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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Patriots

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Patriots

Posted on 22 January 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’ 28-13 win over the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship Game…

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

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Nate Solder called for holding, negating Danny Woodhead 4 yard run on 3rd & 2 (3rd quarter)

4. Stephen Gostkowski 25 yard field goal after Patriots called third timeout (2nd quarter)

3. Tom Brady pass intended for Wes Welker incomplete on 3rd & 8 from Baltimore 34 (3rd quarter)

2. Dannell Ellerbe intercepts Tom Brady pass intended for Aaron Hernandez, tipped by Pernell McPhee (4th quarter)

1. Arthur Jones recovers Stevan Ridley fumble forced by Bernard Pollard (4th quarter)

(Ryan’s Plays on Page 2…)

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Welker’s wife apologizes for derogatory comments about Ray Lewis

Posted on 22 January 2013 by Luke Jones

Last year it was Tom Brady’s wife Gisele Bündchen ranting after the Patriots’ Super Bowl XLVI loss to the New York Giants, but the wife of wide receiver Wes Welker may have topped her comments in trashing Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis following Sunday’s AFC Championship.

Anna Burns Welker took to Facebook to bash the future Hall of Fame linebacker following the Ravens’ 28-13 win over New England, citing Lewis having children with four different women and the events in Atlanta 13 years ago.

“Proud of my husband and the Pats,” she wrote. “By the way, if anyone is bored, please go to Ray Lewis’ Wikipedia page. 6 kids 4 wives. Acquitted for murder. Paid a family off. Yay. What a hall of fame player! A true role model!”

Despite her claim, Lewis has never been married.

She apologized for those comments on Monday evening and has since deleted her original Facebook post. She is a former Miss Hooters International winner.

“I let the competitiveness of the game and the comments people were making about a team I dearly love get the best of me,” Welker’s wife said in a statement to Larry Brown Sports. “My actions were emotional and irrational and I sincerely apologize to Ray Lewis and anyone affected by my comment after yesterday’s game.

“It is such an accomplishment for any team to make it to the NFL playoffs, and the momentary frustration I felt should not overshadow the accomplishments of both of these amazing teams.”

Welker caught eight passes for 117 yards and a touchdown, but New England was shut out in the second half of Sunday night’s game. He will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Interestingly enough, it was Welker who took jabs at Rex Ryan over the Jets head coach’s foot fetish scandal two years ago.

Thankfully, we can now go back to talking about more important topics such as the Ravens preparing to play in their second Super Bowl in franchise history.

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Flacco, Ravens prove to be AFC’s best when it really mattered

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Flacco, Ravens prove to be AFC’s best when it really mattered

Posted on 21 January 2013 by Luke Jones

We spent the better part of five seasons acknowledging the accomplishments of Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens, but the focus would inevitably revert to what they hadn’t done in the John Harbaugh era.

Flacco had never led the Ravens to a Super Bowl as many wondered even just a few short weeks ago whether the fifth-year quarterback really had the ability to do.

Baltimore was the only team in the NFL to have advanced to the postseason and won at least one playoff game in each of the last five seasons, but the Ravens were always a bridesmaid but never the bride to represent the AFC on the biggest stage in professional sports.

Despite coming within a Lee Evans catch of toppling Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in last year’s conference championship, Flacco didn’t take the quantum leap many thought he would during the regular season. His Week 15 interception returned for a touchdown in a blowout loss at home to the Denver Broncos appeared to be the lowest point of his career.

Anyone who watched these Ravens play over the course of the 2012 season would agree that they weren’t the best team in the conference. They certainly weren’t the most talented as critics dismissed a 9-2 start while pointing out their many flaws and shortcomings due to a significant number of injuries. An inconsistent offense and a diminishing, aging defense didn’t exactly scream “Super Bowl contender” in the eyes of even the most optimistic Ravens fans.

A three-game losing streak to start the month of December that included the firing of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron appeared to be a death sentence. Instead, it was the precursor to three straight wins in the month of January as the Ravens flattened New England in the second half Sunday night to win 28-13 and advance to their second Super Bowl in franchise history.

Even if they weren’t the AFC’s best from September through December, Flacco and the Ravens proved to be the superior quarterback and the superior team when it really mattered.

As Harbaugh preached about the entire team’s effort following Sunday’s game, pointing to a second half when the Ravens outscored New England 21-0 to turn a 13-7 halftime deficit into a comfortable 15-point victory in Foxborough, the biggest story was once again Flacco. Arguably scrutinized more than any quarterback in the league, Flacco followed up an outstanding performance against Peyton Manning in the divisional round with a brilliant second half at Gillette Stadium while Tom Brady wilted against the Baltimore defense to lose the first home game of his career in which the Patriots led at the half.

In the Ravens’ path to Super Bowl XLVII, Flacco has thrown for 853 yards, eight touchdowns, and no interceptions for a 114.7 passer rating in three playoff wins. He hasn’t tossed an interception since that fateful day when he laid face-down on the turf at M&T Bank Stadium following Chris Harris’ 98-yard return for a touchdown on Dec. 16.

The question really isn’t whether Flacco is an “elite” quarterback as so many like to ask. The University of Delaware product has been the best the AFC had to offer in the playoffs and is now 60 minutes away from an invitation to join a select group of Super Bowl winners that includes Manning, Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, and Drew Brees.

Instead of chastising him for what he’s not, it’s time to recognize Flacco for what he is — a great quarterback with an unwavering ability to remain cool under pressure. His demeanor over this last month never changed as he adjusted to Jim Caldwell’s new role as offensive coordinator and put the Ravens on his back to land them in the Super Bowl for the first time in 12 years.

This is far from Harbaugh’s most talented group of players, but the difference is the Ravens have a quarterback not only capable of leading them to the Super Bowl, but they have one who did it with an exclamation point on Sunday night.

For years, the vaunted Ravens defense was always looking across the field at a Brady or a Manning or a Roethlisberger and could only wonder what might have been if the unit had a signal-caller like that on its side. Baltimore no longer has to do that as many teams around the league will now begin to look at Flacco with a similar kind of reverence.

If we’ve learned anything about him over these last three weeks, it’s not only that he’s a great quarterback, but we now expect — not hope for — him to be great on the biggest stage. The Ravens will once again be underdogs against Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans, but the confidence once enjoyed only in places like New England, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh is now bursting at the seams in Baltimore over its quarterback.

They will have a great chance to win because they have a great quarterback. It’s that simple, even if it’s been a long time coming for the Ravens.

It doesn’t matter that Flacco wasn’t the best quarterback and the Ravens weren’t the best team in the AFC in the regular season.

They’re standing at the top and they earned it by toppling the best the conference had to offer in January.

 

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Our Ravens/Patriots “Pats on the Ass”

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Our Ravens/Patriots “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 20 January 2013 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Nasty Purple 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’ 28-13 win over the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship Game to clinch a trip to Super Bowl XLVII…

Glenn Clark’s Pats…

5. Jim Caldwell

4. Pernell McPhee

3. Marshal Yanda

2. Bernard Pollard

1. Joe Flacco (Pat on Both Cheeks)

(Ryan’s Pats on Page 2…)

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Ravens-Patriots: Inactives and pre-game notes

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Ravens-Patriots: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 20 January 2013 by Luke Jones

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Ravens are the only team in the NFL to have made the playoffs and won a postseason game in each of the last five years.

No other head coach and quarterback have done that to begin their respective careers, but John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco know what follows that narrative. They haven’t been to a Super Bowl, but they’ll have their third opportunity in five seasons as they take on the New England Patriots in Sunday night’s AFC Championship game.

Baltimore travels to Gillette Stadium to take on the Patriots in the playoffs for the third time in four years. Of course, the Ravens felt heartbreak last year in the form of a Lee Evans drop and a Billy Cundiff 32-yard miss, but they’ll have their chance for redemption after making an improbable run to the conference title game.

Despite being listed as questionable in the final injury report released on Friday, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, running back Bernard Pierce, and fullback Vonta Leach are all active. It remains to be seen how close to 100 percent each will be against the Patriots, but there was very little doubt surrounding their availability for Sunday’s game.

The only mild surprise on the list of inactives is defensive lineman DeAngelo Tyson, who was last deactivated on game day back in Week 6. However, the rookie hasn’t been receiving as many defensive snaps of late and the Ravens wanted to have an extra cornerback in veteran Chris Johnson available against the pass-happy Patriots.

New England tight end Rob Gronkowski was placed on injured reserve on Thursday, so that explains why he wasn’t listed as inactive for the game.

The Patriots are 6-1 in the all-time regular-season series and the teams are tied 1-1 in postseason history.

Sunday night’s referee will be Bill Leavy. Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-30s by kickoff and winds will be approximately 17 miles per hour.

The Ravens will wear their white jerseys with black pants while New England sports its blue tops and silver pants.

Here are Sunday night’s inactives …

BALTIMORE
CB Asa Jackson
OL Ramon Harewood
DL DeAngelo Tyson
DT Bryan Hall
S Omar Brown
LB Adrian Hamilton
WR Deonte Thompson

NEW ENGLAND
DB Malcolm Williams
OL Nick McDonald
OL Markus Zusevics
DE Jake Bequette
WR Kamar Aiken
DB Derrick Martin
DL Marcus Forston

Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the day as Drew Forrester, Nestor Aparicio, and I bring live updates and analysis from Gillette Stadium.

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Ravens-Patriots: Five predictions for AFC Championship

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Ravens-Patriots: Five predictions for AFC Championship

Posted on 19 January 2013 by Luke Jones

Coming as close as they possibly could to reaching the Super Bowl last season before heartbreak occurred in the form of a Lee Evans drop and a Billy Cundiff missed field goal in the final seconds of the AFC Championship, the Ravens return to the scene of the crime in Foxborough as they again take on the New England Patriots.

Defeating New England for the first time ever in the regular season by way of a 31-30 final in Baltimore back in September, the Ravens will now try to win their second postseason game at Gillette Stadium in the last four seasons. Aside from their 33-14 blowout victory in the wild-card round of the 2009 season, the Ravens are used to seeing their meetings with the Patriots come down to the wire as each of their other four meetings in the John Harbaugh era have been decided by fewer than seven points.

The Ravens will again hope to extend the career of inside linebacker Ray Lewis by one more game and advance to their first Super Bowl since Jan. 28, 2001. And for Harbaugh and quarterback Joe Flacco, a win means taking another step toward elite status at their respective positions in the National Football League.

Of course, standing in their way are Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, the two men who have been at the top of their respective classes for the last decade.

Here’s what to expect as the 12-6 Ravens try to punch their ticket to New Orleans and Super Bowl XLVII …

1. The Ravens won’t have to deal with Rob Gronkowski, but Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez will cause major problems over the middle of the field. It’s no secret that slot receiver Wes Welker and Hernandez are the most dangerous weapons at Brady’s disposal, and they each provide difficult challenges to the Baltimore pass defense. Corey Graham is the clear choice to match up against Welker in the slot as the Ravens will run the nickel package extensively, and the cornerback is playing with more confidence than ever after intercepting two Peyton Manning passes last week in Denver. Welker will get his yards, but the Ravens are confident that Graham can prevent the Pro Bowl wideout from having a monster game. Hernandez will be trickier to cover as defensive coordinator Dean Pees will likely lose a combination of linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and strong safety Bernard Pollard in trying to mix up coverages against Brady. I have my doubts that either player will be able to stick with him as the middle of the field has been a problem all year long. Hernandez will produce 80 receiving yards and a touchdown.

2. With the Patriots focusing heavily on Torrey Smith by matching Aqib Talib against the speedy receiver, Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta will combine for 160 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Smith has been a major thorn in the side of New England as the second-year wideout has produced three touchdowns and 209 receiving yards in two contests against New England. The Patriots could use Talib against Smith exclusively – the Baltimore receiver usually lines up on the side of the field on which Talib plays anyway — but they will likely offer safety help as well if they were paying attention to what Smith did against Champ Bailey last week. Deep safeties will allow more room for Boldin and Pitta to work the middle of the field as the Patriots ranked 29th against the pass this season. Though still mixing it their spots to be aggressive with the vertical passing game, the Ravens will try to use Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce on first and second down to create third-and-manageable situations in which Flacco loves to use his tight end and possession receiver. The Patriots will do everything they can to stop Flacco’s deep balls to Smith and Jacoby Jones, meaning the quarterback will instead choose to attack the intermediate portion of the field more frequently.

3. As he has for much of the season, running back Stevan Ridley will add another dimension to the New England offense that will wear down the Ravens in the second half. Pees downplayed the significance of his defense playing 87 snaps in each of the last two games, but you have to wonder how much more a group that’s already less than 100 percent can take if they’re on the field for extended periods on Sunday. Ridley rushed for 1,263 yards this season as the Patriots had the seventh-best rushing attack in the league. The New England offense still centers around Brady, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a heavy dose of Ridley in the second half to see if the Patriots can tire out the Ravens’ front seven, thus neutralizing any potential pass rush in the process. Inside the red zone, the Patriots won’t hesitate to use a quick-snap approach if the Ravens aren’t set and will hand off to Ridley before the defense even knows what’s happening. Any defense spends so much time studying Brady and trying to dissect him, so it’s easy to overlook the New England running game in the process. It will pay dividends in the second half for the Patriots, especially if they have a lead.

4. The team that wins the battle inside the red zone will come away with the AFC title. The objective is clear against the Patriots — even if it’s a difficult one. You know they’re going to score points, but if you can hold them to field goals on at least a few scoring possessions while you score touchdowns on your trips inside the 20, you’ll typically find yourself within striking distance in the fourth quarter. It will be a test of will in that area of the field as the Patriots scored touchdowns on 70 percent of their trips inside the red zone (best in the NFL) while the Baltimore defense was second in the league by allowing touchdowns on only 43.4 percent of opponent’s trips inside the 20. Conversely, Flacco and the offense must come away with touchdowns when they’re knocking on New England’s end zone. This is where Boldin and Pitta will be critical against the league’s 13th-ranked red-zone defense. If you want any chance of beating New England on the road, you cannot trade field goals for touchdowns or you’ll find yourself in a hole early. The Baltimore offense is playing at a high level and shouldn’t have any reason to believe they can’t move the ball against the Patriots at will, but they need to finish drives with touchdowns. Barring an inordinate number of special-teams and defensive scores – like the Ravens win in Denver last week, for instance — the team that prevails inside the red zone will be the one advancing to New Orleans.

5. Joe Flacco will continue a tremendous postseason with 250 passing yards and two touchdowns, but the Ravens will again fall excruciatingly short in Foxborough with a 31-27 loss. The Baltimore quarterback is playing the best football of his career over the last month and will have another strong performance against the Patriots on the second-biggest stage the NFL has to offer. However, Flacco needs to advance to the Super Bowl to truly receive the recognition he deserves. As was the case last week, the Ravens are matched up against a better overall team, but they have every opportunity to win against the Patriots, who have some clear deficiencies unlike the Broncos. Regardless of what happens on Sunday, this season should be viewed as a success considering the number of injuries this team has sustained and how badly it was struggling just over a month ago. In the end, however, the Patriots will just have a little too much offensively for the Baltimore defense to handle and for the Ravens offense to overcome. This one could very well come down to the final possession of the game, but I just can’t bet against Brady and the Patriots in the conference championship, a game in which they’re 5-1 in the Belichick era. It won’t come down to a devastating dropped touchdown or field-goal miss, but the Ravens will fall short yet again despite a terrific effort in New England.

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Pierce, Ellerbe, Leach questionable for AFC title game

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Pierce, Ellerbe, Leach questionable for AFC title game

Posted on 18 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Finishing preparations for their second consecutive AFC Championship appearance, the Ravens listed three key players as questionable for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots.

Running back Bernard Pierce, fullback Vonta Leach, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, and David Reed were all listed as questionable after participating in Friday’s practice on a limited basis. Pierce had missed Thursday’s practice, but the rookie reiterated on Friday that he would play on Sunday despite dealing with a right knee injury for the last few weeks.

Rookie cornerback Asa Jackson was the only player not to participate in Friday’s workout and was ruled out with a hamstring injury. The Ravens listed 16 players as probable.

Coach John Harbaugh painted a positive picture from a health standpoint as the Ravens try to even the score in conference championship games against the Patriots. There is little concern about the availability of any of the players listed as questionable for Sunday’s game, though Ellerbe was downgraded to a limited participant in Friday’s workout after being full-go on Wednesday and Thursday.

“We look good,” Harbaugh said. “We are very similar to what we have been the last few weeks. I don’t think there will be any surprises — barring any surprises. We should be in good shape injury-wise.”

The Patriots listed five players as probable for Sunday’s game, including defensive end Chandler Jones and running back Danny Woodhead. Jones was a full participant in the Patriots’ Friday practice after previously being limited all week.

Expressing quiet confidence throughout the week despite being deemed a clear underdog as they were against the Denver Broncos in the divisional round, the Ravens are a confident group traveling to Foxborough.

“We had a really great practice and had a good week of preparation,” Harbaugh said. “Obviously, a team of this caliber in this kind of situation will get everybody’s attention. This game has had our full attention, and we are excited to go play on Sunday.”

BALTIMORE
OUT: CB Asa Jackson (thigh)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle/back), FB Vonta Leach (knee/ankle), RB Bernard Pierce (knee), WR David Reed (thigh)
PROBABLE: RB Anthony Allen (head), WR Anquan Boldin (shoulder), CB Chykie Brown (shoulder), DT Terrence Cody (ankle), G Gino Gradkowski (head), DT Arthur Jones (thigh/knee), LB Ray Lewis (triceps), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), DT Haloti Ngata (knee), S Bernard Pollard (chest), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdominal), WR Torrey Smith (back), LB Terrell Suggs (achilles/bicep), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)

NEW ENGLAND
OUT: TE Rob Gronkowski (IR – forearm)
PROBABLE: CB Marquice Cole (finger), DE Chandler Jones (ankle), OL Nick McDonald (shoulder), DE Trevor Scott (knee), RB Danny Woodhead (thumb)

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D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Picks and Comment – Conference Championship Weekend

Posted on 18 January 2013 by Luke Jones

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

Drew Forrester finished 2-2 last week and Luke Jones was also 2-2 in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. Forrester is now 166-80 and Jones is 158-88 overall. Jones holds the edge in the postseason, however, with a 6-2 mark compared to Forrester’s 5-3 record. Official standings are only kept based on the NFL picks.

To hear their full explanation, click HERE.

Ravens at Patriots: Baltimore 33-24 (Drew), New England 31-27 (Luke)
49ers at Falcons: San Francisco 38-24 (Drew), San Francisco 30-24 (Luke)

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Ravens hoping T. Smith continues big production against Patriots

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Ravens hoping T. Smith continues big production against Patriots

Posted on 17 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Much has been made about the acquisition of cornerback Aqib Talib and the effect it’s had on the New England secondary, but you’ll forgive the Ravens and wide receiver Torrey Smith if they aren’t overly impressed.

Of course, Baltimore wouldn’t share such a sentiment publicly about the Patriots’ 29th-ranked pass defense, but a 38-35 victory over the Denver Broncos in which Smith shredded All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey for two long touchdowns won’t exactly cause you to fear New England’s underwhelming unit. Talib has provided a boost to New England’s defense, allowing the Patriots to move cornerback Devin McCourty to free safety, but they still struggle against the pass.

In two career games against the Patriots, Smith has caught nine passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns. His Week 3 performance in which he reined in two touchdowns less than 24 hours following the tragic death of his younger brother was one of the most inspiring efforts in the NFL this season.

“It’s not that there’s any difference against those guys,” Smith said. “I just play the game. I just happened to play well against them the past few times. It’s not like I have their number or anything. I just go out there and run our offense. I’ve been able to be OK against them – hopefully, it continues. But it’s going to be tough.”

During the regular season, the Patriots allowed a league-worst 74 passes of 20 yards or more, which should leave quarterback Joe Flacco licking his chops as the Ravens completed 62 passes of at least 20 yards and have repeatedly gone vertical in each of their two postseason wins this month.

Acquired for a fourth-round pick from Tampa Bay on Nov. 1, the mercurial Talib has stabilized the New England pass defense, but it’s difficult to imagine offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell shying away from the Patriots’ No. 1 corner after the Ravens went after Bailey repeatedly in the divisional round. In six regular-season games with New England, Talib made 19 tackles, broke up two passes, and intercepted one.

Labeled a “riverboat gambler” by Caldwell, Talib will likely be entrusted with slowing down Smith or Jacoby Jones in the vertical passing game, but the Ravens proved once again last Saturday that they won’t hesitate to attack any cornerback in the league.

“You don’t always go into a ballgame [with the thought] in mind that you are going to go after this guy or that guy,” Caldwell said. “You try to spread it around and look at what they do from a schematic standpoint and see where you can attack what best suits your offense. That’s kind of how we look at it more so than anything else.”

In other words, if Smith or Jones is matched up in single-man coverage against Talib with no safety help, you can bet Flacco will be ready to take a shot vertically.

Pees hiring hit man?

Asked how to make life uncomfortable for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees offered a humorous but candid suggestion about the man he watched closely in his days as a New England assistant to Bill Belichick.

“Hire Tonya Harding,” said Pees as he laughed. “If they were getting off the bus, I’d spray water outside the bus and hope it freezes. He is who he is. I went against him up there in practice for six years. He’s as competitive of a person as I’ve ever been around.”

In addition to trying to pressure Brady inside the pocket, Pees explained how critical it is to mix up coverages against New England’s many talented weapons, ranging from Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez to Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen out of the backfield.

Welker operates almost exclusively from the slot as he was targeted 125 times for 1,040 receiving yards from that position, according to Pro Football Focus. Cornerback Corey Graham will draw the daunting task of staying with Welker as the Ravens are expected to play the nickel package extensively, with Graham sliding inside as No. 3 cornerback Chykie Brown enters the game to play on the outside opposite Cary Williams.

“He is a very quick guy. He catches the ball well,” Graham said. “Brady is looking for him a lot, and he makes a lot of guys miss with fakes and things like that, so he is a complete receiver. I have my hands full in the slot, but I am up to the challenge.”

The Ravens will not have to deal with the matchup nightmare that is tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was placed on injured reserve Thursday after re-injuring his forearm against Houston last Sunday, but Hernandez also provides a unique blend of speed and athleticism at the position. Such an athlete at that position creates matchup problems as Pees must decide whether to use a linebacker such as Dannell Ellerbe or strong safety Bernard Pollard in coverage.

The answer will vary depending on the situation while facing a Hall of Fame quarterback, according to Pees.

“You can’t go in there and say, ‘The whole game, OK, I’m going to put a strong safety on this guy.’” Pees said. “That’s not going to take Brady very long to figure that one out, nor is it going to be the same if we end up putting a linebacker on him all the time. The key is to let them have to figure it out after the ball is snapped, who’s on him, and then you just can’t keep doing the same thing over and over with Tom, or he’ll gash you.”

Bouncing back from “special” kind of nightmare

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Backup running back Pierce sits out Thursday’s practice

Posted on 17 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The uncertain status of running back Bernard Pierce took another dip as the rookie did not take part in Thursday’s practice as the Ravens continued preparations for the New England Patriots in Sunday’s AFC Championship.

A day after practicing on a limited basis, Pierce was again sidelined as he continues to deal with a sore right knee. The 2012 third-round pick told reporters on Wednesday that he will be ready to play in Sunday’s game.

Cornerback Asa Jackson (thigh) was the only other Ravens player not to participate in Thursday’s workout.

Fullback Vonta Leach (knee/ankle) and wide receiver David Reed (thigh) each practiced on a limited basis. The Pro Bowl fullback was a full participant on Wednesday, but he’s dealt with a sore ankle since the early portion of December and has periodically missed practices or been limited to rest over the last several weeks.

Running back Anthony Allen and offensive lineman Gino Gradkowski were upgraded to full participation and were no longer wearing red-contact jerseys during Thursday’s practice, an indication that each had passed a baseline neurological test required to clear a player for contact. Both worked on a limited basis a day earlier.

Meanwhile, New England only had one player missing from the practice field as tight end Rob Gronkowski will not play this week due to a forearm injury that officially landed him on injured reserve on Thursday. Rookie defensive end Chandler Jones was the only Patriots player to work on a limited basis as four others, including running back Danny Woodhead, were upgraded to full participation.

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: RB Bernard Pierce (knee), CB Asa Jackson (thigh)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: FB Vonta Leach (knee/ankle), WR David Reed (thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: RB Anthony Allen (head), G Gino Gradkowski (head), WR Anquan Boldin (shoulder), CB Chykie Brown (shoulder), DT Terrence Cody (ankle), LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle/back), DT Arthur Jones (thigh/knee), LB Ray Lewis (triceps), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), DT Haloti Ngata (knee), S Bernard Pollard (chest), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdominal), WR Torrey Smith (back), LB Terrell Suggs (achilles/bicep), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)

NEW ENGLAND
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: TE Rob Gronkowski (forearm)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DE Chandler Jones (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: CB Marquice Cole (finger), OL Nick McDonald (shoulder), DE Trevor Scott (knee), RB Danny Woodhead (thumb)

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