose to a team it led by double digits, with a little less than 12 minutes remaining in the game.  Venting and casting culpability eases our frustration, right?

And, all of us think a certain component(s) of the team must shoulder these embarrassing meltdowns. That’s what yesterday’s ultimate loss to the Patriots became …..


I can sit here and reasonably suspect many folks are going to blame some prime individuals, both IN and OUT of uniform. That’s a fair assessment – and respective units had their own shortcomings, as well. But, in the end, the Baltimore Ravens lost their second game of the season, period.

Is it frustrating? Sure it is …. I absolutely believe the Ravens are assembled as a more talented team. But, yesterday’s disintegration of their energy and overall effectiveness really causes the more casual mind to take notice. Imagine what Bill Belichick must have been thinking?

Wanna blame the defense? They could’ve played better in the 4th quarter – they surrendered a DOUBLE DIGIT lead, when it mattered most.

Wanna blame the offense? Beginning with the Billy Cundiff field goal to start the 4th quarter, the Ravens offense had nearly 30 minutes of clock, (OT included), 5 possessions and 25 touches to squeeze out an additional 3 points and they couldn’t do it. Say what you will, they squandered unfulfilled opportunities.

After all, it’s not as if Tedy Bruschi, Richard Seymour and Rodney Harrison were nailing down the Patriots defensive attack. But, I suppose Belichick’s young, inexperienced unit found its game in the final stages.

Wanna blame the special teams? Why not, they’re not above a critical assessment. The Ravens continue to improvise with punt returns, employing the likes of Tom Zbikowski, Chris Carr and a few others. Meanwhile, the Patriots rely upon a dynamic set of legs, in Wes Welker.

The Ravens have talent capable of excelling in an explosive return game. Yet, we’re led to believe the team is not willing to compromise health of crucial playmakers at the impending expense of injury. This reservation must not weigh too heavily on Bill Belichick’s mind – after all, he’s using his best receiver, who is bouncing back from a 2009 injury, to return punts.

Injury risk? Welcome to the NFL …..

As for specific impact of special teams production on yesterday’s game, just consider each team’s respective field position when taking over possession in the 4th quarter and overtime. The Ravens had an average starting position on their own 21 yard line, whereas, the Patriots started on their own 30 yard line, overall.

Aside from simple numbers, the Patriots feature more explosive threats in the kick/punt return game. In fact, on the game winning drive, Tom Brady assumed possession on the team’s own 38 yard line. I sensed the game was over before he took a snap during that series.

Wanna blame the coaching staff? Go ahead …. they deserve it. From Greg Mattison’s devotion to pursuing pressure with 3 upfront defenders, to Jerry Rosburg’s commitment to assembling a “who’s dat?” return corps and Cam Cameron’s evident fallback commitment to the “simpler things in life”, the coaching staff is not above reproach.

In fact, perceived coaching decisions can be one of the most frustrating elements fueling yesterday’s disappointing loss.

Why not use a more explosive player for punt returns? So, he’s vital to the offense or defense …. but, so is the return game.

Why not apply a different look to the pressure aimed at Tom Brady? When the dude sitting at home knows who’s chasing down the opponent’s quarterback, BEFORE IT HAPPENS, it might be time to get a little more creative.

Why throw more passes to Ray Rice (i.e. – dumpoffs) in overtime, than any other player? Was that really working in the quest of moving the ball? Was Anquan Boldin thoroughly covered? Was T.J. Hoshmandzadeh thoroughly covered? Was Derrick Mason thoroughly covered?

Yesterday’s game was absolutely a team effort. And, as a team, it was given away. Call it bad play calling. Call it poor execution. Call it anything you want …..

The defense gave up a double digit lead. The offense couldn’t score 3 more points. The return game was stuck in idle …. and reverse. The coaching was VANILLA-LITE.

In truth, the best team actually stood across the field, yesterday. The best team won the game. When they’re leading in the 4th quarter, they don’t grind it out and try killing the clock. They look to score more points and kill the opponent.

Conversely, if they’re behind, they’ll take any opportunity you give them.

That’s Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.

If you’re willing to give them the game, they’ll take it. And, that’s exactly what they did yesterday.

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