Tag Archive | "Tom Brady"

The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Patriots

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Patriots

Posted on 22 January 2013 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 28-13 win over the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship Game…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Nate Solder called for holding, negating Danny Woodhead 4 yard run on 3rd & 2 (3rd quarter)

4. Stephen Gostkowski 25 yard field goal after Patriots called third timeout (2nd quarter)

3. Tom Brady pass intended for Wes Welker incomplete on 3rd & 8 from Baltimore 34 (3rd quarter)

2. Dannell Ellerbe intercepts Tom Brady pass intended for Aaron Hernandez, tipped by Pernell McPhee (4th quarter)

1. Arthur Jones recovers Stevan Ridley fumble forced by Bernard Pollard (4th quarter)

(Ryan’s Plays on Page 2…)

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Ravens enjoying AFC Championship moment, but thinking ahead for more

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Ravens enjoying AFC Championship moment, but thinking ahead for more

Posted on 21 January 2013 by Ryan Chell

Owings Mills-It’s been a crazy 24 hours for the Baltimore Ravens, the media covering the team, and for the fans cheering on the team in Charm City.

Less than a day after coming back from a 13-7 halftime deficit to beat the New England Patriots in Foxboro to win the AFC Championship and earn a chance to win Super Bowl 47 in New Orleans on February 3rd, the Ravens were back at work Monday working as if they would be taking on the next opponent-in this case the San Francisco 49ers.

“We’re going to work,” Ravens center Matt Birk said in between meetings today. “With all the side stories- if you’re not playing in the game, you can enjoy all that. I think as players we’re just going to hunker down and focus in on the task at hand.”

“We’re going out there as a team trying to get where we’re at,” quarterback Joe Flacco said, who threw for three touchdowns in the Ravens’ 28-13 victory over last year’s AFC Champion Patriots. “We’ve got to win one more. ”

Despite the workmanlike attitude, Flacco however still says some of what happened Sunday night feels like a dream.

“I think we’re still on a little high from the game,” he said. “I don’t think anyone’s quite believed it yet.”

His companion on the offensive line agreed.

“I’m just kind of numb to the whole thing. Slowly it’s coming, but hopefully you realize and appreciate the moment,” Birk noted.

But Birk couldn’t say enough about all the hard work and persistence the Ravens have shown over the season  pay off for a chance at a Super Bowl title.

“It’s great. That’s your goal,” Birk noted.  “That’s your dream. That’s why you play…with the closeness of this team and how far we’ve come my last four years getting close and finally breaking through, it’s pretty special.”

Certainly for the 15-year veteran in Birk, he admitted that he wouldn’t be in this situation if he felt like didn’t have a shot at reaching the Super Bowl, which is the first appearance for the 36-year old center.

“At this stage in my career, losing takes a lot out of you. When I came back, I thought there was a legitimate chance that I felt like I could help the team.”

Meanwhile, Flacco, who is in his fifth year in his journey as an NFL quarterback, has hurdled Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, and now Tom Brady in the quest for his first Super Bowl.  It seemed as if overnight, he made himself one of the best quarterbacks in the league, put himself on the map as an elite quarterback in the NFL, and has been the topic of discussion across many football circles.

But what has Joe Flacco been asked the most since winning the AFC Championship?

Super Bowl Tickets.

“Tickets are going to be limited,” Flacco joked. “There’s been a lot of text messages, and everyone’s really excited about it.”

Flacco said the quicker he can put those distractions behind him, the better he’ll be going up against Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith, and the rest of the San Francisco defense.

“You have to get all the mayhem that goes with the game out of the way and take care of that first,” Flacco said, “so when you focus on the 49ers, they have your full attention.”

Bernard Pollard reacts to Tom Brady slide and kick

One day after calling Patriots QB Tom Brady’s leg kick into Ravens safety Ed Reed, “bull-crap”, fellow Ravens safety Bernard Pollard backtracked a little saying that the NFL needs to call flags “both ways.”

Right before the end of the first half Sunday night with the Patriots up 10-7 with 0:26 seconds left before the break, the Patriots were knocking on the Ravens door threatening to score.

Brady, flushed out of the pocket by Paul Kruger, scrambled down to the Ravens’ 7-yd line with Reed barreling down on him. Deciding to give himself up, he took a slide-but not before sticking his right leg up, hitting Reed in the groin and tripping him up.

No flag was called with the side judge standing right next to the play, but several Ravens defenders petitioned for Brady to be penalized. A fine could be coming.

Pollard told CSNNE and other outlets Sunday night, “You’ve got to keep those legs down. We all know and understand what’s going on there. As a quarterback, when you go to slide, we’re taught we can’t do anything. When you come sliding, and your leg is up in the air, trying t kick someone, that’s bull crap.”

Today, Pollard was a little bit more reserved, but kept the same message.

“He knew what he was doing,” Pollard said. “I’m the kind of player where it has to go both ways. Hopefully the NFL will do something about it. If not, that’s fine if they do. For me as a player with all the emotions on the field, we’re going to say and do things. But when it’s all said and done,  if you want the game clean and you want everything to be moving forward in the right direction, everyone needs to be penalized for their actions.”

Follow WNST on Twitter for your Ravens Super Bowl News! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

 

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Ravens-Patriots: Five predictions for AFC Championship

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Ravens-Patriots: Five predictions for AFC Championship

Posted on 19 January 2013 by Luke Jones

Coming as close as they possibly could to reaching the Super Bowl last season before heartbreak occurred in the form of a Lee Evans drop and a Billy Cundiff missed field goal in the final seconds of the AFC Championship, the Ravens return to the scene of the crime in Foxborough as they again take on the New England Patriots.

Defeating New England for the first time ever in the regular season by way of a 31-30 final in Baltimore back in September, the Ravens will now try to win their second postseason game at Gillette Stadium in the last four seasons. Aside from their 33-14 blowout victory in the wild-card round of the 2009 season, the Ravens are used to seeing their meetings with the Patriots come down to the wire as each of their other four meetings in the John Harbaugh era have been decided by fewer than seven points.

The Ravens will again hope to extend the career of inside linebacker Ray Lewis by one more game and advance to their first Super Bowl since Jan. 28, 2001. And for Harbaugh and quarterback Joe Flacco, a win means taking another step toward elite status at their respective positions in the National Football League.

Of course, standing in their way are Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, the two men who have been at the top of their respective classes for the last decade.

Here’s what to expect as the 12-6 Ravens try to punch their ticket to New Orleans and Super Bowl XLVII …

1. The Ravens won’t have to deal with Rob Gronkowski, but Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez will cause major problems over the middle of the field. It’s no secret that slot receiver Wes Welker and Hernandez are the most dangerous weapons at Brady’s disposal, and they each provide difficult challenges to the Baltimore pass defense. Corey Graham is the clear choice to match up against Welker in the slot as the Ravens will run the nickel package extensively, and the cornerback is playing with more confidence than ever after intercepting two Peyton Manning passes last week in Denver. Welker will get his yards, but the Ravens are confident that Graham can prevent the Pro Bowl wideout from having a monster game. Hernandez will be trickier to cover as defensive coordinator Dean Pees will likely lose a combination of linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and strong safety Bernard Pollard in trying to mix up coverages against Brady. I have my doubts that either player will be able to stick with him as the middle of the field has been a problem all year long. Hernandez will produce 80 receiving yards and a touchdown.

2. With the Patriots focusing heavily on Torrey Smith by matching Aqib Talib against the speedy receiver, Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta will combine for 160 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Smith has been a major thorn in the side of New England as the second-year wideout has produced three touchdowns and 209 receiving yards in two contests against New England. The Patriots could use Talib against Smith exclusively – the Baltimore receiver usually lines up on the side of the field on which Talib plays anyway — but they will likely offer safety help as well if they were paying attention to what Smith did against Champ Bailey last week. Deep safeties will allow more room for Boldin and Pitta to work the middle of the field as the Patriots ranked 29th against the pass this season. Though still mixing it their spots to be aggressive with the vertical passing game, the Ravens will try to use Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce on first and second down to create third-and-manageable situations in which Flacco loves to use his tight end and possession receiver. The Patriots will do everything they can to stop Flacco’s deep balls to Smith and Jacoby Jones, meaning the quarterback will instead choose to attack the intermediate portion of the field more frequently.

3. As he has for much of the season, running back Stevan Ridley will add another dimension to the New England offense that will wear down the Ravens in the second half. Pees downplayed the significance of his defense playing 87 snaps in each of the last two games, but you have to wonder how much more a group that’s already less than 100 percent can take if they’re on the field for extended periods on Sunday. Ridley rushed for 1,263 yards this season as the Patriots had the seventh-best rushing attack in the league. The New England offense still centers around Brady, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a heavy dose of Ridley in the second half to see if the Patriots can tire out the Ravens’ front seven, thus neutralizing any potential pass rush in the process. Inside the red zone, the Patriots won’t hesitate to use a quick-snap approach if the Ravens aren’t set and will hand off to Ridley before the defense even knows what’s happening. Any defense spends so much time studying Brady and trying to dissect him, so it’s easy to overlook the New England running game in the process. It will pay dividends in the second half for the Patriots, especially if they have a lead.

4. The team that wins the battle inside the red zone will come away with the AFC title. The objective is clear against the Patriots — even if it’s a difficult one. You know they’re going to score points, but if you can hold them to field goals on at least a few scoring possessions while you score touchdowns on your trips inside the 20, you’ll typically find yourself within striking distance in the fourth quarter. It will be a test of will in that area of the field as the Patriots scored touchdowns on 70 percent of their trips inside the red zone (best in the NFL) while the Baltimore defense was second in the league by allowing touchdowns on only 43.4 percent of opponent’s trips inside the 20. Conversely, Flacco and the offense must come away with touchdowns when they’re knocking on New England’s end zone. This is where Boldin and Pitta will be critical against the league’s 13th-ranked red-zone defense. If you want any chance of beating New England on the road, you cannot trade field goals for touchdowns or you’ll find yourself in a hole early. The Baltimore offense is playing at a high level and shouldn’t have any reason to believe they can’t move the ball against the Patriots at will, but they need to finish drives with touchdowns. Barring an inordinate number of special-teams and defensive scores – like the Ravens win in Denver last week, for instance — the team that prevails inside the red zone will be the one advancing to New Orleans.

5. Joe Flacco will continue a tremendous postseason with 250 passing yards and two touchdowns, but the Ravens will again fall excruciatingly short in Foxborough with a 31-27 loss. The Baltimore quarterback is playing the best football of his career over the last month and will have another strong performance against the Patriots on the second-biggest stage the NFL has to offer. However, Flacco needs to advance to the Super Bowl to truly receive the recognition he deserves. As was the case last week, the Ravens are matched up against a better overall team, but they have every opportunity to win against the Patriots, who have some clear deficiencies unlike the Broncos. Regardless of what happens on Sunday, this season should be viewed as a success considering the number of injuries this team has sustained and how badly it was struggling just over a month ago. In the end, however, the Patriots will just have a little too much offensively for the Baltimore defense to handle and for the Ravens offense to overcome. This one could very well come down to the final possession of the game, but I just can’t bet against Brady and the Patriots in the conference championship, a game in which they’re 5-1 in the Belichick era. It won’t come down to a devastating dropped touchdown or field-goal miss, but the Ravens will fall short yet again despite a terrific effort in New England.

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Ravens hoping T. Smith continues big production against Patriots

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Ravens hoping T. Smith continues big production against Patriots

Posted on 17 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Much has been made about the acquisition of cornerback Aqib Talib and the effect it’s had on the New England secondary, but you’ll forgive the Ravens and wide receiver Torrey Smith if they aren’t overly impressed.

Of course, Baltimore wouldn’t share such a sentiment publicly about the Patriots’ 29th-ranked pass defense, but a 38-35 victory over the Denver Broncos in which Smith shredded All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey for two long touchdowns won’t exactly cause you to fear New England’s underwhelming unit. Talib has provided a boost to New England’s defense, allowing the Patriots to move cornerback Devin McCourty to free safety, but they still struggle against the pass.

In two career games against the Patriots, Smith has caught nine passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns. His Week 3 performance in which he reined in two touchdowns less than 24 hours following the tragic death of his younger brother was one of the most inspiring efforts in the NFL this season.

“It’s not that there’s any difference against those guys,” Smith said. “I just play the game. I just happened to play well against them the past few times. It’s not like I have their number or anything. I just go out there and run our offense. I’ve been able to be OK against them – hopefully, it continues. But it’s going to be tough.”

During the regular season, the Patriots allowed a league-worst 74 passes of 20 yards or more, which should leave quarterback Joe Flacco licking his chops as the Ravens completed 62 passes of at least 20 yards and have repeatedly gone vertical in each of their two postseason wins this month.

Acquired for a fourth-round pick from Tampa Bay on Nov. 1, the mercurial Talib has stabilized the New England pass defense, but it’s difficult to imagine offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell shying away from the Patriots’ No. 1 corner after the Ravens went after Bailey repeatedly in the divisional round. In six regular-season games with New England, Talib made 19 tackles, broke up two passes, and intercepted one.

Labeled a “riverboat gambler” by Caldwell, Talib will likely be entrusted with slowing down Smith or Jacoby Jones in the vertical passing game, but the Ravens proved once again last Saturday that they won’t hesitate to attack any cornerback in the league.

“You don’t always go into a ballgame [with the thought] in mind that you are going to go after this guy or that guy,” Caldwell said. “You try to spread it around and look at what they do from a schematic standpoint and see where you can attack what best suits your offense. That’s kind of how we look at it more so than anything else.”

In other words, if Smith or Jones is matched up in single-man coverage against Talib with no safety help, you can bet Flacco will be ready to take a shot vertically.

Pees hiring hit man?

Asked how to make life uncomfortable for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees offered a humorous but candid suggestion about the man he watched closely in his days as a New England assistant to Bill Belichick.

“Hire Tonya Harding,” said Pees as he laughed. “If they were getting off the bus, I’d spray water outside the bus and hope it freezes. He is who he is. I went against him up there in practice for six years. He’s as competitive of a person as I’ve ever been around.”

In addition to trying to pressure Brady inside the pocket, Pees explained how critical it is to mix up coverages against New England’s many talented weapons, ranging from Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez to Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen out of the backfield.

Welker operates almost exclusively from the slot as he was targeted 125 times for 1,040 receiving yards from that position, according to Pro Football Focus. Cornerback Corey Graham will draw the daunting task of staying with Welker as the Ravens are expected to play the nickel package extensively, with Graham sliding inside as No. 3 cornerback Chykie Brown enters the game to play on the outside opposite Cary Williams.

“He is a very quick guy. He catches the ball well,” Graham said. “Brady is looking for him a lot, and he makes a lot of guys miss with fakes and things like that, so he is a complete receiver. I have my hands full in the slot, but I am up to the challenge.”

The Ravens will not have to deal with the matchup nightmare that is tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was placed on injured reserve Thursday after re-injuring his forearm against Houston last Sunday, but Hernandez also provides a unique blend of speed and athleticism at the position. Such an athlete at that position creates matchup problems as Pees must decide whether to use a linebacker such as Dannell Ellerbe or strong safety Bernard Pollard in coverage.

The answer will vary depending on the situation while facing a Hall of Fame quarterback, according to Pees.

“You can’t go in there and say, ‘The whole game, OK, I’m going to put a strong safety on this guy.’” Pees said. “That’s not going to take Brady very long to figure that one out, nor is it going to be the same if we end up putting a linebacker on him all the time. The key is to let them have to figure it out after the ball is snapped, who’s on him, and then you just can’t keep doing the same thing over and over with Tom, or he’ll gash you.”

Bouncing back from “special” kind of nightmare

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Brady standing in way of Ravens’ redemption run to Super Bowl

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Brady standing in way of Ravens’ redemption run to Super Bowl

Posted on 16 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens have made no secret about their satisfaction in seeing the New England Patriots once again on the same stage in which they fell painfully short last January.

With few believing they could reach their second straight AFC Championship game after being left for dead just a few weeks ago, the Ravens are embracing the opportunity but also know the truth about Sunday’s game in Foxborough. The game they’ve worked toward over the last 12 months only has one acceptable outcome in their eyes.

“Nothing matters unless we’re going to win in New England this weekend,” linebacker Ray Lewis said. “Then we’re back to the same position we were in last year.”

As compelling as their run has been to watch, the same man is once again standing in the way of their first Super Bowl appearance since the 2000 season. While the Ravens were finally able to topple Peyton Manning, future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady has goals of his own, mainly atoning for last year’s Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants. The most successful quarterback of this generation, the 35-year-old hasn’t won a championship since the 2004 season and has twice fallen in the Super Bowl since then.

Leading the top-ranked offense in the NFL in yards and points scored, Brady will try to do what Manning couldn’t do in Denver last Saturday. And the Baltimore defense will try to pick up where it left off in the divisional round when it held Denver’s explosive offense to just seven points in the second half after the Broncos returned a kickoff for a touchdown to begin the third quarter.

Even with every reason to be confident, the Ravens know that Brady will be waiting and ready after the Patriots scored 41 points against a tough Houston defense last week.

“He is a smart guy. We all know that is the reason he is probably a Hall of Fame quarterback,” cornerback Corey Graham said. “He is smart with the ball. He makes great decisions. He looks for matchups, and we have to just go out there and make plays.”

The Ravens’ multiple-look defense has given Brady difficulty over the years compared to most units as the Patriots were held to just 23 points in last year’s AFC Championship. The New England offense fared better in the Ravens’ 31-30 win in Week 3, but Brady acknowledges how difficult it is to play against a unit led by Lewis and free safety Ed Reed. In five career regular-season games against the Ravens, Brady has thrown five touchdowns and three interceptions and has posted an 83.3 passer rating, a modest mark for such a decorated quarterback. He has posted worse ratings against only four other teams over the course of his 13-year career.

His playoff loss to the Ravens on Jan. 10, 2010 was the worst performance of his postseason career as he threw three interceptions and lost a fumble in the 33-14 final.

Of course, the Baltimore defense hasn’t been the dominating unit this year that it was for more than a decade, but the Ravens were able to create pressure and force Manning into mistakes in the second half as the Denver quarterback turned the ball over three times in defeat. Instead of their simple “bend, but don’t break” performance, the defense made countless big plays in the second half to keep Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense within striking distance.

“It’s not like you beat this team 50-0,” Brady said at a press conference on Wednesday. “It’s always a tight game, there’s tight coverage, there’s tight throws, there’s tough reads, because schematically they do quite a few things.”

The discussion last week centered around the countless chess matches between Lewis and Manning, but the Ravens’ battles against Brady have been just as compelling. New England won’t hesitate to use the no-huddle offense and quick snaps on occasion to catch the Ravens on their heels, especially after Baltimore played a total of 174 plays and 77:38 on defense over the last two weeks.

The Ravens take pride in disguising their schemes and changing up coverages, the latest example coming on Denver’s final offensive play when cornerback Corey Graham and Lewis flipped coverage on wide receiver Brandon Stokley and baited Manning into throwing a critical interception. However, New England will try to use similar tactics in hopes of creating a mismatch with its wide array of offensive weapons.

“They switch it up. When they make plays, they hurry up to the line, and they speed the game up on guys,” Graham said. “If you’re not ready, if you’re not prepared for it, it will catch you off guard. They have been catching a lot of guys off guard, a lot of guys not set up and prepared for the play.”

Even when the correct matchups are identified, defensive backs and linebackers must play disciplined as Brady will try to look off receivers and make defenders pay for the softer coverage they typically employ to prevent the big play. The Patriots also won’t hesitate to go against the grain such as when they sent backup Shane Vereen deep on a 33-yard touchdown out of the backfield against the Texans.

The Ravens’ best chance in slowing Brady is to make him uncomfortable in the pocket like they did to Manning in the second half in Denver, but even then, the task in the secondary is daunting against the likes of Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez in the short-to-intermediate portion of the field — an area in which the pass defense has been vulnerable all year. In many cases, the ball simply comes out too quickly to get to the veteran signal-caller when he employs three-step drops.

“We have to have great eyes. We can’t stare him down in the secondary,” safety Bernard Pollard said. “We have to be on our men. They have great receivers and running backs. We have to go out there and play our game.”

Unlike past seasons when playing the Patriots, the Ravens must also account for the New England running game as starter Stevan Ridley rushed for 1,263 yards this season. The offense is one-dimensional as it’s been in the past when you could simply count on Brady to throw it 50 times with an ineffective rush offense behind him.

The Ravens were clearly content in keeping plays in front of them against the Broncos, evident by using Reed and Pollard in two-deep coverage for much of the game, but it will be interesting to see what defensive coordinator Dean Pees dials up against New England. Brady attempted only 19 passes that traveled more than 30 yards in the air all season and lacks the deep threats that the Broncos possessed in both Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, but the Patriots are never afraid to change things up.

Baltimore is in store for another chess match, again playing one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game. And while the Ravens have been described as a team on a mission, there’s no arguing that the Patriots are motivated to not only get back to the Super Bowl but to finish the job after last year’s narrow loss.

Even though the Ravens beat the Patriots in the postseason three years ago and were one end-zone catch away from doing it again last season, they also know Brady is 5-1 in conference title games. As was the case last week, it won’t be easy to survive and advance for the underdog Ravens.

“That does not scare us,” Pollard said. “We’re going to go out, and we want to outhit you and outplay you and we want to go to the Super Bowl.”

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Broncos Busted on to Beating Brady

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Broncos Busted on to Beating Brady

Posted on 15 January 2013 by Thyrl Nelson

When I wrote a few months ago that the Ravens had the look of a championship team, I certainly had my doubts about them actually being able to live up to the legacies of the Packers and Giants as the league’s previous 2 champions by catching lightning in a bottle at just the right time. That however is exactly what has happened so far, and now for the 3rd time in 5 years the Ravens find themselves within one game of the Super Bowl.

The funny thing about the week leading up to the game in Denver was that on paper at least, it seemed to be the most daunting task the Ravens had faced in the playoffs since the Flacco, Harbaugh et al era began. It sounded strange to say that, while still holding out hope that they could win, because obviously they’ve been ousted from the playoffs in each of the last 4 years by teams that didn’t look nearly as frightening as the Broncos seemed to be.

 

The one saving grace in that expectation was that the previous most daunting playoff match-up in Ravens playoff history was probably their game against the Tennessee Titans in their run to Super Bowl 35, and of course we all remember how that one ended.

 

If we were looking for the defining moments and match-ups in Saturday’s game that helped to propel the Ravens to victory we could likely spend at least as long as they spent playing the game…perhaps even longer doing it. Here however are my 7 key elements to Saturday’s win against the Broncos and the questions that arise as a result, relative to the AFC title game and the New England Patriots.

 

#1 – The Offensive Line

 

The newly retooled offensive line has come to play so far in the playoffs and on Saturday they were more than impressive in stymieing the likes of Von Miller, Elvis Dumervil and company. Bryant McKinnie was great at left tackle, Michael Oher was comfortable and dominant restored to his natural right tackle spot, Kelechi Osemele seems much better suited (at least for now) at the left guard where he was able to work in concert with Matt Birk, and almost everything the Ravens do on the ground begins with Marshal Yanda who seems healthy once again.

 

The Ravens Offensive line was so effective at stopping a previously dominant Denver pass rush that the Broncos secondary as a result was exposed. The additional time that the Ravens offense had to let routes develop downfield showed weaknesses in the Denver secondary that arguably no one, even the Broncos, knew that they had. Say what you want about Rahim Moore as the goat in Saturday’s game, but at least part of the issue with is big missed play has to be attributed to the fact that he was forced into a role that he hadn’t had to play all year because the Denver corners weren’t able to maintain man coverage vs. the Ravens.

 

The Question: Having dealt effectively with 2 pretty good edge rushing defenses, how do the Ravens, and particularly Matt Birk deal with New England’s interior rush and the disruptive capabilities of Vince Wilfork who was dominant in last year’s AFC title game?

 

#2 – Variety of Weapons

 

I’ve made arguments throughout the Flacco era in Baltimore that he hasn’t been sufficiently armed with the types of weapons that seemingly every other high level quarterback has at his disposal. That still may be the case, but since Jim Caldwell has taken over the offensive reigns the Ravens have used the middle of the field much more effectively. Torrey Smith has shown tremendous upside in his downfield blocking of late and Anquan Boldin has been a deep threat at times. Ed Dickson has returned to the lineup providing some much needed blocking assurance, and Jacoby Jones has been reincorporated into the offense. Add Bernard Pierce and his complimentary running style to Ray Rice’s and suddenly, despite the lack of any superstars in the receiving corps, Baltimore has a variety of weapons that all have to be accounted for equally. As a result, their ability of spread defenses out, and accept what the defense is allowing has enabled Joe Flacco, behind that newly retooled offensive line, to sit back and pick the opposition apart.

 

The Question(s): Which Flacco target will be the key against New England’s suspect pass defense?

If Bernard Pierce is unable to go, how much faith can the Ravens have in Anthony Allen to spell Ray Rice?

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Ravens with chance for revenge in Foxborough in AFC Championship rematch

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Ravens with chance for revenge in Foxborough in AFC Championship rematch

Posted on 13 January 2013 by Luke Jones

A year after the images of Lee Evans’ drop in the end zone and Billy Cundiff’s 32-yard miss were forever burned into the retinas of Baltimore football fans, the Ravens will have their chance at revenge.

As a result of New England’s 41-28 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday evening, the Ravens will once again travel to Foxborough in a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship. Last January, a superb day by quarterback Joe Flacco wasn’t enough to overcome the last-second shortcomings of Evans and Cundiff as the Ravens fell 23-20 and the Patriots advanced to Super Bowl XLVI where they lost to the New York Giants.

Flacco and the Ravens are riding high after their improbable 38-35 double-overtime victory over the No. 1 seed Denver Broncos on Saturday night. It was the Ravens’ first win over Peyton Manning since the 2001 season as the legendary career of 37-year-old linebacker Ray Lewis was extended by at least one more week.

Baltimore and New England met in Week 3 of the regular season as the Ravens erased an early 13-0 deficit to prevail on a Justin Tucker field goal in a 31-30 final at M&T Bank Stadium. Replacement officials ruled the rookie’s 27-yard kick sailed just inside the right upright, but New England coach Bill Belichick and many Patriots players believed the kick to be no good.

It was the Ravens’ first win over New England in Baltimore as the Patriots hold the 6-1 advantage in the all-time regular-season series.

Sunday will mark the third time in four seasons the Ravens and Patriots have met in the postseason, with all three games taking place at Gillette Stadium. Baltimore won the first playoff meeting between the teams in a surprising 33-14 beatdown in the wild-card round on Jan. 10, 2010 and the Patriots, of course, prevailed in last January’s conference championship.

Sunday’s game will be televised on CBS at 6:30 p.m.

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Ravens win and Flacco sticks a sock in the mouth of his detractors (shhhhhhh…)

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Ravens win and Flacco sticks a sock in the mouth of his detractors (shhhhhhh…)

Posted on 12 January 2013 by Drew Forrester

That should, finally, shut up everyone in town when it comes to Joe Flacco.

Thank.  God.

After a season of being raked over the coals – make that five seasons – by fans in Baltimore, the quarterback went into Denver and engineered an epic Ravens post-season victory on Saturday afternoon.  He only beat one of the game’s greatest field generals, in his arena, on the biggest stage possible.  The coup de grace, of course, was the 70 yard strike to Jacoby Jones with 0:31 left in the game that sent the contest to overtime.  A week ago in Baltimore, Joe out-dueled the NFL’s new Fair Haired Boy, Andrew Luck, and today he knocked off the guy that Luck replaced on the league’s Love Chart.

Read it – and weep if you’re a #5 hater:  Joe Flacco went to Denver and beat Peyton Manning.

I assume we’ll no longer be hearing from Flacco detractors, which is truly -golden-silence-to-my-ears.

And I’m also guessing that seals the deal on a new Flacco contract sometime over the next six weeks or so.

With the Ravens making their third AFC title game appearance in Flacco’s five-year career next Sunday, even his most ardent haters have to finally wave the white towel and hop on the bandwagon.

Let’s see now…in his first season with the team, the-then rookie went into Nashville and eliminated the top seed Titans.

In the 2009 season, it was a trip to Foxboro and a playoff win over Tom Brady.

There was a post-season road demolishing of Kansas City in 2010.

And then, today, it was Flacco beating Peyton Manning in his own building.  Another first seed eliminated.  Five seasons in the league and a playoff road win in four of them.

Other than a Super Bowl trip, what more could you possibly ask for from your quarterback, his coach, and the team?

There must be nothing more satisfying for Flacco than to shut up the experts in town who kept saying he couldn’t play a lick or that he wasn’t worth “the big money” he was expected to get at the end of this season.  But, he hasn’t talked much about it, because Joe knows the truth.  Words don’t mean jack.  Winning games is all that matters — and that’s basically all he’s done since showing up in Baltimore back in 2008.

Flacco is keenly aware that plenty of people around town have questioned him over the years.  And, as a competitor, there’s no doubt he’s taking particular joy from proving himself RIGHT and proving everyone else WRONG.

With one more win, the Ravens will head to the Super Bowl in New Orleans and Joe Flacco will be their quarterback.  That’s all that’s left on his “Next To Do” list.  Once he gets there, the goal changes, naturally, but for now — coming up — he’s one win away from playing in the biggest game the league can offer.

I’m just so happy that we won’t have to hear from the anti-Flacco crowd anymore…finally, finally, finally – their ship has sailed.

 

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The Reality Check NFL Playoff Power Rankings

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The Reality Check NFL Playoff Power Rankings

Posted on 09 January 2013 by Glenn Clark

Ryan Chell & I ranked the best head coaches, quarterbacks and defenses left in the postseason, then ranked the teams left in order of likelihood to win Super Bowl XLVI.

It was a fun day Tuesday on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net. You really should be listening.

Head Coaches:

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

8. Gary Kubiak

7. Pete Carroll

6. Mike Smith

5. Jim Harbaugh

4. John Harbaugh

3. John Fox

2. Mike McCarthy

1. Bill Belichick

Ryan Chell’s Rankings…

8. Gary Kubiak

7. Pete Carroll

6. Mike Smith

5. Jim Harbaugh

4. John Fox

3. John Harbaugh

2. Mike McCarthy

1. Bill Belichick

(Quarterbacks on Page 2…)

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Can we please stop stating the word Elite in regards to quarterbacks, including Joe Flacco

Posted on 08 November 2012 by BaltimoreSportsNut

I am tired of hearing people state Joe Flacco is not elite or wow Andrew Luck is already an elite quarterback….STOP!!!

This is an easy discussion, as long as you define elite properly. When it comes to quarterbacks in the NFL, I define elite by one thing, Super Bowl Championships. Thus currently you have Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger as elite quarterbacks. Yes, I am saying Joe Flacco, Phillip Rivers, Andrew Luck, Michael Vick, and the all mighty Tim Tebow are not elite quarterbacks, with the latter being a joke of a quarterback anyway.

Ok, so you could come at me with so Trent Dilfer and Doug Williams are elite quarterbacks? Yes they are, they were able to lead their teams to a Super Bowl victory, I am not saying they are Hall of Famers by any stretch of the word as a Hall of Fame quarterback is another level of classification.

On the other side, I have been fronted with many arguements that “so you are telling me that Dan Marino is not an elite quarterback?” Yes that is exactly what I am telling you, he could not win a Super Bowl, now again he is by far a Hall of Fame quarterback, which in my opinion is the only classification a quarterback really wants.

I am sure a lot of you disagree with me, which is the beauty of sports, let’s hear it!

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