Archive for October, 2010

Holy Crap This Guy Hates Pittsburgh and the Steelers

October 28, 2010

So what better to do on a boring bye week than share this video, of a Philadelphia Eagles fan who might just hate the Pittsburgh Steelers as much as any Ravens fan.

So, so much gold here.

Some highlights:

0:41: “I go on Google today, type in controversial calls and Pittsburgh Steelers, and 344,000 instances come up. This means there are 344,000 questionable calls with the Steelers.”

1:10: “Just like always…all the refs are related to Rooney, they’re gonna throw the game, they’re gonna give it to the Steelers, and it’s gonna be another phony win.”

1:20: “[People from Pittsburgh] are up there swimming in that Monongahela River, taking showers in it, whatever the hell they’re doing…the Philadelphia Eagles have classy fans, not like those low lifes that go to those Steelers games.”

1:50: “This here is a picture of my ass. I don’t want to show a live picture of my ass, because all the women will be stampeding here wanting to be with me.”

2:35: “That city sucks. The Pirates suck, the Penguins suck.”

3:00: “You get the sandwich, you put the french fries on the side. Only people that like fixed football games put french fries on sandwiches!”

That’s some quality hate right there.  You’d better step up your game, Goob Theoharris.

Play Like a Raven – Week 7

October 26, 2010


Ray Rice had a solid, if unspectacular, day Sunday, rushing for 72 yards on 16 carries (4.5 ypc). Mike Preston wrote on Monday that Rice seems to be a bit slow hitting his holes, making too many cuts trying to find the “home run.”

Running back Ray Rice carried the ball 16 times for 72 yards against the Bills Sunday, but he is still slow hitting holes.

Rice had a similar problem the week before against the New England Patriots. The Ravens are opening holes, but Rice is hesitating, trying to bounce outside or cut back for the home run instead of just blasting through the hole.

Additionally, in the fourth quarter, when the Ravens could have really used some yards on the ground to put the game away, Rice was nowhere to be found, for the most part. His fourth quarter touches:

3-7-BAL 10 (9:09) (Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco pass short right to 27-R.Rice to BLT 11 for 1 yard (59-A.Coleman).
1-10-BUF 44 (4:54) 27-R.Rice right guard to BUF 43 for 1 yard (99-M.Stroud, 90-C.Kelsay).
2-9-BUF 43 (4:15) 27-R.Rice left guard to BUF 40 for 3 yards (95-K.Williams, 20-D.Whitner).

I still maintain that Rice is the most important piece to this offense, but his follow-up to his Pro Bowl 2009 season has been a bit disappointing. Let’s hope he picks things up in the second half of the season.

Played Like a Raven – Ed Reed

Mr. Reed made his triumphant return to the gridiron against the Bills, and had a huge say in the outcome of the game. Eddie picked off two Ryan Fitzpatrick passes and caused a Roscoe Parrish fumble. The Ravens had only two interceptions in six games without #20, and that total was already doubled after just 45 minutes of football with Reed on the field.

I’m imagining Tom Zbikowski standing on the sideline, muttering to himself “they never throw the ball to me like that, mehhhh…”

The goofy faction of Ravens fans that maintain the delusion that the secondary is better without Reed (due to his “wreckless” play) will point to the four long touchdown passes as evidence that their claim still holds water. To those people, I’d remind them of the big touchdown passes by Denver in Week 5, and the horrendous play by Ravens’ cornerbacks all day against Buffalo. The bottom line is, if Ed Reed doesn’t play Sunday, the Ravens are very likely 4-3 today.

Honorable Mentions: Ray Lewis, Todd Heap, Marshal Yanda

Did Not Play Like a Raven – Rest of Defense

Holy shitballs. Where to start?

Let’s go down the list, excluding the two players (#20 and #52, of course) named above.

Fabian Washington: “Toast” was burned again and again, to the point that, by Fabe’s own admission, Ryan Fitzpatrick was calling him out via audibles at the line of scrimmage.

“Once they start going after somebody, you’ve got to get them off you then,” said Washington, who wears No. 31. “[Sunday] was, ‘check, check 31.’ That’s what it was. This week, they got me, but please believe I will be back.”

After his great day against Denver, Washington has fallen off a cliff. In New England, he was simply ineffective, and, against the Bills, he had likely his worst game as a pro. Fabe looked completely shell-shocked by the end of his day, which came midway through the fourth quarter when he was benched in favor of Josh Wilson following Fitzpatrick’s final touchdown pass.

Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs: These two are counted on by the Ravens’ defense to be playmakers. Do you remember hearing either of their named called on Sunday? Suggs and Ngata can NOT be invisible, or this defense is in more trouble than any of us realize. Ngata’s play is somewhat excused by the rest of his body of work so far in 2010. Suggs needs to step up down the stretch, it’s just that simple.

Edit: Some guys that know a lot more about football than me say that Sunday was actually Suggs’ best day rushing the passer since the Washington game in 2008, despite his not recording a sack.

The seven total pressures (a hit, six pressures) Suggs recorded in this game was the most since he recorded eight (a sack, a hit, six pressures) in Week 14 of the 2008 season against the Washington Redskins.

Lardarius Webb: He was slowed by a groin wrap, but Webb was the one beaten on the 33-yard touchdown to Stevie Johnson.

Webb said he had his groin wrapped as a precaution, but took it off after Johnson beat him for a 33-yard score in the second quarter.

“That’s not an excuse,” Webb said. “I’m still supposed to make that play. I took it off then, and didn’t have any problems. I’m thinking I never should have put it on in the first place. It’s the NFL. Everybody makes plays.

Webbie also whiffed on several tackle attempts.

Dawan Landry:  Sure, he had 9 tackles, but how many did he miss? Unfortunately, they don’t keep that stat on (well, fortunately for Dawan). Landry has been sub-par in pass support, run support, and general tackling all season. Maybe during his week off, he can go work out with, and get some pointers from, his brother LaRon, who is having a stellar season down in Landover for the Redskins.

Jarret Johnson, Paul Kruger, Brandon McKinney, Terrence Cody, Cory Redding: Buffalo averaged 3.8 yards per rushing play for the day, and had 132 total yards on the ground. Fitzpatrick was sacked only once, and it was hardly a true sack (he rolled out on a 4th-and-1 bootleg, and was stopped behind the line by Lewis). Nobody on the defense escapes blame for the Bills’ 64% 3rd-down conversion rate on the day.

Just an ugly, ugly performance all around.

Monday Morning Hangover: Bills/Ravens

October 25, 2010

Well, here’s what all these trolling Buffalo fans have been waiting for all weekend: Goob getting in front of the camera again. Here, he offers his rebuttal to the Buffalonians…and might even mention the game if there’s time. Don’t count on it, though.

Ravens 37 Bills 34 OT (The SHOULD HAVE SUITED UP THE 2000 DEFENSE Game)

October 25, 2010

On Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens honored the 2000 Super Bowl team with a “homecoming” of sorts.

Maybe they should have let those guys play a bit. Even though most of them haven’t stepped foot on a field in nearly a decade, they certainly couldn’t have been any worse than the current Ravens were yesterday.

I’m pretty sure Tony Siragusa could have plugged up the middle and slowed down Buffalo’s rushing game more aptly than Haloti Ngata, Kelly Gregg, and co. were able to.

I’m fairly certain that Duane Starks would have held his own against the Bills’ wide receivers better than Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb did.

Fabian “Toast” Washington was burned repeatedly

And I’m damn positive that Kim Herring could have stepped in and given Dawan Landry an absolute clinic on how to make a tackle.

On a day when members of the greatest defense of all time were in the house, the Ravens did little to make the former Super Bowl champs proud.

The Buffalo Bills came into Baltimore and ran roughshod over the Ravens’ defense, doing pretty much anything they wanted to all afternoon. They entered the game averaging just 251 yards of total offense per game, and had more than doubled that output (506 total yards of offense) by the time Billy Cundiff’s 38-yard field goal gave the Ravens the 37-34 victory. In overtime. Against, of all teams, the freaking Buffalo Bills.

Buffalo also sported the worst 3rd-down conversion percentage in the NFL entering the game. At the end of the day, one of the two teams was just 2/11 on 3rd downs, while the other was a stout 11/17 on their way to holding the ball for more than 38 minutes. The latter, of course, however inexplicably, was the Bills.

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick put an end to the Bills league-worst 58 consecutive games without a 300-yard passer, and did so emphatically; he threw for 374 yards and FOUR touchdowns. Not to be outdone, receivers Lee Evans and Stevie Johnson ended Bills streaks of their own, as each surpassed 100 yards receiving, something no Buffalo Bill had managed in 11 games.

Not that it was a complete aerial assualt – Buffalo also put up 132 yards on the ground for the day.

And yet…as bleak a picture as all of those numbers paint – not only on the day, but moving forward as well – the Ravens still eked out the win.

It was up to the offense to bail the defense out yesterday, and Joe Flacco, Anquan Boldin, Todd Heap, and company were up to the challenge. Finding themselves in a 24-10 hole after Evans’ second touchdown with 5 minutes remaining in the first half, the Ravens’ offense – with an assist from the great Ed Reed (more on him later) – ripped off 17 points in just 71 seconds of game clock to take a 27-24 lead.

The final 7 of that 17 came on a beautiful flea flicker, a play that I would bet the Ravens haven’t hit on in at least five years. From the Buffalo 34, Joe Flacco handed to Willis McGahee, who lateraled back to Flacco, and Joe launched a gorgeous touchdown rainbow to Anquan Boldin.

While Joe didn’t have his best day, he made enough plays to win the game. He connected on just 16 of his 31 throws, but the ones he did hit, he made count: 250 yards through the air was the final result, with three touchdown strikes of 26, 14, and 34 yards.

Ed Reed. The man just makes plays. Even though Reed looked a half-step slow at times during the day, his uncanny nose for the football just will not be suppressed. On the Bills’ first series, when it looked like they were about to pick up a 3rd-and-8 from the Ravens’ 32, Reed came up and put his helmet right on the ball, jarring it free from wideout Roscoe Parrish. The Ravens didn’t recover, but Buffalo lost 12 yards on the play, and the ensuing punt set the Ravens’ up to take their short-lived 3-0 lead. On Buffalo’s very first snap of the second half, Reed, off a tipped pass from Ray Lewis, intercepted Fitzpatrick to set up the aforementioned flea flicker score. And, at the end of the third, with the Ravens holding a 34-24 lead, just a single play after he came up a little lame and CBS analyst Steve Beuerlein noted that Reed looked a little slow, #20 AGAIN intercepted Fitzpatrick, this time returning the pick 40 yards to the Buffalo nine.

That play should have effectively won the game for the Ravens. Unfortunately, Willis McGahee and Joe Flacco botched the handoff on the ensuing snap, and gave the ball right back to the Bills. Instead of a 17-point lead early in the fourth quarter, the defense was faced for the second straight week with a 10 point lead at the same juncture in the ball game. And, just like in New England last week, they would cave.

Buffalo put together a 63-yard touchdown drive and a 59-yard field goal drive – the latter starting at their own 9 yard line with just 3:26 to go in the game – in the fourth quarter, while the Ravens managed just a single first down in the final period. It’s distressing that just a week after blowing a fourth quarter lead, both units – offense and defense – again choked when given the chance to put the game away.

Facing the worst run defense in the league, and having gained nearly 5 yards per carry all day, the Ravens’ fourth quarter play selection was the following:

1st drive: Run (fumble)
2nd drive: Pass (incomplete), Run (6 yards), Pass (1 yard), Punt
3rd drive: Pass (incomplete), Pass (36 yards), Run (1 yard), Run (3 yards), Pass (incomplete), Punt

And in overtime (the drive that didn’t START in field goal range): Run (5 yards), Pass (incomplete), Pass (sack), Punt

Five runs, seven passes.

Now, some will argue that Cam Cameron was just doing exactly what Ravens fans were blasting him for NOT doing after last week’s New England loss – that is, being aggressive and not “going conservative.” To those people, I’d offer this rebuttal: the difference is, in both instances, Cam went AWAY from what was working. Last week in New England, it was the intermediate passing game that was having success – and in the fourth quarter the Ravens decided they were going to play it safe. Against Buffalo – again, the WORST run defense in the league – Ray Rice was having a fairly good day and Willis McGahee was outstanding (besides the fumble), averaging nearly six yards per carry. Add in that Flacco, as mentioned earlier, was erratic on the day (he should have been intercepted at least once, if not twice), and the decision to skew the playcalling towards the pass in the fourth quarter and overtime becomes even more perplexing.

I suppose I just don’t understand NFL playcalling. I’ll leave it at that for now, so I don’t drive myself insane.

Two additional points I’d be remiss not to address: First up, Ray Lewis. With his former teammates watching, is it any surprise that #52 would say, “enough of this bullshit, we’re not losing,” and just straight up maul the football from Bills tight end Shawn Nelson? Make no mistake about it, Ray won the game with that play, as the Ravens had very little hope of stopping the offensive juggernaut that stole the Buffalo Bills’ jerseys and wore them in Baltimore.

The second point, which piggybacks right off of that one – the officials. I’ve complained about the refereeing enough on this blog over the years that I’d be quite hypocritical to not acknowledge that the Ravens were aided monumentally at least once yesterday by the guys’ in stripes. So, referee Pete Morelli and crew: thank you for not blowing the whistle on that play.

In fairness, former NFL VP of Officiating Mike Pereira says the refs made the right call.

The other curious ruling came two plays before Flacco found Heap to pull the Ravens to within 24-20 at the half. Flacco had appeared to have found Bills cornerback Reggie Corner (great career choice BTW Reggie!) for an interception that would have kep the deficit at 11 points at the break. However, luckily, Corner was ruled out of bounds even after review – and Boldin was not flagged for offensive pass interference (though either player could have been called for P.I.)

The Ravens have problems on both sides of the ball, and on special teams, and we’ll get into those problems deeper here during the bye week. But for now, let’s just thank our lucky (after yesterday, that word bears repeating) stars that the Ravens go into the off date at 5-2 and right where they need to be…record-wise, anyway.

Bills (0-5) @ Ravens (4-2)

October 22, 2010

We all remember the last time the Ravens and Buffalo Bills met, back in the 2007 season.

There are some unfortunate similarities between that game and this one, namely:

  • The 2007 meeting was in Week 7, as is this one.
  • Entering that game, the Bills were 1-4, and the Ravens were 4-2. This time, the Ravens have the exact same record, while the Bills are just a bit worse at 0-5.
  • In 2007, the Bills were coming off their bye week.  In 2010, the same holds true.

Let’s hope those are the only similarities, as that game was an epic embarrassment for the Ravens, and one that the ball rolling on what would ultimately be the longest losing streak in franchise history (nine games) a scenario that cost the head coach and quarterback their jobs.


Now that I’ve got you feeling all warm and fuzzy about Sunday’s game, let me go ahead and allay some of those fears.  I’ve, for the most part, gotten over my stereotypical Ravens fan fear of games like this…games where the Ravens have absolutely no business losing.  That mentality was beaten into us by years and years of Brian Billick teams continually playing down (or up, as the case may have been) to the level of their opponents, driving us mad with losses to teams like…well, like the Buffalo Bills.

Now, to be fair, that 2007 team was a complete mess, and the 4-2 record was a house of cards waiting to crumble for any fan that was honest with themselves.  Nobody was talking about the Ravens as true Super Bowl contenders, among the league’s elite, as they are here in 2010, even after the loss last week in Foxborough.

On top of that, as we’ve stressed here time and again, and as Ravens fans are slowly learning to become more comfortable with: John Harbaugh’s teams do not suffer those types of letdowns, and routinely beat the stuffing out of “inferior” opponents.  The Buffalo Bills are undoubtedly in that category.  Hell, there was an article on ESPN this week asking (in all seriousness) if the Bills might lose to a UFL team.  At least there’s no pressure on them right? So they got that goin’.

Moving on to the meat and potatoes of the contest, the Ravens have the edge in just about every category.  For starters, the Bills have the NFL’s worst rush defense, allowing 182.4 yards per game, and have allowed at least 200 yards on the ground in three consecutive contests.  They no doubt spent their bye week trying to figure out how to plug those gaping holes in the run defense, but nonetheless should be no match for Ray Rice, Willis McGahee (maybe?), and Le’Ron McClain (provided Pain Train knows which play is called).  After not seeing a single snap in New England, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Willis get a lot of work Sunday, with the coaching staff giving him every opportunity to have a huge day against his former team.

Their pass defense is ranked 10th in the league at 200 yards per game, but those numbers are a bit deceiving.  As discussed, teams don’t have to throw the ball against Buffalo, because it’s just so damn easy to run it.  Additionally, they have surrendered 10 touchdowns through the air in just five games, and have picked off just a single pass (by David Garrard in Week 5).  Joe Flacco has been very good in the Ravens’ two home games this season, throwing for 458 yards, 3 TDs, and no interceptions.  Bills’ staring cornerback Terrence McGee is expected to miss the game with a back injury, which should just open things up more for Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.  Todd Heap returned to practice Thursday, and should be available despite the neck injury he suffered on that helmet-to-helmet hit from the Patriots’ Brandon Merriweather.

On offense, the Bills aren’t faring much better.  Their quarterback position has been unsettled already this season, as they played the first two games with Trent Edwards under center, before trading him to the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Former Bengal Ryan Fitzpatrick has taken over the past three games and has played reasonably well, throwing seven touchdowns to just two interceptions.  I’d be remiss not to mention though, that those three performances came against the Patriots, Jets, and Jaguars, none of whom have pass defenses ranked higher than 22nd.  The Ravens’ #3 pass defense, picked on a bit by Kyle Orton (in junk time) and Tom Brady (when it REALLY mattered) over the last two weeks, could benefit from the return of safety Ed Reed, who is expected to be a game-time decision.

The last time Fitzpatrick faced the Ravens, he was just 12/31 for 124 yards, and fumbled twice.  I have to note, however, that Fitzpatrick is a threat to scramble, as he was also the Bengals’ leading rusher in that game, with 3 carries for 29 yards.  Against the Jets a few weeks back, he carried 7 times for 74 yards, so the Ravens will certainly have to be aware of his ability to pick up yards with his feet.

If Jarret Johnson is to be believed, Fitzpatrick’s running ability is not flying under the Ravens’ radar.

“He runs around,” Johnson said. “That’s what we’ve had trouble with in the past. We didn’t expect him to scramble and he scrambled all over us. He can create some things.”

The Ravens will also be getting an emotional boost this Sunday, as the team is scheduled to honor the 2000 Super Bowl Team on their 10th Anniversary in a special halftime ceremony.  Remember back in 2007, when Pittsburgh brought back all those guys from the 1970s on the Monday Night game against the Ravens, and were up 28-0 after the first quarter or something ridiculous like that?  I expect a similar situation Sunday, with the current Ravens stepping up as Jonathan Ogden, Trent Dilfer, Jamal Lewis, Michael McCrary, Tony Siragusa and others look on.  I also wouldn’t be surprised if Ray Lewis plays absolutely out of his mind against the Bills.  As if the guy could ever play with any more emotion, seeing his old teammates gathered in one place again, especially on the field at M&T Bank Stadium, could provide a boost that will have Bills offensive players tapping out by halftime.

Not that I’m predicting an early blowout or anything.  Just saying it wouldn’t surprise me.

Ravens 34 Bills 10

Goob's Pregame Thoughts: Ravens vs. Bills

October 22, 2010

Here’s Goob Theoharris with another installment of “Goob’s Pregame Thoughts.”  In this week’s edition, he takes aim at Buffalo, with its horrible climate, Super Bowl failures, and team full of players we’ve never heard of.  We don’t really hate ya, Buffalo, but you’re next on the schedule, and you gots ta get dealt with.

Lookalikes! Bills Edition

October 20, 2010

The Ravens take on the Buffalo Bills this week, a team they haven’t met since the 2007 season. As such, we’ve never done a Bills version of Lookalikes! up until now, and their roster is just full of goofy and/or familiar looking players. Let’s get down to it…

We’ll start with an easy one. Although we’ve never done the Bills before, we HAVE done quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, back when he was with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2008. Still looking like Emile Hirsch, Mr. Harvard?

Ah, I see you are.

Moving right along then.

Here’s long snapper Garrison Sanborn, who you may recognize from the hit movie, “The Hangover:”

Not so much? Alright, alright we can do better.

Second tight end Jonathan Stupar probably had some awful nicknames growing up, given that unfortunate last name. However, in recent years, he seems to have adopted the simple moniker “Mac.”

Next up, we have eighth year linebacker Chris Kelsay, who is a dead ringer for heavy metal rocker Henry Rollins:

I’m not sure if Rollins ever played football, but I bet he’d make one bad ass linebacker if he did. Much better than Kelsay, anyway.

Speaking of linebackers, fourth year veteran Paul Posluszny was very highly thought of as a second round draft pick from “Linebacker U,” Penn State. However, injuries have plagued him throughout his short career, as he has played in all 16 games just once.

Maybe he wouldn’t get injured so damn much if he didn’t spend all of his down time swinging through trees…

Alright. If you’ve stuck with us this far, through this admittedly (thus far) bland set of lookalikes, you’re about to be rewarded.

Remember the 2003 movie “Bad Santa” starring Billy Bob Thornton? If so, you’ll also no doubt remember the flick’s co-star, this kid:

Well, he’s all grown up now, and is an offensive lineman for the Buffalo Bills! Behold:

Aww, he’s still got those cute fat little cheeks!

Hey, you know what I just noticed? Apparently Buffalo has the “All Goofy Looking White Dudes” roster. No wonder they are 0-5. Unfortunately though, as we’ve seen so far this season, white guys tend to give the Ravens fits (see: Danny Woodhead, Peyton Hillis). Luckily none of the above guys are running backs…

Go Ravens.

Play Like a Raven – Week 6

October 19, 2010


On Sunday in Foxborough, Ray Rice was again the Ravens’ most important weapon on offense, as evidenced by his 36 (!!) touches. However, all credit must be given to Bill Belichick and the Patriots defense, who figured out a way to keep Rice from going buck wild on them despite getting the ball nearly 40 times. His 28 carries went for only 88 yards (a 3.14 average), his longest run of the afternoon was 8 yards, he managed just 38 yards on 8 receptions (4.75 ypc), and he never really sniffed the end zone.

So, with Rice having a bit of an off day, who stepped up to pick up the slack?

Played Like a Raven – Derrick Mason

The 36 year old wide receiver notched his first 100-yard performance since Week 11 of last year, when he caught 9 balls for 142 yards in a loss to the Colts. Sunday, D-Mase was the Ravens’ most consistent weapon, catching 8 passes for exactly 100 yards. It appeared that he may have made the play that was ultimately going to lead to a win for the Ravens when he had his biggest gain of the day, a 20 yard reception down the left sideline with about 10 minutes left in the overtime period. That reception set the Ravens up at their own 48 yard line, where another two or three first downs (or one big play) would have put them in long Billy Cundiff field goal range.

Unfortunately, that was not to be the case, as the Ravens’ next three plays went:

1-10-BAL 48 (9:37) 27-R.Rice left guard to BLT 48 for no gain (55-B.Spikes).
2-10-BAL 48 (8:59) 5-J.Flacco pass short middle to 27-R.Rice to NE 48 for 4 yards (50-R.Ninkovich, 55-B.Spikes).
3-6-NE 48 (8:16) (Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco pass incomplete deep right to 86-T.Heap (32-D.McCourty).

One knock on Mason’s day, however: If he hauls in that likely touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter, the Ravens are probably 5-1 right now.

Honorable Mentions: Joe Flacco, Haloti Ngata, Todd Heap

Did Not Play Coach Like a Raven – John Harbaugh, Greg Mattison, Cam Cameron

This isn’t the first time the coaches have found themselves in this spot. The last time I decided to pin some blame for a loss on John Harbaugh & Co. was the aforementioned Indianapolis game in Week 11 of 2009. That day, it was clock management from Harbaugh, and short-yardage failures from offensive coordinator Cam Cameron that drew my ire.

As for this loss to the Patriots, no coach escapes blame.

My buddy Glenn Clark damn near gave himself an aneurysm this morning on “The Morning Reaction” on WNST, going off on the “idiotic” notion that the Ravens lost the game due to conservative playcalling on both sides of the ball.

Well, I’m going to respectfully disagree here and instead side with the long list of people who are chalking this loss up to the Ravens “taking their foot off the pedal” after going up 20-10 early in the fourth quarter.

From the fishy situation of not giving Willis McGahee a single snap, to punting on 4th-and-a-football-length from the New England 47 late in the first half, to punting from their own 48 with 9 minutes to play, Harbaugh clearly made some questionable decisions Sunday.

As for Mattison, well…when Tom Brady knows you only have one of two defenses that you play in a given situation (third-and-goal), you clearly need to switch things up:

“They either blitz you or they play eight guys in a zone.”

Mattison had the perfect blueprint to work with on how to beat Brady – the one he engineered in the Wild Card Playoff game in January. Pressure, pressure, and more pressure. However, in the fourth quarter and overtime, the Ravens were routinely bringing only 3 or 4 men at Brady, and he easily dissected the secondary as a result.

Mattison’s game plan wasn’t the only one the Patriots had figured out, though. According to 105.7 The Fan’s Casey Willet, the Patriots secondary has said in the days following the game that by the fourth quarter and overtime, they knew exactly what routes the Ravens’ receivers were going to run. They switched to Flacco’s kryptonite, the Cover 2, shut off those routes, and the result was the endless train of fruitless checkdowns to Ray Rice.

How the hell do the Ravens and Cam, after 2.5 years of Flacco struggling against this defense, not have a “OK, they’re in Cover 2, let’s use this package and tear that shit up” plan?  Boggles the mind.

Even if you agree with Harbaugh’s assessment (and Clark’s mouth-frothing rant) that the Ravens did NOT get too conservative, when the other team comes out and says that they knew pretty much exactly what you were trying to do on both sides of the ball, there is no denying that you were thoroughly out-coached.

This one, like the one last November, is as much on the guys in polo shirts as the guys in jerseys.

Dishonorable Mentions: Michael Oher, Le’Ron McClain

Here's Tom Brady Whining for a Flag After His Own Guy Hits Him

October 18, 2010

As I mentioned on Twitter yesterday, Tom Brady was slapping the ground and throwing a hissy fit begging for a flag after being hit on the helmet by…Matt Light, the Patriots’ left tackle.

Sure, Haloti hit him too, but I’m pretty sure he was bitching about being hit in the head. As you can see in the video, it’s a guy in a blue jersey, not a white one, that forearms him across the face.

Thanks to our old buddy Christmas Ape for the video.

Patriots 23 Ravens 20 OT (The GOTTA PLAY/COACH ALL FOUR QUARTERS Game)

October 17, 2010

On Sunday, the Ravens lost.

They lost to a very good football team.

They lost to a very good football team with a Hall-of-Fame head coach.

They lost to a very good football team with a Hall-of-Fame head coach and a Hall-of-Fame quarterback.

They lost to a very good football team with a Hall-of-Fame head coach and a Hall-of-Fame quarterback, who had two weeks to rest and prepare.

They lost to a very good football team with a Hall-of-Fame head coach and a Hall-of-Fame quarterback, who had two weeks to rest and prepare, on the road.

All of that, I can deal with.

What makes this loss so difficult to stomach is what I neglected to mention above…

On Sunday, the Ravens lost to a very good football team with a Hall-of-Fame head coach and quarterback, who had two weeks to rest and prepare, on the road…in a game in which they held a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter.

Yeah. That last point is the inexcusable part. For the first 45 minutes of the game, the Ravens beat the Patriots up and down the field, building a 20-10 lead with 14:57 remaining. What was unfortunate, and what ultimately proved to be the difference in the game, was that in the four plays prior to Billy Cundiff’s 25-yard field goal gave the Ravens what would be their final points for the day, Ravens’ receivers dropped two potential touchdown passes. On the first, Anquan Boldin was separated from the ball by a New England safety after a perfect strike from Joe Flacco from 20 yards out. On the second, Derrick Mason heard footsteps and couldn’t haul in what should have been a seven-yard score.

Sure, both plays would have required impressive, if not spectacular, catches. But both Boldin and Mason got two hands on the ball, and in the NFL, those passes should have been caught – especially by veterans like those two. If they are, this recap likely has a much different tone.

Compounding the problem was that, after that series, the Ravens offense (both playcalling and execution) seemed to climb aboard the plane back to Baltimore. With the exception of an 18-yard pass from Flacco to Boldin on the opening play of their next drive, the Ravens offense went 3-and-out, 3-and-out, 3-and-out on their next three possessions of regulation and overtime. The aforementioned Boldin completion came with 10:24 left in the fourth. The Ravens would not pick up another first down until the 10:17 mark of overtime – over a full quarter of play.

Three plays after that 10:24 first down, a sequence that could likely be pointed to as the pivotal one of the game unfolded.

On 3rd-and-1 from their own 47, leading 20-17, Cam Cameron called for a quarterback sneak. A play which, for anyone watching, was obviously doomed from the start. Flacco attempted to go through Pats’ defensive linemen Vince Wilfork and Greg Warren, and didn’t have a prayer.

The talk radio lines will no doubt be lighting up this week with people blaming Cameron for the odd call, and Flacco for not recognizing the defense and audibling out of the play. What is likely to be an even greater point of contention this week in B’More, though, is what happened next.

Facing 4th-and-the length of the football, Coach John “you have to put teams away when you have the chance” Harbaugh elected to punt. To punt the ball back to Tom Brady and the Patriots offense, who were fresh off an 8-play, 60-yard drive where they faced only a single third down, in that situation…puzzling, to say that least. To say a bit more, it was the kind of decision that we just aren’t used to seeing from Harbaugh, who has proven during his 2+ years as the head coach, that he has plenty of “balls” in those type of situations. This time, though, he went timid, and the Ravens paid dearly.

It wasn’t just Harbaugh that went into a shell in the fourth quarter and overtime though. He took the entire Baltimore coaching staff with him.

Cam Cameron stopped picking on the Patriots’ secondary.

Greg Mattison gave Brady the short underneath stuff in the passing game, and Brady took it eagerly.

Now, give New England credit. As mentioned, they have a great coaching staff of their own, and those guys made the necessary adjustments. They took away Flacco’s passing lanes. They threw quick screen after quick screen on offense. They did what was necessary to win the game. What the Ravens’ coaches were up to is anybody’s guess.

Flacco played very well all day, going 27/35 for 285 yards and two touchdowns. I don’t know if the Ravens’ coaches’ tentative mentality was preached to Joe on the sideline during the fourth quarter or what, but he wasn’t the same after those two dropped touchdown passes. He seemed much more willing to check down to Ray Rice, even though Rice was routinely swarmed by New England linebackers.

That’s another area where New England must be commended – they were not going to let Rice destroy them like he did in the two 2009 meetings. Although there seemed to be some nice holes on the Ravens’ opening drive, ultimately Rice ran the ball 28 times for just 88 yards, and his long of the day was just eight. He added eight receptions for 38 yards, but really wasn’t a major factor in the game.

Which brings us to the next puzzling thing about the gameplan of the Ravens’ staff…

Where the hell was Willis McGahee???

McGahee did not see a single touch in Foxborough, and I’m not even positive he was at the stadium. Sure, I was calling for Rice to take over goalline duties from Willis, but to just leave #23 on the sideline all afternoon? Especially considering the relative lack of success that Rice was having? It just makes absolutely no sense to me that McGahee was never even inserted as a sort of change-of-pace, and I’ll be anticipating how Cameron and Harbaugh explain that fact this week.

Before we wrap up, we can’t excuse the Ravens’ defense or special teams here either. While it’s commendable to hold New England to just 23 points, after they had put up 38 in each of their prior two home games, there were some disturbing signs from the “D.”

First off, what the hell is it with the Ravens’ inability to stop white running backs? We all remember Peyton Hillis running roughshod over them in week 2, and in Foxborough, Danny Freakin’ Woodhead had 63 yards and 5.7 per carry. They also had a hell of a time tackling Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, and Deion Branch, allowing the Pats to rack up an incredible amount of YAC, after doing such a great job against the Denver Broncos last week.

Next, Mattison’s insistence to only rush three men so often is starting to cost the team. By now we know not to expect the kind of blitzes that we saw when Rex Ryan was in town, but giving Tom Brady 5 or 6 seconds to find a receiver down near the end zone isn’t a recipe for success in any universe. I don’t care if the Ravens emptied the bench and put 12 guys in the end zone covering Pats’ receivers, if Brady can basically take his helmet off back there and stand flat footed, he’s going to find someone. And that’s exactly what he did to get New England to within 20-17. With the exception of Haloti Ngata, the Ravens’ pass rush was disturbingly non-existent, especially considering the past success they have had against the Patriots.

Finally, we come to special teams. While they never came up with the huge game-breaker that we feared, and that they used to beat Miami in week 4, New England was clearly the superior unit on Sunday.

Jalen Parmele needs to be out of a job. His indecision/terrible decisions cost the Ravens a good bit of field position on at least two occasions.

Neither Chris Carr nor Tom Zbikowski can generate anything on punt returns. And when it seems like they just MIGHT, it’s always because someone else is illegally blocking or holding. On top of that, their refusal to come up and field punts that aren’t hit directly to them cost the team additional field position several times. It’s a sad state of affairs for the Ravens’ return games.

Even Billy Cundiff, despite his three touchbacks, had a costly gaffe. After going up 20-10, Cundiff’s ensuing kickoff squirted out of bounds at about the two yard line…two yards too soon, which resulted in the Patriots starting at their own 40-yard line.

The Ravens outplayed the Patriots for three quarters Sunday. Despite the Pats having two weeks to prepare, the Ravens appeared ready to take their best shot and bring a 5-1 record back to B’More.

Unfortunately, they were outplayed and (thoroughly) outcoached during the final quarter and the overtime period, and 4-2 is the result.

Still not a terrible place to be, after four tough road games, and with only a home game against Buffalo standing between us and the bye week.

Oh, and a certain guy who wears #20 is rumored to be coming back this week.

Things could be worse.

Let’s not melt down like a bunch of complete morons, please (these comments make me embarrassed to be a Ravens fan).


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