Tag Archive | "Pittsburgh"

Despite crowded wild-card picture, Ravens’ task clear over final month

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Despite crowded wild-card picture, Ravens’ task clear over final month

Posted on 02 December 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens entered the weekend with the rare chance to not only rest but take a long look at the rest of a crowded AFC playoff picture.

Moving into the No. 6 spot in the conference by way of their 22-20 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last Thursday night, the Ravens could give thanks at the end of the holiday weekend for still holding the final wild-card position due to their tie-breaking win over the 6-6 Miami Dolphins earlier in the season. But four teams linger with 5-7 records, and different factors are working for and against them in the chase to play football in January.

There’s plenty of watching and wondering what will happen over the season’s final four weeks.

“Everybody is playing everybody right now,” coach John Harbaugh said. “With so many teams involved, it’s going to be the way it’s going to be. One team wins, another teams loses. A lot of times, it helps us either way, and it hurts us both ways — it doesn’t really matter.”

The Dolphins have only one game remaining against teams that are .500 or better (New England).

Pittsburgh plays three of its final four games at Heinz Field and only one of those four contests comes against an opponent with a winning record (Cincinnati).

Despite a crippling quarterback situation, the New York Jets play only one team with a winning record and it’s an NFC opponent (Carolina).

After a disappointing home loss to the Bengals that did no favors to the Ravens’ AFC North title hopes, the Chargers still play three of the final four games at home.

And even 5-7 Tennessee has games remaining against Jacksonville and Houston, two of the worst teams in the NFL.

It’s a lot to process as we start tracking conference marks, records against common opponents, and strength of victory, but Harbaugh and the Ravens choose to focus only on what they can control with so many scenarios still alive with four games to go. The hope of a division title will depend on the Bengals slipping at least once or twice leading into the Week 17 meeting between the teams in Cincinnati, but advancing to the postseason for a sixth consecutive season is a clear path if the Ravens can avoid treacherous detours along the way.

“What matters is us; we just have to win,” Harbaugh said. “If we win games, things are going to work out for us. If we don’t, things are going to be tough. That’s what we have to take care of; we have to take care of ourselves.”

Though facing the best running back on the planet in Adrian Peterson doesn’t sound like a layup, the Ravens will face their last opponent with a record below .500 Sunday when the Minnesota Vikings come to town to conclude a three-game homestand. After that, the road becomes bumpier than at any other point this season with a Monday night road game at NFC North-leading Detroit, a Sunday night home finale against AFC East-leading New England, and a regular-season finale in Cincinnati.

The Ravens hold the one-game edge over all No. 6 seed contenders after Miami, but they’ll still need to win three of their final four to get to the 9-7 mark, a standard that would very likely put them in the postseason. An 8-8 record could still conceivably land the No. 6 seed in the AFC, but such a path will depend on tie-breakers and considerable help from other results.

The good news is Baltimore appears to be getting hot at the right time. After winning two straight for only the second time all season, the Ravens are back at .500 and are on the verge of getting tight end Dennis Pitta back to provide a boost to a below-average offense. Experience is certainly on their side as they can simply point to last year to remember it’s all about clicking when the stakes are at their highest.

However, these Ravens are also 1-5 on the road and figure to need to win at least one of their final two road games. Only one of Baltimore’s six wins — their Nov. 10 home win over the Bengals — has come against teams currently holding a winning record and only one other victory — an Oct. 6 win at Miami — came against a team at the .500 mark.

The Ravens believe they’re getting better and are peaking at the right time. They’ll have every opportunity to show that in the month of December.

Their playoff lives will depend on it.

“We are in position to control our own destiny,” Harbaugh said. “That is what you try to accomplish going into December, so we’ve accomplished that. Now it’s up to us to make the most of it and to go ahead and control our destiny, win the games we have to win, starting with this one – and this is the only one that matters right now – and take it from there.”

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The 15-7-0 is so good you’d forfeit every draft pick to get it

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The 15-7-0 is so good you’d forfeit every draft pick to get it

Posted on 02 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

15 positive observations from the weekend of football, seven not so positive observations and we acknowledge a “zero” from outside the world of football. A reminder, there’s never any Ravens game analysis here. We do plenty of that elsewhere. It’s a trip through the weekend of football via videos, GIFs, memes, pictures, links, Tweets and shtick.

This is the 13th full edition of The 15-7-0 this season. Similarly, if you walk to your car right now and spend an hour listening to your favorite Christmas music radio station, you’ll hear “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey 13 times.

15 Positive Observations…

1. Thanks for your help, kind Cincinnati Bengals! Also, thanks for nothing you stupid Cincinnati Bengal jerks!

Here’s a GIF to prove the game happened.

Now here’s one of those new Amazon drones because they’re WAAAAY more interesting.

2. A lot of people are calling the end of Auburn-Alabama the greatest finish in the history of football, but that’s only because they missed my family’s annual Thanksgiving game where the old guys called the “Double-reverse-fake-the-handoff-to-grandpa-then-stop-the-game-for-a-minute-so-the-young-guys-can-help-grandpa-back-up-because-he-hurt-his-hip-then-start-the-game-back-up-without-telling-the-kids-anything-and-bounce-the-ball-off-the-four-year-old’s-head-and-play-monkey-in-the-middle-for-a-few-minutes-to-try-to-tire-the-kids-out-so-that-they-don’t-break-everything-in-the-house-after-dinner-in-a-crazed-rage-then-throw-the-ball-forward-three-straight-times-and-tell-the-kids-there’s-a-new-rule-that-allows-you-to-do-that-despite-how-much-they-protest-and-the-fact-that-you know-they’ve-played-so-much-Madden-football-that-they-know-the-rules-both-better-than-you-and-hell-they-probably-know-the-rules-better-than-John-Madden-then-halfway-through-the-play-tell-your-nine-year-old-niece-she’s-switching-sides-and-is-on-the-old-guys’-team-now-so-that-she-can-catch-the-ball-and-after-you-go-pick-her-up-and-run-her-the-length-of-the-field-the-other-way-on-your-back-because-she-ran-the-wrong-way-but-then-you-celebrate-her-scoring-the-winning-touchdown-and-let-her-rub-it-in-the-faces-of-the-boys-until-Christmas-and-then-you-have-to-do-the-whole-thing-over-again-because-Aunt-Joan-didn’t-have-her-camera-on-Split-Y-Banana” and ran it to perfection to win the game. Our play was WAY better.

There is so much awesome to share from Chris Davis’ magical return, but I don’t think anything will be better than this.

How amazing was this game? A 99 yard TD might not have made the Top 3 plays.

Did someone freaking hug these guys?

This picture remains mesmerizing.

I hope no one in Auburn needs to wipe this week.

Some of the celebrations were a bit…ummm…strange.

Here’s a note from Takeo Spikes.

3. While I understand Maryland’s excitement in beating NC State in their final ever ACC game, was it COMPLETELY necessary for them to fax over pictures of Gary Williams’ ass to Debbie Yow’s office as a parting gift?

My thoughts on the finale?

Now here’s a video because I’ve got nothing else to say.

4. After someone loses Monday night’s game, I will almost certainly be moving the Carolina Panthers to #2 in my weekly power rankings. What a crazy year. I’d suggest things were so crazy that the next thing we’d see is the Orioles signing a good player-but I realize there are limits to the insanity.

I don’t think one of these nicknames is going to stick for Ron Rivera.

I assume Mike Glennon gets credited with a forced fumble for this, right?

Wrong superhero, Cam.

5. Nick Foles has now thrown 19 touchdowns this season without an interception. For some reason I don’t think “The November Flacco” is going to catch on as a nickname as well as it should.

Sweet play, football teams.

Riley Cooper, however.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Tomlin, Steelers reportedly facing fines, potential draft pick loss

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Tomlin, Steelers reportedly facing fines, potential draft pick loss

Posted on 01 December 2013 by Luke Jones

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

Following Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s unpenalized sideline interference of Jacoby Jones during the Ravens’ 22-20 win on Thursday night, the NFL appears to be on the verge of cracking down on the head coach and the organization.

Multiple outlets are reporting that Tomlin and the Steelers are facing heavy fines and the league could even go as far as stripping the organization of a 2014 late-round draft pick because of the coach’s questionable sideline footwork during Jones’ kickoff return in the third quarter. Jones was forced to slightly change direction while running down the sideline to avoid Tomlin, a move that likely aided Cortez Allen in running down the Pro Bowl return specialist from behind.

The 73-yard kickoff return set up the Ravens offense at the Pittsburgh 27, but Baltimore eventually settled for a field goal.

Recently appointed to the league’s prestigious competition committee, Tomlin clearly ventured far too close to the field during the long kickoff return, but the difficulty in determining whether it was intentional would make the forfeiture of a draft pick seem unlikely as the league is expected to rule on the matter as early as Monday. Numerous Ravens players were critical of the Steelers coach’s behavior, and a video shot of Tomlin smiling on the stadium video board didn’t exactly help his case with any observers.

Tomlin said after the game that he lost awareness of his body positioning as he watched the long kick return on the M&T Bank Stadium video board but that any interference with the play wasn’t intentional.

“It was wrong and I take responsibility for it,” Tomlin said.

The league could look to the 2010 incident of Jets assistant Sal Alosi interfering with a Miami Dolphins player on the sideline for precedent as New York was fined $100,000 for his actions. Alosi was fined $25,000 by the Jets and suspended for the remainder of that season before leaving the organization. However, this type of action taken by a head coach is a far more serious matter as the league wants to send a message that questionable sideline decorum — intentional or not — will not be tolerated.

If the Ravens had lost the game, the league would have had an even bigger problem on its hands considering how unhappy Baltimore was about Tomlin’s behavior even in victory.

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Stokley leaves game with sprained left knee

Posted on 29 November 2013 by Luke Jones

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

On the heels of their big 22-20 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving night, the Ravens will take advantage of the extra time off to rest and recover from a brutally physical game with their AFC North adversary.

A number of players left at different points in the action, but the most serious injury appeared to occur to veteran wide receiver Brandon Stokley, who left the game late in the first half with a left knee sprain and did not occur. It was only Stokley’s second game back from a nagging groin injury that had hindered him since the end of September.

Coach John Harbaugh didn’t have any new information on Stokley’s status following the game.

“He has got a knee [injury],” Harbaugh said. “We’ll see about it Friday.”

Cornerback Jimmy Smith was shaken up on the violent goal-line collision with Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell late in the fourth quarter and was down on the field for a couple minutes before walking off on his own power. Harbaugh said the starting defensive back “should be OK” despite Smith appearing woozy as he walked to the sideline.

Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil suffered a left ankle injury late in the first half but returned to play after halftime.

Other players shaken up at different points during the game included wide receivers Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones and linebacker Terrell Suggs, but all three finished the game.

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Flacco spells it out following big win over rival Pittsburgh

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Flacco spells it out following big win over rival Pittsburgh

Posted on 29 November 2013 by Luke Jones

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

BALTIMORE — Joe Flacco’s comments about Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s controversial involvement during a long Jacoby Jones kick return will garner the attention in the aftermath of the Ravens’ 22-20 win over their AFC North rival.

But it was Flacco explaining why he appeared to be more animated than usual Thursday night that struck a chord as the Ravens not only improved to 6-6 to pull into the lead for the No. 6 spot in the AFC but eclipsed the 20-point mark in a game for the first time since Week 5. He wasn’t satisfied with one of the better offensive outputs of the season.

“I was just frustrated, mostly,” Flacco said. “There were so many opportunities out there for us to score points and just win big and put the game away. We didn’t do it, and we left [the Pittsburgh comeback] to happen. That’s just frustrating. When you’re not converting and scoring touchdowns, you’re hoping that doesn’t happen, but in the back of your mind, you’re thinking, ‘Man, this is going to catch up to us.’”

It almost did catch up with them as the Ravens didn’t sew up the pivotal win until Ben Roethlisberger’s two-point conversion pass intended for Emmanuel Sanders fell incomplete with 1:03 remaining in the game. The 22-point outing was their fourth-highest total of the season, but it could have been much more as the Ravens were only 1-for-4 inside the red zone.

The offense put together five drives of 40 or more yards, which isn’t a feat to take lightly when you enter Week 13 as the league’s 30th-ranked offense and are tied for 24th in averaging 20.6 points per game. The production came with the defense not forcing a single turnover to set up the Ravens offense on a short field, though the offense did benefit from Jones’ 73-yard kickoff return that would have been a touchdown if not for Tomlin’s apparent interference along the sideline.

Their six scoring drives — one touchdown and five Justin Tucker field goals — were the most they’ve had since a win over the Miami Dolphins on Oct. 6.

They were 10-for-17 on third down after going 3-for-13 against the New York Jets a week earlier.

And Sam Koch punted only one time, besting his previous season low of three that was set in the first meeting with Pittsburgh.

It was progress — if even just a little.

“I thought we played pretty well tonight, to be honest with you,” Flacco said. “That’s why I was so frustrated. We did so many things really, really well and put ourselves in so many positions to put points on the board and put a lot on there tonight. Anytime you score 22 points, you basically kicked all field goals and you scored on a lot of drives. You didn’t punt the ball, you didn’t turn the ball over. We did so many things well. We were right there. That’s why I think it’s probably a little more animated and so frustrating, because we were just right there. You could taste it, and we just didn’t convert a lot.”

The predictable warts of the Baltimore offense surfaced over the course of 60 minutes as the running game was once again ineffective and several penalties — including three false starts by right tackle Michael Oher — made life more difficult. Flacco was also let down by a couple key drops as wide receiver Torrey Smith struggled to catch the ball consistently after a dominating opening drive in which he caught the Ravens’ only touchdown of the game.

After making headlines earlier this week about his disdain for the wildcat offense, Flacco turned in one of his best performances of the season, completing 24 of 35 passes for 251 yards and the 7-yard touchdown to Smith that followed a 54-yard strike earlier in the Ravens’ first series of the night. His footwork in and out of the pocket was exceptional as he bought himself time and eluded pressure on numerous occasions.

For the first time ever, Flacco and the Ravens got the best of Roethlisberger in a late-season game with major postseason ramifications.

And the sixth-year quarterback didn’t even have to line up at wide receiver a single time.

After so many weeks of needing to say the right things after abysmal offensive performances, Flacco wasn’t interested in patting his offensive teammates or himself on the back too much.

“We just shot ourselves in the foot,” Flacco said. “A couple of catches that we could have made, false starts. On the one that I remember, I rolled out right and tried to hit Torrey on the right side, but we had a guy wide open on the left sideline. We just didn’t get it picked up the right way — little stuff like that. The penalties, it’s not even stuff that you can fix in practice. We’ve just got to be a little better. I’ve probably got to have a little bit better rhythm with my cadence.”

Even with progress offensively that started last week with the reappearance of the vertical passing game — arguably the most critical offensive development of the season — the Ravens will continue to be impeded by their poor running game and inability to consistently use the middle of the field in the passing attack. The expected return of tight end Dennis Pitta for the Week 14 contest against the Minnesota Vikings should help but won’t suddenly transform the Baltimore offense into a top-10 unit.

The schedule also grows difficult after the Vikings game as the Ravens will play three teams projected to be in the playoffs — two of them on the road — to close out the regular season. Baltimore will desperately need to find a way to improve on its ugly 1-5 record away from M&T Bank Stadium.

The Ravens don’t have the luxury of resting on their laurels and getting comfortable, but if the last two weeks are any indication, their franchise quarterback is beginning to heat up at the right time after several sub-par performances following their Week 8 bye.

With a good — but not great — defense and a one-dimensional offense, the Ravens still don’t look the part of a serious playoff team despite their current standing as the AFC’s No. 6 seed. They’ll go as far as Flacco will take them, however, which means they can’t be slept on entirely.

Beating the Steelers in a game with their playoff lives on the line was a significant step in the right direction.

“It was kind of like a boxing match out there early on,” Flacco said. “There are definitely high emotions, and a lot that goes into this football game. It’s really because winning it means a lot, in terms of the grand scheme of things. We all understand that.”

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Our Ravens/Steelers “Pats on the Ass”

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Our Ravens/Steelers “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 29 November 2013 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Creative Deck Designs Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor.

We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches each.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 22-20 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers Thanksgiving night at M&T Bank Stadium…

Glenn’s Pats…

5. Bernard Pierce

 

4. James Ihedigbo

 

3. Lardarius Webb

 

2. Torrey Smith

1. Justin Tucker (Pat on Both Cheeks)

(Continued on Page 2….)

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Jacoby Jones was thinking: “Is Tomlin going to move?”

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Jacoby Jones was thinking: “Is Tomlin going to move?”

Posted on 29 November 2013 by WNSTV

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Flacco: “Tomlin pulled my move!”

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Flacco: “Tomlin pulled my move!”

Posted on 29 November 2013 by WNSTV

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Ravens-Steelers: Inactives and pre-game notes

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Ravens-Steelers: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 28 November 2013 by Luke Jones

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

BALTIMORE — The stakes are clear as the Ravens welcome the hated Pittsburgh Steelers to Baltimore for the 39th all-time meeting between the AFC North rivals.

A win puts John Harbaugh’s team in prime position to at least secure the No. 6 seed in the conference and advance to the postseason for the sixth consecutive season. However, a defeat all but ends Baltimore’s playoff hopes as it would give Pittsburgh a one-game lead and the head-to-head tiebreaker and force the Ravens to need to run the table over the final quarter of the season just to get to 9-7.

Of course, the Ravens will need to top quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who owns a 7-2 record against Baltimore in the Harbaugh era. The Ravens have never gotten the best of the veteran quarterback with the stakes at their highest late in the season.

Despite not activating tight end Dennis Pitta from injured reserve-designated to return, the Ravens find themselves in excellent shape physically as only reserve rookie safety Brynden Trawick (ankle) is inactive due to an injury. As expected, defensive end Chris Canty is active and will start after he was listed as probable with a shoulder injury.

Veteran wide receiver Brandon Stokley is also active for the second straight week while second-year wideout Deonte Thompson will be inactive once again.

Meanwhile, the Steelers will be without two defensive starters as nose tackle Steve McLendon (ankle) and outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley (calf) are inactive. For Woodley, it’s his third straight missed game, but the Steelers have received strong play from outside linebacker Jason Worilds over the last few weeks.

Al Woods will start in place of McLendon at nose tackle while rookie Jarvis Jones will start for Woodley.

The Steelers lead the all-time regular-season series with a 20-15 advantage along with a 3-0 edge in postseason play. The Ravens are 8-9 in Baltimore against Pittsburgh and are trying to avoid a season sweep to their AFC North adversary, which would be the first since the 2008 season.

In the 13 meetings between these teams since 2008, 10 have been decided by four or fewer points and the last four games have each been decided by three in what’s been regarded by many as the best rivalry in the NFL.

Unlike the last three games in which the Ravens have played, Thursday’s game will not be complicated by high winds as the forecast for kickoff calls for temperatures in the mid-30s and winds only reaching three miles per hour.

Thursday night’s referee will be Clete Blakeman.

The Ravens will be wearing black jerseys and black pants while Pittsburgh dons its white tops with gold pants.

Here are Thursday night’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
S Brynden Trawick
S Omar Brown
RB Bernard Scott
OL Ryan Jensen
WR Deonte Thompson
LB John Simon
DT Brandon Williams

PITTSBURGH
OLB LaMarr Woodley
QB Landry Jones
WR Derek Moye
CB DeMarcus Van Dyke
TE Richard Gordon
ILB Stevenson Sylvester
NT Steve McLendon

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

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Ravens don’t activate Pitta to play against Steelers

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Ravens don’t activate Pitta to play against Steelers

Posted on 28 November 2013 by Luke Jones

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

The Ravens continue to take it slow with tight end Dennis Pitta after electing not to activate him by Thursday’s 4 p.m. deadline to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving night.

Pitta began practicing on Nov. 20 and was never considered a realistic possibility to play last Sunday against the New York Jets, but the organization had hoped in the weeks leading to the tight end’s return to the practice field that he’d be available to play against the AFC North rival Steelers. However, Pitta and coach John Harbaugh both expressed the need to take their time in evaluating how well the 2010 fourth-round pick’s hip holds up to the rigors of football-related activity and contact.

Harbaugh revealed little about Pitta’s status when he met with the media following Wednesday’s practice in Owings Mills and was asked whether he was nearing a return to game action..

“He’s closer — yes, he is,” Harbaugh said. “Dennis Pitta is closer.”

After Thursday’s game against the Steelers, the Ravens will not play again until Dec. 8 when they welcome the Minnesota Vikings to M&T Bank Stadium. Given the timing of Pitta’s return to practice, that Week 14 contest would seem like the logical date that he’ll play in a game barring any setbacks.

Pitta suffered a dislocated and fractured hip on July 27 but was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return in early September after the injury revealed no ligament or cartilage damage in the surrounding hip area.

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