Archive for January, 2009

Maryland-Duke, Where have you gone?

Jan 23, 2009, 4:59 PM

I was looking at the start time for tomorrow afternoon’s Maryland-Duke game and noticed that it was scheduled for a noon tipoff. It got me thinking about how this “rivalry” has really dropped off a bit in the last few years. I say rivalry in quotes due to the fact that Duke doesn’t really dislike Maryland the way they hate Carolina.

Anyways I can remember back in the early part of this decade when seemed as if every Terps-Blue Devils game had that “big game” feel and would be the ESPN Wednesday or Saturday night game of the week. The games are still intense, don’t get me wrong, but it just seems that the games in the past few years have failed to live up to the ones that took place in 2000, ’01, ’02, ’03 and the ’04 ACC Championship Game…all of which were classics.

One of the reasons the rivalry has dipped has to be the fact that Maryland hasn’t held their end of the bargain. Duke is always high in the rankings. Maryland however didn’t receive a single vote in the latest AP and Coaches Polls. The games have added importance and the stakes are higher when you had two top 20, or top 10 teams battling it out. It doesn’t seem as special anymore when Duke is the easy favorite.

That being said, if and when the Terps do pull off the upset against Duke, it will be a bit more satisfying. But personally as a fan of the team I’d rather have Maryland have a high ranking each year, lose to Duke, and go deep in the NCAA Tourny. Rather than be unranked, occasionally upset a Duke or Carolina, lose to teams like Ohio, American, and Morgan State…AT HOME, and not make the Tourny at all. That last part is what the past few seasons have felt like being a Maryland fan. They play up to the Duke’s of the world but can’t win a BB&T Classic in their own backyard.

So enough of that. Tomorrow at Cameron Indoor Stadium, number two ranked Duke will host Maryland on ESPN. It should be a competitive game and as you can tell by my rant, I would love for it to be a classic.

Thoughts on the Ravens, Nick Markakis, and Boston-Orlando

Jan. 22, 2009, 5:50 PM

-Well it has been a solid week and a half since my last post. I could not find the time to write anything, I apologize to anyone who was looking for info on the Ravens-Steelers game.

-Speaking of the Ravens, Sunday’s AFC Championship was one heck of a football game. Aside from the disappointment I felt in the few hours afterward, I really enjoyed the game.  It was exactly what most people expected…a classic hard hitting, knock ’em down drag ’em out dogfight. The Steelers played great defense and they clearly deserve the title of the best team in the AFC. And defensively? It is rare to see a team dominate defensively better than the Ravens, but on Sunday that is exactly what the Steelers did. Now comes the long off-season for the Ravens. And quite a few questions linger. Who will they draft? Will Ray Lewis re-sign with the team? Can Ozzie Newsome land a big name free agent receiver or cornerback? It will be interesting to see what steps will be made to ensure another successful season takes place in ’09.

-The Orioles announced today that they have re-signed right fielder Nick Markakis to a six year deal worth $66.1 million. The contract locks up Markakis through 2014. This past season, he batted .306, scored 106 runs and led all major league outfielders with 17 assists. The contract is the second-largest in Orioles history(Miguel Tejada signed for $72 million before the 2004 season). This is a great move by the team. It is a good sign that they are showing they want the best young player on the team around for another six seasons. I would not be suprised if Markakis is named to multiple All-Star games before it is time for a new contract.

-Lastly, in the NBA tonight there is a great game between the Boston Celtics and the Orlando Magic. Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard will be the matchup to watch. The game starts at 8:00 EST and you can catch it on TNT.

Steelers defeat Chargers; advance to AFC Championship Game

Jan. 11, 2009, 8:30 PM

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The Pittsburgh Steelers took care of the San Diego Chargers today 35-24.

The game was close in the first half but the Steelers began to pull away just before halftime.

In the third quarter, Pittsburgh took over. They limited the Chargers to 17 seconds of possession time, and zero yards on one play (which was an interception). I have never seen a quarter of an NFL game be so lopsided.

The Chargers, who were the hottest team in football, could not recover from their lifeless third quarter and were suffocated by the Steelers dominating defense.

With the win, the number two seeded Steelers advance to the AFC Championship game next Sunday against the sixth seeded Baltimore Ravens.

It will be the third game between the division rivals this season. The Steelers won both of the regular season games by a combined 7 points.

The early vegas lines have the Steelers as 4½ point favorites.

Ravens 13-Titans 10

Jan 10, 2009, 9:58 PM

-Wow what a game. I cannot believe how tough the Ravens played today. They pulled out an amazing 13-10 victory over the Tennessee Titans to knock off the number one overall seed in the AFC. I will post more tomorrow morning when I am all settled down. Great win for the franchise.

Pittsburgh’s Harrison named best defensive player of 2008

Jan. 5, 2009, 3:59 PM

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Linebacker James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers was named the 2008 Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year today, getting 22 votes out of a possible 50.

The fifth year veteran from Kent State beat out the Cowboys’ DeMarcus Ware (11 votes) and the Ravens’ Ed Reed (8 votes).

Harrison set a Steelers team record with 16 sacks on the year. He also forced 7 fumbles and intercepted a pass.

He is the first Steeler to win the award since Rod Woodson won it in 1993

Ravens 27 – Dolphins 9

Jan. 4, 2009, 7:14 PM

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Ed Reed celebrates the Ravens' 27-9 victory over the Dolphins

The Baltimore Ravens marched into Miami on Sunday afternoon and imposed their will on resurgent Dolphin squad in front of 74,240 at Dolphin Stadium, earning a trip to the next round of the NFL playoffs.

From the very start, Baltimore played their game. It did not translate into points immediately, but the defense steadily wore down the Dolphins, forcing five turnovers out of a team that only gave up 13 total in 16 regular season games.

Safety Ed Reed gave the Ravens their first touchdown of the game with a 64 yard interception return late in the first half.

After that score, the boys in purple never looked back.

Rookie quarterback Joe Flacco managed the game well, completing only nine passes the entire game. But his zero turnovers are a number the Ravens will take any day of the week

Le’Ron McClain wore down the Dolphins defense with 19 carries for 75 yards and a score. Eventually Willis McGahee capitalized on the tired Miami defensive unit when he broke a 48 yard run with 4:53 to play in the 4th quarter.

That long run set up a 3rd and goal and a chance for the Ravens to score and put the game away. Flacco did just that with an eight yard quarterback draw to make the score 27-9.

The big story of the game was Baltimore’s ability to force five turnovers out of a team that was known for taking care of the football.

The win means the Ravens have a date with the Tennessee Titans on Saturday, January 10, at 4:30 (EST). On the line will be a trip to the AFC Championship Game.

Wild Card Preview: Ravens at Dolphins

Jan. 5, 2009, 2:11 PM

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Game Info:
Kickoff: 1:00 p.m. (ET)
Site: Dolphin Stadium (75,192)•Miami Gardens, FL
TV: CBS
Announcers: Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Phil Simms (color commentary)

Overview: The Ravens and Dolphins both come into Sunday’s game with a lot of confidence. Miami finished their season by winning five in a row, while Baltimore won five of their last six to close out the 2008 season. The last time these teams met was on October 19, when the Ravens won 27-13. Willis McGahee rushed for 105 yards and Terrell Suggs scored his first career NFL touchdown, picking off Chad Pennington and taking it back 44 yards for the score. Although both teams finished the regular season with 11-5 records and Baltimore won the head to head meeting, Miami gets the home game because they won the AFC East and the Ravens took the Wild Card.

Matchups:

RAVENS OFFENSE vs. DOLPHINS DEFENSE: Joe Flacco has been very composed in the last few weeks. Even when he feels pressure, he has shown the ability to roll out and make a play or just get rid of it. In weeks 15 and 16, Flacco saw two of the game’s best pass rushers in James Harrison and DeMarcus Ware. On Sunday he will have to deal with another great one in Joey Porter, who compiled 17½ sacks this year. Porter, like Harrison and Ware, uses his strength and speed to generate a ferocious pass rush. Veterans Vonnie Holliday and Jason Ferguson have a combined 23 years of NFL experience and are the big men up front for Miami. They helped the Fins limit opponents to 101 rushing yards per game this year. Ray Rice will be back on the field for Baltimore for the first time since Dec. 7 when he injured his calf. The secondary is where the Ravens need to take advantage of Miami. The Dolphins gave up 28 plays of 25 yards or more during the regular season, so look for Mark Clayton, Todd Heap, and Derrick Mason to all possibly make a few big plays.

DOLPHINS OFFENSE vs. RAVENS DEFENSE: The Ravens did an excellent job of shutting down Miami’s wildcat offense back on Oct. 19. They used their speed and aggressiveness to stop some of Miami’s trickery before it could get started. Baltimore’s defense is one that commits and commits hard. If Chad Pennington is able to get a good play action fake and still have enough time to throw the ball, the Ravens could be vulnerable. The Ravens do so many things defensively to confuse the offense. Putting 340 pound Haloti Ngata into pass coverage will throw off any quarterback. And having four linebackers who can blitz at anytime is a lot for the offensive line to handle. The Ravens showed some holes in their run defense last week against Jacksonville, giving up 119 yards. This is something the Dolphins will try to build upon. Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown combined for 1575 rushing yards this season. They are a talented pair of playmakers.

PREDICTION: The Ravens led the league in takeaways during the regular season with 34. The Dolphins tied for the league lead with only 13 turnovers. Something has to give. If Chad Pennington is efficient and smart like he has been all season, I believe the Dolphins have a really good shot at winning this one. But if the Ravens can get to him early and be disruptive, it will take an enormous ammount of pressure off of Joe Flacco and the offense. I say the Ravens will continue their brand of smash mouth football and walk out of Miami with their first playoff victory since 2002. RAVENS, 21-13


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