Tag Archive | "Pittsburgh Steelers"


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Two days later — In Flacco vs. Fans, Joe delivers knockout blow

Posted on 08 November 2011 by Drew Forrester

Talk about punching your critics in the mouth.

Joe Flacco left his with a fat lip, bloodied and in need of stitches, in the aftermath of Sunday night’s thriller in Pittsburgh.

I guess that’s one way of handling the criticism, huh? Drive the team 92 yards in one of the most hostile environments in the league, against one of the NFL’s best defenses, and throw the game-winning strike to a rookie with eight seconds left in the game.

Do you need a towel for all that blood?

Despite being the only quarterback in the NFL to have won a playoff game in each of the last three seasons, Flacco saw the critic’s bandwagon swell this year as the Ravens paced their way to a 4-1 start before a disastrous night in Jacksonville gave the “told ya this guy stinks” fraternity more ammunition.

I wonder how full that fraternity’s belly is this morning, what with all that crow they stuffed in their mouths on Monday as they were forced to discuss Joe’s heroics on Sunday night?

Flacco, for one, privately enjoyed sticking it up his critic’s hind quarters. When asked about it after the game, Joe just meekly let out that “you know the answer but I’m not saying it” grin and said, “Anytime you win a game here, it’s good, because you know there were people who didn’t think you could do it.”

That’s as close to an “f-you” as you’ll ever get from Flacco, but it was good enough.

He knows the drill. He knows it all too well, in fact.

When the team wins and he plays well, he’ll get some credit for it.

When the team doesn’t win, he gets most of the blame.

That’s the way it is in New England, Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Green Bay (except they don’t really lose anymore in Green Bay). And that’s the way it’s probably going to be in Baltimore too, because Flacco – in case you haven’t seen the stats since 2008 – has done a lot more winning than losing in his time in purple.

It’s fair to note, by the way, that the Ravens were privately concerned about Joe’s play in the Jacksonville and Tennessee losses, because he in no way resembled the same guy who performed so well against Pittsburgh in the season opener. But no one over in Owings Mills was EVER doubting Flacco’s long-term viability as the team’s franchise quarterback.

It’s always good to beat the Steelers, particularly in Pittsburgh.

And it’s always a joy to see someone face his critics head on and offer a quick jab to the mouth that reminds them once again who’s in charge.

It’s Joe Flacco’s football team.

Get your face cleaned up and enjoy the rest of the season.

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Ray Rice

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Rating the Ravens after 23-20 victory over Steelers

Posted on 07 November 2011 by Ryan Chell

Two games ago, Joe Flacco was the goat of Baltimore.

For four plays in Sunday’s game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ravens fans were probably throwing Torrey Smith into that argument. He was a draft bust…no question about it.

Two weeks ago, there were fans calling for Tyrod Taylor at quarterback. Cam Cameron had to go.This team was never going to achieve greatness-instead continuing to dissapoint against the likes of Tennessee and Jacksonville.

But that same amount of minutes later…things were entirely different as Flacco found Smith on a game-winning touchdown with just eight seconds left on the clock to not only get the monkey off both their backs, but also put up defining moments for both the fourth-year quarterback and his franchise trying to achieve superiority in the AFC.

Now, with only two losses in the conference, and the “elite” teams in the AFC-Buffalo, San Diego, New England, Pittsburgh all losing Sunday-the Ravens clearly are in great position to host games in the playoffs this year and make that trip to Indianapolis that much more easier.

There are those who said this day would never come.

What are they to say now?


This is a game-and a throw in particular-that could mean a lot for Joe Flacco’s career. Flacco finally got his first win in Pittsburgh against a Ben Roethlisberger-led Steeler team, and he was the reason behind it. You can’t say Ed Reed saved the day with a game-clinching interception return. You can’t say Ray Lewis made a saving tackle on fourth down to hold the Steelers. Ray Rice didn’t have an 80-yard run and didn’t carry the load for the Ravens offense.

Instead, Flacco found Torrey Smith and put a “W” in his team’s pocket while quarterbacking only the second Ravens team to sweep the Pittsburgh Steelers in the regular season.

Give credit to offensive coordinator Cam Cameron for putting faith in his quarterback. Given Flacco’s struggles against the Steelers in the past, he could have put his faith elsewhere.

But for the Ravens to convert 14 3rd-downs into a new set of downs-the most ever against a Steeler defense-and for Flacco to get 18 first downs with his arm-be clear with this.

Joe Flacco is a franchise quarterback. He may not be of the caliber of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers, but Sunday proved he can win you games, and ones against caliber opponents.

Rating: A

Running Back

Ray Rice

This game could have been a lot different if Ray Rice’s 76-yard touchdown run was not negated by a holding call by eventual hero-Torrey Smith.

It was yet another big run by Ray Rice against the Steelers, who of course had a 36-yard run on his first touchdown against the Steelers Week 1.

But while Ray Rice is the gas that gets the Baltimore offense going, tonight just wasn’t his night to combust and shine.

Flacco was the star tonight, and that’s a good thing for an offensive coordinator in Cam Cameron who can feel confident in giving the ball to either of his backs.

Rating: B-

Wide Receivers

This unit goes along right with Joe Flacco, and while Torrey Smith’s 26-yard score may be the highlight of the night, you have to take into account what the man opposite Smith in Anquan Boldin did for Flacco.


Boldin converted a catch into a first-down on all but one of his catches Sunday night, and four of them were on third or fourth down.

In fact, Smith’s game-saving touchdown may not have happened had it not been for Boldin’s catch on 4th and 1 at midfield, and his 11-yard catch on 3rd and 8 to put the Ravens at the Steeler 26.

Before the season, fans were crying sour milk over the losses of Derrick Mason and Todd Heap, saying that those two were the security blankets that Flacco would be lacking in 2011.

Those two have done nothing this year with their respective teams in New York/Houston and Arizona for Heap.

But Anquan Boldin had a field day against Ike Taylor, and a problem in 2010 for the Ravens was that Anquan Boldin didn’t get the ball enough. I think that problem might be remedied this year.

Give credit to LaQuan Williams for playing the third wide receiver role well (2 catches, 28 yards) and the guy that not a lot of people might not be talking about on Monday is tight end Dennis Pitta, who in his last two games has 11 catches for 90 yards.

Rating: A

Offensive Line

The Ravens have played their best football this year up front with Ben Grubbs at the left guard spot, and even with Grubbs not at 100 percent Sunday night, everyone on the Ravens offensive line played at a high level.

Bryant McKinnie returned to the dominant form that he experienced Week 1 against the Steelers, and did a fantastic job going up against a determined James Harrison on the other side.

Matt Birk and Marshal Yanda controlled the middle against a mammoth tackle in Casey Hampton, and rookie Jah Reid saw considerable playing time in a jumbo set package to protect Joe Flacco.

It’s a formation that the Ravens regularly run against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but given the time Flacco had Sunday night at times against a devastating pass rush, they may want to run it more regularly even against other teams.

It was a concern though for the unit to not punch it in on the goal line on their first possession, but the Ravens were lucky enough to not have those four points matter.

Rating: B+

Defensive Line

This was a rare night off for this unit only getting one sack of a beaten-up quarterback, but a performance tonight by this defensive line is one I will take, and the team won.

Paul Kruger

Paul Kruger and Pernell McPhee split the team’s lonely sack, and they held Rashard Mendenhall to 52 yards on 13 carries. Mendenhall appeared to be getting some yards early on, and if the Steelers had taken an early lead, they could have controlled the tempo of the game with the running game.

Max Starks at the left tackle position for the Steelers may have been Pittsburgh’s Most Valuable Player doing a fantastic job of controlling Haloti Ngata and anyone else lining up against him.

Rating: B



If you have to pick one star unit for the Ravens defense, this is probably it. They patrolled the middle of the field against Roethlisberger and played okay defense against the short passing game of Heath Miller, Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace and others.

Suggs even stepped in front of a screen pass intended for Wallace, and the turnover led to the Ray Rice’s 4-yard score that put the Ravens up 16-6 with 6:09 left in the third quarter.

Jarret Johnson was second on the team in tackles with five, and Jameel McClain-often criticized for his poor pass coverage at times-had a decent game moving to the ball and clogging up the passing lanes.

Rating: B+


The receiving corps of Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace, and Heath Miller that the Steelers sent out Sunday night in my opinion could have been a matchup problem for Cary Williams and Lardarius Webb, but they rose to the occasion and didn’t allow the two speedy receivers to get behind them.

Roethlisberger’s lone touchdown pass to Mike Wallace came on a broken play where Roethlisberger did what he does best-make a throw on the run outside the pocket.

And take into account that Roethlisberger have seven seconds to make a throw.

If the Steelers offensive line gave Ben Roethlisberger seven seconds every time he dropped back, he would have won 7 championships as opposed to two.

And the pass wasn’t intended for Mike Wallace. It was intended for Brown.

But those things happen, and give credit to the Ravens for not giving Roethlisberger enough time at the end of the game to make that play.

Ed Reed played within himself and didn’t bite on any bad plays, and Bernard Pollard was very physical over the middle.

Rating: B

Special Teams

We said it earlier in the year.

When Sam Koch only has to punt twice in a game, you’re doing alright.

However, the guy not doing alright at this time is kicker Billy Cundiff, who in the off-season was paid by the Baltimore Ravens to be that franchise kicker worthy of making the big opportunity when it counted the most.

Cundiff was 3-of-4 with a long of 51 yards Sunday at Heinz Field, but what’s troublesome is his 40-yarder that he missed on the Ravens’ second drive of the game.

Billy Cundiff

It was a difficult kick going into the open end of the stadium in Pittsburgh, but Cundiff already has missed more field goals in 2011 (4) than he did all of last year in his Pro Bowl trip (3).

You can make excuses for the misses, but those are opportunities that could come back to haunt the Ravens in the playoffs should they have to make another trip to Heinz Field.

Lord willing…that doesn’t happen.

And if you’re David Reed, you can never fumble the ball on a kickoff.


Rating: B

Like my analysis? Disagree? Comment below or call into “The Realtity Check” with Glenn Clark 410-481-1570 Monday! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!








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Hate to say it, but I will: Ravens can’t beat Big Ben in Pittsburgh

Posted on 03 November 2011 by Drew Forrester

I’ll go ahead and be the bad guy.

The Ravens aren’t winning Sunday night in Pittsburgh.

They’d win if someone other than Ben Roethlisberger were playing quarterback for the Steelers.

But he’s playing.

And the Ravens can’t beat him at Heinz Field.

Last October when Charlie Batch was at the helm while Ben was suspended, I ran my mouth all week prior to the game and GUARANTEED that Baltimore wouldn’t lose to Batch in Pittsburgh. And they didn’t.

That was then. That was Batch. This is now. And he’s Roethlisberger. There’s a huge difference.

Sorry…I feel like I should probably “homer-up” and pick the Ravens to win just because it would anger me so much to see Pittsburgh win (again) up there.

But that’s not how I do things.

I call it like I see it. Or, at the very least, how I think I’m going to see it.

And I see Pittsburgh winning 20-16.

Roethlisberger will be the difference, as he almost always is when these teams meet in Pittsburgh.

I sure as hell hope I’m wrong.

But I can’t see the Ravens beating Big Ben up there on Sunday night.


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Baltimore Ravens Training Camp August 20, 2009

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Grubbs practices again, will be game-time decision for Sunday

Posted on 03 November 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ben Grubbs hasn’t seen action since the Ravens’ convincing 35-7 win over Pittsburgh in the season opener.

And his chances of finally making his return — against those same Steelers — are improving as the starting left guard practiced on a limited basis for a second straight day on Thursday. Grubbs was working with the starting offensive line during the open portion of practice and appeared more active than the previous day.

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The Baltimore offensive line has struggled in his absence and has gone with veteran Andre Gurode, who had never played left guard in his 10-year NFL career, for the last five games.

“We’ll see,” offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. “He is probably [going to] be a game-time decision. We’ll take Ben back at any point in time.”

The news was more concerning regarding defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, who missed his second straight game with a thigh injury. However, the Pro Bowl lineman is expected to play against the Steelers on Sunday.

Return specialist David Reed returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday with a knee injury. He worked on a limited basis but is expected to return kicks on Sunday night.

There were no changes to the Steelers’ injury report as all three of their injured linebackers — James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, and James Farrior — were listed as limited participants.

DID NOT PRACTICE – LB Dannell Ellerbe (thigh), WR Lee Evans (ankle), DT Haloti Ngata (thigh)
LIMITED – RB Anthony Allen (thigh), C Matt Birk (neck), CB Chykie Brown (knee), CB Danny Gorrer (thigh), G Ben Grubbs (toe), WR/RS David Reed (knee)

DID NOT PRACTICE – G Doug Legursky (toe), WR Emmanuel Sanders (knee)
LIMITED – LB James Farrior (calf), LB James Harrison (eye), T Jonathan Scott (ankle), WR Hines Ward (ankle), LB LaMarr Woodley (hamstring)

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Week 9 MobTown $15.70 Prop Card

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Week 9 MobTown $15.70 Prop Card

Posted on 02 November 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

It’s back again and the rules are still simple. Submit your predictions to the questions below about the game between Baltimore and Pittsburgh on Sunday in the comments section and provide a valid email address. The winner gets the $15.70 jackpot and bragging rights. Congrats to Matt  for winning week 8, his 3rd win of the season. He donated his first two to WNST’s next charitable endeavor, now ongoing. Thanks to he and David Libonate for their generosity in donating their bounties.


1. Joe Flacco passing yards (over or under 199.5) – 1 pt.


2. Joe Flacco completion percentage (over or under 49.9) – 1 pt.


3. Ray Rice total yards from scrimmage (over or under 124.5) – 1 pt.


4. Torrey Smith receptions (over or under 3.5) – 1 pt.


5. Anquan Boldin receiving yards (over or under 99.5) – 1 pt.


6. Terrell Suggs sacks (over or under 1.25) – 1 pt.


7. Ed Reed interceptions (over or under 0.5) – 1 pt.


8. Baltimore defensive and/or special teams  TDs (over or under 0.5) – 1 pt.


9. Mike Wallace receiving yards (over or under 99.5)  – 1 pt.


10. Who wins the game? (Baltimore or Pittsburgh) – 1 pt.


11. Which player scores the first TD? (player’s name) – 5 pts.


12. (tie-breaker) Total points scored both teams combined


*Entries will not be published until after the results are tallied

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Two days later — Nothing matters now except beating Pittsburgh this Sunday

Posted on 01 November 2011 by Drew Forrester

That the Ravens struggled to beat the lowly Arizona Cardinals was a surprise to most of us, but in the aftermath of Sunday’s 30-27 thriller, the best thing to do is simply put it behind you and focus on something else much more important.

Joe Flacco beating Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh this Sunday.

That’s how it’s going to be viewed and, honestly, that’s the territory you’re in if you’re Flacco and you play in the AFC North and your first three seasons have been filled with losses at Heinz Field that have either ended your season or temporarily halted your drive to the playoffs.

Five Heinz Field visits for Flacco and four losses, with the only win coming against Charlie (Brown) Batch last October when Big Ben was suspended.

It should be noted, of course, that John Harbaugh, Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ray Rice also have the same record (1-4) as Flacco in those five trips to Pittsurgh since 2008.

It is, after all, a team game, and the Steelers have routinely had the Ravens’ number at Heinz Field in the John Harbaugh era.

But these days, the NFL game is mainly about your quarterback – as the Colts are proving week in and week out – and this Sunday’s affair will be won by one of the two guys behind center.

Which one?

I’m guessing Roethlisberger, simply because he’s done it time and time against the Ravens, but I sure as hell hope I’m wrong.

Roethlisberger is, of course, what we all want Joe Flacco to be.  He’s a gamer, a winner and a guy who doesn’t always look the part, but somehow usually winds up on top when the final whistle blows.  Yes, sort of like Flacco’s performance against the Cardinals on Sunday.  He wasn’t any good in the first half, but Flacco put the offense on his back in the final 30 minutes and made the throws that mattered in rallying his team from a 24-6 halftime deficit.  It was very Ben-esque.

That’s actually become a major part of the problem here in Baltimore as the fans go through their week-to-week evaluation of Flacco.  They want him to be something he’s not.  They’re asking for Joe to be Brady or Manning or Roethlisberger or Brees when, honestly, he’s not even Matt Schaub yet.  He can’t run from the numbers he’s posted this season to date – 8 TD’s, 6 INT’s and 7 fumbles.  Those look like something Bruce Gradkowski might post.  At the 7-game mark, those aren’t good for a starting quarterback who has taken every snap thus far. But he’s performed *well enough* in 4 of the team’s 5 wins to date and it’s safe to say that without him, Baltimore wouldn’t be 5-2.

But the seven games played are history and what’s next is what’s important now.

Beating Pittsburgh on Sunday in their building.

Last January as I walked across the bridge leaving Heinz Field and headed for the bus and a sorrow-filled 4 hour ride back to Baltimore, I went as far as to say that everything the Ravens would do in preparation for this 2011 season should be done with one thing in mind:  “Does it help us beat the Steelers?”  Every player signing, every cut, every draft pick, every trade…every single player that puts purple on in 2011 should wear that jersey only after the front office has answered “yes!” to the question, “Does this guy help us beat Pittsburgh?”

If the Ravens go there and lay an egg on Sunday, it’s not the end of the world and AFC supremacy is still very much up for anyone to take.  For those of you keeping score at home, there was a playoff team LAST season that only scored one touchdown in 4 of their 16 regular season games.  Talk about an up-and-down offense.  In 25% of their games a season ago, that team only managed to reach the end zone one time.  Know who it was?  The team that won the Super Bowl.  Included in those four one-TD games was a 7-3 loss at Detroit in December, for those of you who don’t remember how the Packers 2010 season went on a week-to-week basis.  So if the Ravens don’t win on Sunday, it’s not like the season ends.

But if they do go to Pittsburgh and lose — and Roethlisberger once again outduels Flacco at Heinz Field — it will simply be a case of the same old-same old.  And it will serve as a stark reminder to the Ravens that the AFC North still goes through the Steel City, no matter what the opening day score in Baltimore might have suggested, and it’s largely controlled by the play of Roethlisberger, aka “The Ravens Killer”.

If the Ravens can’t win on Sunday in Pittsburgh, they’re just another team who can’t win a big game at Heinz Field.

And at some point soon, the Ravens and Flacco are going to have to shed that label if they want to be great.

The Steelers figured that in order to be great THIS season, they couldn’t let Tom Brady come in to their building and beat them this past Sunday.  New England lost.

If the Ravens truly have a great team — and Lord knows none of us REALLY knows which Ravens team will show up this Sunday – they’ll go in there and figure out a way to steal a win.  It might be 13-10 with Flacco managing an efficient passing game and Ray Rice churning out 94 yards on the ground.  Or it could be 27-21 with Flacco forced to take the offense downfield in an impressive 2-minute drive to end the game, similar to the manner in which he operated under pressure last October when his final minute TD throw to T.J. Houshmandzadeh gave the Ravens a win over Batch and Company.

A win is a win.

The Ravens need one this Sunday.

And so does Joe Flacco.

If he’s honestly going to work his way up the ladder of NFL quarterbacks and dance near that “elite” level, Joe has to handle the pressure of Sunday’s game and leave Heinz Field a winner.

It’s a quarterbacks league.

Your guy wins it for you.  Or the other guy wins it for them.

This one is on Flacco.  That’s a lot of pressure to put on the quarterback, but it’s the same pressure applied to Roethlisberger last Sunday when he welcomed Tom Brady into his stadium and walked away a winner 60 minutes later.

Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh will come down to Joe Flacco’s ability to rise to the occasion.

How will he handle it?

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NFL Week 8 Locks, Lumps & Luck (or Lack Thereof)

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NFL Week 8 Locks, Lumps & Luck (or Lack Thereof)

Posted on 28 October 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

This is not an inducement to gamble, in fact it should serve as quite the opposite. It is my attempt at picking all of the games (before injury reports are official) each week. The picks are broken into 3 categories, 5 picks that I love, 5 that I like and the rest.

I would encourage anyone looking for a little extra interest in Sunday’s game to try the MobTown $15.70 prop card. It’s free it’s easy and cash and bragging rights are on the line.


All lines taken from sportsbook.com.


Loves (100 pts for a win and -110 for a loss)

week 7: 2-3 (-130 pts)    season: 13-12 (-20 pts) 


Saints -14 @ Rams 


Lions -3 @ Broncos


Steelers +3 vs. Patriots


Browns +9 @ 49ers


Chiefs +4 vs. Chargers



Likes (50 pts for a win and -55 for a loss)

week 7: 2-2-1 (-10 pts)    season: 10-12-1 (-160 pts)


Panthers -3.5 vs. Vikings


Dolphins +9.5 @ Giants


Bills -6 vs. Redskins


Bengals -3 @ Seahawks


Cowboys +3.5  @ Eagles



Feeling Lucky? (20 pts for a win and -22 for a loss)

Week 7: 1-2(-24 pts)    season 9-10-2 (-40 pts)


Titans -9 vs. Colts


Jaguars +9.5 @ Texans


Ravens -12.5 vs. Cardinals


Last week Total: 5-7-1  (-164 pts)     Season Total: 32-34-3 (-220 pts)

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7 Disappointing Points from Ravens at Jacksonville

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7 Disappointing Points from Ravens at Jacksonville

Posted on 26 October 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

Having had just over 24 hours to digest (and regurgitate) the Ravens loss to the Jaguars, here are my 7 points to ponder from the Ravens disappointing performance on Monday night in Jacksonville, a veritable touchdown of takeaways in honor of the Ravens lone TD in the game.



Point #1 – This might be the best defensive performance we’ve seen from these Ravens in a long time.


Unlike their turnover driven performances against Pittsburgh and the Jets, this was smash mouth, “punch you in the face” defense. The 12 points that the Jags scored in the game were tough to come by. Ray Rice’s 1st quarter fumble set the Jags up for a 51-yard field goal if they had simply kicked it immediately on 1st down, in hindsight not a bad idea. Instead the Jags, pulling out all the stops, drove to the 1-yard line and converted on a 4th and 2 in the process before Maurice Jones-Drew fumbled the ball back to the Ravens. The ensuing possession had Sam Koch punting from his own end zone. Again, if the Jags had kicked immediately on first down, the field goal attempt would have been 51-yards from the spot where the drive started. Three negative yards, a timeout and a tough decision later, Jack Del Rio and the Jags were kicking from 54-yards and taking a 3-0 lead.


The second field goal for Josh Scobee and company, another ambitious 54-yarder, came only after a Paul Kruger running into the kicker call negated a Jags punt and improved their field position as a result.


The Jags 3rd field goal was the result of their most impressive drive in the game, a drive 16 plays in duration and one that arguably should have ended at 5 plays with a punt if not for a terrible unnecessary roughness penalty on Bernard Pollard. Another stop for the Ravens at the 7-yard line was nullified by a Brendon Ayanbadejo penalty and ejection. The 3 points they yielded on that series was ultimately a relief despite it putting the margin at 2 scores, the 8 minutes and 30 seconds they spent getting there might have been an even bigger win for the Jags.


And of course the 4th filed goal came after the decision to try and onsides kick at 2:02 of the 4th quarter and was the result of a 4-yard drive.


At the end of the day it was a shutout caliber performance by the defense, spoiled by circumstance and bad luck.



Point #2 – The Ravens were in the shotgun way too much.


The Ravens officially ran 38 passing plays and just 12 running plays against the Jags. In the aftermath of the defeat, those numbers have been heavily criticized and deservedly so. In a game as close as that one was, that type of imbalance is all but inexcusable for a team of the Ravens offensive identity. That said, that’s life in the modern NFL, and had the Ravens won, no one would have batted an eye.


That Ray Rice only had 8 “touches” has been a bit overstated though as he also had 5 catches on 8 targets in the passing game. Furthermore down and distance have a lot to do with making running opportunities available and the fact that the Ravens offense only ran 25 plays in total in Monday’s first half, 8 of which were 3rd downs explains the imbalance somewhat.


What’s tough to explain from where I sit is why the Ravens felt compelled to tip their hands out of the running game as readily as they did on Monday.


By my unofficial count, the Ravens lined up 46 times on Monday either in the shotgun formation or with Flacco under center and intending to pass (this includes sacks and penalties). Of those 46 plays, 14 snaps under center were passes leaving 32 snaps from the shotgun.


On each of those shotgun snaps the Ravens seemed to go to silent counts with no cadence from Flacco at all. Instead, Marshal Yanda would watch for Flacco’s foot pump and then tap Matt Birk on the leg. Once Birk felt the tap, he’d rock back and snap in a predictable rhythm. I say predictable, but in fairness it appears the Jags got caught jumping offsides at least twice while trying to anticipate the snap. That said, that means there were 30 other plays where they conceivably timed it correctly. Surely this had something to do with the effectiveness the Jags were having with simple 4 and 5-man rushes.


That Jacksonville generates enough crowd noise to dictate the Ravens using a silent count in the shotgun is strange (especially after watching Matt Ryan direct the no huddle in Detroit last week). That Flacco is looking less and less like a quarterback during these scenarios is debatable in its impact perhaps, that the Ravens are essentially declaring that Ray Rice running the ball (a staple of the Ravens attack) is not an option and giving the defense a timing mechanism with which to start their jump at the line is absolutely baffling.


That Flacco looked so out of sorts when trying to direct a hurried offense when the Ravens needed him to may speak to the limited control he’s given of his offense pre-snap throughout the game.



Point #3 – Home field advantage may be more important than ever this year.


The Ravens have played 3 road games against 3 very bad teams and have looked good for exactly one quarter of one game. They’ve lost 2 road games to teams that had no business playing with them on paper, and while we all know that’s why they play the games, it’s un-Raven-like to say the least.


Your glass could easily be half empty or half full regarding the Ravens road successes and failures in the playoffs in the last 3 years and concerning the path that led them there and the missed opportunities to have games at home. If the Ravens are going to have a real shot this season in the playoffs, getting there will only be half the battle. These Ravens thrive on home cooking it seems.



Point #4 – This is not the same old offense.


It may be the same old result, but it’s not the same old offense. Don’t let your lingering frustration from the previous regime cloud your point of view. This isn’t even the same offense they had last year. Much less the Billick offense or the unbalanced run heavy (literally) attack of 2008. Call them crutches, call them security blankets, call them whatever you want, but Flacco knew where Mason and Heap were going to be all of the time it seemed. This new group…not so much.


The offensive line was an ambitious experiment to begin with putting 3 of 5 opening week starters in positions that they hadn’t even played in the pre-season together spoke to the possibility of tough sledding. The number of plug-ins necessitated by injuries on the line already only serves to perpetuate that problem. That the offensive line is struggling shouldn’t be a surprise. Maybe the bigger surprise should be how good they have looked at times. Either way they project to get better as time allows them to continue to evolve.


Anquan Boldin and two second year tight ends are the long tenured members of the receiving corps already, rookie LaQuan Williams seems to be playing more wide receiver as a rookie for the Ravens than he ever did as a collegiate for the Terps and Lee Evans has been a non-factor.


It stands to reason that this offense would struggle and will again, check back on them around week 13 or so, once the weather has changed, to see how well primed they are for the playoffs.



Point #5 – There’s lots of finger pointing going around.


Harbaugh pointing at Cundiff, Suggs pointing at Cam, the fans and the media joining Suggs in pointing at Cam and at Flacco too, everybody it seems blames somebody, and everybody just might be right. For a 4-2 team though this has to be at least a little bit unnerving.


This was a lot funnier when it was coming from the Jets locker room a couple of weeks ago.



Point #6 – You can’t blame apathy again.


When the Ravens lost to Tennessee apathy could have been to blame. Whether it was actually the case or not, it was easy for everyone to simply dismiss the loss as the Ravens were riding too high after a win against Pittsburgh or that the Ravens simply didn’t come to play. On the surface you might be tempted to say the same about Jacksonville, but it simply can’t be true.


As pointed out in Point #1, the Ravens defense did come to play. It was the defense that should have and could have been riding high and resting on their laurels, but they didn’t. It was the offense that failed to perform on Monday. The offense has been feeling the proverbial heat of criticism for weeks, and while folks were surely taking the Jags as a whole lightly, no one was discounting their defense. The Jags needed a big performance to have any chance against the Ravens on Monday; everyone knew that, including the Ravens.


Apathy may never be a legitimate excuse, here it absolutely wasn’t.



Point #7 – There are deep waters in the AFC North.


The sting of Monday’s loss was surely agitated by the fact that it represented a loss of first place in the division (at least mathematically) to the 5-2 Steelers. It also puts the Ravens in a tie with the surprisingly 4-2 Bengals and just a game ahead of the 3-3 Browns. This isn’t your dad’s AFC North it seems, and the 5 games the Ravens have left in the division are looking scarier by the minute.

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Week 7: Locks, Lumps & Luck (or Lack Thereof)

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Week 7: Locks, Lumps & Luck (or Lack Thereof)

Posted on 20 October 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

This is not an inducement to gamble, in fact it should serve as quite the opposite. It is my attempt at picking all of the games (before injury reports are official) each week. The picks are broken into 3 categories, 5 picks that I love, 5 that I like and the rest.

I would encourage anyone looking for a little extra interest in Sunday’s game to try the MobTown $15.70 prop card. It’s free it’s easy and cash and bragging rights are on the line.


All lines taken from sportsbook.com.


Loves (100 pts for a win and -110 for a loss)

week 4: 4-1 (290 pts)    season: 11-9 (110 pts) 


Chargers -2 @ Jets 


Texans +3 @ Titans


Steelers -3.5 @ Cardinals


Packers -9 @. Vikings


Ravens -7.5 @ Jaguars



Likes (50 pts for a win and -55 for a loss)

week 4: 3-2 (40 pts)    season: 8-10 (-150 pts)


Redskins +2.5 @ Panthers


Browns -3 vs. Seahawks


Broncos +1.5 @ Dolphins


Raiders -4.5 vs. Chiefs


Saints -14 vs. Colts



Feeling Lucky? (20 pts for a win and -22 for a loss)

Week 4: 1-1-1 (-2 pts)    season 8-8-2 (-16 pts)


Buccaneers +1 vs. Bears (in London)


Lions -3.5 vs. Falcons


Cowboys -12.5 vs. Rams


Last week Total: 8-4-1 (328 pts)     Season Total: 27-27-2 (-56 pts)

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Andre Gurode

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Andre Gurode: “I got the call from the Ravens, and it turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me”

Posted on 01 October 2011 by Ryan Chell

When the Ravens signed Andre Gurode a week before the start of the regular season, the move was meant to be a security blanket should incumbent center Matt Birk-who was coming off micro-fracture knee surgery in the preseason-not been healthy to start the opener against Pittsburgh.

The Ravens signed Gurode to a one year deal worth 3 million dollars, and the move turned out to be a blessing in disguise-but for reasons unexpected.

Birk returned from surgery healthy and ready to go, and it looked as if Gurode was going to be relegated to backup duty after being a full-time starter since 2003 with the Dallas Cowboys.

However, when Ravens left guard Ben Grubbs was diagnosed with a foot/ankle injury after Baltimore’s Week 1 victory against the Steelers-and his Week 2 replacement Mark LeVoir struggled in his place-Gurode got the nod to start at guard last week against the St. Louis Rams.

Andre Gurode

And while the Ravens were lucky to have brought him into Owings Mills, Gurode felt even more honored to have that respect thrown his way after his ugly divorce with Dallas after they cut him after nine seasons.

Gurode joined Luke Jones on “The Morning Reaction” Friday and said that he’s here to prove the Cowboys made the wrong decision thinking he was slow, overweight, and on the decline.

“My ending in Dallas…I didn’t know too much about it,” Gurode told Jones. “It was a situation where it was a contract issue, and they told me my services weren’t needed and I had to look elsewhere.”

That elsewhere was Baltimore. He also had interest from the New England Patriots and the Detroit Lions according to reports.

“I got the chance to play with a great organization in the Baltimore Ravens,” Gurode said. “Everything has been absolutely beautiful here. I love the organization, love how everything is being run, and it’s just a great place to play.”

However, he had to make some sacrifices on his part in taking a backup role on the Ravens offensive line. He also had to show that he could still be versatile to Andy Moeller and John Harbaugh that they could trust him at another position other than center-just as he did filling in for Grubbs at LG last week against St. Louis.

Gurode-a six-time Pro-Bowler at center and two-time All-Pro-had not played guard since  2004. He admitted that it took getting adjusted to working with someone else snapping the ball next to him as opposed to him doing it himself.

“It has been difficult, but at the same time you need to do your best,” Gurode said. “Going from center to guard, you know you’re used to making calls, snapping the ball with your right hand, and then you find yourself getting comfortable..at the start of the play.”

To most, it would have been a struggle. But Gurode said his teammates and coaches made the switch one of the easiest adjustments he’s ever made.

“I have some great teammates,” said Gurode. “I have some great coaches. They helped me work through it, and each day-each week-I’ll keep getting better, and learn the offense a little better.”

Two Ravens he has really enjoyed working with are his fellow offensive lineman in Bryant McKinnie-who also joined the Ravens late in training camp-and a guy usually lining up across from Gurode in Cory Redding.

“It’s been real interesting because I’ve know Bryant for a little while too,” Gurode said of McKinnie-who also was selected in the 2002 NFL Draft. “There are times when I may not say the correct call or I may not know what’s going on.”

“So I’ll ask him what’s happening…I’m never prideful to ask for help.”

And if you think McKinnie and Gurode are tied, Redding and Gurode go back way farther.

The two were prep teammates at North Shore High School in Houston Texas, and despite Gurode making his way to Colorado for college and Redding becoming a Longhorn, the two re-united in the Ravens locker room almost by accident.

“When I walked into the locker room, I just wound up putting my bags next to a boarded-up locker really not paying attention to whose locker it was,” Gurode laughed. “No one else in the organization knew that Cory and I were teammates. It was very much a surprise to come back, and find my locker set up right next to his.”

He feels blessed to be re-united with a close friend of his in Redding, and considers it quite the honor going up against him in practice every day.

“We’ve been playing together for a very, very long time. It was really special to finally be on the same team…and playing for the same organization, so it was very much a special treat.”

And after Cory, Bryant, Ozzie Newsome, and John Harbaugh welcomed him in, the landslide continued.

He really feels like a Raven now and a member of a family more than ever.

“It was just a whole group effort on the team…just getting here, fitting in, and them accepting me. The rest has been playing out like it’s supposed to.”

WNST thanks Andre Gurode and hopes to continue seeing him making contributions on the field! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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