Tag Archive | "reed"

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Preview For Ravens vs. Steelers Playoff Game

Posted on 12 January 2011 by Michael Schwartz

Smash mouth football at its best. Ravens and Steelers, two divisional rivals, two of the best defenses in the NFL slugging it out at Heinz Field on Saturday, January 15th. Ray Lewis and the Ravens defense go into Pittsburg with the same regular season record at 12-4. The Ravens dominated the Chiefs in the opening round of the playoffs 30-7. The Steelers had a bye and their last two regular season games were blowouts. They beat the Panthers with ease and then crushed the Browns 41-9. They rested some of their starters in the second half of the Browns game. Their injured players have had rest some of the players are Troy Polamalu, Aaron Smith, and Bryan McFadden. Troy Polamalu has been battling a Achilles tendon injury for a little over a month. He has had plenty to rest, so he will be as healthy as possible for Sunday. Mike Tomlin said that he will practice later in the week so he can stay as well rested as possible. Aaron Smith and McFadden have been battling injuries but are both expected to play on Saturday. On the other hand, the Ravens played last week, so they didn’t have any time off. In the Chiefs game some Ravens were getting up slowly and limping around. One player was Matt Birk, he was getting up very slow every time he was on the ground. He played the whole game, so he will play on Saturday but he will need to be well rested so he can stop the Steelers pass rush. Haloti Ngata has been battling a sprained knee for the last couple of weeks, he has played each week, but he will be a big factor in the game. He Is the key for the Ravens stopping Rashard Mendenhall from having a big day. This will be a hard hitting game, and there are probably going to be some injuries. The players will play through it, so they can get to the AFC Championship.

The Ravens defense hasn’t beaten Ben Roethlisberger in the last five years. The last time the Ravens played the Steelers, Haloti Ngata broke his nose in the first series. Big Ben finished the game and led them to victory with less than two minutes to play. Big Ben is the toughest quarterback to bring down in the NFL and the Ravens know that. Terrell Suggs will be a key player in Saturday’s game, and he has played against Big Ben many times in his career. He knows that he needs to wrap Ben up and not let him escape. Big Ben will need his receivers to get open quick, because the Ravens pass rush does well in getting to him. Mike Wallace is a very good wide receiver; he has great speed and hands. He likes to run deep and Ben is great at putting the ball where only he can get it. Hines Ward is a veteran wide receiver who always seems to do well against the Ravens. He is a very good route runner, who finds the holes in the defense. The Steelers are very good at running the football. Rashard Mendenhall is a very physical runner and the Steelers offensive line does a great job at giving him holes to run. The Steelers offense revolves around Big Ben making plays out of nothing, but if the Ravens can keep him in the pocket, then they will have a chance to stop the big plays. The Ravens defense will have their hands full in this game with trying to stop the run and the pass. Generally the Ravens are good at stopping the run, but versus the Chiefs Jamaal Charles had 9 attempts for 82 yards. In the second half he was held to 2 carries for -5 yards. The Ravens made the adjustment and stopped Charles. Charles is a back who likes to get to the outside, while Mendenhall is a between the tackle runner. The Ravens defense will need to fill up the holes fast or get good penetration into the backfield. Haloti Ngata is the best defensive lineman, and teams have to double team him or he can get into the backfield. The Ravens secondary had trouble tackling Charles, and if they want to stop the run they will need to tackle Mendenhall from the waist down. Mike Wallace will likely be covered by Chris Carr with Ed Reed helping over the top to prevent the big play. Hines Ward will be covered by Josh Wilson who will need to physical in order to stop Ward. Ward is a very physical receiver and is considered to be very cheap; Wilson will need to keep composure along with the rest of the Ravens defense so they don’t give the Steelers extra downs.

The Ravens offense will have a tough task ahead of them since the Steelers defense is one of the best in the NFL. They are very good at getting to the quarterback and stopping the run. The Ravens offense line has had trouble this year protecting Flacco. The Chiefs had 4 sacks and the Steelers have rushers like James Harrison who is a great defensive end. Michael Oher will have his hands full all day and for the Ravens to win they need Oher to keep Harrison off of his quarterback. The Ravens offense likes to run to set up the pass but against the Steelers they have trouble running the ball. Joe Flacco will need to have a good game just like versus Kansas City. The receivers will need to get open so Flacco can get the ball out quickly. Anquan Boldin had a good game versus the Chiefs with 5 receptions for 64 yards and a touchdown. He is a physical receiver, so this is his kind of game. Ray Rice will need to catch balls out of the backfield if the receivers are covered. Ray Rice and Willis McGahee will need to run the ball well in order for the offense to o well. If they run well then that opens up the play action and Joe Flacco is very good when he uses play action. Joe Flacco will need to spot Troy Polamalu on each play so he doesn’t make big plays. Polamalu is the reason that the Steelers won in Week 13, so he will likely be the difference in this game to.

Prediction: 16-13 Steelers

The last 2 meetings between the Steelers and Ravens have been decided by 3 points. I think that that will remain the same. This game will come down to the last couple of plays just like the other games. Big Ben will likely drive the Steelers down the field with 2 minutes or less to go and get them in field goal range. The Steelers will go onto the AFC Championship and lose to either team because they will be so banged up.

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Nnamdi Asomugha to the Ravens?

Posted on 11 January 2011 by Michael Schwartz

One of the best cornerbacks in the NFL is Nnamdi Asomugha and he will be a free agent in the 2011 free agent market. There are many teams who will want this cornerback and one of which is the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens would love to get a shutdown corner to add to their great defense. This year Asomugha was thrown at 27 times, and only 13 of these were completions. Teams obviously don’t want to throw near him, and if the Ravens got him then they could put him on one side with no safety help and then have Reed on the other side ball hawking. The only thing that will keep him out of Baltimore will be the money; the Ravens generally won’t go out and pay a player 8-10 million a year. Assuming that Asumougha will get paid like Darrelle Revis who just got a 4 year, 32 million dollar contract this year. He will likely make the same amount if not a little more. He deserves the money but the Ravens also have to resign Haloti Ngata who is one of the best if not the best defensive tackle in the NFL. They may resign Todd Heap, but other than that they have guys like Kelly Gregg, Chris Carr, Fabian Washington, T.J Houshmanzadah, and Jarett Johnson. They will likely let Gregg, Housh, and Washington go. They will sign Johnson and Carr for a decent price, but they would still be able to get Asumougha. This would put them over the top as a defense since for the past couple of years; they have wanted to get a good corner. Ozzie will definitely look into getting him but the Ravens will have to beat offers by other teams. If the Ravens could get deep into the playoffs or even the Super Bowl they would have a better chance, since Asumougha has never been in a playoff game. He would be a great accusation and I wouldn’t be surprised if Lewis, Reed, or other Ravens have contacted him and expressed interest.

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Ravens Play Great Team Game

Posted on 10 January 2011 by Michael Schwartz

The NFL’s best running team in the Chiefs versus a stout Ravens defense. The Chiefs offense had a early touchdown in the first when Jamaal Charles broke a 41 yard run. The Ravens knew going into this game that they needed to stop Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs rushing attack. After this play the Ravens knew if they didn’t make adjustments it would be a long day. After that the Ravens didn’t let the Chiefs score again. The defense shut down the Chiefs run game and pass game. Cassell threw for 70 yards and the Chiefs ran for 108 yards. Their total net yards were 161, and that is less than half of their season average. The Ravens defense forced 5 turnovers, 3 interceptions and 2 fumbles. The Ravens defense sacked Cassell 3 times and another thing the Ravens defense did well was holding the Chiefs on third down conversions. The Chiefs were 1/8 on third down. The Ravens defense got after the quarterback and that is because Greg Mattison dialed up the blitz. It is something that he hasn’t done all year but he did it and it worked. The Chiefs definitely weren’t expecting the Ravens defense to dial up the blitz and stopping the passing game. Dwayne Bowe didn’t have one reception and that is something that the Ravens emphasized. They were putting Ed Reed as a deep safety on Bowe’s side. The defense had a great plan on how to contain Bowe and the whole Chiefs offense.

The Ravens offense played great in all aspects of offense. Joe Flacco didn’t throw any interceptions, but he fumbled when Tamba Hali came off the edge and stripped it. This led to the Jamaal Charles touchdown but that was the only mistake Flacco made. The Ravens were not running the ball particularly well, but they still had the Chiefs biting on the play action. Todd Heap was unstoppable, he had 10 receptions for 108 yards. The Ravens finally got Anquan Boldin involved. He had 5 receptions for 64 yards and a touchdown. He is going to have to do the same next week if the Ravens want to win. Ray Rice caught 5 balls out of the backfield for 42 yards including a touchdown on a third and 2. The offense possessed the ball for more than 40 minutes and that kept the defense fresh and it showed because the were able to force 5 turnovers. The Ravens offensive line allowed 4 sacks and the Steelers have a much better pass rush than the Chiefs and the Ravens will need to protect Flacco a lot better. The Ravens played a great game overall and have a good chance against the Steelers if they can play the same offense they played versus the Chiefs.  The Ravens played this game for Ed Reed and the Ravens linebackers coach who lost a family member this past week.

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Meet WR David Reed of Utah

Posted on 24 April 2010 by WNST Staff

With the 156th selection in the NFL Draft, the Ravens selected wide receiver from Utah. Here are some stats and facts about Reed:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=071T8yNRT38[/youtube] [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6TvfzWyNgE[/youtube] [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U49CBc9SE-8[/youtube]

Reed’s NFL.com bio states:

“Reed will need work on is route running skills as he played out of a spread offense in Utah and is not accustomed to running precise routes. He had an excellent week of practices at the East-West game and showed that he can be precise in his routes and sink his hips to get in and out of his breaks with a good burst. He is a natural receiver that has a wide receiving radius and can adjust to off-target throws. He needs to add bulk and strength for the next level but has shown enough to make you think he could contribute as a No. 3 receiver early on as well as returning punts and kickoffs. While he is not a speed burner he does play the game with competitive speed.”

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ESPN Fails Again – Names ’04 Trojans Greatest CFB Team of the Decade Ahead of ’01 Canes

Posted on 21 January 2010 by stevenlink

So the “greatest” sports network on the planet announced its “Team of the Decade” for college football.  With so many great teams to choose from, ESPN decided to go with…the 2004 USC Trojans?  I don’t disagree that the ’04 Trojans were an amazing football team, but they were not the greatest of the decade…that title my friends, belongs to the 2001 Miami Hurricanes.

I am not saying this based on my obvious bias towards the Hurricanes, but rather through logic and sound reasoning.  And I am willing to go that extra step and state that the 2001 Miami Hurricanes were probably the greatest collegiate football team of all time.

Normally I do not allow things like this to bother me as much as this one is, however, just imagine if ESPN broadcasted and named the top NFL defense of this past decade the 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers.  Would you not be furious that the 2000 Ravens defense was not number 1 but rather a “close” number 2?  Yea, I thought you would agree with me.

Here is the link to ESPN’s article written by Pat Forde: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=forde_pat&id=4841759

Now I am not a published journalist and I like Pat Forde’s work, but I would have spent a little more than two or three sentences to explain why you chose the rankings for each team.

Not only is it a quick, I guess you call it this, analysis about each team, but the reasoning that is used is flawed.  First of all, the article makes the argument that Miami played an easier team in the BCS Championship, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, than the USC Trojans did, the Oklahoma Sooners.  Forde states that, “The Hurricanes produced an astonishing amount of pro talent and stampeded to a perfect record — but they were also slightly lessened by facing an underwhelming Nebraska team in the 2002 Rose Bowl.”

Last time I checked, neither teams, coaches, nor a playoff determined who would play in the BCS Championship game, but rather 5 computers made the decision at that time.  Isn’t this the same argument that Forde and others at ESPN have complained about for years regarding the BCS, that the BCS is imperfect?  If they complain about how imperfect the system is, then why are they holding this fact against the Hurricanes??  Way to think this all the way through guys and gals.  Sounds like Lou Holtz may have gotten to you…

If you compare the two championship games that USC and Miami played in, both teams dominated their opposition.  Forde states in his analysis of USC’s game against Oklahoma that, “The score was 38-10 at halftime for a USC team that combined dazzling offense…and brutal defense…”  However, does he make mention of Miami’s game at the half?  At halftime in the 2001 BCS Championship game, Miami was leading Nebraska 34-0…34-0!!  The final score was 37-14, but it was not indicative of how purely dominant Miami was on the football field.  Andre Johnson was catching touchdown passes as if he was already at the combine showing off his speed and hands, while Clinton Portis was storming through Nebraska’s defensive line like a fat-kid through a buffet line!!  I mean right there, using that logic, both teams are equal.  The only difference is that Miami turned it off after the half and decided not to run the score up unlike the Trojans.  If Miami wanted to, that score could have been over 60 points by the end of the game…and it is not like Miami did not score 60 plus points that season.

This brings me into my next point, why not also use the regular season to determine the greatest team?  Why just the championship game?  Did the other 11 or 12 games not count?

Below I have laid out the opponents and results for each team.  Notice I have also labeled whether an opponent either Miami or USC faced was ranked at that the time of the match-up.  Before you look, I want you to pay careful attention to the amount of games that Miami and USC won by only single-digits, how many shut-outs each team had, and how many teams Miami and USC faced that were ranked nationally.

2004 USC Trojans:

8/28 – Virginia Tech – W 24-13

9/11 – Colorado State – W 49-0

9/18 – BYU – W 42-10

9/25 – Stanford – W 31-28

10/9 – #7 California – W 23-17

10/16 – #15 Arizona State – W 45-7

10/23 – Washington – W 38-0

10/30 - Washington State – W 42-12

11/6 – Oregon State – W – 28-20

11/13 – Arizona – W 49-9

11/27 – Notre Dame – W 41-10

12/4 – UCLA – W 29-24

BCS Championship 1/4 – Oklahoma – W 55-19

 

2001 Miami Hurricanes

9/1 – Penn State – W 33-7

9/8 – Rutgers – W 61-0

9/27 – Pittsburgh – W 43-21

10/6 – Troy – W 38-7

10/13 – #14 Florida State – W 49-27

10/25 – West Virginia – W 45-3

11/3 – Temple – W 38-0

11/10 – Boston College – W 18-7

11/17 – #14 Syracuse – W 59-0

11/24 – #12 Washington – W 65-7

12/1 – #14 Virginia Tech – W 26-24

BCS Championship 1/3 – #4 Nebraska – W 37-14

 

As you can see, Miami clearly had the more dominant regular season.  The Canes’ defense shut out opponents three times to USC’s two.  Miami played 5 ranked teams while USC played only 3.  And most importantly, USC had to win 4 games by single digits while Miami had to only win 1!!  Uno!!  That right there shows dominance!!  Plus, did you notice how Miami scored over 60 points not just once, but twice that year?

Now to the players…  Again, I do not disagree that USC had players that were very good in college, but comparing them to the players and product that the 2001 Hurricanes churned out, is nothing to compare.  However, I am going to compare because I want to prove my point even more.

The article spouts off about some great players on the Trojans.  On offense: Matt Leinhart, Reggie Bush, LenDale White, Dwayne Jarrett, Steve Smith, Ryan Kalil, Duece Lutui.  On defense: Lawrence Jackson, Mike Patterson, Shaun Cody, and Lofa Tatupu.

Sure these kids were good in college, but when they got into the NFL, almost all of them earned the mark of being OVER-RATED.  How many are Pro Bowlers and how many are NFL stars?  Let’s go one-by-one shall we?

Matt Leinhart – He got drafted in the first round by the Arizona Cardinals and was suppose to be their young savior.  The Cardinals bring in the ever-ageless Kurt Warner to back-up Leinhart and teach him how to be a NFL quarterback.  But wait, who is starting for the Cardinals now?  Who was the quarterback that took them to their first ever Super Bowl appearance?  Was it USC’s Leinhart???  Nope, it would be the back-up they brought in who out-performed Leinhart in almost every aspect of the game…Leinhart = Over-rated

Reggie Bush – Not only is he still under investigation regarding the alleged NCAA violations he broke while at USC, but who would have thought that the most electrifying running-back (RB) in college football would be the second-string RB on the New Orleans Saints?  The fact that he is known more for his punt and kick-off returns in the NFL rather than his RB skills and prowess, is embarrasing enough.  Also, the kid can’t stay healthy…Reggie Bush = Overrated

LenDale White – Okay, so he had one good season, but he’s still a dud.  He is a not a starter and will not be a starter anywhere else.  Even after he lost those 30 pounds or something this past offseason he still can’t outrun a 340 pount defensive lineman…

Steve Smith – Congrats Mr. Smith…after about 3 years or so in the NFL you have finally emerged as a legitimate wide-receiver.  Some thought it would never happen.  I still think you should credit Mr. Manning for how he used you as his safety net.

Dwayne Jarrett – You’re kidding me right?  Anyone reading this blog know what team this guy plays for??  If you guessed the Carolina Panthers, then you know your NFL.  He was drafted to replace Mushin Mohammed who left the Panthers for the Bears.  After Mushin’s contract was up with the Bears, the Panthers quickly brought him back because Jarrett has been a complete bust.  Dwayne Jarrett = Overrated

Ryan Kalil, Duece Lutui??  Need I go any further with two players that 90% of NFL fans have never heard of?

And now for the amazing defense…  Out of the list of names listed, only one has made a semi-name for himself and that is Tatupu.  Don’t tell any Seahawk fans this, but he is an overrated Middle-Linebacker who does not have the strength or speed to be dominant in the NFL.  Does anyone know what teams Lawrence Jackson, Mike Patterson, or Shaun Cody play for?  If you do, please report that information to the USC Booster Club as they have been missing.

This is just an utter travesty to place this team before the Miami Hurricanes of 2001.  If you were to match up the 2001 Canes versus the 2004 Trojans, I guarantee that the 2001 Canes would win.  And if there was not the pass-interference call in the 2002 BCS Championship game against Miami (that was an improper flag) Miami would have won that Championship and should also be ahead of the 2004 Trojans.  I digress…

Here is a list of players that played on Miami’s 2001 team and that are so well-known, that I do not need to list and explain them like I had to with the Trojans.

Clinton Portis (WAS), Jeremy Shockey (NO), Andre Johnson (HOU), Kellen Winslow Jr. (TB), Bryant McKinnie (MIN), Jerome McDougle (PHI), William Joseph (NYG), Vince Wilfork (NE), D.J. Williams (DEN), Jonathan Vilma (NO), Phillip Buchanan (DET), Sean Taylor (R.I.P.)…and last but not least ED “The Real Deal” REED!!!  Oh…I think he plays for the Baltimore Ravens.  And I could go on, but I have decided not to…

This blog has gone on long enough…but this is just outrageous!  It once again proves that ESPN knows nothing about sports, other than how to televise them.

The 2001 Miami Hurricanes are by far the greatest team of the past decade, and are arguably the greatest team ever assembled in the history of collegiate football.  How about them apples Lou Holtz?!?!? HAHA!!

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Diary Of A Mad Fan

Posted on 18 January 2010 by Chad Lamasa

The weekend started off on a positive note. Alex Ovechkin led the Caps to 6-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, posting a five point game (1G, 4A). A game I sold my seats too. I kind of wish I had gone now. Oh well. It was still fun to watch.

On Saturday, I thought I was going to get together with a couple of old friends to watch the Ravens and Colts. I was supposed to go, to a Moose Lodge of all places, to hang out with one of my friends that I haven’t seen in a really long time along with the best man from my wedding.

Well, apparently you need to be a member, or know someone who is, in order to get into a Moose Lodge. Who knew? Then my other buddy had to back out because his son was sick.

I should have known right then and there that it wasn’t going to work out for the Ravens. They showed a bit of promise on their first drive, but came away with only a field goal. But then the Ravens of the regular season showed up.

While drinking a Rogue Chipotle Ale, I watched the Ravens self destruct. Not being able to put up more than three points in a playoff game isn’t going to cut it. The penalties came back and crushed us. The defense was sturdy as usual but the offense never got out of first gear.

Part of that was the Colts defense and part was the play calling. Run, run, pass is too predictable. I think it may be time to end the Cam Cameron experiment.

When you’re an elite team the little things tend to go your way as well. The Colts got all of those breaks on Saturday night. Ed Reed had two beautiful picks in the game. Not only, did neither lead to any points for us, but neither led to a possession for us.

Pierre Garcon, the receiver that Reed cut in front of for the first pick, made an unbelievable play, catching up to Reed and punching the ball out of his arm and into the hands of Dallas Clark.

On Reed’s second pick, Corey Ivy got called for pass interference, and wiped out a nice return by Reed. I’m so glad we brought him back.

Ray Rice fumbled the ball after a nice run, and of, course the Colts recovered it.

In the second half I switched to Raven Lager. It didn’t change anything, it just wasn’t meant to be for the Ravens this season.

Yesterday, my wife and I took our son to the Caps game. It was his fifth game of the season; a 5-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers, one of my least favorite franchises in all of sports. After watching the Caps lose the first game he went too, they have now won four in a row with him in attendance.

When we took him to the first game he was very timid, and complained about it being too loud. Each game since, he has gotten more and more into the games. Yesterday he was joining in with the cheers, the C-A-P-S CAPS CAPS CAPS and especially, the “Flyers suck”chants.

When the Caps scored he was one of the first ones hopping up and down and high fiving the guys in front of us. He liked the animations on the score board after goals. It’s very cool watching him develop into a fan.

With about five minutes left in the second period we went to the Acela Club and watched the remainder of the game from there. That was my first time in there. Hopefully, it won’t be my last.

You can’t get a real sense of the speed of the game on TV, and as much of a difference as there is between TV and live, it’s just as much going from the 400 level to the 200′s.

We were down there for Alex Ovechkin’s penalty shot. It was absolutely insane.

When the Caps got to four goals, they started the “We want wings” chant and my son was one of the loudest people. For the uninitiated, Glory Days restaurant offers ten free wings to every fan in attendance if the Caps get to five goals in a game.

Jose Theodore, was a bit shaky in the first period but settled in nicely for the rest of the game. It was good to see Brooks Laich get two goals and earn the first star of the game. I was hoping he could get the hat trick when the Flyers pulled Emery but it was still a great night for him.

The cherry on the top of the sundae was that my Duke Blue Devils roughed up Wake Forest behind Kyle Singlers’  21 point, 15 rebound night.

All in all it was a pretty good weekend.

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A Glorious Festivus Day for Ravens

Posted on 10 January 2010 by Ed Frankovic

It was a super day for the Baltimore Ravens franchise as they put on a first quarter clinic en route to a 33-14 whipping of the New England Patriots on their home turf in the opening round of the NFL Playoffs. There were lots of firsts for the Ravens on Sunday, as chronicled by Drew in this blog, and a city that seemed a little bit skeptical of this team’s ability to win in the post season will no doubt be going purple crazy all week as Baltimore gets ready to head to Indianapolis. We have several days to analyze that matchup and as Glenn mentioned in his blog, there are things that need some correcting. However, for tonight, this blog is just going to primarily talk about the positives (my dad would call this the anti-Phil Jackman blog - and Phil you know I still love ya!):

- I don’t think I am going out on a limb in declaring this the best performance by the team all season. They defeated an elite club that has a one of the best QB’s in the NFL by lining up and just physically beating the Patriots in nearly every aspect of the game. New England had the deer in the headlights look after Ray Rice went 83 yards on the game’s opening play from scrimmage followed by the Terrell Suggs sack and fumble of Tom Brady that set up the Ravens second touchdown. It was smash mouth Ravens football, no doubt.

- After the game Ray Lewis, who was outstanding with 13 tackles and a sack on Sunday, praised defensive coordinator Greg Mattison for coming up with a great game plan. Mattison, however, said that it was not his schemes, it was the players execution that did the job. Whatever the case, the Baltimore defense was the most aggressive it has been all year and clearly that style fits the personnel. New England only had 196 total yards, wow! Charlie Frye threw for 180 yards on the Ravens in the 1st half alone in last week’s victory in Oakland. #52 talked in the post game about disguising the blitz until the last second for fear of Brady recognizing it and checking off, something the 3-time Super Bowl Champion excels at. Well today, #12 had no clue what was coming most of the time and he played like it. Mattison felt that the team could generate pressure rushing just four players and for the most part he was right. If there is one thing I would like to see less of, it would be the three man rush. The NFL rules are set up so much for the offense that if you give the receivers time to get open they either will or likely draw a penalty.

- Speaking of penalties, Baltimore only was flagged 3 times for a total of 15 yards! That was incredible focus and discipline by a team that has struggled to maintain its composure in several instances this year. Yes, the team was winning so it was easier to stay in control, but mentally that may have been the best the squad collectively has executed all year. Not a single personal foul or pass interference infraction was whistled on the Ravens today.

- Did the offense remind you a bit of the 2000 Ravens in Tennessee? Baltimore only threw the ball 10 times and Joe Flacco completed just four passes (but two were huge ones to Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton to keep second half drives going). But when you get an early lead after an 83 yd scamper why not keep pounding the ball like the Ravens used to do with Jamal Lewis? The rushing totals were 52 carries for 234 yards, a 4.5 yard per carry average. The backs were good and the offensive line was flat out dominant. It is clear that a healthy Jared Gaither at left tackle plays a huge role in offensive success.

- The much maligned secondary was superb today forcing 3 interceptions and holding Randy Moss to 5 catches for 48 yards (and most of those came in garbage time). Dominique Foxworth, Frank Walker, and Dwan Landry might have had their best games of the season. The pressure put on Brady certainly helped and having a healthier Ed Reed at safety contributed as well. Ravens fans can only hope that #20 continues to progress physically this week because they will need his smarts against Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, and company. Reed even had a good lateral today to Landry on his INT that put the Ravens in the red zone.

- Special teams were fairly solid. Tom Zbikowski’s 30 yard return after New England cut the Ravens lead to 27-14 put the ball near midfield and on the shorter grid the Ravens drove for the score that put the nail in the coffin in this one. Sam Koch punted well with two good kicks that pinned the Pats inside their own 20 yard line and even Matt Katula’s long snaps were better allowing kicker Billy Cundiff to hit on both of his field goals and all three PATs.

- The Ravens came out as healthy as you can be after 17 weeks of football and tight end Todd Heap’s back injury appears to be minor. So could a team that has been banged up so badly since starting 3-0 finally be getting healthier in some key areas (see Gaither and Reed)? One has to hope that is true and Flacco will likely have an easier time getting his aching hip loose in a dome instead of the freezing north east.

- All in all it was a very good day to be affiliated with the Ravens and somewhere heading south on I-95 at 1000pm on Sunday night there are two full buses of very happy people who decided to go on the WNST road trip to Gillette Stadium. Those people, and any other Ravens fan who attended the game in person, are truly great for showing such faith in a team that many thought would get beat today, including myself. As anyone that has traveled with WNST knows, WNST bus trips, whether to a Ravens game, a Caps or Bears hockey game, or to a horse race, is a ton of fun. I’m sure this weekend to Indianapolis will be no exception so sign up, if you can. By the way, it was great to hear Ravens Coach John Harbaugh mention and praise the support the team received from the Ravens fans who attended the contest today. So how about we more than double that for next week’s Saturday night contest and get at least five WNST buses going to Indy?

Happy Festivus! (que the Ravens Mania music now…)

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Ravens punch Indy ticket with easy beatdown of Patriots, 33-14

Posted on 10 January 2010 by Drew Forrester

Let me get this straight.

New England hadn’t lost a home playoff game in 31 years — and in that time they were 11-0 in Foxborough.

Tom Brady was 8-0 at home in his post-season career.

Baltimore’s pedestrian 9-7 regular season mark this year included a dismal 3-5 away record.

So with all of that statistical data overloaded against Baltimore, it made perfect sense that the Ravens would race out to a 24-0 first quarter lead and cruise to a 33-14 win in New England today.

Right?

If you say so.

What a crazy league the NFL has become.

And what a crazy season it’s been for the Ravens, who literally entered the 4th quarter of their final regular season game in Oakland with their playoff berth still very much in jeopardy.

7 days later, they’ve polished off the mystique of the New England Patriots and they’re on their way to Indianapolis for a Saturday evening showdown with Peyton Manning and the Colts.

The New England fans hung around until there were about 9 minutes to go in the game.

They put in more of an effort than Randy Moss, that’s for sure.

So how did it happen today?

In a way only the dreamer could possibly imagine, the Ravens scored on their first play from scrimmage and then parlayed two first quarter turnovers into a 24-0 lead before half the crowd could say, “Want another cup of chow-dahh?”

And with their star quarterback obviously in need of a spark-plug change and Moss mailing it in like a member of the Postal Service, the Patriots were left with nothing to do except entertain an afternoon of boos from their faithful and wonder to themselves how on earth they picked today to have their worst game of the season.

As for the Ravens, they picked a great time to produce their best 30 minutes of defensive football all season, that’s for sure.

With Ray Lewis providing yet another epic post-season performance and Domonique Foxworth leading an opportunistic secondary, Baltimore clamped down early and often on both Brady and the running game en-route to a comfortable 24-7 halftime lead.

And when Willis McGahee scampered in with 10:32 to play to make it 33-14, the stands started to empty.

So it’s now on to Indianapolis, where the Ravens will undoubtedly have January 13, 2007 on their minds.  Fresh off of a 13-3 regular season and a first-week playoff bye, Steve McNair had a game only Tom Brady could duplicate (today) and the Baltimore offense stalled in a 15-6 loss to Indy.

Next Saturday night in Indy, it’s payback time for Ray Lewis, Todd Heap, Ed Reed and the rest of the guys who were part of that disappointing home defeat.

It had to be this way, right?

Baltimore vs. Indianapolis.

Winner goes to the AFC Championship game.

Loser goes home.

One thing for sure:  Tom Brady won’t be making a trip to South Florida in early February to gun for his 4th ring.

The Ravens made sure of that today in New England.

Now if they can send next week’s opposing quarterback home early, we might really be on to something.

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Lots of questions but not lots of answers for Ravens

Posted on 22 November 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

To say that frustration has fallen across the land here in Baltimore along with an early sunset would be an understatement. Today, once again, the sun continued to set on another season of Ravens football as the Ravens dropped their fifth game of the season as the Indianapolis Colts walked across the purple bird toward the visiting locker room as the winners in their former land of Baltimore.

Today, it is NOT the land of pleasant living.

After a 7th-consecutive disgusting loss for a fan base who built that horseshoe for the Irsay family before having it shoved up its civic backside in March 1984, there are many questions, but few answers the Ravens can provide beyond a disappointing 5-5 record.

Ed Reed and Ray Lewis didn’t even chat with the media. (Why Reed was trying to pitch the ball in that situation is just inexplicable — except that he’s been doing it for a decade, Brian Billick-be-damned!)

John Harbaugh had a rather terse “no comment”-style response in regard to this action.

I’m not a guy who’s ever looked for “goats” in losses. I’ve been around this game long enough to know that mistakes of the physical nature are usually deemed “acceptable.”

It’s pretty apparent that the Ravens have guys in the secondary who are physically over-matched or outrun at various points. That, in a way, is OK. They’re trying hard, doing their best, trying to get in a position to make a play. Domonique Foxworth, Frank Walker, Fabian Washington, Chris Carr — they’ve all had bad days and bad plays in these 10 games, but no one is confusing their results with their effort.

But the mental mistakes? Well, those are the ones that the coaches hate the most. In tennis, they’re called “unforced errors.”

Today, the Ravens made way too many mistakes in decision-making, and most of it came in the last few minutes of the game, opening the door for the Indianapolis Colts after spending much of the day on the all-too-rare “right side” of the Baltimore-Indianapolis 25-year karma.

The Ravens got several calls from the officials and a few good spots. Most of the “breaks” went their way vs. the Colts. They stripped the ball at the foot of the goal line to avert another Indy touchdown in the first half. They picked Peyton Manning twice early and played very, very well on defense all day, especially considering that they were playing the best quarterback on the planet with the fewest weapons and the worst secondary they’ve fielded during the lopsided rivalry.

But the holy trinity of mistakes — all by key members of the franchise — Flacco’s interception, Reed’s fumble and Harbaugh’s screwy use of the clock and the last, few precious timeouts put the Ravens with a full foot into the grave for the 2009 season with a 5-5 record. Only the late afternoon buffoonery of the Steelers losing to the Chiefs and the Bengals bungling a sure victory in Oakland could keep the Ravens off of complete life support. And that doesn’t factor in the relative mediocrity of teams like Miami and Denver, who have become the Ravens’ competition for a 9-7 playoff berth.

Harbaugh also has to accept the Ravens’ share of the responsibility for why Matt Stover was in a blue and white uniform today kicking winning field goals and the purple franchise is working on yet another kicker who missed a kick today in a game that was lost by two points.

So you think this game wasn’t won by the difference between Stover and Bill Cundiff?

Bad snap by Matt Katula not-withstanding, Stover made all of his tries, including the eventual game-winner with seven minutes remaining. Cundiff’s 30-yard near-whiff is the three points that would’ve won the game.

The kicking game has been the difference between being 7-3 and 5-5.

Period. Not a low blow, just a FACT!

So, just how big was the departure of Stover after all? And whose idea was all of this in the offseason?

For Harbaugh, the honeymoon with Charm City is on life support. The media are already agitated by his various peculiar idiosyncrasies and paranoid policies. And the Ravens are a breath away from elimination in 2009, which is probably just about what they’ve earned on the field with various degrees of poor play, poor preparation and lousy decision-making.

What the hell was Harbaugh thinking throwing that red flag after calling a timeout and not calling for a measurement? Honestly, that’s not a leader under fire in the NFL, that’s amateur hour! If that were any other coach blowing it on the other sideline, that’s exactly what we’d call it.

And, factor in the inevitable aging of a less-than-youthful roster and the injuries to the likes of Terrell Suggs, Todd Heap, Haloti Ngata and Brendon Ayanbadejo and you’ve got a recipe for under-achieving that falls far outside of just Harbaugh’s deficiencies. When injuries happen, teams don’t make the playoffs. You can check the track record on that.

You get the feeling that it’s just not meant to be for the Ravens of 2009.

Oh, and it’s Steeler Week here in the former land of pleasant living.

The Purple Haze is on at 7 p.m. tonight (and every Sunday night). Looking forward to chatting about the Ravens’ precarious situation in the NFL cosmos…

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‘Twas The Night before the Ravens opener…

Posted on 12 September 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

It kinda reminds me of Christmas Eve with anticipation. We’ve been waiting…and waiting…and waiting…and finally, football season is really here in Baltimore.

Wash away those ghosts of Troy Polamalu – the ones from the AFC Championship Game in January not the one from Thursday night – and let us begin a season anew.

First up, it’s the woeful Kansas City Chiefs. The general vibe around town all week has been one of supreme confidence. Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed began their Wednesday press conference with dancing. John Harbaugh has sounded confident. Joe Flacco seems like a veteran all of a sudden.

I’ve quizzed several Kansas City media members and I had a chance to watch parts of two of their preseason games (both without Matt Cassel). No one is brimming with confidence in the land of the red Chiefs and no one really expects them to win tomorrow.

The Vegas line started at 10 ½ and has now moved to 13 points. Even if Matt Cassel plays on Sunday – and that seems to be a sure bet given their backup options with Tyler Thigpen and Brodie Croyle – the Chiefs are a team of nobodys and “who is thats” coming in to serve the purple patrons an Opening Day patsy.

The Ravens should win on Sunday. There should be no excuses.

The team has looked brilliant in virtually every facet of first-team play through four preseason games. They’ve almost made it look too easy, even without Terrell Suggs for long stretches.

Confidence is high. Tailgates are sizzling with Roma Sausage and cold beer. Even the weather looks to be strong – forecast is 78 degrees and zero chance of precipitation.

So, just how will the 2009 season go for the Ravens?

The fans are abuzz with talk of depth at the wide receiver position. The offensive line is trying to find some depth to open up holes for a running back-by-committee arrangement with Willis McGahee, Le’Ron McClain and Ray Rice, who will probably be the leading rusher if they all stay healthy. And the health and productivity of Todd Heap is certainly a question mark.

But, offensively, it feels like Flacco will be asked to do more and looks more than capable of stepping up to that challenge.

Defensively, the eyes will always be on Ray Lewis, who is fighting Father Time with every season. Consider that he’s now survived two years longer than Jon Ogden and the likes of Peter Boulware, Jamie Sharper, Chris McAlister, Duane Starks – who all entered the league after No. 52 – all seems to be done in the NFL. Lewis was considered a surefire Hall of Famer five years ago is now continuing to pile on his own legacy.

What kind of a year will it be for Lewis?

And Ed Reed, who has had neck issues and certainly doesn’t appear set for a long, long career given his style of play and reckless abandon and penchant for physical contact?

Terrell Suggs appeared injured during most of camp but quieted all questions for me in the Atlanta game, when he looked dominant and healthy.

The secondary will have a fresh look with Dominique Foxworth and Fabian Washington mixing it up with Frank Walker, who has to earn a little more confidence from the purple crowd and probably will vs. Kansas City.

The defensive line appears to be the strength of the defense, led by Haloti Ngata who had a mysterious injury appear earlier this week.

Questions and more questions. We’ll have 16 weeks of this marathon.

The answers begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Bring on the season. Bring on the Chiefs. Bring on the roadtrips!

My prediction: Ravens go 12-4 and win the Super Bowl.

Baltimore 31, Kansas City 13

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