Tag Archive | "terrell owens"

mcclain

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Ravens regular-season moment No. 4: Ruining homecoming

Posted on 23 June 2020 by Luke Jones

Check out the No. 5 regular-season moment in Ravens history HERE.

The 2008 Ravens were a Cinderella story with the clock threatening to strike midnight.

Coming off a 5-11 campaign that resulted in the dismissal of longtime head coach Brian Billick, Baltimore had been one of the NFL’s biggest surprises with former Philadelphia special teams coordinator John Harbaugh now in charge. An elite defense and robust running game had led the Ravens to an impressive 9-5 record entering Week 16, easing the pressure on rookie first-round quarterback Joe Flacco.

But the Ravens were coming off a heartbreaking home loss to Pittsburgh that clinched the AFC North championship for the rival Steelers the previous Sunday. The margin for error was gone for even a wild-card spot with Indianapolis on its way to securing the No. 5 seed with a nine-game winning streak and New England having the same record as the Ravens despite losing all-world quarterback Tom Brady in the season opener. A daunting trip to Dallas to take on the playoff-hopeful Cowboys threatened to put Baltimore’s playoff hopes on life support.

The story was bigger than playoff ramifications, however, with “America’s Team” closing Texas Stadium with numerous Cowboys legends present for the nationally televised Saturday night affair and post-game ceremony to follow. The Ravens were keenly aware of rumors — later confirmed — that Dallas owner Jerry Jones had requested Baltimore as the final “homecoming” opponent to help close the iconic venue. There was also the matter of Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett having declined an offer to become the Ravens’ new head coach 11 months earlier, paving the way for Harbaugh to accept the job.

The script wouldn’t go as Jones and the rest of the football world anticipated.

Despite a DeMarcus Ware strip-sack of Flacco setting up an easy touchdown early in the first quarter, the Ravens suffocated the Cowboys offense for three quarters with All-Pro safety Ed Reed intercepting Tony Romo twice. Only red-zone inefficiency kept the game close with Dallas native Matt Stover booting three short field goals in the first half to give Baltimore a 9-7 lead that endured late into the third quarter.

Seemingly ready to settle for another field goal, the Ravens ran a fake with holder Sam Koch for a first down that set up a 13-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to veteran wideout Derrick Mason, who was playing with a painful shoulder injury. The score increased the lead to 16-7 and set the stage for one of the most memorable quarters in franchise history.

After registering no more than 24 yards on any of its first nine drives of the night, the Cowboys offense came alive to begin the final period with a 35-yard field goal to shrink the deficit to one score. The Ravens answered with another Stover field goal to make it 19-10 with 6:30 remaining, but Dallas wasn’t going away as Romo threw a 7-yard touchdown to future Hall of Famer Terrell Owens with 3:50 to play.

Trailing by just two and with all three timeouts remaining, the Cowboys knew their chances would come down to stopping the run with Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron unlikely to take any chances with his rookie quarterback. To that point, the Cowboys had held Baltimore to a respectable 3.7 yards per carry and called a run blitz before running back Willie McGahee took the inside hand-off on first-and-10 from the 23.

Breaking a couple feeble tackle attempts, McGahee sprinted 77 yards for the touchdown before a stunned crowd of 63,800 that had finally come alive moments earlier. The second-longest touchdown in franchise history — for the moment — gave the Ravens a 26-17 lead with 3:32 to go.

But the Cowboys still weren’t finished as Romo moved his two-minute offense down the field, finding Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten for a 21-yard touchdown pass to again make it a two-point game with 1:36 remaining. Still holding three timeouts and having scored on three straight drives against a tired Ravens defense, Dallas kicked the ball deep and again only needed to stop the run to keep hope alive.

On first-and-10 from his own 18-yard line, Flacco handed off to the 260-pound Le’Ron McClain.

Breaking a couple tackles before delivering a vicious stiff arm to Cowboys safety Ken Hamlin, the surprising Pro Bowl selection who led the 2008 team in rushing galloped 82 yards for the score, tying Jamal Lewis for the longest run in team history. Once again, the crowd was stunned.

On consecutive offensive snaps, McGahee and McClain had produced two of the three longest runs in Ravens history to deliver the knockout blow and close Texas Stadium for good. The outcome put Baltimore only a home win over lowly Jacksonville away from a playoff berth and an unforgettable run to the AFC Championship game.

The Ravens also took great satisfaction in ruining the party for the media darling Cowboys, who would also lose at Philadelphia the following week to miss the playoffs.

“We had a lot of politics that really made this game more fun,” outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said after the 33-24 win. “They personally recommended us as their homecoming opponent. We just fed off that. We fed off it the whole game.

“We hope they enjoy their ceremony tonight, but I guess we were the dynamite.”

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Moss

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Time is right for Ravens to consider risk (and reward) of adding Moss

Posted on 14 February 2012 by Luke Jones

When Randy Moss announced the news of his intention to return to the NFL in 2012, I tried to dismiss him as an option for the Ravens as quickly as I could.

I just didn’t want to consider him as a real possibility to come to Baltimore.

The poor attitude, playing for three teams in his final season, and his turning 35 on Monday are all strikes against him. Not being able to help himself, Moss took to his Twitter account on Tuesday to fire back at former Minnesota Vikings teammate Cris Carter, who called the seven-time Pro Bowl receiver’s “quit mechanism” unlike any other superstar he’s been around.

The character blemishes are there, and there’s no way to overlook them. The guy can be a clown, and that’s putting it kindly.

His eye-popping numbers worthy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame include 153 touchdowns and 14,858 yards in 13 seasons, but you’re not getting the Moss of 1998 or even 2007 when he made a league-record 23 touchdown catches in his first season with the New England Patriots. His 2010 season split between New England, Minnesota, and Tennessee resulted in just 28 catches, 393 yards, and five touchdowns while wearing out his welcome in two places and making little impact at his final destination before announcing his retirement last summer.

But the past images of watching him sprint by a helpless cornerback or leap over a defender to haul in another touchdown are still too bright in my mind to ignore. Call me a sucker, but people said Moss was finished before he escaped football purgatory in Oakland and went on to have the best season of his career.

The possibility of the 6-foot-4 veteran still having something left in the tank cannot be overlooked by a team that was only a few tenths of a second away  — in holding onto a catch in the end zone — from a trip to the Super Bowl three weeks ago. Eliminating all other variables, the mere subtraction of the disappointing Lee Evans and his near-$6 million cap number and the addition of Moss at a cheaper rate is enough to make you salivate at the possibilities.

Moss certainly can’t do any worse than four receptions in an injury-plagued season and failing to secure a championship-clinching catch in the final seconds in Foxborough, right?

The first order of business before coach John Harbaugh and the Ravens should even consider welcoming Moss to Baltimore is determining where he stands physically. Can Moss still run with the speed to blow the top off a defense and force safeties to play deeper than they normally would? Would opposing defenses still have to account for him on every play?

If not, you run the risk of dealing with a broken-down former star with an ego still in its prime. In other words, the reward wouldn’t be worth the potential headaches.

But unlike the other volatile veteran receiver who will be on the open market, Terrell Owens, Moss isn’t returning from a serious knee injury. Other than the potentially cruel reality of being 35 years old and the question of how well he kept himself in shape over the last calendar year, there’s no reason to believe Moss isn’t up to the physical task of once again donning the cleats and striking fear in the hearts of opposing secondaries.

If the 40-time is right, you now move to the more complicated piece of the equation. You sit down with the combative receiver, reminding him he’s no longer in a position of power after a year away from the game. You press him to see how serious he is about not just playing again but also being part of a winning organization like he was in New England for three years — quite harmoniously — before an expiring contract flushed the relationship down the drain in year four. And reminding him of that heartbreaking defeat in Super Bowl XLII and how he’s never won a championship probably wouldn’t hurt, either.

You allow Moss to explain exactly what happened in his disastrous 2010 season.

And you listen.

“A team like the Ravens would be perfect,” Steve Wyche of the NFL Network told WNST.net on Tuesday. “I work with [former Patriots fullback] Heath Evans, who played with Randy in New England, and Heath said, ‘If Randy’s in a situation where he’s winning, where everybody on the team has bought in, he’s fantastic.’

“I talked to people at the Patriots when he was there. He was the leader. He was the guy who organized a lot of meetings. He was the guy who broke down the huddle.”

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Bo

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Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7: Most Entertaining Sports Figures I’ve Ever Watched

Posted on 02 August 2011 by Luke Jones

In honor of the great Deion Sanders being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton this weekend, today’s Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 was “The 7 Most Entertaining Sports Figures I’ve Ever Seen.”

With Glenn Clark filling in on The Afternoon Drive this week, Drew Forrester kindly included me in the weekly spot.

Remember you can hear our explanations for our Top 7 lists in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault right here.

Luke Jones’ list…

7. Bo Jackson
Bo

6. Ray Lewis
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d60hKgNPlVE[/youtube]

5. Randy Moss
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmJcUlrkMNg[/youtube]

4. Tiger Woods
Tiger

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On Twitter's 5th birthday; the 5 sports personalities who would've made it even better

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On Twitter’s 5th birthday; the 5 sports personalities who would’ve made it even better

Posted on 22 March 2011 by WNST Interns

Yesterday afternoon, Ryan Chell reminded me that it was the 5th anniversary of Twitter’s existence. In the grand scheme of time flying by, it’s hard to believe an entire five years have passed since “tweets” became a staple of social media.

Granted, the infancy of Twitter was not nearly as resounding as we find it today. What started off as an informal forum for providing our random, incidental thoughts in concise form (140 typed characters or less) has now become a major thoroughfare for disseminating BREAKING NEWS and information.

Okay, it’s still dominated by boastful or self-depricating comments aimed at selling one’s perceived personal importance, in hopes of landing more daily followers. But, it’s information exchange, nonetheless.

So, to mark Twitter’s birthday, I have compiled a short list of sports personalities, both deceased and inactive, who could’ve made Twitter even more enjoyable for the common subscriber.

Forget the likes of Chad Ochcinco, Charlie Sheen, Mark Cuban and Terrell Owens. While their contributions are certainly noteworthy, I can think of five individuals who could’ve made Twitter even hotter for the typical sports fan.

Here’s my list …..

5) Jim Valvano – Perhaps, some will say Jimmy V would’ve equated to being a twin for another charismatic, former coach, Dick Vitale. Although, Vitale (ironically known as Dickie V) never realized Valvano’s level of success at the collegiate level; he doesn’t have the pelt on the wall, so to speak.

I think Jim Valvano would’ve merited a different reception, especially given his relentless charm and underdog shtick, which he embraced after leading the North Carolina Wolfpack to an improbably NCAA Championship, in 1983. I have a feeling Valvano would’ve equally embraced Twitter with his motivational technique and brimming popularity each and every March.

Indeed, this would’ve been the biggest time of year for his followers. And, he would’ve loved every moment of it, right?
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4) Dale Earnhardt – Okay, let the calls of Rex’s “homer pick” begin with this one. But, if you’re not familiar with the marketing genius of Dale Earnhardt, you’ll likely never really know how much he emphasized on selling and branding the INTIMIDATOR image, both positively and negatively.

Earnhardt was famously known for taunting and rattling hotshot newcomer, Jeff Gordon, in the mid-1990’s. Yet, after realizing the booing and fan hatred was beginning to break Gordon’s spirit, Earnhardt took him under wing and they became great friends. Earnhardt is famously known for telling Gordon “it doesn’t matter if they cheer or boo your ass, as long as they react. The day they don’t make any noise when your name is announced, you’re in trouble.”

I’m not convinced Dale Earnhardt would’ve personally tweeted. But, I can guarantee he would’ve hired somebody to do it. He was a 9th grade dropout, but he expertly understood the financial value of exposure and he’s credited with being the first NASCAR driver to sell t-shirts at racetrack vendor trailers. Today, it’s a BILLION DOLLAR industry.

In just another difference between he and his son, Dale Earnhardt maximized every opportunity to appeal to those who loved him, as well as those who loved to HATE him. He marketed souvenirs for both extremes. He was also the first NASCAR competitor to secure his name with a .com at the end. His presence on Twitter would’ve been assured, and that’s a guarantee.
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3) Yogi Berra – Yes, I’m keenly aware that he is still alive. But, he’s also 85 years old and enjoying the quieter, simpler side to life. Heck, lets face it, Yogi probably has some interesting personal takes on Twitter and social media, but he’s not bound to start describing such thoughts with a keyboard.

While he is famously known for some of the funnier quotes, ever, I think it’s also important to remember such musings might not have the same effect in written form. That said, I believe he would’ve loved internet thoroughfares for expressing himself in his youth. He’s a entertaining communicator, period.

I think Yogi Berra could’ve been a guy to harmlessly poke at others, via Twitter. I wouldn’t imagine him as disrespectful or even insulting. But, daily rants about anything and everything are something I could envision, especially with his quick, natural wit. And, in his own unique way, Yogi’s body of language would’ve been distinctive.

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MARTINSVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 24: Denny Hamlin (R), driver of the  FedEx Express Toyota, celebrates with car owner Joe Gibbs (L), in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 24, 2010 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

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Sunday Money – 6-Pack

Posted on 19 November 2010 by WNST Interns

For weeks, I’ve been boasting about my preseason predictions for the Baltimore Ravens. On September 8th, I previewed each game on the schedule, on-air, and gave my opinion on how things would turn out.

I kept that schedule and it’s hanging on the wall of my home office. To date, I’ve been correct on 8 of the 9 games. The lone blemish is the contest against the Miami Dolphins. Yep, I had that game in the loss column.

Hey, the good news is I forecasted the loss against the Atlanta Falcons as the final defeat of the 2010 season. That’s correct, I picked the Ravens to run the table throughout the remainder of the regular slate of games.

And, I’ll stick by it …..

Since I’ve been so accurate with my predictions over the past couple months, I’ve decided to share my weekly prognostications with YOU, the listener and reader. It’s my early Christmas gift to anyone who reads my blogs.

I have no doubt that when my peers read this, they’ll have some provoking thoughts …..

Drew Forrester : “I like Rex, but I’m not following his advice – he freakin’ texted me from Vegas and asked which baseball games to bet. By the way, he won a few hundred bucks ….. and I’m still waiting for my Chinese lunch.”

Glenn Clark : “I don’t really like Rex, and I absolutely NEVER, EVER agree with him. I’m certain his predictions will be LAUGHABLE ….. if not, INSANE. So, before I even look at his picks, I’ll get this outta the way ….. DUDE, YOU’RE JUST WRONG.”

Thyrl Nelson : “His fantasy football team, Rexual HerAssMent, is 3-7 …. that’s all I need to know.”

Regardless of what others might say, you can rest assured that my LOCKS for the weekend will come to fruition. You’ll make money, guaranteed. Count on this 6-pack of predictions …..

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ATLANTA - OCTOBER 24: Terrell Owens  of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates his touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons with Chad Ochocinco  at Georgia Dome on October 24, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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Where will the Ravens be in January?

Posted on 28 October 2010 by WNST Interns

Fast forward yourself a couple months to the week following Christmas. You will most likely be experiencing the typical holiday happenings – your kids are complaining about the things Santa did NOT leave under the tree …. your wife is counting down the days until school returns from the seasonal break …. and you’re simply trying to survive such an ordeal.

Oh yeah, and you’re also digesting the Ravens latest win, against the Cleveland Browns, in the final road game of the regular season. It will probably be a little tougher than most of us originally imagined, but beating the Browns will be a mandatory formality.

And, as certain as many parents are looking ahead to the second half of the school year, many of us are looking ahead to some pretty exciting circumstances …..

College football’s biggest bowl games are approaching …..

New Years festivities are being planned …..

Rex Snider is watching his new HAIR as it’s starting to grow …..
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And, the Ravens will be readying for the ultimate arrival of the Cincinnati Bengals in the season finale’ …..

Now, bring yourself back to this 28th day of October …..

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Anquan Boldin brings in a 27-yard touchdown pass against the Cleveland Browns during the 4th quarter at at M & T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on September 26, 2010. Boldin scored three touchdowns in the Ravens 24-17 victory over the Browns. UPI/Kevin Dietsch Photo via Newscom

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Blog & Tackle: One-liners on the NFL through Week 3

Posted on 29 September 2010 by Chris Pika

Week 4 is the first week that byes take place in the NFL, so this is a great time to take short stock of each of the clubs through three weeks. And by short, I mean one line on each team — some stats, some observations and some conjecture.

First up, the AFC teams by division. Records are through Week 3:

Anquan Boldin brings in a 27-yard touchdown pass against the Cleveland Browns during the 4th quarter at at M & T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on September 26, 2010. Boldin scored three touchdowns in the Ravens 24-17 victory over the Browns. UPI/Kevin Dietsch Photo via Newscom

AFC East

New York Jets (2-1): Despite crippled Revis Island on defense, brash Jets are only team in AFC East with perfect division record (2-0).

New England Patriots (2-1): QB Tom Brady (8 TD, 109.1 passer rating) is back to form as Patriots have AFC’s highest point total (90) and highest TD total (12) so far.

Miami Dolphins (2-1): Even with deep threat WR Brandon Marshall and RB Ronnie Brown, Dolphins have same amount of TDs (5) as Buffalo, Cincinnati and Baltimore.

Buffalo Bills (0-3): Another lost year for Bills, which have scored fourth-least points (47) in AFC and have given up most points (87) on defense in the conference.

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0): The question for head coach Mike Tomlin is if the Steelers are 4-0 after a win over Baltimore in Week 4, why change QBs to Ben Roethlisberger?

Cincinnati Bengals (2-1): Bengals, despite record, have struggled on offense as QB Carson Palmer (12th rated AFC passer at 71.3) hasn’t found rhythm with T.O.cho Show.

Baltimore Ravens (2-1): Defense, led by MLB Ray Lewis, continues to carry a team expected to score much more in 2010 (44 points; 2nd-lowest in AFC), despite breakout game by WR Anquan Boldin (3 TDs) last week.

Cleveland Browns (0-3): Browns are led by Peyton … not Manning, but RB Hillis (220 yards, 3 TDs) as Browns gave popular AFC Super Bowl pick Ravens much trouble in Week 3.

AFC South

Houston Texans (2-1): Texans got over the hump of beating the Colts, but Houston is not the best team in state of Texas after bad loss to Cowboys.

Tennessee Titans (2-1): Titans defense has allowed fourth-fewest points in the AFC (42), and the Tennessee offense has RB Chris Johnson (4 TDs), but continuing issues at quarterback.

Indianapolis Colts (2-1): Despite loss to Houston, Colts still have potent passing attack with QB Peyton Manning and are arguably still best club in the AFC.

Jacksonville Jagaurs (1-2): Jaguars have worst scoring differential in AFC (-43), and Jack Del Rio could be the AFC’s first fired coach.

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs (3-0): Most surprising number for unbeaten Chiefs is that defense has allowed least points in the AFC (38), and in weak AFC West, KC might have enough to win the division.

San Diego Chargers (1-2): Special teams burned for two scores at Seattle, and Chargers QB Philip Rivers (AFC-high 4 INTs) is missing a suddenly resurgent RB LaDainian Tomlinson, now with the Jets.

Denver Broncos (1-2): Broncos getting decent offensive production from QB Kyle Orton, but overall have a minus point differential (-4; 61 PF, 65 PA).

Oakland Raiders (1-2): High-priced K Sebastian Janikowski could have made Raiders a 2-1 team with made kicks at Arizona, but Raiders need more than 3s (4 TDs, tied for lowest in AFC with JAX) to be competitive in up-for-grabs division.

Now for the NFC:

NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles (2-1): The Eagles have gone from a transitional season with QB Kevin Kolb to division title hopes with QB Michael Vick, who might be a legit NFL MVP candidate down the road.

Washington Redskins (1-2): Opening victory over Dallas doesn’t look as good after defense was shredded in last two weeks and Cowboys’ struggles.

New York Giants (1-2): A minus-30 scoring differential (55 PF, 85 PA) is third-worst in NFC, and head coach Tom Coughlin is starting to feel the heat.

Dallas Cowboys (1-2): Cowboys avoided 0-3 start in Week 3 with big win over Houston, and Dallas has the personnel to rebound in a wide-open NFC East race.

NFC North

Chicago Bears (3-0): Most unlikely last remaining 3-0 team in NFC gives head coach Lovie Smith some breathing room as O-line tries to keep QB Jay Cutler upright in Mike Martz offensive system.

Green Bay Packers (2-1): Despite mental miscues in Week 3 loss at Chicago, popular Super Bowl XLV NFC pick has plenty of offensive weapons for QB Aaron Rodgers, but need run game to be re-established after Ryan Grant injury.

Minnesota Vikings (1-2): QB Brett Favre looks very old right now, and Vikings best chance to win is to get away from pass-first mindset to get the ball into Adrian Peterson’s hopefully sure hands more often.

Detroit Lions (0-3): Injury to QB Matthew Stafford put dent into head coach Jim Schwartz’s immediate rebuilding plans, and Lions don’t get a break in Week 4 against Packers.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons (2-1): Falcons posted most-impressive win of Week 3 as they marched out of New Orleans with a OT win, and Atlanta has NFC best-tying +31 point differential.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1): AFter 2-0 start, Bucs ran into Steelers’ buzzsaw in Week 3, and Tampa Bay is staring at possible 2-3 record with games vs. Cincinnati and New Orleans after bye week.

New Orleans Saints (2-1): Saints run defense was exposed in loss to Falcons, and defending Super Bowl champs need fast starts in order to avoid same fate against strong run teams going forward.

Carolina Panthers (0-3): Winless Panthers have least TDs in NFC (3), and head coach John Fox may be running out of rope with owner Jerry Richardson.

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks (2-1): Head coach Pete Carroll sidestepped Southern California mess and he has put Seattle in early position to make headway in weak NFC West.

Arizona Cardinals (2-1): Despite record, Cards have minus-29 point differential (48 PF, 77 PA) and would be 1-2 if Oakland made a field goal or two in Week 3.

St. Louis Rams (1-2): Rookie QB Sam Bradford will have to grow up in a hurry, but the shame is that the Rams can’t play Washington every week.

San Francisco 49ers (0-3): Head coach Mike Singletary used the next-to-last bullet in his gun after firing offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye, and the last one might be used by 49ers ownership at end of the season if disappointments continue.

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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Ravens vs. Bengals  -  5 Keys To The Game

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Ravens vs. Bengals – 5 Keys To The Game

Posted on 19 September 2010 by WNST Interns

Well, after months of dissecting the New Yorks Jets, followed by an emotionally draining Monday night contest in the Meadowlands, it’s time to get back to SUNDAY football.

The Ravens travel to the Queen City, this afternoon, for a 1pm matchup against the Bengals. It should be another tough, close game …. albeit from a diiferent perspective than the struggle against the Jets. The Bengals will most certainly feature a better passing game, while offering weaker resistance than Gang Green’s defensive attack.

Here are my FIVE KEYS to today’s game …..

1) STOP CEDRIC BENSON
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This was the one thing the intimidating Ravens defense could not achieve, in 2009. Benson rushed for 120 and 117 yards, respectively, in both meetings. And, he broke runs of 20+ yards both times, as well. This cannot happen today.

Cedric Benson’s success is undoubtedly tied to his large, athletic offensive line. Each lineman weighs in excess of 320 pounds and they provided a formidable shield for 100 yard gains, 8 times, in 2009. The Ravens must find a way to stop the running attack – if Benson is successful, again, it will leave the Ravens defense languishing on the field for long drives.

It would be nice to see “Mount” Cody helping to plug up the middle. Perhaps, we’ll see Paul Kruger – who runs around like his hair is on fire, as well. Regardless, they MUST stop Benson.
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2) WATCH RAY RUN
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It’s simple, see Key #1. Just as Cedric Benson succeeded against the Ravens, in 2009, Ray Rice realized lesser success. He managed 69 and 48 yards, respectively, in both games. The second matchup, in Cincinnati, exploits some misleading numbers. Rice had only 12 touches, with an average gain of 4 yards, per carry.

While the improved Ravens passing game will be a factor in today’s game, Ray Rice figures to offer that same ability to grinding positive yardage and keeping the Bengals defense on the field. It’s going to be 86 degrees and humid, in Cincinnati, today. It will undoubtedly be tiring conditions for each team’s defense.
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3) SHUT DOWN CARSON PALMER’S ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS
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Chad OchoCinco and Terrell Owens will make catches in today’s game. That’s fine. I worry more about the likes of Jordan Shipley, Andre’ Caldwell (remember him?) and Jermaine Gresham. Each of these guys offer varying targets for Palmer. And, I’m suspicious of rookie Gresham’s possible success across the middle. He’s a lot BIGGER than Dustin Keller and he’s quite athletic.

With Ray Lewis nursing a sore foot, I’ll be watching the middle pretty closely.
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4) FLACCO OUTGUNS PALMER
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Perhaps, today can be the DAY that Joe Flacco serves notice as the most prolific passer in the AFC-North. He now has a surrounding cast comparable to the likes of Carson Palmer. Translation – NO EXCUSES.

The additions of Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh were evident, last week. However, they can STAND OUT today. And, with Todd Heap hurting, we can rely on better backups than names like L.J. Smith and Quinn Sypniewski. Welcome to the show, Ed Dickson. We just might see some fireworks from one of the NFL’s next rockstar tight ends.

But, it rests upon the shoulders (and arm) of Joe Flacco. With Keith Rivers also nursing a sore foot and Jonathan Fanene OUT, the Ravens will likely benefit from a weakened pass rush. Flacco delivers today …..
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5) OUTCOACH ‘EM
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He absolutely did it to Rex Ryan, just 6 nights ago. Today, John Harbaugh is tasked with outsmarting Marvin Lewis in the strategical side of the game. Can it happen? Heck yeah …..

Say what you want, a big part of the Bengals embarrassing performance against New England can be attributed to being OUTCOACHED. Bill Belichick was hellbent on putting the Bengals in an early hole, while removing Cedric Benson from a revamped comeback agenda. It worked perfectly.

Today, Harbaugh & Company will need to have a shrewd strategy as the team enters enemy territory for the 2nd time in as many weeks. It starts with DISCIPLINE, and there is little doubt the Ravens will have that angle covered. Now, lets be smart …..
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Ravens 27 Bengals 24

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br

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Ravens (1-0) @ Bengals (0-1)

Posted on 18 September 2010 by WNST Interns

Next up in the “teams whose head coach owes their job to Ray Lewis” are the Cincinnati Bengals. Now we just need the Jacksonville Jaguars (Jack Del Rio) and the 2005-2008 San Francisco 49ers (Mike Nolan) to complete the “#52’s head coach’s tree.” Marvin Lewis’ team is still licking their wounds from that 38-24 drubbing at the hands of the New England Patriots (a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score) in Week 1, and will look to rebound against a team that they had plenty of success against in 2009.

Those 2009 losses to Cincy were especially surprising for the Ravens and their fans not necessarily because of the outcomes, but because of the manner in which the Bengals were victorious. Running back Cedric Benson rad roughshod over B’More’s usually stout run defense, breaking their streak of 40 consecutive games without allowing a 100-yard rusher on his way to 120 yards in Week 5, and duplicating the feat with 117 yards just four weeks later. Benson managed just 43 yards on 15 carries in Week 1, but his opportunities were quite limited due to his team getting blown out of the water early and being forced to play catch-up.

The Ravens will be looking for some revenge against Benson Sunday. If rookie defensive tackle Terrence Cody is able to suit up (he practiced this week), it will go a long way to exacting said revenge. Along with Haloti Ngata and Cory Redding up front, Benson will be hard pressed to find even a sliver of daylight. Even without Cody, the Ravens did well against the Jets’ vaunted rushing attack last week, as RBs Shonn Green and LaDainian Tomlinson managed 80 yards on 16 carries.

“Well, wait a minute, that’s 5 yards per carry,” you might be saying. The stat is a bit misleading, as Tomlinson ripped off two 21-yard runs in the game. Take away those two, and the numbers drop to 38 yards on 14 carries, a 2.7 ypc average. Of course, you can’t just “take away” big plays – the Ravens need to avoid giving up similar big plays to Benson and Bengals’ “change-of-pace” back Bernard Scott.

Which of course, isn’t to say that stopping the run = Ravens win. Quarterback Carson Palmer has always done well against our Ravens, putting up a career record of 8-3. Even after throwing a pick-6 to Ed Reed last year, Palmer bounced back and led his team to a last-minute game-winning touchdown in Baltimore.

Palmer threw for 345 yards and 2 touchdowns last week in New England, but again – they were in catch-up mode all day after falling behind 31-3. He again has a full compliment of weapons to throw to, including two reality TV stars.

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Along with those two, rookie WR Jordan Shipley is dangerous, and Andre Caldwell (though I ripped Mike Preston earlier this week for bringing him up) is set to return from a groin injury and has hurt the Ravens in the past.

Just as getting Cody back could help the run defense, a return from injury in the secondary could greatly improve the Ravens’ chances Sunday. Lardarius Webb has been removed from the injury report, but is still “working out the kinks,” after ACL surgery. With Webby in there, the much maligned Ravens’ secondary is instantly better. Without him, newcomer Josh Wilson and safety Haruki Nakamura will be forced to line up against the Bengals’ receivers, matchups that favor Cincy.

The Bengals also gave the Ravens fits on defense last year, holding them to 14 and 7 points, respectively, in the two meetings. This despite Ray Rice racking up 143 and 135 yards from scrimmage (mostly receiving). The problem was that Rice was the team’s leading receiver in both games, as cornerbacks Leon Hall and Jonathan Joseph gave Joe Flacco and the Ravens’ wideouts fits.

2010 is a new year, though, and now Hall and Joseph have to deal with Anquan “Q” Boldin and former teammate T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who weren’t there last year. Hopefully Housh can also bring some “insider info” to the Ravens in practice this week – the offense and defense could both use all the help they can get after being swept last season. Tom Brady had no trouble finding his wideouts last week, as both Wes Welker (8 catches, 64 yards, 2 TD) and Randy Moss (5, 59, 0) had better days than any Ravens WR had against the Bengals in 2009.

Of course, he’s Tom Brady. While Flacco looked like Brady on occasion last week, skillfully avoiding the Jets’ pressure and converting key 3rd-and-long situations, but looked downright awful at other times, holding the ball too long in the pocket, overthrowing a wide open Le’Ron McClain in the end zone, and throwing from his back foot. To show that he really is ready to step into the next tier of NFL quarterbacks, as so many experts see him doing, Joe needs to start beating quality QBs – not just the likes of Mark Sanchez and Jay Cutler – in head-to-head matchups. He has the weapons to do it now, so the time for excuses is over. In his defense, he had a perfect touchdown pass dropped last week (by Todd Heap) and another likely touchdown just flat out missed (by Derrick Mason). But he also underthrew Mason on another deep route, underthrew Boldin from his back foot, and missed Ray Rice on a slant that would have given the Ravens a 1st-and-goal inside the 5. We know he can make the throws. What we need to see now is consistency from #5.

The Ravens have revenge on their minds after being embarrassed by Cincy in 2009. The Bengals have redemption on theirs, after being blown out in Week 1.

I think the Bengals do bounce back this week…just not quite high enough.

Ravens 24 Bengals 20

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The Dirty Half-Dozen .....

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The Dirty Half-Dozen …..

Posted on 16 September 2010 by WNST Interns

During yesterday’s AFTERNOON DRIVE, I came across a list of “Most Disliked Athletes In America,” as reported by CNBC. The list was actually compiled through a public survey by the Q Scores Company (www.qscores.com); a firm that conducts a variety of different consumer studies.

I considered broaching the topic during yesterday’s show. However, I was uncomfortable with the list, because it only contained the TOP-6 most disliked athletes and I noticed an immediate distinguishing theme …..
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Hmmm ….. do you notice any similar visual characteristics? Without really looking at the featured “bad guys”, I wasn’t going to broach the topic with my audience. I have a responsibility to myself and YOU when it comes to talking about a subject from an informed viewpoint.

That said, I’m really wrestling with the notion that the half dozen most despised athletes are all African American. And, if the survey is accurate, does racial makeup play a part in it?

Of this group, 4 of the 6 have never been charged with a criminal offense. So, that can’t be a social discriminative factor. While some of these players have an animated streak to their personality, none of them are known for being “dirty” competitors on the field, nor have they been censured for performance enhancing drug usage.

So, what makes them so hated? Is it their flamboyance or self indulgent ways? All of them have egos; some have huge egos. But, an overwhelming amount of pro athletes have egos.

Are they selfish toward fans or charitable causes? I don’t see that, either. Perhaps, it’s their wealth? Nah …. once again, most pro athletes are wealthy.

Hmmm ….. all of them are or were at the top of their respective games within the past decade. Maybe that’s it. However, if that’s the case, how does top billing of the infamous not include Peyton Manning, Albert Pujols, Jimmie Johnson, Alex Ovechkin and Drew Brees?

I’m just asking …..

I’ve taken the time to really think about the athletes who are disliked in our sports society. Of course, I’m relying on personal conversations, negative publicity, public perceptions and simple common sense. I came up with this group …..
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Ben Roethlisberger – I guess women weren’t surveyed? Maybe, the study was done a year ago? Roethlisberger is universally disliked in our sports society, and his infamy really has nothing to do with his play on the field – outside of Baltimore.
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Jeff Gordon – If you’ve never attended a NASCAR event, you’ll simply need to trust me on this one. Jeff Gordon gets bombarded with the most resounding course of BOOS I’ve ever witnessed at a sporting event. And, it happens every single week. He’s never done anything to anyone. He was an “outsider” and he dominated an era. Those days are over, but the HATE lingers on.
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Alex Rodriguez – He, too, was disliked for being the greatest of his generation. But, when the steroid allegations became truth, A’Rod’s popularity among most baseball enthusiasts sank below the Mendoza line. He’s brash, conceited and surly, at times. He’s a guy that opposing fans love to taunt.
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Tom Brady – Here’s a guy who is HATED and we all know it. Is it the envy? He’s done it all …. Super Bowls, movie star looks, smokin’ hot wife. Yet, fans outside of Beantown hate Tom Brady. How do I know? Well, I’ve always liked him. But, if I mention his name on-air or in conversation, the hate starts pouring out of people.
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I suppose these lists can really be taken as pure subjective matter. We see a few of them, annually. Such studies are compiled and released by Forbes, GQ, Mens Daily and others. However, this is my first experience in seeing a list unanimously devoted to one race.

Believe me, I’m not one who hypes bias of any kind, to include racial considerations. When race is arbitrarily injected into issues or recklessly expolited by persons who just want to provide a convenient excuse, people become divided. That’s not my intent.

However, I do think the Q Scores list is questionable and I just felt compelled to write about it.

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