Posts Tagged 'Derrick Mason'

Week 1 Preview: Baltimore Ravens @ New York Jets

January 16, 2010…that was the last time the Ravens played a game that mattered. Seems like a long time ago huh? Well the wait is over, September 13th has finally arrived, and what a game we have tonight!

The Jets and Ravens are very similar teams. They both have the young quarterbacks with plenty of experienced weapons on offense. Defensively, both squads play good ol’ “smash mouth football”.

There has been quite a bit of talking leading up to this game, and it’s fun, but I’m not gonna address the jabber. I want to look at the types of games both teams need to play to come away with a win tonight.

First off, believe the hype, Darrelle Revis is the real deal. He is as good as advertised and has to ability to take a whole side of a field away from the opposition. That opens up options for the New York defense to blitz, especially with their safeties. And everyone knows Rex Ryan loves to blitz. He will be sending extra guys at Joe Flacco early and often to try to fluster the third year signal caller. On the other side of the field will be Antonio Cromartie, who is also a very skilled corner, not as talented as Revis. However he does have lightning fast speed. If he comes up with an interception, he is likely to take it to the house.

That being said, Revis can only cover one guy at a time, tonight that guy will be Anquan Boldin. Baltimore has plenty of other options to go to other than Boldin when airing it out. Flacco will have to spread the ball around to targets Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Ray Rice in the flat.

Speaking of Rice, I believe he is more dangerous on those flare passes and toss plays tonight. Do not expect much from him rushing up the middle. The Jets have a beast in Kris Jenkins at nose tackle. He can take up so much space and will be a challenge for center Matt Birk on first and second downs. Against a defense as physical and brutal as New York’s, getting backs Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain at least half a dozen carries each is crucial. Rice isn’t built to take such a pounding for four quarters.

On to the Jets and their offense. Mark Sanchez enjoyed a solid rookie campaign and is looking to continue his growth as an NFL quarterback. He has plenty of viable options at his disposal to help him win not only tonight but throughout 2010. The addition of future Hall of Famer Ladainian Tomlinson as well as 15-year veteran Tony Richardson adds depth, experience, and stability to a young corps of backs in Shonn Greene and John Conner. Receivers Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes are solid options who have great hands as well as breakaway speed. However, Holmes is out for tonight’s game. He is missing the first four games of the season due to a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy this past offseason. Jerricho Cotchery will have to step up and fill in his place tonight. Tight end Dustin Keller averaged just over 11½ yards per catch last year but only hauled in two TD’s. I like him to have a big 2010, watch out for him across the middle.

This leads to the one glaring weakness of the Ravens, their secondary. With Ed Reed on the PUP list for the first six weeks of the season, and Dominique Foxworth gone for the year, the Ravens are vulnerable and everyone knows it. Baltimore will have to work with Fabian Washington, Josh Wilson, and Chris Carr at corner. Lardarius Webb is listed as a game time decision, however I expect him to suit up and get plenty up snaps. Tom Zbikowski fills in for Reed at free safety, while Dawan Landry provides the most experience and talent of the group at strong safety.

There are lots of big names at the skill positions for both teams, and they very well could be the difference in the outcome of the game. But I believe it will all come down to who can dominate in the trenches, specifically when New York is on offense. I already mentioned earlier that Kris Jenkins will cause disruption in the middle of the Ravens line, but more importantly is if the Jets big men can hold up against a tough Baltimore front seven. If they can, it gives Sanchez the necessary time to pick apart the corners and safeties. A poor effort up front will lead to sacks, hurries, and in turn, poor decisions by the second year QB.

I believe nose tackle Haloti Ngata is a bit better than Jenkins due to his speed and athleticism. Remember last year in the preseason (against the Jets) when Ngata droped back into coverage like a linebacker and picked off Sanchez and took it to the house? Center Nick Mangold, fresh off signing an 8-year, $57.4 million contract, will have the tall task of blocking Ngata all game. And a great matchup I’m excited to watch will be left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson against a leaner and quicker Terrell Suggs.

So many storylines and matchups to digest in this one. Both teams have “super” aspirations if you know what I mean. Lots of questions will have been answered by the conclusion of this evening’s battle. Time for the prediction: I say the Ravens get off to a slower than expected start, and possibly fall behind. But the offense has too many weapons and will unleash its firepower in the 2nd half. The defense will bend but not break, and limit the Jets to field goals when backed aginst the wall. BALTIMORE 27 – NEW YORK 16

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12/20/09 Gameday: Bears at Ravens

A snowy good morning to you.  What a bizarre weekend of rumors and speculation we have had. There were the rumors of today’s game  possibly being moved to Monday night. No one was sure whether the Bears would actually be in town to play the game until their plane landed safely at BWI airport last night a few minutes before 11 p.m. And how about the snow removal! Great job by the workers at M&T Bank Stadium getting the seats, ramps, stairs, and field ready for today’s contest.

As for the actual game: The Ravens mindset is where right where it needs to be right now. They realize that they have to win out to get a spot in the playoffs. They will not take any teams lightly, just ask last week’s opponent, the Detroit Lions.

At the beginning of the season, hopes were high in the windy city. They had traded inconsistent Kyle Orton to Denver and in return got one of the best young arms in the game in Jay Cutler. But Cutler’s 2009 campaign has been quite disappointing. He has been very prone to turnovers, throwing 22 interceptions! That number leads the entire league. He is still very capable of making all the throws necessary to win a ballgame. This season has been a combination of bad luck and poor decision making for Mr. Cutler.

At the running back position, the Bears have a solid foundation in Matt Forte. The 2nd year back out of Tulane is having a bit of a sophomore slump. He had a tremendous rookie campaign, rushing for over 1200 yards and eight touchdowns. He was also able to add four more receiving TD’s. Similar to Cutler, the talent is there, but things just haven’t gone Forte’s way this year.

Defensively, the Bears suffered a major setback in their season opener at Green Bay when middle linebacker Brian Urlacher was lost for the season. He is the heart and soul of their unit. And accross the board, the numbers are not the same as usual for this defense.

As for the Ravens, they had a nice little confidence boost last week, beating up on the lowly Lions 48-3. I believe that the way Ray Rice is playing right now, is just too much for the Bears. If they focus on shutting down #27, they will likely leave many open opportunities for Joe Flacco and his receivers to do damage. I honestly think Chicago will put up a solid fight on offense, but not enought to topple a team that smells postseason. RAVENS 31 – BEARS 21

NFL Week 6 Game Preview: Baltimore Ravens (3-2) at Minnesota Vikings (5-0)

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Game Info:

Kickoff: 1:00 p.m. (EDT)

Site: Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (64,121) · Minneapolis, MN

TV: CBS

Announcers: Greg Gumbel (play-by-play), Dan Dierdorf (color)

Fast Facts:

– The Ravens travel to Minnesota for the first time in their regular season history. The Vikings are the last NFL team Baltimore has yet to play on the road.

– QB Joe Flacco has thrown at least a TD pass in 8 consecutive road games.

-Since 2006, the Vikings have allowed a league best 73.2 rushing yards per game. The Ravens rank 2nd during that same span, giving up just 78.6 yards per game.

– The Vikings have given up just 4 turnovers on the season, the 2nd-lowest in the NFL.

Ravens Offense vs. Vikings Defense: The Ravens offense has sputtered in the past two games. After getting off to an explosive start, there has been a lack of balance between running and passing plays. Against the Bengals last week, they had a great deal of trouble developing any kind of rhythm, going 3-11 on 3rd downs. Joe Flacco and company need to get on the board early in this contest to have a chance to win. Establishing the run, or at least attempting to, will be crucial. Minnesota’s run defense consistently ranks among the league’s best. And at 311 and 317 pounds respectively, Kevin and Pat Williams are big reasons why (pardon the pun). Pat is a savvy 13 year veteran who can singlehandedly shut down an opponent’s running game. Former University of Maryland standout E.J. Henderson patrols the middle of the field at middle linebacker and has a tremendous nose for the ball. If the Ravens are going to gain significant chunks of yardage this Sunday, they are going to have to do it by going to the outside with Ray Rice and Willis McGahee. Le’Ron McClain had zero rushing attempts in week 4 and only two last week. I’m looking for him to get more involved in the ground game this week. Receiver Derrick Mason was shut out a week ago for just the second time in 69 games as a Raven. Look for him to bounce back in a big way. Flacco is going to have to be quick in getting rid of the football because defensive end Jared Allen is simply a beast. Left tackle Jared Gaither is scheduled to return from his neck injury and play this week. Keep an eye on how he handles Allen. Two weeks ago against the Packers, Allen registered 4.5 sacks, a career high.  He also forced a fumble, and recovered it.  And he sacked Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the end zone in the second half for a safety.

Vikings Offense vs. Ravens Defense: Adrian Peterson is widely regarded as the best back in the league today; some even say he has the potential to be one of the best of all time. He is fast, agile, powerful, and smart. He is the heartbeat of the Minnesota offense and limiting his production is priority number one for the Ravens defense. Don’t forget about former Raven Chester Taylor. He is averaging a little over four receptions a game, so expect him to get a few balls thrown his way in the flats. Baltimore is fresh off of giving up a 100-yard rusher in Cedric Benson. It will be interesting to see if they have a repeat performance of last week or if the front seven can hold their ground against this talented backfield. And at quarterback its good ole Brett Favre. Love him or hate him, he is back and he is good. He can still throw lasers all over the field with great precision. His completion percentage of 69.1 is a career high. And he has only thrown two interceptions while tossing nine touchdowns. His footwork is a little slower than it was in his prime, so if the pocket breaks down he’s very likely to be sacked. The Baltimore pass rush has to get to #4 early and often to give the secondary a chance to make some plays.

Prediction: I’d say it’s a stretch to call this a must win game for Baltimore. But they really do need a win here. Going into the bye week with a record of 4-2 is a heck of a lot better than going in losing three straight and being 3-3. The key to the game has to be the Ravens’ offense. You have to assume that the D is going to give up some big plays. With Peterson in the backfield, there’s a great chance of that happening. The offense has to be more balanced than they have been lately and Joe Flacco has to be the confident guy that efficiently won 2 road playoff games last year. All teams face adversity. Right now the ravens are facing a ton of it. They a sour taste in their mouth after losing last week at home with first place in the division on the line. They have the talent and the experience necessary to win this game and I say they do. RAVENS 31 – VIKINGS 26

Week 3: Ravens – Browns Wrap Up

Raice Rice celebrates his first career NFL touchdown with the help of Mark Clayton.

Raice Rice celebrates his first career NFL touchdown with the help of Mark Clayton.

The Ravens did a great job yesterday of staying focused and not overlooking an inferior team. They came out of the gates strong and didn’t let up. They played smart football and the result was a 34-3 domination of the Cleveland Browns before 70,950 at M&T Bank Stadium.

I honestly thought the game would be a little closer, but I guess I didn’t realize just how bad the Browns really are. There are numerous problems with the team, but it seems like the solution is a mystery. Is it head coach Eric Mangini? Is it the quarterback situation? Or is it owner Randy Lerner? I just don’t know. After reading some of the reader comments on the Cleveland Plain Dealer‘s website, I almost feel sorry for what Browns fans have to go through.

But that’s enough sympathy for the Browns. Let’s talk about the Ravens and their stellar performance.

The offense is so fluid right now. Willis McGahee and Ray Rice went literally untouched on all three of their touchdown runs. Huge credit goes to the offensive line, especially tackles Jared Gaither and rookie Michael Oher.

Joe Flacco was efficient, completing 25 of his 35 throws and amassing a career high 342 yards. His confidence has to be extremely high going into Foxborough next Sunday after throwing no interceptions for the first time this season.

Derrick Mason caught 5 passes for 118 yards and he surpassed the 800 catch plateau for his career. His most impressive play came with a little over eight minutes remaining in the game. He adjusted to catch an underthrown pass by Flacco. He made the leaping catch, and proceeded to make two Cleveland defenders miss on his way to the endzone for a 72 yard TD.

The defense took advantage of Jamal Lewis being out with a hamstring injury and shut down the Cleveland rushing attack. Jerome Harrison was limited to 52 yards on 16 carries. With that the Ravens have now not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 38 consecutive games, the longest current streak in the NFL.

Ed Reed, Dawan Landry, Dominique Foxworth, and Brendan Ayanbadejo all had interceptions. The secondary limited Braylon Edwards to 35 yards receiving.

Final Thoughts: The Ravens are playing some the best football in the history of the franchise. Never before have the offense and defense been so balanced and so good. The offense is explosive and the defense is as rough and tough as it’s ever been. But their toughest opponents are still in front of them. Next week’s game at New England is going to be a HUGE test for this team. Whether or not they can go into a tough environment and beat a very talented football team will speak volumes.

Week 3 Game Preview: Cleveland Browns (0-2) at Baltimore Ravens (2-0)

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Game Info:

Kickoff: 1:05 p.m. (EDT)

Site: M&T Bank Stadium (71.008) · Baltimore, MD

TV: CBS

Announcers: Gus Johnson (play-by-play), Steve Tasker (color)

Fast Facts:

-Since 1999, Baltimore has allowed 18 100-yard rushing games. The Browns have allowed 18 100-yard rushing games over their last 32 games.

-Since 2003, the Ravens’ defense at home has ranked first in the NFL in yards allowed, points allowed and interceptions.

-Ravens wideout Derrick Mason needs just 3 catches to put him at 800 for his career, a mark which only 22 players in NFL history have hit.

– The Ravens have had at least 1 sack in 14 straight games.

-Free safety Ed Reed has 7 career interceptions against the Browns and has returned 3 of them for scores.

– The Browns are 3-7 in their previous 10 visits to M&T Bank Stadium. The last time Cleveland won in Baltimore was in 2007 in a game that will forever be remembered for Phil Dawson’s wild field goal at the end of regulation.

Josh Cribbs: I have never made a section in a game preview for just one player. But Browns return specialist Josh Cribbs is good enough to warrant his own preview. Consider these stats: From 2005-09, Cribbs is ranks first in the league in kickoff returns for touchdowns (five), and second in combined return touchdowns (seven). He also ranks second in kickoff return yards (5,707 for a 26.2-yard average). During last season’s Ravens-Browns game in Cleveland, Cribbs ran a kickoff back 92-yards for a score, and totaled 237 kickoff return yards and 41 yards on punts. He returned another kick for a TD in week 1 against Minnesota. The Ravens showed last week that their special team coverage has some holes as the Chargers’ Darren Sproles averaged 32 yards per kickoff return including a 52 yard burst that gave his team great field position.

Ravens Offense vs. Browns Defense: Last week the Ravens showed that their 501 yard outburst in week one was no fluke. In fact, Baltimore now ranks first in the AFC in yards per game (406) and points per game (34.5). On paper, this is as big of a mismatch as you will ever see. Defensively, the Browns rank all the way on the other end of the spectrum. Cleveland has given up an average of 30.5 points in their first two games. The offensive line has been VERY impressive so far in this young season. Jared Gaither held Shawne Merriman to one tackle and zero sacks last week. Center Matt Birk has the tough task of blocking Browns all-pro nose tackle Shaun Rogers. Rodgers is strong and takes up lots of space. He can disrupt the running game by closing holes before they even open. Said Birk, “He’s a great player. He combines power and quickness, and that’s rare in a big guy like that to be so explosive. That’s why he’s been a good player for so long in this league. He’s just a big, powerful guy. All you can do is get in there and try to battle.” The three headed monster of Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, and Le’Ron McClain will once again give Baltimore fresh legs the throughout the game at the running back position. Joe Flacco has been solid in 2009, but has thrown a pick in each game. It will be interesting to see if he can avoid throwing one for the third straight week.

Browns Offense vs. Ravens Defense: Cleveland is having a great deal of trouble scoring points on the offensive side of the ball. They have scored just one offensive TD in their past 33 quarters! That is a stretch of just over 8 full games. Former Raven Jamal Lewis is questionable with a hamstring injury. If Lewis is unable to start, Jerome Harrison and fullback Lawrence Vickers (three combined rushing attempts in ’09) will get the bulk of the carries. As if going up against the NFL’s #1 rush defense wasn’t hard enough, doing so without your starting halfback makes it that much harder. Receiver Braylon Edwards has been very quiet through two games so far this year, hauling in only 7 receptions. But he could be due for a big game, especially against a Baltimore secondary that got lit up last Sunday in San Diego. But Edwards having a succesful day is largely dependent on whether or not quarterback Brady Quinn can play smart football and avoid costly turnovers. Since his debut last November, Quinn has started 5 games, thrown 3 touchdown passes, 4 interceptions, and won just one game. He will have to battle a tough pass rush from Ray Lewis and company as well as a loud M&T Bank Stadium crowd.

Prediction: These two teams are going in two very different directions. Baltimore is thinking Super Bowl and Cleveland is trying to establish a solid foundation with Quinn at quarterback and Eric Mangini as head coach. Take a look at the Baltimore Sun’s
staff predictions for this game. They all pretty much agree that this will be a lopsided affair. I disagree. The Browns have talent and will put up a good fight on Sunday. I would be shocked if they were to escape town with a win, but this will be much closer than a lot of people think. RAVENS 24 – BROWNS 13.

Ravens, R. Lewis Come Up Big in San Diego

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The Ravens victory over the Chargers yesterday wasn’t pretty, but when have the Ravens ever been a team of style over substance? Never.

The defense gave up 476 yards, but Ray Lewis, who on fourth and 2 made the game’s biggest play, summed it up best. “You see a couple of big plays here or there, but I told the defense earlier, those third- and fourth-down goal-line stances will win us the ballgame. I’ve been in games where we’ve held under 150 yards. That’s cute. Stats are pretty. But if you don’t win, you’re sick.”

The franchise’s M.O. for winning over the past decade has been to play great defense, and hope the offense can do SOMETHING. However yesterday, in front of a crowd of 66,882 at sun-splashed Qualcomm Stadium, it was a bit of a role-reversal as the offense picked up the slack for the defense.

Willis McGahee rushed for 79 yards and was able to find the endzone twice. Dan Fouts made mention during the CBS telecast of how motivating it can be to a player when he has to earn his carries. This is a remarkably different McGahee than the one we saw in 2008. He has a great attitude this year and is looking even better than he did in 2007 when he averaged 81 yards per game and had almost 300 carries.

Joe Flacco, aside from throwing an interception early in the fourth quarter, was brilliant. He completed 17 of 24 passes for 190 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His 27 yard lob to Kelley Washington looked great. He pumped to Mark Clayton who was setting up for a screen, and the Charger defense bit hard. What a great piece of play calling from offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

The receivers were decent; I was expecting a bit more from Clayton and Derrick Mason. Together they only totaled 4 receptions. Kelley Washington is quickly becoming one of Joe Flacco’s favorite targets. Todd Heap only caught one pass, but it was good for six and gave Baltimore their biggest lead of the game. Mason needs only 3 catches to become the 23rd player in league history to amass 800 or more receptions.

For the Ravens’ defensive front seven, it was business as usual. They held the explosive Darren Sproles to only 26 rushing yards and the Chargers as a whole to 53. The play of the secondary was cause for concern though. Sproles and Phillip Rivers connected on a 81 yard catch and run that went the distance. And receiver Vincent Jackson snagged in 6 balls for 141 yards. Down the road, teams are going to exploit corners Fabian Washington and Dominique Foxworth like the Chargers. Each is only 5-foot-11, and when the Ravens face big, tall receivers, (i.e. Braylon Edwards next week and Randy Moss in 2 weeks) they are going to have get help from the safeties and use double coverage. If they don’t figure out a way to contain these playmakers, yesterday’s game will not be the only time Baltimore gives up 400+ passing yards.

Overall, a win is a win and the play of this team right now should excite any fan. Both games this year have revealed weaknesses that could have potentially led to losses. Yet both times, the Ravens have found ways to come out victorious.

With Pittsburgh losing in Chicago yesterday, Baltimore now sits atop the AFC North. I know, I know, it’s early, but starting out 2-0 historically bodes well for the Ravens. The last three times they’ve done it, they’ve made the playoffs (2000, 2006, and 2008). An excellent opportunity to improve to 3-0 awaits this Sunday when Baltimore hosts the 0-2 Cleveland Browns.

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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