Posts Tagged 'M&T Bank Stadium'

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.

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

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.

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.

Playoff Bound: Ravens 27 – Jaguars 7

Dec. 28, 2008, 9:44 PM

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Here are few notes following the Ravens 27-7 stomping of the Jacksonville Jaguars

1) Joe Flacco and the offense looked very solid. This was easily Flacco’s best game of the year. He looked very comfortable out there and made some incredible throws to Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason. Cam Cameron threw in a flea flicker and also got Troy Smith involved. The big play from Smith came in the third quarter when he lateraled the ball to Flacco, who then found him for a 36 yard catch and run.  Le’Ron McClain, Willis McGahee and Lorenzo Neal all contributed nicely on the ground. Zero turnovers is a very nice stat to see.

2) The defense was great again. Although it looked like Maurice Jones-Drew would gain 100+ yards after a good first half, the Ravens played shut down D in the second half. I cannot say enough about Ed Reed. He had 2 more interceptions today to give him a league leading  nine for the season. If he does not win the Defensive Player of the Year Award, I will be shocked and dissapointed.

3) The Miami Dolphins defeated the New York Jets to win the AFC East, which means Baltimore will travel to Miami for a 1:00 kickoff on Sunday, January 4 on Wild Card Weekend.

Week 17: Ravens-Jaguars Preview

Dec. 28, 2008, 5:30 AM

Quarterback David Garrard and the Jags are looking to spoil the Ravens playoff hopes

Quarterback David Garrard and the Jags are looking to spoil the Ravens playoff hopes

Game Info:
Kickoff: 4:15 p.m. (ET)
Site: M&T Bank Stadium (71,008) • Baltimore, MD.
TV: CBS
Announcers: Dick Enberg (play-by-play), Randy Cross (color)

Matchups:

Ravens Offense vs. Jaguars Defense – The Ravens will pound the ball as they have all season with Le’Ron McClain and Willis McGahee. Look for Ray Rice to get a healthy dose of carries if the Patriots lose their game against the Bills (which clinches a playoff spot for Baltimore). The Jaguars looked strong last week against the Colts rushing attack, holding them to 32 yards on the ground. Their pass defense is another story; Peyton Manning did not get sacked once and torched Jacksonville for 364 yards through the air. The Jags have been without Rashean Mathis, their top corner, since placing him on injured reserve on 12/4.

Jaguars Offense vs. Ravens Defense – Jacksonville has a very explosive weapon in running back Maurice Jones-Drew. He is a threat to score any time he touches the ball. But “Mojo” is nursing a sore knee and will not be 100% by kickoff. The Ravens defense has not allowed a 100 yard rusher is 34 consecutive games, and they haven’t allowed one at home since 2004. Still, Jones-Drew is one of the better pass blocking backs in the league and he could give quarterback Davis Garrard the extra second or two he needs to make decisions against a ferocious Ravens defense.

The Prediction – The Ravens are 7-1 in season finale games played at home, having won 7 consecutive. I believe today will be no different. John Harbaugh has this team playing smart, physical football. After last week’s win in Dallas, facing 5-11 Jacksonville at home should be an easy task. Sure things do not exist in the NFL, but this is as sure as they come. RAVENS, 27 – 13.


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