Tag Archive | "St. Louis Rams"

Torrey Smith

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Ravens rookie WR Torrey Smith on performance Sunday: “I know how it works…you can’t get caught up in it”

Posted on 28 September 2011 by Ryan Chell

Ravens rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith knew something special was going to happen Sunday in his first career start in the NFL against the St. Louis Rams.

“On the way to the stadium…excited about my first start..I have a good feeling about today,” Smith tweeted before this past weekend’s 4:15PM start against St. Louis.

Starting opposite Anquan Boldin in place of the injured Lee Evans, Smith quickly made up for his disappearance in the first two weeks of the season-catching five passes for 152 yards and three touchdowns.

Each of this three scores came on his first three grabs of the game.

His first came on a 74-yarder from quarterback Joe Flacco on the second offensive play for the Ravens, and a 41-yarder and an 18-yarder  followed later in the quarter to put his team up 21-0 at the end of one and help lead the Ravens to a 37-7 blowout of the Rams.

It turned out his intuition was right. He felt confident in his abilities, and so did the coaching staff in him-as he told Glenn Clark on “The Reality Check” Tuesday.

Torrey Smith

“I was fine,” Smith told Clark.  “They put me in that position in order to excel. The coaches and my teammates believed in me.”

Smith said that there could not have been a more helped or more prepared player on the field than he was Sunday-even receiving help from the guy he was filling in for in Lee Evans.

“You know, coach Hoss [Jim Hostler]-he’s been tough on me ever since I’ve gotten there,” Smith said.  “Just having Coach Hoss and Harbaugh, Cam, Anquan and Lee; those guys just having the confidence in me and have helped me prepare… I was fine.”

What he and quarterback Joe Flacco prepared for in advance was knowing that the Rams were going to be physical in man-to-man coverage up the field.

“Our offense as a whole had a great week of practice, and I probably had my best week of practice as a Raven,” Baltimore’s second-round pick said. “For me, I was just ready.”

Smith-using his blazing speed-exploited the Rams’ tendency to perfection, and his quarterback  capitalized off Smith’s route-running.

“Their pass defense was one of the top in the league heading into it, and they put a lot of pressure on the quarterback so we knew we were going to have to win some of the matchups on the outside,” Smith said. “I’m comfortable playing against corners and expecting to win.”

“I knew the ball was coming my way, I was just focused on trying to win, and Joe threw a great ball.”

And it didn’t take long for Joe to find Smith.

Two plays.

Smith said there was no way he expected to get the opportunity that early after being invisible in his offense the first two games of the season.

“That one happened so fast even if I did have something planned, I wouldn’t have been ready for it,” Torrey joked.  “It was quick.”

But he was as ready as ever to make his first NFL reception count, and he did.

And it’s a moment he’ll remember the rest of his life.

“You know I looked at the coverage, saw it coming, and I was like ‘the ball’s coming to me.’ My guy was pressed, and I was going to get on my horse and run,” said Torrey.

“Joe threw a great ball and I peeked up at the TV screen after I caught it and saw that the safety had a little angle, and I was able to outrun his angle.”

Now all he has to do?

Prove the same doubters who called him a bust before Sunday-and who are now saying that his performance was a fluke-wrong.

He told Clark that he’s ready for that challenge and anything he can do to help his team continue to win football games.

But at the same time, he knows that it is one game, and wants people to know that he is going to still have his growing pains once in awhile this season.

“I’m still growing…still learning,” Smith said. “I am still going to be making mistakes, and I’m not going to catch every ball. But I’m still going to try to be the best that I can day in and day out.”

Still, he’s enjoyed the last several days with the extra attention and hopes it helps him gear up for a big game against the Jets Sunday night.

“I’m excited to play against this team,” said Smith. “And we have a lot to learn, and our offense is going to have a touch challenge ahead of us. I think coach Cam will put together a great gameplan and it’ll be nice to go out there and get it done.”

WNST thanks Torrey Smith for joining us and hopes that we’re talking about three-TD performances from Smith every week! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Two days later — Flacco had no business playing the 4th quarter on Sunday

Posted on 27 September 2011 by Drew Forrester

I’ll start this by reiterating something I say a lot during the NFL season.

I like John Harbaugh.  I think he’s a very good football coach.  And I’m happy we have him in Baltimore.

That opening statement hopefully clears the path for the words you’re about to read.  It’s become commonplace in our city for people to say “stop being a hater” anytime you criticize a player or a coach or an owner.  A lot of that traces back to the baseball team, with their fan base bloodied and scarred after 14 years of losing and a growing trend of intolerance towards anyone who offers a harsh word or a “reality check” about the dismal state of the franchise.

And while the football team has piled up wins and playoff victories in John Harbaugh’s 3+ year-tenure, some folks continue to be skeptical of the team’s level of success.

Not me.

I like John Harbaugh.  I think he’s a very good football coach.  And I’m glad we have him in Baltimore.

But if Joe Flacco tears his ACL or separates his shoulder or breaks a bone in his foot because he’s playing the final three minutes of a 30-3 blowout of (insert team here) in week number (insert here), I won’t be so nice to the Coach.

Sunday in St. Louis, Harbaugh again rolled the dice with the ONE player on his team that the Ravens can least afford to lose…their quarterback.  And it wasn’t a roll of the dice at the $5 table.  It’s a $50-table-kind-of-gamble when you have your quarterback running around with three minutes left and the game already in hand and 13 weeks of the season plus playoffs still in the windshield ahead of you.

That kind of gamble isn’t worth taking.

To review the scenario from Sunday’s game, Flacco started THREE offensive series’ in the 4th quarter.  He played the series that started with 11:22 remaining in the game and the Ravens ahead 30-7.  He returned to the field with 8:16 left and the Ravens still ahead 30-7.  And, finally, he was behind center with the score 37-7 and 3:10 left on the clock.  There were runs and throws and sacks and plays where Flacco was under duress during all three of those series’.  In other words, it was still “real football”.  Except for one important thing:  the game was over for all intents and purposes.

Harbaugh tried to wordsmith his way around it in Sunday’s post-game press conference in St. Louis and again on Monday in Baltimore during his weekly gathering with the media at Owings Mills.

He tried to explain his thinking.

None of it held up.

These are a few of the defense-remarks Harbaugh made on Sunday and Monday.

“Joe needs all the reps he can get with his wide receivers”, the Coach said.  (You’re correct, Coach, he does.  But that “need for reps” does not outweigh the importance of having your star quarterback upright and healthy for the last 4 months of the football season.)

“There was no sense in bringing Tyrod Taylor in there to just have him hand the ball off three times and take a knee.” (Huh? That’s not what you did with Flacco in those three series’.  You made him play real football.  You could have had Taylor do the same thing.  No one would have offered a second thought had you employed the rookie QB for a series or two – or three – and said to him, “Now kid, go in there and show us what you can do…”)

“We weren’t trying to run up the score leaving Joe in there.” (I don’t disagree with that.  The whole running up the score thing is a delicate issue to start with – although some would say challenging an apparent fumble with 4 minutes remaining and the score 37-7 could be “run up” worthy – so let’s not go there.  It wasn’t about whether or not the Ravens were trying to run up the score, it was about leaving your star quarterback in the game to run around and risk injury when the game was in control.)

“I’d like to see the stats on how many quarterbacks get hurt playing in late game situations like that.” (I looked it up, Coach.  In the history of the NFL, no quarterback standing on the sidelines with the score 37-7 has ever been injured.  As for the stat surrounding quarterbacks who WERE playing?  I’m not sure.  But how many Presidents were shot while riding in a convertible in downtown Dallas?  Oh, right…just one.)

“We can’t just sit all the starters in that situation.” (That’s correct, you can’t.  No one is saying you SHOULD do that.  What is being suggested, however, is that you have to quickly do some sort of internal ranking of the roster and say, “Well, let’s get some of the starters out of there and alleviate the injury risk and give them a bit of a breather…and I guess I should start with my most IMPORTANT player and go from there.”  That, then, would mean Joe Flacco comes out of the game, for he is, without question, the team’s most important player.  He might not be the BEST player, but he’s the most IMPORTANT, for sure.  The step down from Flacco to Tyrod Taylor would be gigantic.  Taylor’s not ready to lead an NFL team…not even close. And how do I know this?  Simple…he wasn’t even ready-enough to mop up in a 37-7 game, according to the coaching staff.)

I completely understand you can’t “coach in fear” and I’m well aware of the fact that games are never over until their over and all that jazz.  I saw the Lions come back from 20-0 down at halftime and I saw the Bills fall behind 21-0 in the first half before rebounding to win.

Being down 21-0 in the 2nd quarter and being behind 30-7 with 7 minutes left in the game are two completely different animals.  They’re not even remotely similar in comparison.

And for anyone who says, “I want to see the Ravens develop a killer’s mentality.  I want to see them step on team’s throats. Let’s pile on late in the game and put that thing away.”  Have you seen the team’s two wins this year?  They crushed the Steelers and they completely suffocated the Rams.  Both of those games were over at the 35 minute mark.  They didn’t need to do any throat-stepping in the 4th quarter…they did it in the first half.

Playing your quarterback in the final 10 minutes of a 28-point blowout of the Steelers and a 30-point romp in St. Louis has nothing at all to do with “stepping on their throat”.  It has everything to do with not having a sense for the reality of the situation.  The reality in those two instances?  Having your star quarterback in the game at those points was a gamble not worth taking.

If Joe Flacco gets injured and can’t play for 4, 6 or 10 weeks, the Ravens season gets incredibly altered.  If he gets injured in the first quarter this Sunday night, we shrug our shoulders and say, “that’s football.”  If the Ravens are ahead 27-7 with 4 minutes to play on Sunday night and Flacco gets hurt and misses time, all hell will break loose.

I like John Harbaugh.  I think he’s a very good coach.  And I’m glad we have him in Baltimore.

But part of his job as the team’s Head Coach is thinking about NEXT week’s game once THIS week’s game is under control and essentially in the books.

It’s called “protecting your assets”.

Just ask the Indianapolis Colts what happens when your starting QB goes down with an injury.

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Torrey Smith

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“Rating the Ravens” after 37-7 victory over Rams

Posted on 26 September 2011 by Ryan Chell


That was the word of the day that Glenn Clark used earlier this afternoon on “The Nasty Purple Pre-Game Show” before the Ravens took the field against the 0-2 St. Louis Rams.

And while the Ravens may still  not know what they are offensively after their 37-7 blowout of the Rams, they have one thing in certain.

If they throw the ball to Torrey Smith, he will catch it.

And he will score.

Coming into the third game of the season, Smith-getting his first career start with veteran Lee Evans injured with a foot/ankle injury-had only been targeted once on the season so far from quarterback Joe Flacco.

Sunday took only two plays for Smith to finally get that first catch, as he caught a 74-yard touchdown from Flacco to help the Ravens jump out early 7-0.

And he wasn’t done.

Smith grabbed two more  end-zone passes in the first quarter to help the Ravens jump out to a 21-point lead, becoming the first NFL rookie since 1991 to have his first three passes be for six points apiece.

His 41-yard grab with 3:49 left in the first made it a two touchdown game, while his third grab-a 18-yard strike from Flacco-made it 21-0 in favor of the Ravens and put the Rams in hurry-up mode.

Overall, he finished with five catches for 152 yards.

Torrey Smith

Anquan Boldin-who has torched the Rams in his career (he has 1,064 career yards against STL coming into Sunday-most versus any opponent) when he was with the Arizona Cardinals-finished with 7 catches for 74 yards, and was the short option for Flacco in the passing game.

Ed Dickson also rebounded from a poor Week 2 showing against Tennessee to grab five balls for 51 yards.

Rating: A-


Joe Flacco

Joe Flacco started 2011 on a great note in the Ravens’ week 1 victory against Pittsburgh, but no question took a step back in last Sunday’s loss to the Titans, completing 15-32 passes for only 197 yards and two interceptions.

Much like Torrey Smith’s inconsistency to start the season, Flacco found the rookie early for a 74-yard strike on his second pass of the game. He appeared to grow rhythm with Smith as the game went on finding him twice more for scores, but he also had several throws where he took advantage of Smith’s speed a little too much.

He also overthrew passes to Tandon Doss and Boldin, but that was usually with a defender in his face being forced to make a throw on the move or off his back foot.

He set career highs in passing yards and his longest touchdown pass Sunday. But again, like Torrey Smith, let’s see if Flacco can do it two weeks in a row-and next week versus Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie of the Jets.

Flacco had two fumbles on poor decisions on the run outside the pocket. Luckily, only one was a turnover. He might have more of those scenarios next week versus the Jets’ pass rush.

Rating: B+

Running Backs

Despite the big lead, Ray Rice was not used as much as you would think, only carrying the football eight times for 79 yards. However, he still had a good day adding 83 receiving yards to his total. Props to Rice for making the most out of limited touches.

Ricky Williams

After only contributing a turnover last week, backup Ricky Williams showed a lot rebounding and running the football versus the Rams. He finished with five carries for 42 yards, highlighted by a 28-yard run with 2:23 in the first quarter that set up Flacco’s third touchdown pass that made it 21-0 in favor of Baltimore.

Rating: B

Offensive Line

This was a unit that struggled last week with Pro-Bowl caliber guard Ben Grubbs out of the lineup, and the Ravens found themselves in a similar situation Sunday. However, instead of putting Mark LeVoir in place of Grubbs, coach John Harbaugh and the recently re-instated Andy Moeller decided to put C/G Andre Gurode at left guard and deactivated LeVoir.

While Gurode had issues early versus former Ravens DT Justin Bannan, he and his mates in Matt Birk and Bryant McKinnie held down the Rams aggressive defensive line for much of the game. Give credit to the Ravens “hogs” for making blocks down field and helping open up the running lanes for the running backs and the wide receivers in the short passing game.

And for giving Flacco the time to hold onto the ball and find Smith down the field three times for six.

However, Michael Oher continues to struggle even at the right tackle position. Rams DE Chris Long and LB Chris Chamberlain had their way with Oher for two sacks and a fumble on back-to-back plays on the Ravens second-to-last drive, and Oher was flagged for both a holding and illegal hands to the face in pass protection.

Oher will have more leeway on the right side as opposed to Flacco’s blindside, but he can’t be this vulnerable every game otherwise opposing defensive coordinators will continue to pick on him.

Rating: B-

Defensive Line

Terrell Suggs

This unit feasted on Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, and with good reason being up 21-0 early after the first quarter. With banged up running backs in Steven Jackson and Cadillac Williams coming in as game-time decisions, the game fell on the 2nd-year quarterback and the Ravens realized this.

The Ravens had five sacks of Bradford, three of them coming from Pernell McPhee, Terrell Suggs, and Cory Redding.

Interesting to note were the leading tacklers in linebackers Ray Lewis, Jameel McClain, and Suggs. Both Arthur Jones and Terrence Cody got significant snaps, and allowed the linebackers to flow to the ball-carrier.

Haloti Ngata-fresh off his new contract-showed that the Ravens put their money in the right place, manhandling former Ravens center Jason Brown for much of the second half, and he even topped it off with a touchdown off a forced fumble/sack from Ray Lewis.

Rating: A


Ray Lewis

As previously noted, Sunday was the first time this season that cornerback Lardarius Webb did not lead the team in tackles. Ray Lewis finished with ten tackles and a sack/forced fumble. Fellow ILB Jameel McClain was second in tackles with five and also recorded a sack of quarterback Sam Bradford.

After struggling versus Tennessee in coverage from short yardage to the intermediate passing zones, the Ravens linebackers did a good job of making sure running backs Cadillac Williams and Steven Jackson didn’t make contributions in the passing game. They patrolled the middle well versus the versatile tight end Lance Kendricks and receiver Mike Sims-Walker, but they will be tested much more next week versus the Jets.

Rating: B+


Cary Williams

In a way, this unit struggled a bit. Rams receiver Brandon Gibson got behind CB Cary Williams for the Rams’ lone score in the third quarter-34 yards. Williams was also flagged earlier in the second quarter for pass interference on 6’5” Danario Alexander, but the drive ended after Lardarius Webb’s “fair catch” interception with 6:21 left in the quarter.

Webb played better in coverage by playing on top of the receiver, and safety Ed Reed played within the realm of the defensive scheme after jumping routes versus Tennessee in Week 2.

Haruki Nakamura’s injury-which is rumored to be a torn PCL-ligament in his knee-could be devastating to a unit already thin at the cornerback and safety positions.

Rating: B+

Special Teams

Billy Cundiff missed two 51-yd field goals-one of which came with a high-snap from center Morgan Cox. He did bear down after the two early misses, connecting on his next three attempts. This was the second game of three without David Reed, who suffered a shoulder injury last week vs. Tennessee, and the Ravens only got two looks out of LaQuan Williams at the kick return position.

Tune into “The Reality Check” with Glenn Clark Monday as we look at the plays that made a difference Sunday! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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What a difference a week makes – Ravens humble Rams, 37-7

Posted on 25 September 2011 by Drew Forrester

All is well with the world again.

At least as long as the Jets don’t come to Baltimore and win next Sunday.

The Ravens got an “elite” performance from Joe Flacco in the first quarter at St. Louis and the team’s defensive line completely stifled an already-pedestrian St. Louis offense en-route to an easy 37-7 win on Sunday that improved John Harbaugh’s team to 2-1 on the season.

The Rams secondary was so putrid in the opening 15 minutes that 2nd round draft pick Torrey Smith collected his first, second and third career catches in the first quarter — and all three were touchdowns.  Staked to a 21-0 lead, the Ravens cruised from there, adding three Billy Cundiff field goals to put a bow on one of the team’s easiest road victories in the John Harbaugh era.

And to think this was the team that got buzz-sawed in Tennessee last Sunday.

Then again, the Rams didn’t have Kenny Britt.

In fact, the Rams don’t really have ANY wide receivers of note.

And the pressure applied by the Baltimore defense on Sunday kept Sam Bradford uncomfortable from the very first series.

Last Sunday, the Ravens did a poor job of protecting Joe Flacco and an even worse job chasing after Tennessee signal caller Matt Hasselbeck.  That proved to be the difference in the game, as Flacco and the offense never got untracked and Hasselbeck and Britt tortured Baltimore’s small-in-stature secondary all afternoon.

In St. Louis, the old Ravens returned, as the offensive line did a suitable job keeping Flacco upright and the Rams offensive front couldn’t contain the Baltimore pass rush.  That gave Flacco plenty of time to find Smith and Anquan Boldin in the first half and Bradford managed just one TD pass in an otherwise forgettable afternoon.

The only nitpicky negative observation from the blowout was the staff’s decision to insert defensive lineman Haloti Ngata on an offensive package – as a tight end – in the 2nd quarter with the score already 21-0 and the Rams waving the white towel. They just gave him $40 million of guaranteed money and they’re going to put Ngata in as an offensive player?  That one just didn’t make any sense.

And then Harbaugh and Cam Cameron elected to keep Joe Flacco in at quarterback with a 23-point lead and five minutes left in the game…and then up 37-7 with three minutes remaining.  Both weren’t smart decisions.  But when you win 37-7, no one cares about the small stuff.

So let me get this straight. Baltimore has two wins this season:  By the scores of 35-7 and 37-7.

And they lost to the Titans, 26-13.

Which Ravens team is the real one?

Well, based on THIS week’s performance, I’d say the one we saw in St. Louis.

Let’s see which team shows up next Sunday night against the Jets.

Rex Ryan better hope it’s the one that played in Nashville last week.

The “other one”, the Ravens team that played in week #1 and week #3…that team is pretty freakin’ good.

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Tandon Doss

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The “3-Things We’re Looking-4” out of Ravens vs. Rams

Posted on 25 September 2011 by Ryan Chell

Glenn Clark’s 3-Things

1. “Rookie Rhythm” from the wide receiver position in Torrey Smith, Tandon Doss, and LaQuan Williams with quarterback Joe Flacco.

Tandon Doss

2. Stay on the field on 3rd-down on offense; get the Rams off the field on defense

Kenny Britt

3. Linebackers in coverage can no longer be a defensive liability…

Terrell Suggs

Ryan’s 3 Things

1. Torrey Smith has to make contributions (i.e-catch a pass)

Torrey Smith

2. Andre Gurode-starting for Ben Grubbs-has to gel with T Bryant McKinnie and C Matt Birk.

Andre Gurode

3. Contain Steven Jackson-just as the Ravens did in Week 2 with Titans running back Chris Johnson-or even stop him.

Steven Jackson

Follow the game action on @WNST on Twitter and tune into “The Nasty Purple Post-Game Show” after Ravens-Rams!

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Jason Brown

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Former Ravens Justin Bannan and Jason Brown ready to hit the trenches against old mates

Posted on 23 September 2011 by Ryan Chell

When the Ravens line up Sunday at 4:15 versus the St. Louis, they will have two familar faces looking across at them from the Rams offensive and defensive lines.

Anchoring the trenches for the Rams are former Ravens in center Jason Brown, and defensive tackle Justin Bannan. Both spent four years in Baltimore, with Bannan coming over as a free agent from the Buffalo Bills from 2006-2009, and Brown having stayed in a Ravens uniform from 2005-2009.

Brown was a fourth-round pick of the Ravens in 2005 out of North Carolina, and after three solid years starting at both center and guard, he parlayed that into one of the richest contracts ever given to an interior lineman with St. Louis.

Both joined WNST this week to talk about how odd it is wearing blue and gold as opposed to purple and black, and if they had any regrets of not being a Raven anymore.

Jason Brown

“It’s tough, but sometimes it has to be that way,” Brown told Drew Forrester of “The Morning Reaction” Friday. Of course I had made some strong connections and family there with the Ravens, and it was hard for me to leave the Ravens, but the thing is ultimately…my immediate family at the end of the day. I had to make that family decision.”

“It was tough with the lockout and everything,” Bannan told Glenn Clark on “The Reality Check” Thursday. “I signed here in the beginning of August and have been here ever since trying to get acclimated and get use to the new guys, new faces, and new defense. But it’s all come along pretty well.”

Justin Bannan

He’s looking forward to going up against his old friends and teammates, and one of them, guard Ben Grubbs, may not suit up against Bannan because of a foot injury.

“I don’t know what’s going on with Ben,” Bannan said. “I want to find out and see who I’m playing against, but obviously Grubbs is a great player and he’s a friend of mine.”

“I know a lot of the guys on that offensive line, so it’s always going to be a great matchup against them and it’ll be a great game.”

Playing in 58 games for the Ravens, Bannan felt like he learned a lot in Baltimore from coaches like Greg Mattison and Rex Ryan, and now he’s adjusting himself to playing for a similar coach in Steve Spagnuolo.

“In my mind, I like how he approaches the game,” Bannan said. “I like the way he coaches the game. He’s a smart man and he’s always taking into account everything. I’m glad to be a part of it. He’s always been good to me, and I think he’s a great coach.”

Brown said that Spagnuolo’s attention to detail is just as lively on the other side of the ball despite he being a defensive guy.

“Spags, he walks the walk and he definitely talks the talk,” Brown said. “He’s a man that’s led by faith…something a lot of guys identify with. When you have a foundation that you’re trying to build your team on built on discipline, responsibility, work ethic, morals-all those things, we have a great foundation here with the Rams.”

Bannan also gave Spagnuolo credit for giving him another chance to play in the NFL. Bannan, 32, was cut by the Denver Broncos in the off-season just one year, and for some, it could have meant the end of the line.

“Obviously, it was tough. I had a five-year deal there and they decided to make a business decision, and asked me to take a pay-cut.”

“That’s the nature of the business and that’s the business we’re in,” Bannan added. “You’ve got to move on, and you’ve got to take a step back and take a look at what you know.”

Bannan received a lot of praise in the preseason for his high motor, and for that, he has been receiving solid playing time the first two weeks of the season.

“I’m in my tenth year in the NFL and to me, that’s awesome to make it that far,” he said. “The fact that I still get to play this game and be on a great team and be around a bunch of great guys, it makes a huge difference.”

And while the team has not played well this early in the season, he attributed their struggles to early and predicts a turn-around on their part starting Sunday versus his old team.

“I like this team a lot, and I like this defense. It’s all talk saying we have a bright future, but I really believe that and it’s just a matter of putting it together and making it happen.”

Brown agreed.

“Things are definitely coming up out here in St. Louis and we know our biggest opponent right now is ourselves,” he said. “We haven’t played our best ball in the first two weeks right now. There’s so many mistakes that we can correct ourselves as an offense to put us back on track to being a great team.”

And like Bannan, he’s confident that it will start Sunday.

“Somebody’s going to walk away 1-2,” Brown said. “Even though we started off a little rougher than the Ravens right now, at the end of the day that’s what is going to have to be, 1-2.”

WNST thanks Justin Bannan and Jason Brown for joining WNST and wish them all the best following Sunday! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Week 3 $15.70 MobTown Prop Card

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Week 3 $15.70 MobTown Prop Card

Posted on 21 September 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 St. Louis on Sunday in the comments section and provide a valid email address. The winner gets the $15.70 jackpot and bragging rights. Congrats to David Libonate for winning week 2.

1. Who wins the game? (Baltimore or St. Louis) – 1 pt.


2. Who wins the turnover battle? (Baltimore or St. Louis +0.5) – 1 pt.


3. Joe Flacco Passing yards (over or under 240.5) – 1 pt.


4. Ray Rice total yards from scrimmage (over or under 139.5) – 1 pt.


5. Terrell Suggs sacks (over or under 1.75) – 1 pt.


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


7. Torrey Smith receptions (over or under 1.5) – 1 pt.


8. Vonta Leach total yards from scrimmage (over or under 8.5) – 1 pt.


9. Number of Baltimore Touchdowns (over or under 3.5) – 1 pt.


10. Sam Bradford passing yards (over or under 299.5) – 1 pt.


11. Which player scores the first TD (either team) – 5 pts.


12. (tie-breaker) Total combined score –


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

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MSB Monday Market Watch

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MSB Monday Market Watch

Posted on 19 September 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

5 On The Rise

#1 – Tampa Bay Rays – The Rays took 3 of 4 from the Red Sox this weekend to close the gap in the AL Wild Card to 2 games with 10 games to go for each side. Whether the Sox can manage to hold off the Rays or not, they’re in trouble as injuries have taken another mighty toll on Boston this season. Still, after leading Tampa by 9 games as late as September 3rd, there will be no legitimate excuses for the Sox if they should somehow complete one of the worst late season collapses in modern baseball history.


If the Rays somehow find their way in, it’ll be to the chagrin of not just the Sox but of all of the AL teams who do make the playoffs too as the Rays formidable starting pitching has managed to keep them afloat as the bullpen and lineup have spent most of the year learning on the fly. Although it’s a small sample size, the Rays 11-4 record in their last 15 games suggests that they’re peaking at the right time.


Forecast: The schedule suggests that Boston is still in a pretty good place. Six of their 10 remaining games are on the road, but 3 of those and 7 overall of the last 10 are against Baltimore, against whom the Sox are 8-3 on the year. Their other 4 games are against the Yankees, who the Sox have owned to the tune of 11-4 so far this season. Tampa on the other hand has 6 of 10 games remaining at home and 7 of their remaining 10 against the Yankees, against whom they’re 5-6 on the season. Their other 3 games are against the Blue Jays, against whom they’re 10-5 so far.


With a magic number of 7 and 10 of their remaining 11 games against the Rays and Red Sox, the Yankees aren’t yet out of the woods either, igniting essentially 2 pennant races in the AL East when Yanks and Sox both appeared to be foregone conclusions just a couple of weeks ago.



#2 – The Atlantic Coast Conference – ACC fans have been waiting anxiously in the dark as the most recent round of Super-Conference manifest destinies began taking shape again. As all of the moves have seemingly been football driven, fans of the basketball first ACC sat hopefully expecting the conference to do it’s best to keep their 12-member alliance intact and maintain the status quo. Now it seems that the ACC may be on the fast track to becoming the nation’s first super conference as over the weekend news of the intents of both Syracuse and Pitt to join the ACC ranks began to spread.


At the very least, the 2 new members provide the conference with an insurance policy should the SEC come calling officially for Clemson and Florida State, but with UConn already rumored to be poised to follow, it seems but a mere formality that the ACC will add one more player to the mix and become an official Super-Conference with a giant TV network to follow. West Virginia, or on an outside shot South Carolina might be the best bets at #16.


Lost in the euphoria, but no less important this weekend, Miami upset #17 Ohio State, Clemson upset #21 Auburn and Maryland showed well (in the box score at least) against #18 West Virginia.


Forecast: So far so good it seems. Again, at the very least the ACC will be able to maintain 12 members should a couple succumb to the temptations of the SEC or some other budding Super-Conference and will be able to continue staging their own conference title games in football. At best, the ACC could win the race to 16 and become the first of likely many Super-Conferences. Keep in mind though that the most recent versions of ACC expansion didn’t exactly bring about the anticipated results or football credibility that seemed all but foregone at the time.



#3 – Cam Newton – The controversial Heisman trophy / National Championship winning quarterback turned controversial first round (first overall) draft pick of the Panthers unleashed his second straight 400+ yard passing performance en route to his second straight loss to begin his NFL career. Clearly he’d rather be winning and shining, but for now, he’s shining enough to have us all impressed, shocked and mesmerized. Shredding the suspect Cardinals defense in week 1 was impressive enough, that he was able to do it to the defending World Champs while keeping them against the ropes for most of the game after they had spent a week dissecting his tape is flat out amazing. If the youngster keeps playing like that, the wins will surely follow…as will more accolades.


Forecast: He’ll get a chance at the Jags next week and might be able to muster that elusive first win. After that, the schedule gets kind of hairy for a while. He’ll continue to sling it you can bet, and will learn some tough lessons along the way. The funniest thing may be that sooner or later teams will have to adjust to his ability to sling it all over the field, and when they do, Cam will get his chance to showcase the wheels that gained him so much notoriety last season at Auburn. It’s an unbelievable start to an NFL career, begging the simple question what will the kid do next?



#4 – Detroit Lions – The Lions picked up their second straight win to begin the season on Sunday and in so doing justified the faith of tons of pre-season prognosticators who thought the Lions to be on the rise. The interesting part of the Lions ascendance however is that so far it least it hasn’t been based on the brick wall that will be Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh when the rookie Fairley eventually gets onto the field; instead the Lions have been getting it done on offense with Matthew Stafford playing the part of polished veteran and Jahvid Best rebounding nicely from an injury plagued 2010.


Forecast: The Lions will have their work cut out for them in a contentious NFC North, and health has to be their biggest concern on the offensive side of the ball. When exactly the Lions official window might open is debatable, but for now they’re at least knocking on the door.



#5 – Robert Griffin III – He entered the season as a lightly regarded Heisman candidate from a lightly regarded Baylor program flying largely under the radar. He emerged from a week 1 shootout with TCU (on the back of 359 yards passing and 5 TD) as RG3 and at the forefront of the Heisman conversation. After a 15-day hiatus Griffin and the Bears returned to action on Sunday and RG3 backed up his performance with a 20 for 22 night for a modest 265 yards and 3 TD, while adding 78 yards on the ground for good measure.


Forecast: The Bears will be looking at the Big-12 portion of their schedule soon enough affording Griffin plenty of chances in the national spotlight. And while the Bears may not be able to hold their own against top notch foes (TCU would beg to differ) Griffin might, and the need to keep his foot on the gas could lead to some seriously gaudy numbers along the way.



5 On The Slide


#1 – Professional Boxing – The fact that Floyd “Money” Mayweather was fighting “Vicious” Victor Ortiz on Saturday night (for an outrageous pay-per-view price tag of $69.99) should be in and of itself another proverbial “black eye” for boxing. This is after all the 147 pound division, touted by most as boxing’s best, yet the best match-up they could muster on that night for the best boxer of his generation was a hard punching young southpaw just 2 years removed from quitting in the ring against a middling Marcos Maidana. That Floyd Mayweather has not yet fought Manny Pacquiao is an embarrassment to the sport of boxing and to the otherwise cleaned out by Mayweather 147-pound division. The action that took place in the ring…well that was kind of embarrassing too.


History will remember Floyd winning by a cheap shot, but that’s more likely as a result of our feelings about Floyd as a despicable human being than as a result of what actually happened in the ring on Saturday night. For 2 of the 3 full rounds Floyd landed easily and won decisively. In the middle round, Ortiz showed enough heart and offense to compel some to see it his way, but 2 of the 3 judges at ringside scored that one for Mayweather too. In the 4th Ortiz got aggressive, bullied Mayweather into a corner and then inexplicably charged him like a crazed bull with the crown of his head landing square in Mayweather’s face. That would be the fight’s only illegal shot, but not it’s last controversial one.


Immediately after butting Mayweather, as referee Joe Cortez attempted to step in and separate the fighters, Ortiz began apologizing to Mayweather. Ortiz hugged Mayweather and even kissed him on the cheek before being led to the center of the ring by Cortez to make the point deduction official. When the fighters got back together Ortiz again hugged Mayweather. Mayweather didn’t appear to reciprocate the hug and stood there arms out waiting to resume the action, which he did as soon as Ortiz backed away, landing a quick left followed by a crushing right that left Ortiz on the ground and unable to beat the count.


We’ll remember Mayweather’s cheap shot although his was legal, and forget too that he was dominating Ortiz in a way that suggested he’d end it sooner rather than later and that Mayweather may have been rightly enraged at Ortiz’ illegal and intentional head butt. What we won’t remember is a great fight or one that was worth the buy as neither was the case on Saturday.


Forecast: Mayweather will spend another year or so flaunting and burning (literally) the $25 million plus he made from this farce while we all wait anxiously for him to step in front of Pacquiao and into the beating that so many have been waiting to see him get. Mayweather will get paid again, likely beat Pacquiao too and continue to be a general A-hole. And we’ll keep giving him money.



#2 – Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens backed up their impressive week one domination over the Pittsburgh Steelers by being beaten in all three phases of the game by the Tennessee Titans and are now left to reevaluate their estimations of their own greatness.


Throughout the Harbaugh era these Ravens have been far too professional to overlook opponents, even when those opponents don’t seem to have much of a realistic chance at winning against them. Or maybe, as we look back at games like Carolina and Buffalo in 2010, perhaps Sunday was the first time that the Ravens paid the price for taking a second division caliber team lightly. Regardless, on Sunday the Ravens had their proverbial lunches eaten by the Titans and then were charged with cleaning up the scraps when their bully nemeses were through.


The Ravens will surely have to pick up those scraps quickly and put them to use against St. Louis as for now at least, the loss served to bring the Steelers back into a tie for the division lead (albeit only week 2). There are plenty of wins to be had on the Ravens schedule; the question may simply be whether the team is professional enough to go about collecting them.


Forecast: This should serve as the wake up call that a team as professional as these Ravens have been shouldn’t have needed in the first place. They’ll get St. Louis coming off of a short week before returning home for a slugfest with the Jets. The Steelers meanwhile get the Manning-less Colts next week.



#3 – Arian Foster – Last year’s improbable rushing champ started this season without the fullback who had cleared holes for him to run through last season and with company in the backfield in Ben Tate who the Texans envisioned as the starter before losing him to injury last year. He continued his trek by injuring his hamstring, calling fantasy owners concerned about his health for their own reasons sick, tweeted images of his MRI and proclaimed himself ready for week 1. He wasn’t.


Ben Tate though was, possibly compelling Foster to rush back to action this week against the Dolphins, where he rushed for 33 yards on 10 carries before re-aggravating the hamstring and coming out of the game for good. Ben Tate in the meantime has gone over the century mark on the ground in each of the Texans first 2 games and will likely remain a big part of the mix with or without Foster.


Forecast: The smart thing would seem to be to rest Foster until his hamstring issues are clearly behind him. More likely though, Foster, gamer that he is, will continue trying to rush himself back and struggle with the injury all season. Either way, Ben Tate seems to be a viable part of the running game for the foreseeable future and for now a better option than Foster.



#4 – Chiefs, Seahawks and Colts – The Manning-less Colts looked terrible again, this time at home against the Cleveland Browns. The already injury riddled Chiefs suffered another embarrassing defeat and in the process may have been hit with their worst injury so far, apparently losing Jamaal Charles for the season with an ACL injury. And the Seahawks although mostly healthy look like they may be the worst team in football without Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback.


All three playoff teams from 2010 are off to 0-2 starts and looking like long shots to get back there.


Forecast: Count all three squarely in the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes.



#5 – The NBA Season – With each passing day, the likelihood of seeing an entire NBA season or any part of a season at all get bleaker and bleaker. The more concerning part, for the league and its fans, should probably be that no one really seems to care very much. Unlike the NFL lockout, which had us spinning and clamoring for updates daily, everyone seems resigned to the expectation that here simply won’t be an NBA this year. Folks were missing football despite the fact that we never actually missed any football at all. Judging by the attention or lack thereof to the NBA’s labor issues, basketball…we’ll see you when we see you.


Forecast: This isn’t getting better anytime soon. Check back in February.

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Blog & Tackle: A look at Ravens-Steelers PR game notes

Posted on 13 January 2011 by Chris Pika

Every game of the NFL Divisional Playoff Weekend is a regular-season rematch as both of the AFC games are between division opponents — the first time since 2000 that two games feature teams playing for a third time in a season.

The nastiest matchup of the weekend is the first on the docket: Baltimore at Pittsburgh. The teams have waged wars in the AFC North over the years, and 2010 was no exception. Each team scored 27 points total in the two games, and the games are as physical as any in the NFL over the previous decade.

The Ravens continued to have playoff success on the road as they beat Kansas City last Sunday 30-7 in New Arrowhead. It was the third straight season with at least one playoff victory for Baltimore, the only club in the NFL to do so over the period. QB Joe Flacco joined Bernie Kosar (1985-87) and Dan Marino (1983-85) to start a playoff game in each of their first three seasons in the league. The Ravens will try to advance to the AFC title game for the first time since the 2008 season.

Pittsburgh survived the loss of QB Ben Roethlisberger to a four-game suspension to get to a 3-1 start which included a home loss to the Ravens. The Steelers won six of their last seven games, including a road win at Baltimore for the division title. Roethlisberger Has thrown a personal-best 158 straight passes without an INT, the longest for the Steelers since QB Kordell Stewart had a streak of 159 consecutive pass attempts without an interception in 2001.

The teams split the regular season meetings, with the Ravens winning in Pittsburgh 17-14 in October, and the Steelers winning in Baltimore 13-10 in December.

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ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 11: Quarterback Matt Ryan  of the Atlanta Falcons converses with quarterback Joe Flacco  of the Baltimore Ravens after the Falcons 26-21 win at Georgia Dome on November 11, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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Blog & Tackle: NFL one-liners through Week 13

Posted on 09 December 2010 by Chris Pika

The 2010 NFL season has reached the three-quarter mark, and like any good game on Sundays, it’s usually the fourth quarter that decides success or failure.

It’s a chance to take stock of each conference after 13 weeks and 12 games with one-liners on each of the teams. Below are some stats, observations and conjecture as we look ahead to the final four weeks.

First, here is a look at the AFC by divisions. Records are through Week 13:

AFC East

New England Patriots (10-2): Patriots have won last four, including huge win over the Jets to solidfy their claim as AFC’s best team behind conference-best (+110) scoring differential; road to AFC title will go through Gillette Stadium and coach Bill Belichick.

New York Jets (9-3): Despite 3-1 stretch, Jets went from potentially being in line to host AFC title game to very vulnerable after shredding of New York’s vaunted D by the Patriots.

Miami Dolphins (6-6): Dolphins continue to confound with 5-1 road mark, but 1-5 home record — that will be main reason they will not make playoffs as well as offensive woes (-23 point differential).

Buffalo Bills (2-10): Bills finally saw results after 0-8 start with two straight victories, but close loss to Steelers and blowout defeat to Vikings has slowed Buffalo’s progress.

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3): Steelers have grabbed choke-hold of AFC North after winning the war in Baltimore last week behind QB Ben Roethlisberger and stout defense; now Pittsburgh could host AFC Divisional Playoff at always-tough Heinz Field.

Baltimore Ravens (8-4): Only home loss of season so far to Steelers was costly as Ravens may have three straight playoff games on the road instead of one or two home games; predicted high-production offense has gone cold at bad times.

Cleveland Browns (5-7): Cleveland continues to be a “tough out” thanks to solid running game behind RB Peyton Hillis; if they get QB (and maybe head coach) situation settled in offseason, could be 2011 team to watch in AFC.

Cincinnati Bengals (2-10): The wheels have completely come off the cart for one of the preseason favorites to win the division — nine-game losing streak may spell the end of the Marvin Lewis era in Cincinnati.

AFC South

Jacksonville Jaguars (7-5): Jaguars, after 3-1 stretch, find themselves on top in the division, despite worst point differential among all division leaders (-43) — only question is can they hold off slumping Colts?

Indianapolis Colts (6-6): Colts’ injuries have finally taken a toll; forget Peyton Manning for a moment, being in position of having to pass so much has allowed opponents to tee off in crucial situations — but Indy can still catch Jaguars for division title.

Houston Texans (5-7): Lack of strong starts have doomed Texans, 1-5 in their last six games — last chance for Houston (and maybe coach Gary Kubiak’s job) comes with Monday night visit by Ravens in Week 14.

Tennessee Titans (5-7): When you didn’t think anybody else could surpass Minnesota as NFL’s best soap opera, here comes the Titans; normally unflappable coach Jeff Fisher has had to deal with Vince Young, Randy Moss and owner Bud Adams in recent weeks.

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs (8-4): Chiefs seem to have control of the division after a three-game win streak and perfect 6-0 home mark; can they hold off the Raiders and Chargers over the final four weeks?

Oakland Raiders (6-6): Progress has been slowed by 3-2 mark in last five games, but 4-0 division record could be factor if they get help before Week 17 showdown at traditional rival Chiefs.

San Diego Chargers (6-6): Amazing how one loss changes things after blowout defeat by Raiders last week that stopped four-game win streak; season on the line vs. Chiefs this week.

Denver Broncos (3-9): A three-game losing streak coupled with Spygate-like scandal in London finally cost Josh McDaniels his coaching job; Eric Studesville gets his audition but the supporting cast is not there.

And now for the NFC by divisions:

NFC East

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 11: Quarterback Matt Ryan  of the Atlanta Falcons converses with quarterback Joe Flacco  of the Baltimore Ravens after the Falcons 26-21 win at Georgia Dome on November 11, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Philadelphia Eagles (8-4): The Eagles are tied for the division lead, but arguably have the NFC East’s toughest schedule left with two games vs. Dallas and one each against the Giants and Vikings — for what was originally expected to be a transition year, a lot is still on the table.

New York Giants (8-4): Giants are playing as well as any team in NFC right now, but head coach Tom Coughlin’s team must navigate Minnesota, Philadelphia and Green Bay the next three weeks to stay in the division and Wild Card mix.

Washington Redskins (5-7): The Redskins season has become a trainwreck as head coach Mike Shanahan has had to deal with several distractions, including DT Albert Haynesworth’s suspension for conduct detrimental; the Skins defense should be suspended as well, allowing the fifth-most points in the NFC.

Dallas Cowboys (4-8): The Cowboys have gotten off the deck to become a team no one wants to face down the stretch; Dallas could play spoiler in the NFC East and help Jason Garrett remove the interim coaching tag.

NFC North

Chicago Bears (9-3): The Bears have won five straight to hold the division lead by one game thanks to resurgent play by QB Jay Cutler and LB Brian Urlacher; Chicago has murderous final four weeks capped by Week 17 visit to Packers.

Green Bay Packers (8-4): Despite injuries, Packers are firmly in the playoff mix, but key Week 12 loss at Atlanta looms large as well as final three games against New England, Giants and Chicago — win those and Green Bay will have earned its postseason ticket.

Minnesota Vikings (5-7): A change in head coach to well-respected assistant Leslie Frazier has helped the mood in Minnesota, but the final four weeks will be all about Brett Favre’s literal limp to the finish of his career (I think).

Detroit Lions (2-10): Some of the strides made early in the season by the Lions have been erased by the current five-game losing streak; coach Jim Schwartz is still looking for consistent winning formula.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons (10-2): The hottest team in the NFC with six straight wins, the Falcons may do something no Atlanta NFL team ever has — host the NFC Championship Game in January; but they have to get through Week 16 Monday Night game vs. Saints.

New Orleans Saints (9-3): The defending Super Bowl champions are playing like it for first time all season with a current five-game win streak as the Saints try to go stride-for-stride with the Falcons; back-to-back road contests at Baltimore and Atlanta in Weeks 15-16 are New Orleans’ key games.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5): The air has finally come out of the Buccaneers’ balloon with two straight losses, but Tampa Bay is just one game out of a Wild Card spot with favorable matchups in the next three weeks before Week 17 at Saints.

Carolina Panthers (1-11): The Panthers just want the season to be over, and the housecleaning will begin soon after starting with head coach John Fox; Panthers are a NFC-worst minus-153 in point differential.

NFC West

St. Louis Rams (6-6): The Rams have quietly put themselves in position to make the playoffs out of a weak NFC West, but don’t mistake St. Louis as a weak team — QB Sam Bradford is one of the league’s feel-good stories of 2010, and division could come down to Week 17 tilt at Seattle.

Seattle Seahawks (6-6): The Seahawks are in position to capture the NFC West, but head coach Pete Carroll’s squad still has worst point differential among NFC teams with a winning record (-49); Week 17 vs. St. Louis could be the decider.

San Francisco 49ers (4-8): San Francisco not officially dead in NFC West race, but last gasp could come this Sunday vs. Seattle; if they win, they still have games vs. St. Louis and Arizona — teams they have already beaten in 2010.

Arizona Cardinals (3-9): Cardinals have gone south for the winter as they have lost seven straight and hold NFC’s second-worst point difference (-138), but have three winnable games in final four weeks.

For up-to-date Tweets on the NFL and the Ravens, please follow me on Twitter (@BlogAndTackle). For more national NFL stories, please visit my personal site at BlogAndTackle.net.

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