Posts Tagged 'Joe Flacco'

Ravens-Steelers Week…Feeling Like ’08

Well we have quite a matchup to look forward to this Sunday night. And it only seems appropriate that the Steelers come into town with the same record as the Ravens: 8-3.

High Stakes? You bet. But really, would you want it any other way?

The lead-up to this game feels an awful lot like the lead-up to the one 2 years ago on Dec. 14, 2008, when 10-3 Pittsburgh arrived to face 9-4 Baltimore.

That game more than lived up to the hype. It was a defensive slugfest and the Steelers came away with a memorable victory that clinched the division crown. Ben Roethlisberger drove his team 91 yards down the field and capped off the drive with this unforgettable play (which I recorded btw, sorry it is so blurry!!):

You’re going to hear many quotes from players of both teams this week that sound a lot like what Terrell Suggs said in his post-game interview last Sunday in regards to the the opposition this week:

“Our teams are similar, and we just don’t like them, but we respect them. It’s going to be championship football.”

The words are a little stronger on the internet between the fan bases. Venture over to the Scout.com Ravens page or read the comments to The Baltimore Sun’s Ravens Insider posts. The fans of these  teams can really fire up a war of words. Its quite entertaining and it proves  just how much this game means to the two cities involved.

The last two ravens victories over Pittsburgh have been great. An overtime win last year at home and a come from behind win this year at Heinz Field. However the guys under center for those two games? Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch respectively. Not to knock either of those two…but as a Ravens fan, I want to play Roethlisberger, and I want to beat him. Overcoming Pittsburgh just isn’t as satisfying or fulfilling when he isn’t playing.

Because like it or not, the man is an incredible quarterback. He is hard to bring down and he can improvise like no other when he gets flushed from the pocket.

Want to know what else is a hard pill to swallow for Ravens fans? The boys in purple haven’t defeated Big Ben at M&T Bank Stadium since November 2006, when he took that infamous hit from Bart Scott. Hard to believe its been that long, huh?? Granted, he didn’t play in ’07 or ’09…but still, its been 4 years!! And they last time they beat him period was just a month later when they took down Pittsburgh on the road to complete their first and only season sweep of the Steelers to date.

The big story this week will be the status of left tackle Michael Oher’s knee sprain. If he cannot go on Sunday, Oniel Cousins will get the start and faces the daunting task of protecting Joe Flacco from James Harrison for four quarters. More on that as the week progresses.

Peace.

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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

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

Rapid Reaction: Packers 27 – Ravens 14

Green Bay Packers' Clay Matthews reacts after sacking Baltimore Ravens' Joe Flacco during the first half

In the second half the Ravens were able to make this a close ballgame, but more penalties and two Joe Flacco interceptions really hurt this team tonight. Here is a quick recap:

Flacco led the ravens own the field, 11 plays and 71 yards to put them on the board and slice the lead to 17-7. On the ensuing kickoff, Baltimore forced and nearly recovered a E.Dietrich-Smith fumble after a short, high kick by Cundiff.

On the very next play, Rodgers’ pass was low and bounced off of Donald Driver’s leg. Jarrett Johnson snatched the ball out of the air to give the Ravens possession in Green Bay territory.

Ravens first play of the drive resulted in pass interference on Tremon Williams on Demetrius Williams in the endzone. Two plays later they capitalized with a Willis McGahee TD run to make the score 17-14.

Just like that the Baltimore offense had scored two touchdowns in a span of 30 seconds, and the deficit was 3. But that was as close to the ‘Pack’ as Baltimore would get.

After a Mason Crosby missed field goal and a stalled Baltimore drive, Green Bay extended their lead to 10 early in the fourth quarter when Rodgers hit Jermichael Finley for a 19 yard TD.

A 68 yard kickoff return by Lardarius Webb set up the Ravens with very good field position. Once again Tramon Williams was called for interfering with Demetrius Williams in the endzone. The Ravens got the ball on the one yard line. However, this drive ended with zero points as Flacco threw a costly interception to Williams.

Baltimore’s defense held their ground on Green Bay’s next possession, forcing a three and out. But on the first play of the Ravens’ next drive, Flacco threw his third interception of the game to A.J. Hawk.

Green Bay moved down the field and kicked a field goal at the two minute warning to cap the scoring on the night

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 5 Game Preview: Cincinnati Bengals (3-1) at Baltimore Ravens (3-1)

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Game Info:

Kickoff: 1:00 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:

-33.3 percent (14/42) of Baltimore’s offensive drives have ended in touchdowns this season — the highest percentage of any team in the league.

-Cincinnati and Baltimore are tied with three other teams for the league lead in red zone TD percentage at 66.7%. The Ravens have 12 TD’s in 18 red zone trips, while the Bengals have scored 8 TD’s in 12 red zone visits.

-Since 2003, when Marvin Lewis took over as Bengals head coach, the Ravens and Bengals defenses rank 1-2 in the NFL in takeaways. The Ravens lead with 205, and the Bengals are second at 198.

-Cincinnati has allowed a running back to gain at least 93 yards in back to back games.

-The Ravens have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 39 consecutive regular season games.

Ravens Offense vs. Bengals Defense: After suffering a neck injury last week against the Patriots, it is unlikely that left tackle Jared Gaither will play this Sunday. If that is the case, Michael Oher will switch over from the right side over to the left as he did last week. He will have his hands full though, going up against defensive end Antwan Odom. Odom is tied for first in the league with eight sacks this season. Of Baltimore’s 66 offensive plays last week, only 17 of them were running plays. They will need more balance if they want to keep the Bengals D in check. Joe Flacco and his receivers can only do so much when the opposing defense knows what you are going to do. Le’Ron McClain had zero carries in Week 4. Look for him to get a little more involved this week. Willis McGahee has been a touchdown machine. He scored in his sixth straight game last Sunday and now has nine TDs (7 rush, 2 rec) since Week 16 of 2008, the most of any NFL player during that span.

Bengals Offense vs. Ravens Defense: Quarterback Carson Palmer is off to a mediocre start, with a 75.2 QB rating, which ranks 24th in the league. He has six TD passes but has also thrown five interceptions. Running Back Cedric Benson ranks third in the AFC and is tied for fourth in the league with 367 rushing yards. He is averaging 4.4 yards per carry and has two touchdowns. Chad Ochocinco is the team’s leading receiver with 17 catches, a 15.2-yard average and three touchdowns. The story with Baltimore’s defense this year has been their vulnerability through the air. The run defense is as good as it’s ever been, holding opponents to an average of 59.5 yards a game, tops in the NFL.

Prediction: The Bengals are a good football team. If it weren’t for a miracle ending to their week 1 game against Denver, they would be 4-0. They squeaked out an overtime win over the lowly Browns last week, but have also come back after trailing double digits to the world champion Steelers. I wouldn’t be shocked if this turns out to be a close game late. But I just don’t see them finishing the job. The Ravens are a great football team at home. I don’t see them losing, especially with first place in the division on the line. RAVENS 30 – BENGALS 21.

NFL Week 4: Ravens – Patriots Wrap Up

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Some thoughts on yesterday’s Ravens – Patriots game.

-I never thought I’d ever say this, but I would have liked to see Baltimore run the ball more than they did yesterday. There were only 17 rushing attempts the entire game. Credit New England, who shut down the run for most of the afternoon. With the exception of Ray Rice’s 50 yard scamper in the third quarter, they did a very good job of keeping the Ravens running game in check. But I believe with a little more balance; maybe the Ravens finish a few more drives.

-Joe Flacco was good, but not great yesterday. I was extremely pleased with how he did in third down situations. On third downs, he was 8 for 11 and had a QB rating of 125. But on 1st and 10 with 1:11 remaining in the first half, and driving inside the New England 20, he threw a costly interception to Leigh Bodden. The Ravens were in field goal range and that pick cost them at least 3 points.

-I think it is very weak for anyone to blame Mark Clayton’s drop on fourth down for yesterday’s loss. There were plenty of opportunities for the Ravens to score points throughout the game. Chris Carr’s fumble on the opening kickoff allowed New England to get 3 easy points. Combine that fumble with Flacco’s interception in scoring territory, and that is potentially six, even 10 points in the Ravens’ favor. Mark dropped a big pass that happened to be late in the game. Was it a mistake? You bet. But there many other mistakes yesterday that added up to the loss.

-I’m never one to blame the referees. Overall the officiating was questionable, and the roughing the passer call on Terrell Suggs was just unacceptable. I realize what the league and the officials are trying to do. You have to protect the quarterback, and I get it. But there has to be a point where you let the players play. Ray Lewis was very upset with the call and I agree with what he said: “Without totally going off the wall here, it is embarrassing to the game. Brady is good enough to make his own plays; let him make the play.”)

-At the end of the day I am fine with this loss. The Ravens proved to me that they are very good team and that they can play with the big boys. They had numerous opportunities to take control of the game and they didn’t. They had a chance to win the game at the end and that’s all you can ask for. And I honestly believe they LOST the game more than New England won it. That doesn’t mean anything in the standings though, a win is a win and a loss is a loss. But this team has to feel awfully good about where they can go in 2009. If they stay healthy, I don’t see them losing more than 4 games the whole season.


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