Tag Archive | "New Orleans Saints"

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Rating the Ravens against the New Orleans Saints

Posted on 21 December 2010 by Ryan Chell

The Ravens defeated the Super Bowl Champs in the New Orleans Saints 30-24 Sunday in impressive faction and with a team in the Ravens fighting for a playoff spot and still having an opportunity to win the AFC North, the Ravens may have put together one of their more complete games of the year when it comes to game-planning against a superior opponent.

Rex Snider and I sat down in studio Monday afternoon to “Rate the Ravens” in every position and facet of the game and based on their results Sunday versus the Saints. The scale was out of 5 stars, with five being a perfect score and 1 being the lowest star possible.

Disagree with us? Think we’re dead on? Give us a call at 410-481-1570 2-6PM!


Joe Flacco threw two touchdown passes Sunday, but other than that, Flacco wasn’t asked to do much else(10-20, 172 yards). I hate to say he was asked to manage the game, because to me that would insinuate that had the Ravens needed Flacco to win the game he would have coughed it up and cost Baltimore the victory. He continues his impressive numbers at home (13 TDs, 1 INT), and while Dickson made a play with yards-after-the-catch to get in the end zone for his first touchdown pass, Flacco couldn’t have put his second touchdown pass to Rice in a better spot.

Ryan’s Rating:3.5 out of 5

Rex’s Rating:3 out of 5

Running backs:

It was the Ray Rice show on Sunday, and for good reason. As well as having that touchdown grab for Rice, he went over 100 yards rushing for only the second time this season( the other being against Denver in the home blowout earlier in the year). He finished with 223 total yards of offense, two touchdowns, and his day was highlighted not only by a long run of 50 yards but for also rushing for over 1,000 yards on the season. The only reason why I didn’t give it a perfect grade is because of fullback Le’Ron McClain’s bone-headed drop near the goal line which cost the Ravens a touchdown.

Ryan’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Rex’s Rating:5 out of 5


Much like Flacco, the receivers took a seat Sunday. Besides Dickson and Rice, no other receiver had more than one catch. T.J. Houshmandzadeh was forced out of a touchdown in the back of the end zone, and it’s nice to see Baltimore winning this game-otherwise Anquan Boldin (1 catch, 2 yards) might be throwing a fit.

Ryan’s Rating: 3 out of 5

Rex’s Rating:2 out of 5

Offensive Line:

Why did I give the Ravens’ line four stars on Sunday? For one, they told Oniel Cousins that the game started at 4PM and put him no where near the starting lineup. They did give up three Flacco sacks, but other than that there were no costly sacks or fumbles, and whenever Rice carries the ball 31 times for a season-high 153 yards, you’re doing something right. Give the offensive line credit for sustaining drives and keeping Drew Brees where he belongs-on the bench.

Ryan’s Rating:4 out of 5

Rex’s Rating:3 stars out of 5

Defensive Line:

Haloti Ngata caused a ton of disruption up the middle, including batting the pass that Cory Redding intercepted for his first ever interception( he would have had one earlier in the year had it not been for Ray Lewis’ greedy nature). Terrell Suggs got his 11th sack of the season and stripped Drew Brees of the ball, causing a fumble.

Ryan’s Rating: 4 out of 5

Rex’s Rating: 3 out of 5


Jarret Johnson had seven tackles, including two for a loss and like Suggs he also had a sack. Dannell Ellerbe proved something to John Harbaugh by registering a sack of his own and providing quality play out of the nickel package letting Ray Lewis take a breather. Tavares Gooden-while not showing up in the box score-hurried Brees multiple times and was key in allowing the Saints to only rush for 27 total yards.

Ryan’s Rating: 4/5

Rex’s Rating:3.5/5


I’ll give the unit credit here. They had a lot to chew on going up against one of the three elite quarterbacks in the league in Drew Brees. The lineman intercepted him once, and they also fell into a bit of bad luck when Lance Moore came down with a fourth quarter, toe-dragging touchdown off a deflected pass. They did have no answer for the tight ends in Jimmy Graham or Jeremy Shockey, and Brees finished the day 29-49, 267 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT. The unit was also aided by several big drops by the Saints receivers. Could have been better but the Ravens did enough to win.

Ryan’s Rating:3.5

Rex’s Rating: 3.5

Special Teams:

This unit still continues to be the strength of the team. Billy Cundiff is on his way toward becoming the NFL record holder in touch backs, and he also knocked in three field goals. Sam Koch had two punts downed inside the 20-yard line and RB/KR Jalen Parmele had a nice return after David Reed left with a concussion.

Ryan’s Rating: 5 out of 5

Rex’s Rating: 5 out of 5

Coaching Staff:

The offense ran the ball when they realized the Saints weakness was stopping the run and the defense did enough to contain a potent passing attack with Drew Brees at the helm. Winning at home is important and they didn’t let the opportunity to win a game and later capitalize off a future Steelers loss to the Jets. Some more mis-management with timeouts was an issue in the second half, but ultimately it didn’t become too much of an issue.

Ryan’s Rating: 4 out of 5

Rex’s Rating: 4 out of 5

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Reggie Bush

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Tavares Gooden on Sunday’s game plan versus Saints: “I haven’t blitzed this much all year”

Posted on 21 December 2010 by Ryan Chell

This past weekend, there has been a lot of talk concerning Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis’ inspirational speech to the team and if that was the fuel behind Baltimore’s 30-24 victory over the world champion New Orleans Saints Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

And while linebacker Tavares Gooden-who joined Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” Monday-said that his Miami Hurricane brother was a big part of their motivation on Sunday, Gooden ultimately said that the credit should go to the coaching staff for drawing up the perfect game plan to stop Drew Brees and the Saints.

“We had a game plan, and we stuck with it. The win was the result of that,” Gooden told Forrester.

Over the last several weeks in the Ravens’ struggles against their division rivals in Pittsburgh and a near-upset on the road against Houston, the Ravens have failed to show any kind of true identity and continued to move away from their brand of football-i.e. “Playing like a Raven”-and that ultimately showed in the frustration of  Ravens players and the coaches alike in the following week leading up to  Sunday.

“We all felt as a staff and players on this team that we weren’t being ourselves. We had to get back to ourselves,” Gooden noted.

Gooden, despite not showing up in the box score defensively on Sunday, was included in several of the blitz packages Ravens defensive coordinator Greg Mattison drew up against All-Pro QB Drew Brees and was also a key component on special teams in trying to limit the return skills of one Reggie Bush.

Reggie Bush

Gooden received a ton of post-game accolades from his teammates and coaches, and when asked about that, Gooden threw the respect right back toward his coaches that he said put him in the best situations possible to succeed.

And he felt like Sunday was just another step in his progression toward becoming another elite part of this Ravens defense.

“It’s just a blessing from God,” Gooden said,  “just having an opportunity to have my name called yesterday. It felt pretty good, and when Coach Mattison was calling those calls, I was licking my chops and opening my eyes like, ‘I haven’t blitzed this much all year’.”

Brees said post-game that at times he saw things out of the Ravens defense that he had not seen before on tape or in preparation.

Gooden replied to that saying that they did nothing different on Sunday; it was just he and several other Ravens players taking to heart what the coaches had drawn up, working on it fully in the week leading up, and having a little extra motivation on and off the field to play good football.

“I really took it to my own in the off-season to work on that stuff, and yesterday Coach Mattison let me go. All the stuff I was working on in practice, I just took it to the game. It felt great. It felt smooth.”

Gooden said the scheme was a lot easier than what it appeared to be.

“I was just running off of Double J’s block or running off Haloti cause they’re are going to double-team those guys. Little guys like me with a lot of speed are going to shoot through the hole and make a play. I give it all up to coaching. We had a great gameplan and we stuck with it, and it worked.”

Gooden said it right there. It was an all-around team win that originated at the top with preparation from  head coach John Harbaugh, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison and was executed perfectly by the Ravens players.

Gooden  told Forrester that this is a win that can definitely mean something to the team’s confidence with the final two games of the year coming up.

“I think that was a great team win, and I know that’s going to help us out in the future so that we can know we can beat teams like that in the playoffs because we have a great team chemistry.”

“And with it being the Super Bowl guys from last year, it gives us momentum,” Gooden said of the win. “It gives us something to fight for knowing that we can beat teams like that. We can go into the playoffs thinking that we’re going to win a championship because we can beat championship teams.”

The Ravens’ last two games against divisional opponents in Cleveland and Cincinnati are in essence playoff games, and with Baltimore still in the mix for not only a playoff spot but for the AFC North title with Pittsburgh, the next two games being in a playoff-like scenario are going to get the team geared up for potential football in January, says Gooden.

“I think that gives us confidence to go to our next game. With these last couple of games we’re playing, we want to win every game because that’s what you want to do in the NFL.”

“But let’s prep for the playoffs. We always say this is a playoff game, and if you have that mentality, that’s your practice for when the playoffs come. And then you know what kind of pressure you’re going to be under, and you know what kind of team you have. Right now, we’re playing great team ball and that’s what enabling us to make these plays.”

“I’m telling you how we’re thinking. These are playoff games. If we lose, we’re out. That’s how we’re thinking right now. We’ve got to get these next two. Let’s keep going. We’ve got to win it all, and that’s our thought process.”

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

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Josh Wilson

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Josh Wilson Interception return stops the bleeding after loss to Steelers

Posted on 14 December 2010 by Ryan Chell

Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu made a play in last week’s 13-10 victory over the Ravens that was a topic of discussion throughout the week.

He made a play that may have guaranteed the Steelers the AFC North Division, and it was a play that hit the Baltimore Ravens and their fan base hard leading up to the Monday night game against the Houston Texans last night.

It along with a questionable play-call on fourth down and the lack of a blocking assignment on Polamalu caused that topic to be the elephant in the room last week.

There had been question marks concerning the coaching staff of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, John Harbaugh, and Greg Mattison, but last Sunday’s loss to the Steelers opened the floodgates regarding their decisions on the field.

A loss to the dreaded Steelers may have hurt more than it would in a similar situation to the Bucs, but the Ravens  may have been one of the only 8-4 teams in the league  hitting the panic button.

And we saw the ship continue to draw water in Monday’s 34-28 overtime win over the Texans, as  Mattison’s defense allowed the Texans to come back from two 20-point-plus deficits.

Cameron’s play calling came into question once again as he decided to pass on a critical third-and-short with 2:58 left in the fourth quarter that not only stopped the clock but the pass fell incomplete and the Ravens were forced to punt.

The Texans then went 90+ yards for a second straight drive to tie the game, and if we’re still looking at this still in a sinking ship perspective, let’s just say the women and kids were in the lifeboats ready to sail away to safety.

Overtime came, and things looked dire as the Ravens immediately punted to the Texans and sure enough, deja vu appeared to be in the works again as the unstoppable Texans offense was going to have the ball and have to go 90-yards again.

And the way the Ravens defense looked, you would have guessed that the Texans would have marched down the field again to win the game and send the Ravens home packing and licking their wounds.

“Concerned is probably a good word,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “They were closing the gap and I was concerned that they were going to tie it up and they did.”

But a third time was a charm as the Texans were backed up near their own end zone, and Haloti Ngata and Jarret Johnson provided enough pressure up the middle for Texans QB Matt Schaub to throw a pass intended for Kevin Walter on an out-route on the left-hand side.

Josh Wilson said he just saw the ball, stepped in front of the pass and returned it 12 yards for the game-winning score.

Josh Wilson

“I still can’t believe that really happened,” Wilson said. “The quarterback threw it inside, and I said ‘this cant be happening’…then game over.”

“The hero of the game,”  Harbaugh replied. “He made a play in a critical situation on the road in overtime in December in a playoff hunt, and I think that’s the critical thing.”

“We really wanted to stop them, but they’re capable,” Wilson said of the Texans. “They’re a dynamic offense, and they’re capable of putting up points and getting yards. Unfortunately that’s what happened at the end of the game, but I don’t care. We won.”

The win may not seem like it, but it does put the Ravens ahead of the Jets for the fifth-seed in the AFC Playoffs and guarantees the Ravens their third consecutive winning season under John Harbaugh.

And if the Ravens had ended up losing to the Texans in blow-up fashion Monday night and then have the 10-3 Saints coming in Sunday, I think the Ravens’ panic button would be firmly pressed down and the frustration would loom over Baltimore for a second straight week in a row.

It may have been too late in the season to make changes in the coaching staff or personnel-wise, but dissension and frustration may have blossomed in Owings Mills.

And while the Ravens have some things to fix against another potent team in the World Champion New Orleans Saints, escaping with a win is a lot better than riding a two-game losing streak.

“We’ve got nine wins, and we move forward from here,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve got the world champs coming in, and we’re going to be playing them on a short week, so it’s going to be tough.”

It is another conference win for the Ravens, and let’s hope this is a sign of the Ravens putting some things together and riding the momentum through the final three weeks of the season as opposed to the devastating slide the team would have been had the Ravens lost to Houston Monday night.

“It’s all about winning,” Wilson said. “That’s all we care about at the end of the day.  Did we win or did we lose? It doesn’t matter what the score is as long as we keep winning, cause if we win out, to me, we’re Super Bowl Champs.”

They have some things to work out with the coaching decisions, the scheme, and the personnel, but it’s always better fixing those things after a win as opposed to blaming each other after a loss.

We’ll just have to see if all the water has been removed from the boat and the holes have been fixed or if they are just delaying the inevitable.

“Finding a way to win in overtime is big for us,” Harbaugh said. “This football team has lost a lot of close games bysome crazy situations…but our guys overcame a tough situation and found a way to win. Really in December, that’s really what matters.”

“Do we have things that we’re worried about? Do we have things that we have to work on? Absolutely. But at this point in time in the season you are what you are and you have to find a way to win.”

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

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ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 11: Quarterback Matt Ryan  of the Atlanta Falcons converses with quarterback Joe Flacco  of the Baltimore Ravens after the Falcons 26-21 win at Georgia Dome on November 11, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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Blog & Tackle: NFL one-liners through Week 13

Posted on 09 December 2010 by Chris Pika

The 2010 NFL season has reached the three-quarter mark, and like any good game on Sundays, it’s usually the fourth quarter that decides success or failure.

It’s a chance to take stock of each conference after 13 weeks and 12 games with one-liners on each of the teams. Below are some stats, observations and conjecture as we look ahead to the final four weeks.

First, here is a look at the AFC by divisions. Records are through Week 13:

AFC East

New England Patriots (10-2): Patriots have won last four, including huge win over the Jets to solidfy their claim as AFC’s best team behind conference-best (+110) scoring differential; road to AFC title will go through Gillette Stadium and coach Bill Belichick.

New York Jets (9-3): Despite 3-1 stretch, Jets went from potentially being in line to host AFC title game to very vulnerable after shredding of New York’s vaunted D by the Patriots.

Miami Dolphins (6-6): Dolphins continue to confound with 5-1 road mark, but 1-5 home record — that will be main reason they will not make playoffs as well as offensive woes (-23 point differential).

Buffalo Bills (2-10): Bills finally saw results after 0-8 start with two straight victories, but close loss to Steelers and blowout defeat to Vikings has slowed Buffalo’s progress.

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3): Steelers have grabbed choke-hold of AFC North after winning the war in Baltimore last week behind QB Ben Roethlisberger and stout defense; now Pittsburgh could host AFC Divisional Playoff at always-tough Heinz Field.

Baltimore Ravens (8-4): Only home loss of season so far to Steelers was costly as Ravens may have three straight playoff games on the road instead of one or two home games; predicted high-production offense has gone cold at bad times.

Cleveland Browns (5-7): Cleveland continues to be a “tough out” thanks to solid running game behind RB Peyton Hillis; if they get QB (and maybe head coach) situation settled in offseason, could be 2011 team to watch in AFC.

Cincinnati Bengals (2-10): The wheels have completely come off the cart for one of the preseason favorites to win the division — nine-game losing streak may spell the end of the Marvin Lewis era in Cincinnati.

AFC South

Jacksonville Jaguars (7-5): Jaguars, after 3-1 stretch, find themselves on top in the division, despite worst point differential among all division leaders (-43) — only question is can they hold off slumping Colts?

Indianapolis Colts (6-6): Colts’ injuries have finally taken a toll; forget Peyton Manning for a moment, being in position of having to pass so much has allowed opponents to tee off in crucial situations — but Indy can still catch Jaguars for division title.

Houston Texans (5-7): Lack of strong starts have doomed Texans, 1-5 in their last six games — last chance for Houston (and maybe coach Gary Kubiak’s job) comes with Monday night visit by Ravens in Week 14.

Tennessee Titans (5-7): When you didn’t think anybody else could surpass Minnesota as NFL’s best soap opera, here comes the Titans; normally unflappable coach Jeff Fisher has had to deal with Vince Young, Randy Moss and owner Bud Adams in recent weeks.

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs (8-4): Chiefs seem to have control of the division after a three-game win streak and perfect 6-0 home mark; can they hold off the Raiders and Chargers over the final four weeks?

Oakland Raiders (6-6): Progress has been slowed by 3-2 mark in last five games, but 4-0 division record could be factor if they get help before Week 17 showdown at traditional rival Chiefs.

San Diego Chargers (6-6): Amazing how one loss changes things after blowout defeat by Raiders last week that stopped four-game win streak; season on the line vs. Chiefs this week.

Denver Broncos (3-9): A three-game losing streak coupled with Spygate-like scandal in London finally cost Josh McDaniels his coaching job; Eric Studesville gets his audition but the supporting cast is not there.

And now for the NFC by divisions:

NFC East

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 11: Quarterback Matt Ryan  of the Atlanta Falcons converses with quarterback Joe Flacco  of the Baltimore Ravens after the Falcons 26-21 win at Georgia Dome on November 11, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Philadelphia Eagles (8-4): The Eagles are tied for the division lead, but arguably have the NFC East’s toughest schedule left with two games vs. Dallas and one each against the Giants and Vikings — for what was originally expected to be a transition year, a lot is still on the table.

New York Giants (8-4): Giants are playing as well as any team in NFC right now, but head coach Tom Coughlin’s team must navigate Minnesota, Philadelphia and Green Bay the next three weeks to stay in the division and Wild Card mix.

Washington Redskins (5-7): The Redskins season has become a trainwreck as head coach Mike Shanahan has had to deal with several distractions, including DT Albert Haynesworth’s suspension for conduct detrimental; the Skins defense should be suspended as well, allowing the fifth-most points in the NFC.

Dallas Cowboys (4-8): The Cowboys have gotten off the deck to become a team no one wants to face down the stretch; Dallas could play spoiler in the NFC East and help Jason Garrett remove the interim coaching tag.

NFC North

Chicago Bears (9-3): The Bears have won five straight to hold the division lead by one game thanks to resurgent play by QB Jay Cutler and LB Brian Urlacher; Chicago has murderous final four weeks capped by Week 17 visit to Packers.

Green Bay Packers (8-4): Despite injuries, Packers are firmly in the playoff mix, but key Week 12 loss at Atlanta looms large as well as final three games against New England, Giants and Chicago — win those and Green Bay will have earned its postseason ticket.

Minnesota Vikings (5-7): A change in head coach to well-respected assistant Leslie Frazier has helped the mood in Minnesota, but the final four weeks will be all about Brett Favre’s literal limp to the finish of his career (I think).

Detroit Lions (2-10): Some of the strides made early in the season by the Lions have been erased by the current five-game losing streak; coach Jim Schwartz is still looking for consistent winning formula.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons (10-2): The hottest team in the NFC with six straight wins, the Falcons may do something no Atlanta NFL team ever has — host the NFC Championship Game in January; but they have to get through Week 16 Monday Night game vs. Saints.

New Orleans Saints (9-3): The defending Super Bowl champions are playing like it for first time all season with a current five-game win streak as the Saints try to go stride-for-stride with the Falcons; back-to-back road contests at Baltimore and Atlanta in Weeks 15-16 are New Orleans’ key games.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5): The air has finally come out of the Buccaneers’ balloon with two straight losses, but Tampa Bay is just one game out of a Wild Card spot with favorable matchups in the next three weeks before Week 17 at Saints.

Carolina Panthers (1-11): The Panthers just want the season to be over, and the housecleaning will begin soon after starting with head coach John Fox; Panthers are a NFC-worst minus-153 in point differential.

NFC West

St. Louis Rams (6-6): The Rams have quietly put themselves in position to make the playoffs out of a weak NFC West, but don’t mistake St. Louis as a weak team — QB Sam Bradford is one of the league’s feel-good stories of 2010, and division could come down to Week 17 tilt at Seattle.

Seattle Seahawks (6-6): The Seahawks are in position to capture the NFC West, but head coach Pete Carroll’s squad still has worst point differential among NFC teams with a winning record (-49); Week 17 vs. St. Louis could be the decider.

San Francisco 49ers (4-8): San Francisco not officially dead in NFC West race, but last gasp could come this Sunday vs. Seattle; if they win, they still have games vs. St. Louis and Arizona — teams they have already beaten in 2010.

Arizona Cardinals (3-9): Cardinals have gone south for the winter as they have lost seven straight and hold NFC’s second-worst point difference (-138), but have three winnable games in final four weeks.

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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Jason McKie

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Ravens add FB Jason McKie, waive S Ken Hamlin

Posted on 30 November 2010 by Ryan Chell

Jason McKie

The Ravens added former Saints, Bears, and Cowboys FB Jason McKie and waived safety Ken Hamlin Tuesday afternoon in wake of the concerns regarding the injury to Pro Bowl FB Le’Ron McClain.

The Ravens added McKie, 30, because the injury that McClain suffered Sunday versus Tampa Bay-a sprained right ankle-could be one that lingers for several weeks, and the Ravens reached out to the veteran fullback with a need on Sunday in a big divisional game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night.

When McClain left Sunday’s game versus the Bucs, the Ravens were forced to use the two tight end set often with rookie tight end Dennis Pitta also being used as an H-back.

With the Steelers’ bruising run defense, the Ravens coaching staff felt like they needed a physical, veteran needed to clear the running lane for running back Ray Rice.

The ninth-year man out of Temple should fill that void or at least be able to fill the role until McClain is healthy.

McKie recently spent this pre-season with the New Orleans Saints and saw action in three games with the World Champs before being waived.

Last season, he started 11 games for the Chicago Bears and appeared in all 16 games. He spent seven years in a Bears uniform after being signed as a rookie free agent by the Dallas Cowboys out of Temple.

He has played in a total of 88 games and has started 47 of them. He has 29 rushes in his career for 84 yards as well as 68 receptions for 364 yards as well as three receiving scores.

And for Ken Hamlin, he played in seven games for the Ravens after being with the Cowboys last year.

This marks the second time Hamlin has been waived this year. The first time came when the team re-activated Cary Williams when he returned from his two-game suspension.

He then returned when the team had a roster spot to fill when the team released DE Trevor Pryce and he signed with Rex Ryan’s New York Jets.

The irony of that situation? Hamlin was re-signed the week before the Ravens played the Steelers in Week 4.

Now he is cut before the second game against the Steelers in Week 13.

But once McClain is healthy, and the team only needs one fullback on the roster, Hamlin could very well be back in a Raven uniform once again this year given his special teams prowess.

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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BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 28: Carnell Williams  and Earnest Graham  of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers huddle with teammates before the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 28, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Buccaneers 17-10. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

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Tampa Bay lived up to their reputation …..

Posted on 29 November 2010 by Rex Snider

For the last week, I’ve been standing beside the one consistent trait that really describes the Tampa Bay Buccaneers success in this 2010 season.

And we know exactly what it is …..


Yesterday, was just the latest example of the Bucs’ predictability …..

But, if we’re being completely honest, Tampa Bay was never closer than a touchdown away from tying the game, after the first few minutes of the 2nd quarter.

They played “catch up” nearly all day.

That’s exactly how they played against the Steelers and Saints, earlier this year. And, if you want to mention the closely fought game, in Atlanta, just remember they’re a divisional rival.

I’m not beating up on the Buccaneers; they’re a young, opportunistic team. Raheem Morris has them subscribing to an obvious TEAM-FIRST mentality and they’re thriving on his enthusiastic approach.

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 28: Carnell Williams  and Earnest Graham  of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers huddle with teammates before the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 28, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Buccaneers 17-10. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

That said, they win the games against bad opponents, while losing against the better ones.

That’s the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But, let’s also give due credit to the team that stood on the opposite side of the field, during yesterday’s game …..

I don’t wanna hear “the Bucs beat themselves.” If you want to see an example of a team beating itself, simply watch the highlights from Buffalo, yesterday.

The Ravens did not necessarily dominate the Buccaneers, but they absolutely played a much cleaner, efficient game. Penalties and moving the ball when it mattered most, were crucial to the final result.

Aside from 3rd down frustrations and an ill-timed Joe Flacco interception, the Ravens performed a rather methodic dissection of a lesser talented and disciplined team.

The Bucs never really had an answer for Derrick Mason and clear communication breakdowns existed on big plays to Todd Heap and TJ Houshmandzadeh. Once again, such liabilities are indicative young, inexperienced franchises.

Could things have gone differently? Was the game ever really in question? Nah …..

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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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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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Do teams take on the personality of their fan bases?

Posted on 04 October 2010 by Domenic Vadala

Let me preface this by saying that not every team or fan base falls into this argument. However each city and each team in every sport is known for something in a sense. My question is whether or not these two things go hand-in-hand to a certain degree. First off, this can be a good thing or a bad thing. As an example, Pittsburgh is a tough old blue collar town. As much as we may dislike them, does that not describe the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Pittsburgh Penguins? (I suppose that the Pirates wouldn’t fall into that category though). The Steelers have always had tought teams composed of guys that “brought their lunch pails to work” everyday. So in that sense perhaps the team(s) take on the persona or moxie of the people. (Notice that I’m using the term fan base as opposed to community; with sports being much more national than in the past, your main fan base might not necessarily be isolated to the local area.)

On the other hand, take a look at the San Francisco 49ers. California is an extremely laid back kind of place. Over the past few seasons, the 49ers have almost played so relaxed that they didn’t seem to realize they were competing. Even when they were winning the Super Bowls they never seemed to play with the fear of God in their eyes. We all remember the story of Montana eyeing John Candy in the stands at the Super Bowl. The New York Yankees are another one; New Yorkers as we know can be fairly arrogant if they want to be, but they generally pack a pretty mean punch. The Yankees seemingly carry a quiet arrogance about them (which generally ticks the rest of us off), and they back it up on the field. Go up the road to Boston…they were lovable losers for so long, and suddenly they win a few world series’. If you say something bad about the Red Sox their fans almost seem to get militant in defending them. The team seems to play with a chip on their shoulder to the point that if you look at them wrong they’re ready to come out with their dukes up. New Orleans is a party town…the Saints didn’t really seem to stop celebrating their Super Bowl victory until the 2010 season kicked off.

Again, these attributes can be both good and bad. How can you go wrong by celebrating like the Saints? By doing so I think you run the risk of becoming the Boston Red Sox who seem to treat every home run like one might a world series win. (Yes Kevin Youkilis I’m talking to you who likes to tackle guys in the dugout to celebrate homers.) I suppose that what I’m saying is that even if you’ve never been there before, act like you have. To keep with the Boton motif, we all know that the fans there can be brutal in that they expect nothing less than success. How many times has Bill Belichek been (justifiably) criticized for running up the score on someone? The Red Sox seem to enjoy doing the same thing when they get a lead. I agree with Belichek in that it’s not his job to stop his offense, but there’s a right way to win and a wrong way. The same could be said to the Steelers, who didn’t seem to want to take out their starters with a 30+ point lead in the fourth quarter.

Here’s a sensitive one for me personally: the Washington Redskins. I’ve been a Skins fan my entire life, an I’m a season ticket holder. But I do see some less-than-desirable qualities in my fellow fans. While the Redskins are noted for having loyal fans, I routinely see people bringing their friends to games who happen to root for the team the Redskins are playing that day. I also routinely hear “down in front!” when you so much as get up to get a soda during the game. Unfortunately many people see Redskin games as entertainment rather than as NFL games I suppose. Furthermore, I’ve had people at games tell me that the fans shouldn’t make noise when the other team’s on offense because not only is it unsportsmanlike, but it makes it all the more sweeter for that other team if they win. Um…excuse me?! (I’ve also seen fans buy beer for opposing fans because for some reason if you come all the way from wherever to see your team play on the road you deserve a free beer.) Two weeks ago the Skins had a 17 point lead on the Houston Texans in the 4th quarter…and lost. Granted this sort of contradicts what I said about Boston fans (with regard to running up the score), but while you don’t need to rub salt in the wound you don’t want to totally take your foot off the gas either. However if there are fans that act as I just described, couldn’t you argue that the Redskins take on that persona?

So do Baltimore’s teams take on the persona of the fan base? I would say that similar to the Steelers, the Ravens tap into that blue collar nature of the city (although Baltimore is a much more afluent place than Pittsburgh). Baltimore also likes to party…Orioles Magic anyone? All of these arguments are matters of opinion, however I think it’s an interesting concept. As I said, this isn’t necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just a thing. Take it or leave it.

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Week 4 Coach Speak

Posted on 28 September 2010 by Brian Billick

After my broadcast partner, Thom Brennaman, and I called an exciting overtime game in New Orleans when the Falcons beat the Saints, I taped this week’s edition of CoachSpeak for FOXSports.com.

I talked to the winning coach of the Atlanta-New Orleans game (and my brother-in-law), the Falcons’ Mike Smith on why he went for it on fourth down so much against the Saints and how he plans to keep his team focused this week after such a big win. I also spoke to the losing coach, Sean Payton, about how last Monday night’s game at San Francisco did to his team’s schedule, and the adjustments coaches have to make in that situation.

In my Billick 101 segment, we get a look at the Vikings check system with quarterback Brett Favre and running back Adrian Peterson through the eyes of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. We also go on the field with Ravens running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery, who shows us the keys to a proper QB-RB exchange on handoffs.

I take a look at the 49ers’ firing of offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye this week, what that might mean to head coach Mike Singletary down the line, and what new OC Mike Johnson needs to do to help turn around the 0-3 49ers fortunes.

Lastly, we check out the Never Say Never Moment of the Week, including Leon Washington’s two kickoff returns for TDs for the Seahawks.

Here is this week’s version of CoachSpeak:

Video: Coach Speak: Week 4

This Sunday, Thom, field reporter Charissa Thompson and I head to Green Bay this Sunday as the Packers try to bounce back after a tough loss at Chicago as they host Jim Schwartz and the Detroit Lions on FOX.

But before that, I will be on WNST several times to talk about what’s going on in the NFL. If you miss any of those appearances, please check out the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to listen to all of the great interviews on WNST.

Talk to you next week …

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