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Ovechkin Wins It In OT After Backstrom Tied it Late

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Ovechkin Wins It In OT After Backstrom Tied it Late

Posted on 30 November 2013 by Ed Frankovic

Wow, what a finish, and I’m not talking about Auburn-Alabama.

The Washington Capitals, who could’ve put the game away in the second period by burying some golden opportunities, looked dead to rights after the Islanders took the lead with 1:51 left in the third period and then Mike Green was correctly whistled for an interference penalty just 41 clicks later.

But the Caps showed some serious resolve and mental toughness as Karl Alzner made a great pinch on the left wing boards to get the puck behind the net to Jason Chimera and then #25 hit a streaking Nicklas Backstrom in the slot and #19 one timed it by Islanders goalie Anders Nilsson with 49 ticks left in regulation for an unlikely shorthanded game tying tally.

The Capitals would then kill off those final 49 third period seconds of the Green infraction and then 50 more into overtime. Over a minute later, Alexander Ovechkin scored from the slot five hole on Nilsson after a nifty drop pass from Mikhail Grabovski and it gave Washington a huge two points on Long Island. It was Ovechkin’s league leading 21st goal and the 5th time he has scored in OT in his career to defeat the Islanders (h/t @ehornick). The victory improves Washington to 14-11-2 (30 points) and keeps them two points ahead of the third place New York Rangers.

Washington led 1-0 heading into the final frame thanks to a hard working goal by the Caps fourth line of Martin Erat, Tom Wilson, and Aaron Volpatti at 8:58 into period two. Erat got the puck into the slot where Wilson used his size and strength to get two shots on Nilsson before Volpatti slapped it home. After that goal the Caps had some golden opportunities to expand their lead but Backstrom and Green both missed the net from in close in the slot when all alone.

Those misses looked like they might haunt Washington after they gave up a shorthanded goal to Cal Clutterbuck at 3:59 of period three, who got a breakaway when Green let a puck get by him at the Islanders blue line. It was another dismal power play for the Caps in their only try of the night. When Vanek scored just inside the two minute mark after a goal mouth scramble that had Braden Holtby (37 saves) incensed, it sure looked like it would be a rough defeat in a game Washington deserved at least a point.

But Coach Adam Oates’ crew didn’t quit and Backstrom’s laser made up for his earlier miss. Ovechkin sealed the deal like a true assassin to provide a very huge win and give the Caps a two game winning streak heading into Tuesday’s tilt at the Verizon Center against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Defensemen Dmitry Orlov made his season debut on Saturday and was very solid in 13:41 of work. Hopefully 81′s agent wises up and rescinds his ridiculous trade demand. As for the other player demanding out, Erat played hard and assisted on the first tally but his offensive zone turnover helped lead to the Islanders shorthanded breakaway.

On defense, Alzner and John Carlson led the way again, playing 23:20 and 24:40, respectively. Overall, the Caps moved the puck much better with Orlov in for Alex Urbom on the back end. There are still improvements to be made, but Orlov looks more like an NHLer than some of the other guys who’ve been playing. He just needs to get some steady work now that he’s fully recovered from last year’s injuries. Dima wasn’t tentative at all tonight, like he was in preseason, so the time in the AHL definitely benefited him.

New York is a team that in recent years has given the Caps trouble because of their speed and a struggling Islanders club gave it all they had tonight, making it difficult for the Caps to put them away. Then it sure looked like Washington had handed the game to New York before Backstrom, Oveckhin, and company snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

There are no style points in the NHL, two points is two points.

But the way the Caps came back and showed mental resolve makes this victory feel like more than two points.

Time will tell if this kind of come back victory is one that propels Washington to improved play and a long winning streak, but for tonight, I’ll just leave you with a classic line from Baltimore broadcasting legend Chuck Thompson.

Ain’t The Beer Cold!

 

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Jets

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Jets

Posted on 26 November 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’ 19-3 win over the New York Jets Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium…

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

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Geno Smith pass intended for Bilal Powell incomplete on 3rd and goal (1st quarter)

The Jets’ only real TD chance on the day but could have set things up to go the wrong way.  

4. Torrey Smith 60 yard catch from Joe Flacco (2nd quarter)

A “statement” play on a drive that only finished with a field goal…but didn’t need more. 

3. Justin Tucker 53 yard field goal GOOD (3rd quarter)

If he misses this, the Jets are in great shape in a close game. 

2. Corey Graham intercepts Geno Smith pass intended for David Nelson (3rd quarter)

The above GIF is of his second pick, his first set up the play that is Number 1.

1. Jacoby Jones 66 yard TD catch from Joe Flacco (3rd quarter)

The Jets would have never come back anyway, but this was certainly the “ender”.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Ravens must continue to come up “big” in push for playoffs

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Ravens must continue to come up “big” in push for playoffs

Posted on 24 November 2013 by Luke Jones

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

BALTIMORE — The third quarter of Sunday’s 19-3 win over the New York Jets was following a predictable pattern for a Ravens offense that hasn’t put together a 60-minute performance all season.

After moving the ball with some success in the first half with three drives of 50 or more yards — all resulting in field goals — and 212 yards, the Ravens had gained just 15 yards on 11 plays after halftime as the third quarter was winding down. Faced with a first-and-5 from their own 34, quarterback Joe Flacco ran a play-action fake to running back Ray Rice before heaving a bomb to wide receiver Jacoby Jones with a stiff wind at the quarteback’s back.

Sprinting behind 35-year-old Jets free safety Ed Reed, Jones reined in the pass for a 66-yard touchdown that not only gave the Ravens a 16-point lead but also represented something they’d been missing this year. Flacco’s strike to Jones was the Ravens’ first touchdown all season on a pass thrown more than 20 yards in the air, a reality that would have seemed absurd a year ago when Baltimore’s vertical passing game was arguably the most dangerous in the NFL.

“It was probably the play of the game for us,” coach John Harbaugh said. “The ball got up there and got caught in the wind. If you saw it, it was being pushed that way. I thought once it got up in the air and the wind got it, I didn’t think Jacoby [Jones] was going to be able to get it. He shifted into another gear and he went and got that ball — just an amazing play. And then for him to reach out and catch it and keep his balance, just a tremendous, athletic play.”

Sunday’s offensive performance was far from exceptional as the Ravens failed to score more than 20 points in a game for the sixth straight time, and the offense provided what we’ve come to expect over the first 11 games of the 2013 season. The Ravens had little success on the ground in averaging just 2.2 yards per carry against the Jets’ top-ranked rush defense, but the 66-yard touchdown strike to Jones followed an earlier 60-yard bomb to Torrey Smith and offered a glimpse of how the Ravens must operate in order to stack enough wins down the stretch to qualify for the playoffs for the sixth straight season.

Just as the defense forced three turnovers and Jones provided 146 return yards in the special-teams department, the Ravens need more big plays in all three phases of the game and finally received a couple from their passing attack in disposing of the Jets at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday.

Flacco dismissed the idea of feeling a sense of relief in connecting on a deep-ball score, but more offensive explosions will give the Ravens a better chance against quality opponents remaining on the schedule.

“I don’t think it was that kind of feeling,” Flacco said. “It was just like, ‘Yes, we got a touchdown. We have 19 points now.’ It wasn’t anything like, ‘Oh, I’ve been looking for that,’ or ‘We haven’t done that in a while.’ That wasn’t why; that didn’t creep in at all. It was really just excitement because it was a tight game, we hadn’t put the ball in the end zone yet, and we were able to do it right there.”

The Ravens have played tight games all season, with all but two prior to Sunday’s win being decided by eight or fewer points. And the absence of big plays in the passing game is a factor in explaining why an offense that struggles to consistently sustain drives hasn’t been able to put the Ravens over the top this season.

Injuries to Jones and Deonte Thompson zapped the Ravens of speed to put on the opposite side of the formation to Smith early in the season, enabling defenses to bracket coverage and shade a deep safety to one side of the field. The absence of a consistent running game and receiving threats over the intermediate middle portion of the field — specifically due to the trade of slot receiver Anquan Boldin and the injury to tight end Dennis Pitta — have allowed safeties to remain deep in coverage. Other times, offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell and Flacco haven’t even appeared committed to trying to throw deep.

But the vertical passing game reemerged Sunday as the deep strikes to Smith and Jones led directly to 10 points and a win to move the Ravens closer to the .500 mark with Pittsburgh coming to town Thanksgiving night for a contest with major playoff implications. Another deep strike or two would go a long way in loosening up the league’s eighth-ranked passing game on Thursday night.

“That was huge for our offense,” said Smith, whose reception early in the second quarter set up the Ravens’ second field goal of the game and gave them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. “It’s not that we’re depending on it, but it always helps to get chunks of yardage like that. When we get those kinds of days going, it’s usually good for our offense.”

The Ravens were dependent on the deep ball last season as Flacco completed 28 of 82 passes traveling 20 or more yards in the air for nine touchdowns and no interceptions. The sixth-year quarterback entered Sunday having gone just 10-for-50 in that department for no touchdowns and five interceptions in the first 10 games of the season.

As Flacco has mentioned several times this season when asked what has happened to the vertical passing game, low-percentage throws aren’t easy to complete and perhaps the lack of success this season has been as much about a market correction from last year’s success than anything else. But the Ravens offense isn’t equipped to drive up and down the field with the better offenses in the league.

Sunday provided a reasonable blueprint for the Ravens in their bid to advance to the postseason in a muddled AFC wild-card race. A turnover-making defense, strong special teams, and an offense able to strike on a couple big plays led to an easy win over the Jets, the team that entered Week 12 as the No. 6 seed in the division.

The Ravens offense hasn’t lived up to its end of the bargain all year for a variety of reasons, but some home-run passes mixed in with their weekly struggles might provide enough to make the final five weeks of the season interesting.

“It’s the rhythm of the game, the timing,” said Jones in describing why the vertical passing game has been absent. “Sometimes, we’ll be in a certain part of the game where what they’re giving is what [we’ll] take. And we try to connect, and it will be off, and the rhythm and timing will be off. But today, we were on point.”

The 5-6 Ravens will have no choice but to be on point for the rest of the season.

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Our Ravens/Jets “Pats on the Ass”

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Our Ravens/Jets “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 24 November 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’ 19-3 win over the New York Jets Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium…

Glenn’s Pats…

5. Chris Canty

4. Corey Graham

3. Daryl Smith

2. Joe Flacco

1. Jacoby Jones (Pat on Both Cheeks)

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Ravens-Jets: Inactives and pre-game notes

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Ravens-Jets: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 24 November 2013 by Luke Jones

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

BALTIMORE — It’s rare to find a game with playoff implications between two teams lacking a winning record, but that’s exactly where the Ravens and Jets find themselves in the muddled AFC wild-card picture in late November.

The 5-5 Jets come to Baltimore currently holding the No. 6 seed in the conference by way of a tiebreaker over the Miami Dolphins, but a Ravens win would pull them even with the Jets and Baltimore already holds a head-to-head tiebreaker against Miami with the Week 5 win over the Dolphins. Of course, the Ravens view the start of a three-game homestand as a golden opportunity to not only climb back to and above the .500 mark but to solidify their chances of advancing to the postseason for a sixth consecutive season under coach John Harbaugh.

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (knee) will play after being listed as questionable and being deemed a game-time decision on Friday. The Pro Bowl nose tackle went through a pre-game warmup with defensive line coach Clarence Brooks, firing out of a three-point stance several times to test the explosiveness and stability of his left knee.

It will be interesting to see how the Ravens handle his workload considering he logged only one practice this week and another game awaits in just four days with the Steelers coming to town Thanksgiving night.

As we learned Saturday, tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) remains on injured reserve with the designation to return after the Ravens elected not to place him on the 53-man roster for Sunday’s meeting with the Jets. Pitta practiced all week, but the organization wants to take its time in determining that Pitta is healthy and ready to return to live-game action.

As expected, cornerback Lardarius Webb (abs) and inside linebacker Daryl Smith (hamstring) are active and will start despite being listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week. Neither player’s status was really in doubt after they practiced on a limited basis all week.

Wide receiver Brandon Stokley (groin) is active for the first time since Week 3, which might be a sign of the Ravens emphasizing the short passing game with the high winds expected throughout the game. Fellow receiver Deonte Thompson is inactive for Sunday’s game.

Meanwhile, the Jets will be without top receiver Jeremy Kerley (elbow), who was ruled out on Saturday after initially being listed as doubtful against the Ravens.

For the third straight game in which the Ravens have been involved, high winds will be a factor as temperatures are only expected to rise to the mid-30s. Winds will be as high as 26 miles per hour, but at least the Ravens should be used to such conditions after the brutal weather in Chicago last week.

Sunday marks the ninth time the Ravens and the Jets have met in the regular season with Baltimore holding an impressive 7-1 record in the all-time series. The Ravens have won seven straight while New York has never beaten them in Baltimore and last won a game over the Ravens in 1997.

The Ravens are wearing purple jerseys with black pants while the Jets will don white tops with white pants on Sunday afternoon.

The referee for Sunday’s game will be Jeff Triplette.

Here are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
CB Asa Jackson
S Omar Brown
RB Bernard Scott
OL Ryan Jensen
WR Deonte Thompson
LB John Simon
DT Brandon Williams

NEW YORK
QB David Garrard
WR Jeremy Kerley
RB Alex Green
LB Garrett McIntyre
G Will Campbell
T Ben Ijalana
OL Oday Aboushi

Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the afternoon for updates and analysis as Drew Forrester, Nestor Aparicio, and I bring live coverage from M&T Bank Stadium throughout the day.

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Ravens-Jets: Five predictions for Sunday

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Ravens-Jets: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 23 November 2013 by Luke Jones

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

The term “must-win” is used liberally in professional sports, but the Ravens have reached that reality with a 4-6 record and an opportunity to knock off the AFC’s current No. 6 seed-leading New York Jets on Sunday afternoon.

Baltimore will play the first of three consecutive home games against beatable opponents in an effort to not only move to the positive side of the .500 mark but slide into position to grab a sixth straight playoff berth under head coach John Harbaugh. Meanwhile, the Jets are trying to reach the postseason for the first time since 2010 under head coach and former Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan.

Both teams have obvious flaws but remain in the mix for the postseason in a pool of eight teams that are either 5-5 or 4-6 entering Week 12. The Ravens and Jets will be meeting for the ninth time in the regular season with Baltimore holding a 7-1 advantage and a seven-game winning streak in the all-time series.

It’s time to go on the record as the Ravens look to improve to 5-6 before a short week leading into a Thanksgiving night game against Pittsburgh …

1. Facing the stingiest run defense in the NFL, the Ravens will struggle to average 3.0 yards per carry on Sunday. A 174-yard performance by the Baltimore running game in Chicago was an encouraging sign but came against the league’s 31st-ranked run defense in sloppy conditions. The rushing attack will need to be graded on a curve against a Jets defense allowing just 2.9 yards per carry, the lowest mark in the NFL since the 2007 Ravens. The goal will be to gain just enough yardage to keep New York honest, which will allow the Ravens to run play-action over the course of the game. Running back Ray Rice said it best earlier in the week in saying they must be willing to take what the Jets defense is allowing, whether it’s two yards or the opportunity to pick up 20. Center Gino Gradkowski and left guard A.Q. Shipley turned in strong performances with their run blocking last week, but the Jets defensive line will be a very difficult matchup on what’s expected to be a windy day.

2. Quarterback Joe Flacco will throw for 275 yards for the first time since Week 6. The Ravens will be involved in a game with wind being a factor for the third consecutive week, which would appear to favor the Jets given the strength of their run defense and running game. However, Flacco will be facing a pass defense that ranks 23rd in the league and felt the need to pick up the 35-year-old Ed Reed to stabilize the free safety spot. There’s no disputing that Flacco has played poorly since the Ravens’ Week 8 bye, but he will be needed to make plays on Sunday as the Jets have been vulnerable to giving up the big play this season, allowing 33 passes of 20 or more yards. The Baltimore quarterback will have to wait at least one more game for the return of tight end Dennis Pitta, but Flacco talked this week about the need for the Ravens to let loose in how they play and the Jets defense hasn’t been nearly as effective on the road, giving up an average of 33 points per game on the road.

3. Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson will collect 1 1/2 sacks and a forced fumble. Ryan has a sterling reputation for putting his best defensive players in position to thrive, and Wilkerson has blossomed into the face of the New York defense, collecting eight sacks and 53 tackles in a Pro Bowl-caliber season. Defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman and Ryan like to move Wilkerson around on the defensive line, which will be a problem for a unit that’s struggled to call out proper protection assignments this season. Even if the Ravens manage to gain respectable yardage on the ground, the Jets will still attempt to tee off on Flacco with a pass rush facing an offensive line that’s given up 33 sacks this season. An ability to protect the football will be a critical factor in determining the outcome of Sunday’s game and Flacco will cough up a fumble when Wilkerson breaks free for a sack against shaky pass blocking.

4. The Baltimore defense will wreak havoc on rookie quarterback Geno Smith, forcing three turnovers. The Jets have been forced to lean heavily on their eighth-ranked running game while the rookie has failed to record a passer rating higher than 71.9 in any of his last five games and will be without top receiver Jeremy Kerley. As long as the Ravens don’t revert to the struggles they experienced earlier in the season when their run defense allowed 140 or more rushing yards in three of four games, the Jets won’t do enough on the ground to avoid putting the ball in Smith’s hands. The Ravens will need to turn in a defensive performance similar to the one against Cincinnati when they forced Andy Dalton into turning it over three times. Smith has thrown 16 interceptions and has lost four fumbles, which is a recipe for disaster playing at M&T Bank Stadium where the Ravens have allowed just under 13 points per game in four contests this season.

5. In a defensive struggle with touchdowns at a premium, experience at quarterback and the home-field advantage give the Ravens a 19-12 victory. Both the Ravens and Jets have experienced their share of struggles on the road as New York is 1-4 away from MetLife Stadium and the Ravens are 1-5 in that department, but Baltimore is 3-1 at home this year and has played sparking defense at M&T Bank Stadium. In a game featuring two above-average defenses but flawed offensive attacks, I’ll give the nod to the home team with the veteran quarterback in a low-scoring game. The Jets simply make too many mistakes and haven’t forced turnovers of their own all season, a trend that will continue on Sunday as the Ravens win a close one to put themselves in better position in a muddled wild-card race. An uphill path remains for the Ravens to reach postseason play, but tie-breaking wins over the Jets and Miami Dolphins could prove useful down the line if more wins are to follow one on Sunday.

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Ngata questionable for Jets game after returning to practice Friday

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Ngata questionable for Jets game after returning to practice Friday

Posted on 22 November 2013 by Luke Jones

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

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata joined the rest of his teammates on the field for the final full practice of the week and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.

Listed as a limited participant after sitting out on Wednesday and Thursday, Ngata (left knee) was suited up during the portion of the workout open to the media. The 340-pound defensive lineman played catch and did some light high-knee movement but was not very active during the first 20 minutes of practice.

Ngata hadn’t taken part in a practice since injuring his left knee two weeks ago against the Cincinnati Bengals even though he returned to finish playing in that game. The Ravens used a combination of Terrence Cody, DeAngelo Tyson, and rookie Brandon Williams in Ngata’s absence last Sunday.

“He practiced today, so we’ll just have to see how he comes out of that right now,” coach John Harbaugh said. “And it will be interesting to see how he fared and how he feels tomorrow. We’ll just have to see how he’s doing.”

Cornerback Lardarius Webb (abs) and linebacker Daryl Smith (thigh) are also listed as questionable but are both expected to play after practicing on a limited basis all week. Wide receivers Marlon Brown (knee) and Brandon Stokley (thigh) are both probable for Sunday’s game.

Tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) did extensive individual work during Friday’s practice, running routes and cutting well while working with tight ends coach Wade Harman. It was the most active Pitta had looked in his three days during the viewing portion of practices.

The Ravens would need to place Pitta on the 53-man roster by 4 p.m. on Saturday in order for him to play against the Jets. He said several times Wednesday about a need to take things slow in his return to the practice field, but the Ravens also have a history of being aggressive in activating some players coming back from injuries over the last couple years.

“We’re going to see how I feel tomorrow. We’ll see how I feel the next day and then go from there,” Pitta said. “There’s always an adjustment when you’re doing it for the first time again. It comes back quick and it’s feeling good. I’ll just continue to keep working on it and get it more comfortable.”

Harbaugh said “there is always a chance” that Pitta could play on Sunday, but it would still be considered a surprise if the fourth-year tight end suited up this quickly after his return to practice. The Ravens are not required to list Pitta on the injury report since he is not part of the active roster.

The Baltimore coach revealed that left guard Kelechi Osemele underwent back surgery earlier this week and the procedure was “very successful.” The expected recovery time is three to four months after the second-year lineman was officially placed on injured reserve Nov. 8.

“He was in a little bit of pain,” Harbaugh said. “I had a chance to spend some time with him and his mom and his fiancee yesterday. He walked through the building, so he’s up and walking, very gingerly. But he’ll start his recovery and his rehab now.”

The Jets listed linebacker Garrett McIntyre (knee) and wide receiver Jeremy Kerley (elbow) as doubtful for Sunday’s game but designated tight end Kellen Winslow (knee) and wide receiver Santonio Holmes (foot/hamstring) as probable despite each missing practices this week.

The referee for Sunday’s game will be Jeff Triplette.

Though Sunday’s forecast in Baltimore pales in comparison to the severe conditions witnessed in Chicago, the Ravens will once again deal with high winds as temperatures are expected to be in the mid-30s with winds up to 24 miles per hour.

Here is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
QUESTIONABLE: DT Haloti Ngata (knee), LB Daryl Smith (thigh), CB Lardarius Webb (Abs)
PROBABLE: WR Marlon Brown (knee), WR Brandon Stokley (thigh)

NEW YORK
DOUBTFUL: LB Garrett McIntyre (knee), WR Jeremy Kerley (elbow)
PROBABLE: OL Willie Colon (calf), CB Antonio Cromartie (hip), DL Kenrick Ellis (back), QB David Garrard (knee), WR Stephen Hill (knee), WR Santonio Holmes (foot/hamstring), WR David Nelson (illness), WR Greg Salas (finger), TE Kellen Winslow (knee)

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D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Picks and Comment – Week 12

Posted on 22 November 2013 by Luke Jones

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

Here are this weekend’s picks as The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction will pick every NFL game and local college games this season.

Luke Jones finished Week 11 with a 10-5 record while Drew Forrester was 10-5 on his picks. Entering Week 12, Jones is 98-64 on the season while Forrester is 96-66. Official standings are based only on the NFL picks.

Forrester and Jones correctly picked New Orleans to beat Atlanta to kick off Week 12.

You can listen to Friday’s “Picks and Comment” segment HERE.

Jets at Ravens: Baltimore 23-9 (Drew), Baltimore 19-12 (Luke)
Steelers at Browns: Pittsburgh 17-16 (Drew), Pittsburgh 20-17 (Luke)
Buccaneers at Lions: Detroit 30-10 (Drew), Detroit 27-14 (Luke)
Jaguars at Texans: Houston 24-13 (Drew), Houston 20-12 (Luke)
Vikings at Packers: Green Bay 27-20 (Drew), Green Bay 23-16 (Luke)
Chargers at Chiefs: San Diego 27-24 (Drew), Kansas City 24-21 (Luke)
Panthers at Dolphins: Miami 21-20 (Drew), Carolina 24-16 (Luke)
Bears at Rams: St. Louis 30-20 (Drew), Chicago 27-20 (Luke)
Titans at Raiders: Tennessee 17-10 (Drew), Oakland 20-16 (Luke)
Colts at Cardinals: Indianapolis 23-20 (Drew), Indianapolis 24-23 (Luke)
Cowboys at Giants: Dallas 33-30 (Drew), New York 26-21 (Luke)
Broncos at Patriots: Denver 34-23 (Drew), Denver 31-21 (Luke)
49ers at Redskins: San Francisco 24-20 (Drew), San Francisco 23-17 (Luke)
Boston College at Maryland: Eagles 20-14 (Drew), Terrapins 20-17 (Luke)
James Madison at Towson: Tigers 33-22 (Drew), Tigers 31-20 (Luke)
Navy at San Jose State: Spartans 28-23 (Drew), Midshipmen 24-20 (Luke)
Morgan State at Delaware State: Hornets 29-19 (Drew), Hornets 23-13 (Luke)

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Ravens running game trying to fight off reality check against Jets

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Ravens running game trying to fight off reality check against Jets

Posted on 21 November 2013 by Luke Jones

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

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Even after a difficult overtime defeat in Chicago last weekend, you’d almost excuse the members of the Ravens’ running game for breathing a sigh of relief.

On pace to become the worst rushing offense in the 18-year history of the franchise, the Ravens ran for a season-high 174 yards — which included Ray Rice’s season-long run of 47 yards — in the 23-20 overtime defeat to the Bears, temporarily quieting critics who’ve doubted their ability to gain ground against anyone this season. Still, they also realize those yards came against the league’s 31st-ranked run defense and Sunday’s game against the New York Jets will present a much steeper task.

“That’s one game; the results still weren’t what we wanted in terms of the end result,” offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said. “We’ve got a real challenge ahead of us this week, [and the Jets are] maybe the finest run defense in the league.”

Ranked first in the league in allowing just 73.2 yards per game on the ground, the Jets have surrendered just 2.9 yards per carry in their first 10 games. That stingy mark puts them on pace to have the best average in the NFL since the 2007 Ravens, who gave up just 2.8 yards per rush despite an abysmal 5-11 record.

Jets head coach and former Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan not only possesses a formidable group of players up front but offers some of the most exotic looks schematically in the NFL year after year. And considering the Ravens’ issues this season with Juan Castillo’s zone blocking scheme and communication at the line of scrimmage, New York will be less forgiving than the banged-up Bears defense in making Baltimore pay for missed blocking assignments.

With Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon Harrison, Sheldon Richardson, and Kenrick Ellis combining to form the best run-stopping defensive line in the league, Rice offered a realistic approach to the ground game in Sunday’s contest at M&T Bank Stadium. It resembled a plea for patience and not trying to do too much against a very talented front.

“We just need to be honest with ourselves and get a hat on a hat,” said Rice, who eclipsed the century mark on the ground for the first time all season in running for 131 yards against the Bears. “If it’s two yards, we need to take the two yards. If it’s a 20-yard gain and it happens, we need to make the 20. If they’re going to give you something where you’ve got to plow in there for two yards, [you take it]. One thing that we want to get out of is getting tackled for a loss. We always want to be on the plus side of things.”

The Ravens took advantage of the Chicago defense with more man-on-man blocking than the zone approach that’s given the running game little room this season. The offensive line also did a commendable job with combination blocks as well as identifying defenders to block at the second level, according to head coach John Harbaugh.

Even with their success, the Ravens understand one performance doesn’t erase nine weeks of severe struggles as they are still only averaging 83.2 rushing yards per game (27th in the NFL) and 3.0 yards per attempt, which ranks 31st in the league ahead of only Jacksonville.

“We took a step, but it’s still not consistent enough,” left tackle Eugene Monroe said. “We’ll continue to work on it. The mood is positive. We understand that we’ve got to continue to win, but pressing out that issue isn’t going to help that. We’ve just got to continue to stay focused.”

A step down from last week statistically is almost inevitable against the New York defense — a unit that hasn’t given up more than 90 rushing yards in a game since Week 3 — but a key to a victory on Sunday will be whether the Ravens have the ability to do just enough to keep the Jets’ back end of the defense honest. Ryan’s unit ranks 23rd against the pass and has allowed 33 passing plays of 20 or more yards this season, so even the slightest room created in the running game would go a long way in establishing play-action fakes and the ability for quarterback Joe Flacco to roll out to find open receivers.

New York, however, will try to make an offense ranked 30th in the league in total yards one-dimensional as it has been far too many times this season en route to a 4-6 start.

The Ravens are not only determined to begin a three-game homestand on a winning note — improving their AFC wild-card standing in the process — but to prove their running-game explosion last week in sloppy, windy Chicago was a sign of better days to come and not just a pleasant aberration.

As Rice professed, the Ravens can only look at one game, one drive, and one carry at a time against a stout Jets defense.

“You have to get movement to even gain a yard,” Rice said. “You can’t let them feast in one position, so we’ve got our work cut out for us. Our big guys have been working, but needless to say, we are getting prepared for a very physical football game.”

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Ngata’s status remains in question against Jets on Sunday

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Ngata’s status remains in question against Jets on Sunday

Posted on 21 November 2013 by Luke Jones

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Moving a day closer to Sunday’s meeting with the New York Jets in Baltimore, the Ravens were again without Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata on Thursday.

Ngata hasn’t practiced in nearly two weeks as he continues to recover from a left knee injury sustained against the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 10. The defensive lineman missed his first game of the season last Sunday in Chicago and appears to be a question mark once again as the Ravens try to remain afloat in the AFC playoff race.

Coach John Harbaugh has declined to answer questions regarding Ngata’s status as the Ravens used a combination of Terrence Cody, DeAngelo Tyson, and rookie Brandon Williams at the nose tackle position against the Bears in Week 11. With Ngata’s absence leaving a major void in the middle of the defensive line, the Bears were able to rush for 104 yards in the 23-20 overtime victory at Soldier Field.

All other players were accounted for at practice as linebacker Daryl Smith (thigh) and cornerback Lardarius Webb (abs) were limited participants for the second straight day. Wide receivers Marlon Brown (knee) and Brandon Stokley (thigh) practiced fully.

Tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) was practicing for the second straight day, but the Ravens do not have to include him on the injury report since he remains on injured reserve with the designation to return.

Coach John Harbaugh moved up the start of Thursday’s practice to allow players to finish their workday earlier to get some extra rest. The Ravens have a quick turnaround for next week’s game as they will play Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving night, roughly 100 hours after the conclusion of Sunday’s contest against the Jets.

Meanwhile, the Jets downgraded the status of tight end Kellen Winslow (knee) as he sat out practice a day after working on a limited basis. Linebacker Garrett McIntyre (knee) and wide receiver David Nelson (illness) also missed practice while wide receiver Santonio Holmes (foot/hamstring) was limited after failing to practice on Wednesday.

Here is Thursday’s injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DT Haloti Ngata (knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Daryl Smith (thigh), CB Lardarius Webb (Abs)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Marlon Brown (knee), WR Brandon Stokley (thigh)

NEW YORK
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Garrett McIntyre (knee), WR David Nelson (illness), TE Kellen Winslow (knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Santonio Holmes (foot/hamstring), WR Jeremy Kerley (elbow)
FULL PARTICIPATION: OL Willie Colon (calf), CB Antonio Cromartie (hip), DL Kenrick Ellis (back), QB David Garrard (knee), WR Stephen Hill (knee), WR Greg Salas (finger)

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