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Posted on 02 December 2013 by Drew Forrester
Our very own Thyrl Nelson beat me to it with THIS WELL-WRITTEN PIECE at WNST.net, so I’ll bow to him as being “first in” on the topic of whether or not the NFL is overreacting on “Sideline-Gate”.
Thyrl is right.
This is a major overreaction on the part of Roger Goodell and the NFL if, in fact, it turns out they take away a draft pick from the Pittsburgh Steelers as a result of Mike Tomlin stepping on the field during last Thursday’s game.
Fine? Sure. Make it $100,000 and give the money to the Orioles so they can sign a real baseball player.
Suspension? OK. Probably wouldn’t be that crazy to tell Tomlin to take a seat for a game or two.
Take away a draft pick? Absolutely not.
Hell, why not just send him to jail for six months? That’ll teach him.
The problem in Baltimore — as I see it, personally — is that this whole fiasco involves the Steelers. As Thyrl noted, we’re all conditioned here in Charm City to hate all things Pittsburgh, so when something like what happened on Thursday takes place and it involves the Steelers, we’re foaming at the mouth before the clock strikes midnight.
If that would have been (I’m completely blanking out here…who DOES coach the Browns?) Rob Chudzinski on Thursday night, we wouldn’t give a flying-eff about it. And you know that’s true, so please don’t tell me “yes we would!”.
I know this: If “Sideline-Gate” would have happened in yesterday’s Buffalo-Atlanta game, no one would care. It would be a footnote on Deadspin…and that’s about it.
This was about the game being on national TV, Thursday night, Thanksgiving, Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh, etc.
My contention since the whole thing happened hasn’t changed at all. What Tomlin did on Thursday night didn’t affect the outcome of the game. And, while most of us (me, for sure) believe his side-step to the right was an intentional motion to try and disrupt Jacoby Jones’ path down the sideline, I also have to admit – for sure – that we really don’t know the truth. We can only suspect.
I’ll reiterate one more time — what Mike Tomlin did was wrong. It obviously SHOULD have been penalized on the spot. It should result in some sort of penalty once the league has come up with all the facts as they see them. But, that penalty should be consistent with any other penalty that comes with an infraction that DIDN’T CHANGE THE OUTCOME OF THE GAME.
Yes, Tomlin’s move on Thursday night COULD have changed the outcome, sure. And, so could poisoning the other team’s sports drink. What would the penalty be, let’s say, if two equipment managers for (team X) were caught on camera or hidden mic discussing poisoning the other team’s sports drink during halftime — only to have it confirmed later on that it didn’t actually happen?
There’s a huge difference between something that COULD have changed the outcome of the game and something that actually DID change the outcome.
Oh, and please don’t talk to me about gambling and the point-spread and all of that other stuff. The league itself is only concerned with the result of the football game. Only us degenerate gamblers are worried about the “final score” of the game.
By the way, where’s the outrage from the league and fans on the referee crew from Thursday night? Talk about “influencing the outcome”…what were those clowns watching as Tomlin pulled his silly stunt? No flag? Nothing? Useless…all of them.
The refs SHOULD have gathered after Jacoby Jones was tackled and said to themselves, “OK, let’s make sure we handle this right. The rules allow for us to grant Baltimore a touchdown. And we can also kick Tomlin out of the game if we feel it was that egregious.”
They then could have made a decision based on the rule book. And, if they WOULD have granted Baltimore a TD (possibly fair) and kicked Tomlin out of the game (possibly fair), the whole thing wouldn’t be an issue of this magnitude five days later.
The NFL has done a GREAT job of making the fans forget that their referee crew COMPLETELY botched the events of Thursday night.
So, Thryl, congratulations on beating me to the punch.
You’re right, this talk about taking away a draft pick from the Steelers is insanely out-of-bounds.
Posted on 25 November 2013 by Drew Forrester
Think about the teams that are still very much alive in the AFC playoff picture.
The Titans are currently the 6th seed and they lost to Jacksonville – at home – three weeks ago. And Ryan Fitzpatrick is their quarterback.
The Steelers are now 5-6 after starting the season 0-4. Minnesota beat them.
The Chargers are 5-6 and they couldn’t beat the Redskins or Miami this season.
Miami is 5-6 but they’re 5-6 because they’re not very good. They’re going nowhere.
The Jets are — well, never mind. I don’t care that they’re 5-6, the Jets have ZERO CHANCE of making the playoffs. They’re officially the one 5-6 team who can’t make it. Not with that kid at quarterback.
So, as the Ravens and Steelers get ready to do battle on Thursday night, John Harbaugh’s team is 5-6 and right there in the mix for a 6th straight post-season berth.
The Thanksgiving night game will likely doom the loser, particularly if it’s Baltimore since the Steelers won the first match-up between the two teams back on October 20.
It’s not quite an elimination game, but it’s awfully close.
I suspect the Thursday night affair will have a little more excitement than Sunday’s snore-fest between the Ravens and Jets. I’ve seen chess matches with more action than that thing produced yesterday.
By the way, speaking of the NFL playoffs, you can take this to the bank.
Denver isn’t going to the Super Bowl.
Hats off to coach Pete Caringi and his son, Pete III, for a phenomenal soccer season at UMBC.
The Retrievers fell in the cruelest of manners on Sunday night, losing to UConn in penalty kicks (3-2) after the two teams battled to a 2-2 regulation tie in their NCAA second round playoff game at Retriever Soccer Park.
I get it. You have to figure out a way to produce a winner. But ending a playoff game like that is just a terrible way to do it. Then again, that’s how they decide World Cup games once the teams reach the knockout stage.
The stands were packed last night and the atmosphere was electric, despite the cold temperatures and windy conditions.
It’s a shame only two media members in town decided to give UMBC’s soccer season any coverage. They were a great story throughout the Fall and did themselves proud in winning the America East regular season and conference tournament.
Posted on 24 November 2013 by Drew Forrester
At one point during Sunday’s snoozer between the Ravens and New York Jets, I posted a joke on Twitter that went something like this: “I just tried to type Geno Smith’s name on my computer and it auto-corrected to Geno Boller.”
It took me about a minute to feel awful for typing that.
It was completely disrespectful to Kyle Boller.
Betrayed by a quarterback who clearly can’t handle the pressure and a handful of wide receivers who jaked it almost all afternoon, the Jets slinked out of Baltimore Sunday night 19-3 losers, looking nothing at all like a club worthy of competing for an AFC playoff spot.
The Ravens, meanwhile, learned little new about themselves on Sunday, except they’re now 5-6 and tied with the Steelers leading up to Thursday night’s showdown with Pittsburgh here in Charm City. The Baltimore offense was lethargic once again on Sunday, but even a mediocre running game and a couple of big play throws from Joe Flacco were more than enough to ward off the pathetic Jets and their woeful offensive unit.
How on earth the Jets can possibly have five wins to date is beyond me given what they displayed on Sunday in Baltimore. I’ve seen some gutless efforts by visiting teams over the last twelves seasons while covering the Ravens and this one goes in the all-time top 5.
For those folks who think the Ravens have a problem at quarterback, running back, offensive line and, in general, producing NFL-caliber offense, I ask you to first look at Exhibit A before rendering any judgment on your Baltimore team.
Exhibit A=the Jets.
They make the Ravens look like the 49’ers of the early 1980’s.
As bad as Baltimore’s offense has been this season — and that’s now six straight games failing to score more than 20 points for Flacco and Comapny — they haven’t produced anything close to the 3-point stinkeroo authored by the Jets did on Sunday.
There’s bad — as in, we’re trying real hard and we’re getting closer, but we’re not there yet (the Ravens) — and then there’s “laughably inept”, which is where the New York effort from Sunday should be filed.
It provides us all with some proper perspective on the Ravens and what they’ve done and what they’re capable of doing.
We’ll get a much better picture of the Ravens and their playoff chances on Thursday night when the Steelers come to town. With both the Jets and Miami losing on Sunday, Baltimore and Pittsburgh find themselves firmly entrenched in their annual battle for a post-season berth. It won’t quite amount to “winner take all” on Thursday evening, but a Pittsburgh victory would give them the season series and the edge in a playoff tiebreaker should one be needed between the two teams at season’s end.
Hopefully the Ravens don’t run around town for the next day or two crowing about their “big win” over the Jets. Yes, a win is a win in the NFL, but Sunday’s 19-3 victory was more a by-product of “someone had to win and it wasn’t going to be the Jets”.
Thursday night, the varsity comes to town.
Pittsburgh doesn’t have a Geno Smith or anyone as remotely disinterested as Santonio Holmes was all afternoon on Sunday.
The Steelers, if nothing else, have some heart.
The Jets, on Sunday, had nothing.
Someone asked me prior to Sunday’s game what I thought the chances were that the Jets could win over the Ravens.
I answered: “Zero”.
Turns out I was right.
With that kid at quarterback, they had zero chance of winning on Sunday in Baltimore.
Posted on 21 October 2013 by Drew Forrester
Terrell Suggs called it a “state of emergency”.
I love it.
That’s why he’s a champion.
Only in Baltimore would two consecutive losses translate to an emergency situation, but that’s the scenario facing the Ravens now as they start the season 3-4 heading into their annual bye week.
I watched Suggs in the locker room after Sunday’s loss in Pittsburgh. He really was, as he said, “disgusted” with the loss to an obviously struggling Steelers team. It wasn’t acting. Suggs was truly aggravated.
More players should take the Ravens-Steelers rivalry personally like he does.
Then again, there are only a handful of guys left on the roster who have served the entire Harbaugh-Flacco era and “been there, done that” with regard to the Ravens-Steelers showdowns we see twice – sometimes more – a season. The games against Pittsburgh over the last six seasons have been wildly memorable. Some of have ended the Ravens season. A couple have been so improbable you wished the two teams would play every other week.
There’s nothing worse than losing to the Steelers, particularly when they’re not very good.
That, all by itself, constitutes a state of emergency, I suppose.
I’m always amazed at how folks who are relatively intelligent and played sports (I assume) as a youth or adult suddenly become stupid when discussing the Ravens.
Time and time again, and it’s going to happen a lot today and this week, watch and see, folks want to pin a loss on ONE person. They’ll take one play, one moment, one decision, one “thing” and weave that into an outrageous theme that “xxxx cost us the game”.
If you know anything at all about sports, you know that’s just not the way it works.
But, people in Baltimore will gather ’round the water-cooler today and blame Sunday’s loss on Harbaugh – as an example – for calling for an onsides kick with thirteen minutes left in the game. They’ll conveniently forget how the Steelers previously-horrible running game gashed the Ravens defense for 141 yards. They’ll dismiss the fact that Elvis Dumervil had two huge penalties on one drive that squarely put Pittsburgh in easy field goal range. They’ll elect to not remember the kick-off return with 1:58 to play that set-up the game-winning field goal by Shaun Suisham. And, of course, they won’t give any credit at all to the Steelers, who, as we know, also have players on scholarship — just like the Ravens.
People who aren’t very smart just LOVE to pick out one person and play the blame game. They did it with Billy Cundiff a couple of years ago in the New England playoff game…when, in fact, it was Lee Evans who cost the Ravens the game with his end zone drop. (See what I did there?)
Citing one person or one play is about the dumbest thing you can do as a sports fan.
I guess the joke’s on me — I’ve been doing this radio thing for twelve “seasons” now. You assume at some point I’d just figure out that people watch sports, know sports and love sports…but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can opine smartly about sports.
I hope I’m wrong on this one.
I’ll be very happy if I am.
Kelechi Osemele won’t finish the season.
His back, which he admitted after Sunday night’s game will need post-season surgery, isn’t going to hold up much longer. A lot of national experts have talked about his poor play this season as a connector to the Ravens woeful running game. That’s fair, I guess, since one of his strengths a year ago was run blocking. But, his poor play is more about health than anything else. His back is really bothering him and week by week it’s starting to show more. The problem? There’s no one else to throw in there right now. So, he just keeps on playing.
I hope he’s playing in late December.
But, I don’t see how he will be.
For those wondering – and it’s a VERY fair question – the game plan was for Justin Tucker to kick the ball out of play on the kick-off that led to the game-winning drive by the Steelers.
He lost his footing on the turf as he drove into the ball, just as he did on the opening kick-off, which almost went of bounds.
That sort of “event”, while unplanned, simply can’t happen in a tight game where you’re trying to pin the opposition on their own 20-yard line.
Indianapolis, this season, now has wins over San Francisco, Seattle and Denver.
Posted on 20 October 2013 by Drew Forrester
At the worst time.
And, like the one last week against Green Bay, it was there for the taking.
Sunday’s 19-16 loss in Pittsburgh – against a mediocre-at-best Steelers team – will sting for a lot longer than the 45-minute flight home later tonight.
The Ravens are in unfamiliar territory now, dropping two straight games heading into the bye and sitting at 3-4 as the halfway point of the season approaches.
John Harbaugh, Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs and the rest of the men in purple have their work cut out for the next ten weeks or so, that’s for certain.
Once again on Sunday, the Ravens offense failed to do anything for the first 50 minutes of the game.
Then, like last week against the Packers, they suddenly came to life with a championship-type-drive late in the 4th quarter to knot the game at 16-16.
Unfortunately, it was also “just like last week” for the defense, who surrendered a huge throw to Jermichael Finley late in the Packers game that sealed their fate and allowed 39 yards in the final two minutes of Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh to put the Steelers in position to nail the game-winning field goal.
That’s been the story of the last two weeks, in particular, and most of the season, really.
Offense: not very good for most of the game, comes to life late.
Defense: decent for most of the game, runs out of gas late and gives up a huge drive.
In fairness to Baltimore’s offense on Sunday, do you know how many possessions they had in 60 minutes of football?
Think about it for a second — in four quarters against the Steelers, how many offensive series’ did Flacco have at his disposal?
They had seven offensive possessions in four quarters and scored on four of them; three FG’s and a TD.
The reason they only had seven? For starters, they gave one of them away with a third-quarter onsides kick attempt that wasn’t all that bad of an idea, honestly. They just needed better execution, which means, basically, that Jeromy Miles can’t be offside on the play. Even though Justin Tucker was flagged for touching the ball before it went ten yards, Miles was flagged for offsides, which would have negated the play had it been successful.
And the bigger reason why they only had seven offensive possessions? The Ravens defense just can’t get the other team off the field without yielding a 12-play, 10-minute drive of some sort.
Pittsburgh, too, only had seven offensive series’ on Sunday, but not once did they go 3-and-out. In fact, five of their seven offensive possessions were eight plays or more.
On the final drive, Baltimore just couldn’t get a defensive stop when they needed it. Just like last week against Green Bay.
The back-breaker of the whole affair wasn’t even an offensive or defensive play. After the Ravens had tied the game with 1:58 to play, Emmanuel Sanders promptly took the ball six yards deep in his end zone and ran it back out to his own 37 yard line, scampering past the Ravens’ kick-coverage contain player who was supposed to seal the sideline but failed to do so. Starting in decent position, Ben Roethlisberger connected on three big passing plays and before you could blink, Shaun Suisham was lining up for the game-winner from 42 yards out.
In review, at the seven game mark, the biggest issue continues to be the team’s offense. Even with the no-huddle effort on Sunday, they looked lethargic and lacking the big play explosiveness you would expect from a unit with a QB who can throw it sixty yards like you and I can throw it twenty. They ran the ball for 82 yards, which looks like an improvement over recent weeks, but still have lots of work to do in that department between now and New Year’s.
Defensively, the Steelers penetrated the Ravens front seven time and time again with their own hard-nosed running style and Roethlisberger was his typical, scrambling self, finding receivers who had created enough separation to get the ball buzzed into them in tight quarters.
Baltimore’s defense, while decent enough “stats wise” this season, just isn’t adept enough at getting opposing offenses off the field quickly. Case in point on Sunday: the Steelers punted the ball one time all afternoon.
So, it’s back to the drawing board for Harbaugh and his coaching staff. The biggest benefit for the Ravens? They haven’t yet played the division leading Bengals, so they’ll have two swipes at them between now and their 16th game.
That said, if the offense can’t play better in the first 50 minutes and if the defense can’t play better in the final 10 minutes, those two showdowns with Cincinnati might not matter at all.
Posted on 18 October 2013 by Drew Forrester
This Ravens-Steelers game is impossible to pick.
Anything could happen.
As inept as both offenses have been, would it be out of the question for both of them to catch lightning in a bottle on Sunday and put up 20-something points somehow? I can see it now; Roethlisberger wakes up on the right side of the bed, the Steelers o-line is decent enough to keep him upright most of the afternoon, and Big Ben finds Antonio Brown twice for big gains to help give Pittsburgh two scoring drives. Later, a punt return puts them down to the Ravens 25-yard line. A pass interference call gives Pittsburgh first and goal and they punch it on the ground two plays later. Add a couple of field goals and suddenly they have 27 points, somehow.
The same goes with the Ravens. Flacco and Torrey Smith connect on a couple of 50 yard throws. Ray Rice scampers in from six yards out. Bernard Pierce busts in from the three yard line. Lardarius Webb snags a ball that bounces off of someone’s shoulder pads and takes it down to the Pittsburgh 13. On the next play, Flacco finds Marlon Brown in the end zone. A field goal or two from Justin Tucker and you have a 24 or 27 point output.
I can see both of those scenarios. At some point, don’t these two offenses have to produce a game that makes them look like a major league team offensively?
I think so.
But it won’t happen this Sunday. The two defenses are too good to let that stuff happen.
Ravens win 14-9. Pittsburgh’s 1-4 for a reason. They stink. And they’re not winning on Sunday.
(That said, if Baltimore loses on Sunday, all hell’s gonna break loose around here. You can make book on that.)
Posted on 23 September 2013 by Thyrl Nelson
The Ravens improved to 2-1 on the season yesterday with a one-sided, 30-9 win over the Houston Texans. After the way that the Texans handled the Ravens last season, there were a number of reasons to be concerned beforehand. Truth be told, I had a much worse feeling about what might happen against Houston than I did before the beat down the Ravens suffered in Denver in Week1. Hindsight however is 20/20, so here’s a quick rundown of what we know now after the Ravens latest victory:
5. Justin Tucker is Back on Track
…for now at least. Maybe it was the reception that Billy Cundiff received from the Ravens faithful last week that had Tucker out of sorts. Maybe it was just the presence of Cundiff in the building that infected Tucker’s right foot last Sunday. Regardless, Tucker made enough big kicks in his rookie year to have some equity built up with fans. That equity though wouldn’t have lasted through too many 0-for-2 performances like he had last week vs. Cleveland, especially if those misses began to cost the Ravens games.
While concern over the kicking game was mild at most, it was nice to see Tucker get back on track with a 3-for-3 game against the Texans, hitting from 28, 45 and 43 yards. Even though the two from 40+ came in late, low leverage situations, any concerns fans had about the Ravens kicking game can be shelved…for now.
4. Dirty Birds
After struggling with penalties last year, the Ravens still appear to have some work to do in that regard. The 2013 Ravens have 20 penalties for 181 yards through 3 games, including 10 for 87 yards in yesterday’s affair. Despite their most penalized performance of the season vs. Houston, the Ravens still managed to win the “penalty battle” as the Texans racked up 14 for 113 yards.
3. Cheering for Laundry
On the day that Ed Reed returned to Baltimore as a member of a new team, and Ray Lewis returned to be honored by the Ravens, it was the guys who suited up in their places that stole the show. James Ihedigbo picked up 9 tackles, 2 for a loss along with 2 defended passes and simply seemed to be everywhere while covering Ed Reed’s old spot. Daryl Smith, playing in Ray Lewis’ former domain plucked a Matt Schaub pass away from a waiting Owen Daniels, and at a time where the Ravens offense was struggling to make hay, made some on his own, hustling it 37 yards to pay dirt.
For all of the Ravens off-season pick-ups, Daryl Smith might have been the least heralded. He was grabbed on the same day the Ravens visited the White House and his signing went basically under the radar. If he continues to play like he did on Sunday, he could be the team’s most impactful addition. It’s also pretty encouraging that his big play came defending a tight end, which has been an issue for the Ravens of late.
2. Doss is a Boss
What more can you say about a guy who was shown the door by the team when they pared down to their final 53 men, only to come back with an emphatic impact? Life out of football, brief as it may have been, seems to have brought out the best in Tandon Doss who is making the most out of his second chance with the Ravens. Maybe in the coming weeks Doss can become more a part of the Ravens passing game, and finally show fans those hands we heard so much about from the team about throughout his first 2 seasons. It’s not like the Ravens offense couldn’t use a pair of hands that they can trust between the hash marks.
1. Who Says Joe Flacco Can’t Act?
While Joe Flacco’s increased, post-Super Bowl public profile has led to some pretty clunky performances as a pitchman in various commercials, Flacco’s acting skills were on full display yesterday. After last season’s debacle at the hands of the Texans, JJ Watt and the rest of the Houston pass rush broke the huddle with their ears pinned back more often than not on Sunday. Flacco used that aggression against the Texans inducing 5 encroachment or defensive offsides penalties on the anxious Texans defense.
Elsewhere in the AFC North
The Bengals picked up a big win and remain tied with the Ravens at 2-1 atop the division. For now at least, it’s shaping up to be an interesting battle between these 2 for the division. They’ll meet again in Week 17 this year, maybe with something actually on the line this time.
The Steelers looked really bad to start against the Bears on Sunday night, but showed some real resilience closing the gap from 24-3 to 27-23. It looked like Pittsburgh had really found their resolve in the face of an 0-3 start. In the end though, their comeback attempt was little more than a chance for Ben Roethlisberger to cough up the ball in a late critical situation…it’s kind of their thing.
Leave it to the Browns to all but announce that they’re going into full tank mode by trading RB Trent Richardson and skipping right over Jason Campbell on the depth chart to 3rd stringer Brian Hoyer to replace injured starter Brandon Weeden, and then pick up a win on Sunday. There are even reports that the Browns are shopping receivers Josh Gordon and Greg Little. Of course the Browns can’t even tank right. If they had only known that the best way to win was to actually try to lose, they could have saved themselves and their fans years of heartache.
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