Archive for November, 2008

Ravens (5-3) @ Texans (3-5)

November 7, 2008

Well, for the 2nd time this season, we get to bring you a Texans-Ravens preview.  This one will look a bit different than the last one, however.  Since the originally scheduled date of this game, the Ravens have exceeded all expectations, while the Texans have fallen short of theirs. B’More is 5-3, just 1 game out of the division lead, and in the thick of the playoff hunt.  The Ravens have a rapidly improving young quarterback who has not turned the ball over in 3 consecutive games and was just named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week.  They feature a 3-headed running attack that has helped them become tops in the league in time of possession.  They have been able to overcome the loss of 75% of their starting secondary in still ranking #2 in the NFL in defense, and #4 against the pass.  We think you’ll agree that all of those things seemed pretty far fetched back in September.

The Texans, on the other hand, seemed poised to improve on their 8-8 2007 campaign, but have won only 3 games so far.  People like to hate on the Ravens for not having beaten any winning teams so far, but look who the Texans have picked up their 3 measly wins against:  The 4-4 Dolphins (by 1 point!),  the 0-8 Lions (by 7), and the 1-8 Bengals (a thorough whooping).  So we aren’t as worried about this being a potential “trap game” for the purple-and-black as some around town seem to be.

Houston will be without starting QB Matt Schaub, who is replaced by Sage Rosenfels.  That dropoff from #1-to-#2 is probably one of, if not the smallest in the NFL.  Rosenfels, in his 8th season, is no scrub.  He started 5 games in 2007, completing 64% of his passes, and throwing for 15 TD and 12 INT.  This season, he has seen action in 2 games, starting 1, and has completed nearly 68% of his throws for 3 TD and 2 INT.  Sage, though, will probably be most remembered in 2008 for his helicopter-spin/fumble that cost his team a game they should have won against the Colts.  His most dangerous weapon is WR Andre Johnson, who, unless you play fantasy football, you probably are not too familiar with.  Johnson doesn’t get much publicity because he plays in Houston, but he is easily one of the best wideouts in the game.  At 6’3″ 223 lb., he will tower over the Ravens’ corners (without C-Mac, Samari Rolle is the Manute Bol of the group, at 6’0″) and demand double coverage all day.   Johnson leads the NFL in recieving yards (834) and has hauled in 3 touchdowns.  The Ravens will benefit from the return of Samari Rolle, who will play, though nobody is quite sure how much.  Basically, the Ravens can only hope to contain Johnson.

As a Maryland Terrapins fan (as I’m sure many of you are too), a familiar face will be lining up for the Texans at running back on Sunday, former West Virginia Mountaineer Steve Slaton.  After watching Slaton gash the Terps year after year, it will be especially satisfying to watch Haloti Ngata, Justin Bannan, Ray Lewis, Bart Scott, & Co. beat on Slaton all afternoon.  Slaton has impressed in his rookie season, averaging 4.5 yards per carry with 5 touchdowns, but should be no match for the Ravens #1 run defense.  Historically, the Ravens especially feast on those small slasher-type backs (think Willie Parker).

When the Ravens have the ball, protecting Joe Flacco from the likes of Mario Williams (6 sacks in his last 5 games) will be priority numero uno.  We feel a lot more confident in Jared Gaither’s ability to accomplish this than we did in Week 2, thats for sure.  The Texans will be without their leading tackler, LB Zac Diles.  They had just the 23rd ranked rushing defense with Diles in the lineup, so his absence should mean even more room for Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, and LeRon McClain.  A bit unsettling, though, is the fact that all 3 Ravens runners are nursing some sort of nagging injury;  The “Mc’s” sore ankles and Rice a sore chest, though all are expected to play.  The Texans will also not be able to stack the box as they would have in Week 2, not after that impressive showing by Joe Flacco last week in Cleveland, when he finally hit a deep ball in throwing for 248 yards and 2 scores.  Another healthy run-pass balance will see the Ravens’ suddenly potent offense continue to put up points.

On special teams, we have to give Houston the nod.  They are averaging 21 yards per return on kickoffs to the Ravens 19.5, and 12.9 with 2 touchdowns to the Ravens 8.7 and 0 on punts.  The Ravens let the Browns back in the game last week because of their poor special teams coverage, which desperately needs to improve.  Kicker Kris Brown is a perfect 10-10 on field goals in 2008, while Matt Stover, while better of late, is 12-15.

The Ravens have played much better on the road this year than we are used to seeing, and it should continue this week.  This is a must-have for the Ravens considering their upcoming schedule, the next stop being a visit to the defending World Champs.

Ravens 27 Texans 16

post your predictions in the comments!


Way To Go, Skins….And Skins Fans

November 5, 2008

Thanks to the Redskins’ epic shitting of the bed on Monday Night Football, the Ravens are not tied for first place in the AFC North today.  The team and their fan base should both be equally embarassed for their respective performances.

The team for failing to put the game away early, when the Steelers were trying to gift-wrap it for them.  Four of the Skins’ first five drives ended in Burgh territory, and they came away with 6 freakin points.  That, along with some scrub CB of theirs dropping a sure pick-6 from Worthlessberger, set the tone for the rest of the game.

The fans for allowing those retard rag-waving, inbred mountain folk to invade their stadium on National Television.  A casual fan tuning in would have had no idea the game was being played in Washington.  Sure, they show up in B’More, but NEVER like that.  Disgusting.

However, two good things did come from that game.

1.  The Skins, after laying a turd like that at home to a contending team, quite possibly exposed themselves as “pretenders.”

2.  Some idiot fan put his grill in the trunk of his car, hot coals and all, after tailgating to go into the stadium – and burned 7 or 8 cars to the ground.  Cars belonging to fans of BOTH franchises we hate most.

The night was not a total loss.

From WJZ:

Fire Damages Vehicles At FedEx Field

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (AP) ― Prince George’s County authorities say a fire damaged nearly a dozen cars at the FedEx Field parking lot during the Washington Redskins game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Maj. Dennis Wood, a spokesman for the county fire department, says 20 firefighters battled flames Monday night. Someone placed a grill full of hot charcoal in the trunk of a car before going into the stadium, igniting the blaze.

Authorities say the fire destroyed eight vehicles and damaged one or two others. Damage was estimated at about $150,000.

The burned cars belonged to both Redskins and Steelers fans.

Ravens 37 Browns 27 (The ROOKIE OFFENSIVE EXPLOSION Game)

November 3, 2008

Wow, what a game in Cleveland yesterday.  From leading 10-0, to trailing 27-13, to ultimately scoring the game’s final 24 points to seal up a 37-27 victory, the Ravens yesterday looked nothing like the purple and black teams we have become accustomed to seeing lately.  Seriously…admit it.  Once the Browns scored the touchdown to go up 27-13 with 4:57 remaining in the 3rd quarter, you gave up, right? Nobody would blame you – we know we gave up.  That was the kind of game that the Ravens we are used to seeing would have lost, 30-16.  But not John Harbaugh’s Ravens.  And certainly not Cam Cameron and Joe Flacco’s Ravens.  B’More ripped off 24 consecutive points, 17 from the offense and another 7 from the suddenly touchdown-happy Terrell Suggs, in racking up their most points in nearly 3 full years (they scored 48 on 12/19/05).

So many game balls to hand out after that one.  We’ll start with the rookie RB out of Rutgers, Mr. Ray Rice.  Reports before the game were that Willis McGahee was going to play, but once he didn’t come out on the first few series, then the cameras showed him on the sideline with his coat on, the sentiment of “I don’t know if Rice can handle the whole workload today,” came over us.  Whoops.  Full apologies are in order for Rice, and we promise never to doubt him again.  Rice piled up 154 yards on 21 attempts, including a 60-yard scamper to the Cleveland 2-yard line that set up the go ahead field goal that gave the Ravens a lead they would not relinquish.  Rice also caught 3 balls for another 22 yards, and he very easily could have had 2 touchdowns on the day, although he ultimately failed to reach the end zone at all.

Big ups also go to our rookie QB out of Delaware, Mr. Joe Flacco.  Joe was 17/29 on the day for 248 yards and 2 touchdowns, and did not turn the ball over for the 3rd consecutive game.  His 47 yard hookup with Mark Clayton for the score was a thing of beauty, but it was far from his only impressive throw on the day.  Flacco was fitting the ball in tight windows all over the field, none more impressive than his 20-yard completion to Derrick Mason on 3rd-and-16 from the B’More 15 late in the 3rd-quarter that allowed the Ravens comeback to start.  A 3-and-out in that situation would have meant giving the ball back to the Browns with great field position and a 14-point lead.  Instead, that play paved the way for Le’Ron McClain to bring the Ravens within 7 as the 3rd quarter ticked away.  Joe Flacco continues to impress, and aside for 1 or 2 throws yesterday, was pretty much perfect.  He didn’t get rattled when trailing by 14 in the 2nd half, and put together a great comeback win.

And how about those Ravens wide receivers?  This much maligned group busted out in a big way yesterday as Mason continued his strong season with 9 catches for 136 yards and a score, and as we mentioned earlier, there was actually a Mark Clayton sighting!  Clayton had 4 catches for 87 yards and a touchdown, his first since the Christmas Eve game in Pittsburgh in 06 (we’re sure you remember that one as fondly as we do).  It would still be nice to see Todd Heap do SOMETHING besides forget the snap count…but if the wideouts can actually get open like they did yesterday, his continued non-performance of 2008 will not be as much of a detriment to this team as it could have been in years past.

Next up, that Ravens defense.  We certainly have the Browns’ offensive coaches inexplicable insistence on trying to run the ball for our win, but credit still needs to go to the Ravens, whose front seven allowed Jamal Lewis no room all day, holding him to 49 yards on 19 carries, with a long of 7 yards.  When the other teams’ longest run of the day is 7 yards, you are putting yourself in a pretty good position to win.  The B’More D was also able to force FOUR CONSECUTIVE 3-and-outs after the Ravens pulled within 7, which is amazing in its own right.  Still though, a smarter coordinator (paired with a more accurate QB and some sticky-fingered receivers – thank you, Braylon Edwards) would likely have been able to seal that win for the bad guys.  So while we have to thank Rob Chudzinski and Romeo Crennel, Fabian Washington and Frank Walker did a decently respectable job in holding things together on the back end.

And how can we forget T-Sizzle, who scored his 2nd career touchdown and 2nd in 3 games, on a very similar play to his last one.  His screen pass interception that he returned for 42 yards put the nail into the coffin, sealing the Ravens at 5-3 at the midway point of the 2008 season – already equaling last year’s win total.

A great team effort all around yesterday led to a very memorable win, one that we will certainly be talking about and looking back on fondly for a long time here in B’More.  There are some things to criticize, of course – such as the weird play-calling from the 2-yard line after Rice’s big run; and the special teams coverage – but we’ll save that for another day.  It’s time to celebrate the win, and celebrate basically ending Cleveland’s season.

Now….hold your nose and cheer for those skallywag Redskins tonight Ravens fans…a Steelers loss will put us tied for 1st place after 8 games – who saw that coming?