Posts Tagged 'Ray Lewis'

NFL Week 9 Game Preview: Baltimore Ravens (4-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (5-2)

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Game Info:

Kickoff: 1 p.m. (EDT)

Site: Paul Brown Stadium (65,515) · Cincinnati, OH

TV: CBS

Announcers: Dick Enberg (play-by-play), Dan Fouts (color)

Previous Meeting:

In the teams’ last meeting on Oct. 11, the Bengals drove 80 yards and scored the game-winning TD with 22 seconds remaining, stunning the Ravens. It was the third straight win for the Bengals, and each of those victories came after trailing in the fourth quarter. Carson Palmer’s 20-yard pass to Andre Caldwell in the endzone sealed the victory for the Cincinnati. Cedric Benson rushed for 120 yards on 27 carries, becoming the first back in 40 games to gain 100 or more yards against the Ravens’ defense.

Keep Your Eye On:

CIN RB Cedric Benson. The fifth year back out of Texas has had resurgence in 2009, averaging 4.4 yards per carry (a career high) and scoring four TD’s (one shy of tying his career best of five). After 4 mediocre seasons in Chicago and another one last year in CIncy, Benson finally looks like the back everyone thought he would be when the Bears chose him with the fourth overall pick in the 2005 draft. The Bengals are 3-0 this year when he gains 100 or more yards

BAL RB Ray Rice. This guy can do everything. He is explosive and remarkably powerful for his size. He is averaging 124.9 total yards from scrimmage per game this season, 2nd most in the NFL. In Rice’s last two games, he has averaged 11.2 yards per reception.

Carson Palmer vs. Ravens Defense: Back on Oct 11, Ed Reed intercepted Palmer in the first quarter and returned it for a TD. The rest of the game, Palmer was held in check. But on the Bengals final drive; he looked calm and collected while the Ravens’ defense looked slopy undisciplined. Chris Carr was called for an illegal contact penalty; Palmer completed four passes and ran six yards for a first down on 4th and 1. Linebacker Ray Lewis was called for a personal foul when he delivered a hard hit Chad Ochocinco coming across the middle. And the final blow came on the 20-yard TD pass to Andre Caldwell right over the middle of the field. Getting pressure on Palmer early

Prediction: The Ravens showed last week that they despite their three consecutive losses, they are still capable of beating some of the best teams in the league. When this team doesn’t shoot themselves in the foot, they are a tough bunch to beat. The Bengals, however, are having a great season. They knocked off the Super Bowl champs, and came into Baltimore with confidence and walked out with a win. When their offensive machine is rolling, it is very difficult to stop. The difference in this one will be that Baltimore is more hungry for a win here than Cincinnati. RAVENS 34-21.

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.

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.

Will Ray Stay?

Feb. 23, 2009, 5:36 PM

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Ray Lewis and the Ravens go hand in hand. It is hard to think of the organization without Ray. And the way this team has played football for the last 13 years, seems to be an extension of # 52’s style of play.

Yet there is a strong possibility that come Friday morning, Ray Lewis will be a unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. Over the weekend, Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome said that the two parties are working on getting a deal done, but my gut says that it’s not going to happen.

Normally, there is no way a team would pay a 13 year veteran at middle linebacker the kind of money Ray is asking for. But then again, this isn’t a normal player we are talking about. No one can ever question the intensity and effort that Ray has brought to the table each Sunday over the course of his career. Another point that I don’t think can be argued is the fact that he raises the level of play of those around him. He is extremely unique in that sense, so he is justified in wanting a lucrative contract.

The Ravens’ mindset right now is probably this: Ray, thank you for everything you’ve done. You have represented this team and city tremendously. We would love to keep you around, but we believe that we wouldn’t be doing what’s financially best for the team by giving you, a 33 year old (34 in May), the money you’re asking for.

As for Ray, he has been quoted as saying it’s always been his dream to wear the Dallas Cowboys’ star on his helmet. Now the Cowboys might want Ray just like he wants them, but they would have to pay up to sign Ray and I think their mindset is similar to the Ravens. They wouldn’t be getting the best bang for their buck by throwing the big money at Lewis.

So will Ray go to some team other than the Ravens or Cowboys? If he is chasing the best offer, sure. But the Ray Lewis I have seen for the past 10+ years wants to win championships. I would have a hard time seeing him agree to a deal with say… the Lions, if they happened to have the best deal.

If he does sign with the Ravens, he could get a good deal now or test the free agent market and possibly get a great deal. But if no team wants to take the plunge on Ray, the Ravens will still offer him what they believe is a fair and competitive contract. But the thing is by the time that second opportunity comes along, it could be a far lesser amount because of the money the Ravens will have spent on new free agents and draft picks. They may want to give Ray what they originally offered, but can’t without going over the cap.

The Ravens will not let Ray hold them hostage. They have got to be saying to Ray: it’s now or never; take it or leave it.

I really hope the two can agree to terms, but the reality is this: It could be a tough end to a great era in Baltimore football history.


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