Archive for December, 2009

Five Ravens Selected to Pro Bowl

December 30, 2009

Pro Bowl

Five Ravens were named to the AFC Pro Bowl roster last night. Some of them highly deserved it, others might have gotten in more on reputation than anything else. While I don’t think any of them clearly DID NOT deserve to be honored, I’ll go ahead and give you the list, ranked by decreasing order of merit.

Ray Rice – 1st Selection

Obviously, Mighty Mouse (or, as he has taken to calling himself on his Twitter account, “Rated R,” or “Rockstar Rizzle” – it appears he is as hungry for a real nickname as we are for him) was the most deserving Raven on the list. His 1,292 yards from scrimmage are second in the NFL, behind only the AFC’s starting Pro Bowl running back Chris Johnson. Rice has a legitimate case for NFL MVP, especially if the Ravens get into the postseason. Not that I’m saying he has any shot of winning it, but without him, the Ravens could easily be a 5-6 win team. Ray Rice has exceeded all expectations in his second season in B’More.

Ray Lewis – 11th Selection

Maybe the Ravens should stick to drafting guys named “Ray.” They always seem to pan out pretty well. Lewis, who has missed the Pro Bowl just 3 times in 14 seasons, has had a very strong, albeit quiet (by his standards) season. He again leads the team in tackles, with 121 (86 solo), and has picked up three sacks as well. However, since basically single-handedly winning the San Diego game in Week 2, the game-changing plays have been ominously absent from his play. Unless Ray can manage to pick off Charlie Frye this week, 2009 will be his first season EVER where he failed to record at least one interception. This isn’t a huge surprise, seeing as how his coverage skills have been declining for years, but I’d really like him to become the first LB to join the 30-30 (sacks and interceptions) club.

Haloti Ngata – 1st Selection

Ngata, as many had predicted, finally broke into the Pro Bowl after Albert Haynesworth went to the Redskins in the NFC. Ngata has been a solid force up front for the Ravens all season, but this has been far from his most productive season. He missed two games with injury, and as a result, his tackle total is currently at just 34, and will be his lowest since his rookie campaign. He hasn’t made any of the spectacular line-of-scrimmage interceptions that we saw from him last year, and on Sunday in Pittsburgh he got called for a personal foul on a cheap shot late hit out of bounds. Additionally, the pass-rush/pocket-collapse part of Ngata’s game still leaves much to be desired. This has been a long time coming for Haloti though, and he is fully deserving of his first Pro Bowl.

Ed Reed – 6th Selection

Reed gathers his 6th Pro Bowl in 8 years, despite having missed the past four games with injury. We’ve seen flashes of the old, hard-hitting Ed this year, such as in the Denver game when he blew up Knowshon Moreno, but it has been an unsteady year for #20, to say the least. His three interceptions are on pace to be the 2nd-lowest in his career, outpacing just his ten-game 2005 season when he only got one. On the bright side, his three forced fumbles tie the most of his career (2004). The secondary as a whole though, seems to be faring a bit better over the last several weeks with Tom Zbikowski filling in, than they did during the first part of the season with Ed back there. Dominique Foxworth, Chris Carr, and (ugh) Frank Walker might be a little nervous this week with the freelancing Reed potentially returning to the lineup.

To borrow a phrase from Ray Lewis – “Bottom line,” Ed is still the best ball-hawking safety in the NFL, and my favorite Raven of all time, so yes, he probably deserves to be in the Pro Bowl again.

Le’Ron McClain – 2nd Selection

I love me some Pain Train. I wish he would get to tote the rock more than he has so far in 2009. But he made the Pro Bowl last year, as a fullback, despite lining up as a running back for most of the season. He did well in the fan voting because, well, people don’t know many fullbacks, and McClain’s was a name they recognized from their fantasy leagues. Same deal this year, although he has been used MUCH more as a traditional fullback than as a runner – people still don’t know many fullbacks. McClain is above average as a blocking FB, but probably not Pro Bowl-caliber.

Nonetheless, congrats to #33.

First Alternate – Ben Grubbs

Grubbs is another guy who I feel had a better 2008 than 2009. He, Matt Birk, and Chris Chester were the main culprits in the Ravens being unable to score a TD on three tries from inside the 2-yard line against Indianapolis. For a stretch of several games, basically until Chester was replaced by Marshal Yanda, the Ravens had zero inside push. He played well at the start of the season, though, and has picked it up again down the stretch.


Michael Oher

There are several rookies on this year’s Pro Bowl rosters, and Oher could have been one of them. When I heard that a Ravens offensive lineman was named as an alternate, I was sure it would be #74. He swapped back and forth from right to left tackle several times this season, and held his own against vaunted pass rushers such as Elvis Dumervil, Jared Allen, Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, and, for the most part, James Harrison. It’s tough to break in to the Pro Bowl roster, especially at a position like tackle, where so many players are high first-round draft picks.

Michael will force his way onto that roster though, sooner rather than later. And once he does, he will be a Pro Bowl staple for a long, long time.

That’s about it as far as snubs go. The Ravens are 8-7, so five players is likely a few too many, in actuality.

Regardless, Congratulations to all of the Ravens’ Pro Bowlers.


Play Like a Raven – Week 16

December 29, 2009


The Weekly Honor’s namesake again lived up to his billing, gashing the Steelers’ (then) #1 rush defense for 141 yards on 30 carries. He had only 1 catch for 14 yards though, and his fumble on the play after fellow 2008 second-round draft pick Rashard Mendenhall had done the same really hurt the Ravens.

Still, Ray Rice played like a Raven, once again.

Played Like a Raven – Todd Heap



Where has this been all year from Todd? Maybe he is just now getting fully healthy, maybe Joe is only now trusting him enough near the goal line to go to him, or maybe Cam has finally figured out how to get the matchups he wants with Heap. Whatever the reason, four touchdown catches in two weeks is great to see from a guy that had seemingly become the forgotten man in the B’More offense.

The puzzling thing though, is why he was only targeted about three times all day. He had the 2/2 throws/touchdowns early on, then seemed to disappear until Flacco again went to him in the end zone later in the game. Heap nearly had his third touchdown in three receptions, but a could-have-went-either-way non-call for pass interference was just enough to keep him from pulling it in.

Where was he during all the non-red zone plays though?

If the Ravens can take care of business in Oakland, Heap may be primed for quite a postseason. Welcome back, Todd.

Did Not Play Like a Raven – Oniel Cousins and Derrick Mason


Cousins, starting at right tackle due to the absence of Jared Gaither, was absolutely SCHOOLED by Lamarr Woodley. Woodley led the Steelers with seven tackles, including back-to-back sacks and a forced fumble that killed the Ravens’ final drive. Woodley seemingly ran through Cousins like he wasn’t even there most of the day, and, had Cousins not gotten help from backs, tight ends, and guard Marshal Yanda, Woodley may have racked up double digit sacks.

Not only was it his play that was unacceptable, but then Cousins had to throw in a personal foul penalty that knocked the Ravens out of field goal range on their opening drive of the fourth quarter. Come to think of it, Cousins pretty much single-handedly ended two of the Ravens’ three fourth quarter drives.

He’s a young guy and he’ll surely bounce back, but on this day, Oniel Cousins definitely DID NOT Play Like a Raven.

The other goat from this game, despite his once again leading the team in receptions and yards, was Derrick Mason.

His drop on the wide open touchdown pass that would have given the Ravens the lead is absolutely inexcusable. It may have been the most inopportune drop of his 13-year career. When that ball bounced off his facemask, Derrick basically punched every Ravens fan right in the stomach. Personally, I laid face-down on the floor for the remainder of that awful drive, which ended up resulting in ZERO points.

ZERO, instead of six.

If Mason catches that ball, Cousins never gets his personal foul penalty.

Flacco again went to Mason, on the Ravens next drive. Instead of picking up about 20 yards on 2nd and 6, and setting the Ravens up in Steelers’ territory, Mason dropped/fumbled (another one that could have went either way) the ball, and Sam Koch trotted on the field three plays later. That particular catch would have actually been negated by a Marshal Yanda holding penalty, had he held on, but it still doesn’t excuse his second consecutive critical late-game drop.

If the Ravens are to make any sort of run through the Playoffs, they cannot have their #1 receiver making game-changing drops. Mason is a professional, and undoubtedly his own worst critic after watching the game tape. Let’s hope it results in some renewed focus for this stretch of critical game(s, hopefully) to come.

What Can We Get for Troy Smith?

December 28, 2009

Available: One disgruntled former Heisman Trophy Winner, 5th round draft pick, with a career passer rating of 79.7. Also known to break into stupid dances during blowout wins.

Seeking in return: WR, CB, KR/PR, LB, or DE

According to a tweet from his agent , Troy Smith wants out of B’More.

“Ravens QB Troy Smith, Ohio State alum, native + Heisman winner wants playing time. Ravens notified. Will seek trade after play offs, SB run.”

Good riddance. I’m more comfortable with John Beck as Joe’s backup anyway.

Steelers 23 Ravens 20 (The NEGATED BY PENALTY Game)

December 28, 2009

Mason Drop

I honestly can’t remember a game that included such ridiculous stomach-churning, caused by great highs followed immediately by crushing lows.

With the Ravens having just cut Pittsburgh’s lead to 20-17 in the third quarter, on the first play after the kickoff, Dominique Foxworth intercepted Baby Ben and returned in 46 yards for a touchdown. Suddenly, the Ravens had their first lead of the day.

Touchdown NEGATED by a retarded block-in-the-back by Terrell Suggs that served absolutely no purpose at all.

They would manage just a field goal after the penalty, tying the game at 20.

Five minutes later, with the game still tied, Willis McGahee broke free around the left side of the line and raced 15 yards into the end zone, putting the Ravens up 26-20. Or so it seemed, until the little yellow “flag” flashed on our screens.

Touchdown NEGATED by a Kelley Washington hold, that again, affected the play in no way – Willis was in whether he holds or not there. Simply getting in the way would have been enough.

Two plays later, Derrick Mason sprints 21 yards into the end zone, wiiiiiiide open, and Flacco lays it right in his gut. Or, it would have hit his gut, had his facemask not gotten in the way.

Touchdown pass DROPPED.

After the drop, the second should-have-been touchdown in three plays, the Ravens self destructed, going from 1st-and-10 at the Pit 21 to 4th-and-30 at the 41, on the shoulders of illegal formation and personal foul penalties.

And, last, but not least….

Pittsburgh facing 3rd-and-11 at the two minute warning, up by 3, the Ravens needing a stop to cling to any semblance of hope. Baby Ben fades back, avoids Trevor Pryce, and heaves up an ill-advised pass that was intercepted by Tom Zbikowski, and returned to the Pittsburgh 42. The Ravens now need just a few yards to attempt the game-tying FG to force overtime, or could win with a touchdown.

Interception NEGATED by illegal contact on Frank Walker.

On the play, Mike Wallace ran right into Walker’s arms, the two embraced in a sort of post-Christmas hug for a second, and then the pass flew. Not only does Walker have every right to that space that Wallace does, the fact that Roethlisberger was running around like a chicken with his head cut off makes it perfectly acceptable for Frank to make contact more than 5 yards down the field.

For the second week in a row, Baby Ben threw what should have been a game-changing interception in the final minutes, only to be bailed out by the guys in stripes.

On the day, the Ravens racked up 11 penalties for 113 yards. The Steelers, meanwhile, had 4 for 20 (heh, 420).

Two of those calls were inexcusable personal fouls, one on Oneil Cousins, and the other on Haloti Ngata. On Ngata’s, it was Daren Stone all over again.

For a guy that wants to come off as a disciplinarian, John Harbaugh continues to prove that he has absolutely no control over his team. According to WNST morning show host Drew Forrester, Walker was out on the field during warm ups waving a terrible towel, taunting the Steelers. Excusing for a second that FRANK FREAKING WALKER has no business taunting anybody; let’s ask the question of why the hell Harbaugh is allowing his guys to do that kind of Bush league high school crap.

Week after week, the Ravens rack up high double and triple digits in penalty yards.

Week after week, they make stupid, undisciplined errors, resulting in yellow flying from the skies like the snow was last Saturday.

And, week after week, there seems to be no accountability for these errors, as the same guys (cough, NGATAWALKER, cough) are the culprits.

Haloti Ngata is a great player, no doubt about it, but for a guy that just registered his first sack of the season in Week 16, he needs to be told to cut out the bone-headed personal fouls or that big contract he is looking for will be from a team that plays far from Charm City.

Harbaugh has now had nearly two full seasons to back up his tough talk about accountability and discipline. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding, and the Ravens pudding seems to still be missing some key ingredients.

Another thing the head ball coach has had two years to figure out is this clock thing. At the end of the first half, Pittsburgh faced 3rd-and-12 from their own 4 yard line. There was about 1:50 on the clock when the 2nd down play ended. Had the Ravens called timeout, they could have gotten their ish together on the sideline, put in the correct personnel, sold out against the pass, and in all likelihood, gotten the ball back with great field position and over 1:30 to work with.

Instead, John the dumb dumb kept his timeouts in his pocket, the Steelers gladly let the clock tick down to 1:11 before snapping it, Terrell Suggs idiotically jumped offsides, and Fat Ben took advantage with a free-play Hail Mary down the right sideline.

Four plays later, Santonio Holmes scored a touchdown in his 4358345983450th straight game against the Ravens, and the teams went into the locker room with the score 20-10.

Face, meet palm.

Along with ALLLL of that, throw in the fact that the Ravens gave the Steelers THREE short fields in the first quarter (an interception when Flacco was hit as he threw, a big kickoff return, and a shanked punt), directly leading to 13 points, and it is painfully obvious that the Ravens gave this game away. They were the better team than Pittsburgh, despite what the wannabe yinzer in the cubicle next to you is trying to tell you this morning.

They continue to remind us, however, that they just don’t know HOW to win. This game was another in the painfully long string of “couldda, wouldda, shoulddas” that this season has seen, from the first Cincinnati game, to New England, to Minnesota, and now to the City of Lucky Champions.


Ok, all that aside, there were some positives yesterday.

Most notably was Ray Rice (of course), who ran for 141 yards on 30 carries, the first back to break the century mark against the Steelers since 2007, breaking the longest current streak in the NFL.

Todd Heap has his second straight two TD performance, and Flacco seems to have no qualms about going to #86 when he needs a big play.

The pass rush was decent, as the Ravens sacked Roethlisberger 4 times, 2.5 coming from the defensive line.

Perhaps the most important positive for the Ravens yesterday, though, came not in western Pennsylvania, but on the other side of the state, in Philadelphia. Let’s all thank the Eagles for holding off a furious rally from the Broncos. By virtue of that game, there are still no 9-win non-division winners in the AFC, and the Ravens WILL be in the playoffs with a win in Oakland next week.

For a full explanation, read Glenn Clark’s thesis here.

Win, and we’re in. Doesn’t get much simpler than that. The same cannot be said for those bad guys in yellow and black, who need to win in Miami AND to get more than a little help, to see the postseason.

Steeler Fan

Ravens (8-6) @ Steelers (7-7)

December 26, 2009

Ravens vs. Jerks

Squealer Stats09 2

The Ravens once again clash heads with the Pittsburgh Steelers this week. For the fifth consecutive meeting between these two teams, 1 game or less separates them in the standings. Fortunately, though, the Ravens have a slightly higher margin for error right now than Pittsburgh does. A Ravens loss would not preclude them from backing into the playoffs with a win in Oakland next week, though they would likely need at least some help. A Steeler loss, and the “Stairway to Seven” BS stops until 2010.

Realistically, the Steelers are living on borrowed time as it is. Any hopes they had for the postseason SHOULD have ended last week at the hands of the Green Bay Packers. Of course, some boneheaded “prevent” defense from Green Bay in the final minute, along with a ridiculous illegal contact flag that negated what should have been a game ending interception, sprinkled in with some patented Pittsburgh dumb luck all made for a last-second win for Baby Ben and his minions of infighting teammates.

If the Ravens can manage a season sweep, they can be the ones to deal the knock-out punch to the Steelers’ season. Like most Ravens fans though, I hardly get the “warm and fuzzies” any time the Ravens play in the Steel City, even in a season where the enemy has lost to such powerhouses as Oakland, Kansas City, and Cleveland. They’re still a respectable 5-2 at ketchup-mush field, and the Ravens have only won there once this decade (a glorious 34-7 schellacking in 2006).

The Ravens have had two weeks to basically warm-up for this game, with Detroit and Chicago putting up very little resistance. On the bright side, the offense appears to be firing on all cylinders, and the defense forcing turnovers like it was 2008 all over again. However, let’s hope they haven’t forgotten that not all teams are so eager to roll over and die, and that they aren’t shocked and confused when the guys that can only afford logos for one side of their helmets hit back a little bit.

Joe Flacco has followed up the worst game of his career, the Monday Nighter at Lambeau, with two of his best. Since throwing 3 interceptions that night, he has 5 touchdowns and no picks in his last 55 attempts. The Pittsburgh secondary is playing their worst football in years, and will again be without Troy Polamalu to make everything better. The way to attack them is to spread them out, but with the Ravens a bit knicked up at WR, that may be a tenuous prospect. Mark Clayton and Kelley Washington are both expected to play, but it remains to be seen how effective they will be after missing some time. The emergence of Demetrius Williams lately has Ravens fans cautiously optimistic – if “Completrius” can show some consistency by having a big game in the land of 1000 bridges, it will go a long way towards a Ravens victory.

Also promising was Todd Heap reappearing in the offense to score twice against the Bears. Joe Cool will need as many weapons as possible running wild in the Pittsburgh defensive backfield Sunday, as that is where the Steelers are most vulnerable. Up front, the line will have to play like they did in the first half of the first Pittsburgh game, and give those guys time to find the holes. If Lamarr Woodley and James Harrison can get cranked up like they were able to in the 2nd half in B’More, it could be a long day for Joe and Ravens fans alike.

Defensively, the Ravens could be in more than a little trouble. The loss of Lardarius Webb has the potential to be HUGE, not just this week, but for the Ravens’ season in general. Dominique Foxworth may have been the AFC Defensive Player of the Week last week, but now he goes up against Baby Ben, who was his counterpart on the Offensive side of the ball in Week 15. Ben threw for over 500 yards against Green Bay, and he is no doubt salivating at the idea of seeing Foxworth, Chris Carr, and Frank Walker out there chasing his guys around. If there is one glimmer of hope, it is that Ed Reed practiced on Friday, and could finally get back into a game this week. Keep your fingers crossed.

The loss of Webb hurts doubly, as the Ravens are now less equipped to take advantage of Pittsburgh’s other glaring weakness, their return coverage. The Ravens have yet to announce who will handle kickoffs, but rest assured, whoever it is, does not worry the Steelers like Webb would have.

The offenses look poised to dominate a Pittsburgh-Baltimore matchup – what kind of crazy, backwards world is this that we are living in?

Just keep reminding yourselves, Ravens fans, a loss does NOT doom the Ravens this week.

We may have to make it our mantra.

Steelers 31 Ravens 24

(sprinkles some of Santa’s magic dust on the score prediction)

Ravens 27 Steelers 26

Lookalikes! Steelers Xmas Villains Edition

December 23, 2009

The last time the Ravens and Steelers met, it was Thanksgiving-time. The purple feasted on the Steelers’ backups, and, in true Thanksgiving fashion, forced them off the land of B’More and relegated them to the reservation of western Pennsyltucky. The Nest, in the spirit of the season, gave thanks for all the reasons we’re glad we aren’t Steelers fans.

This time around, its another Holiday, and another meeting with the Black-and-Yeller. What better time to use our weekly Lookalikes! to dive into the many ways in which the members of the Pittsburgh Football organization (past and present) hate Christmas, Santa Claus, the Salvation Army, Rudolph, and YOU?

Everyone’s favorite 24-hour marathon Christmas Movie, “A Christmas Story” featured antagonist bully Scott Farkus. I’m pretty sure that, at some point in his life, Farkus changed his name to “Rocky Boiman,” before learning to play football and signing with the Squealers.



Steelers’ owner/chairman (and United States Ambassador to Ireland) Dan Rooney is disgusted by the poor, puts orphanages out of business with his partner Marley, and will be visited by 3 ghosts on Christmas Eve. Or at least, he looks like (Jim Carrey’s) Ebenezer Scrooge, the guy I actually just described.


Former Shittsburgh Head Coach Bill Cowher, now that he has taken a break from coaching, has taken up magic. His stage name is “Professor Hinkle,” and if any snowmen come to life on the power of magic hats that belong to him, he will show no mercy to the snowman nor the children who love to watch him laugh and play, in his quest to gain back his hat.


Hines Ward is known for two things: Cheap shots, and smiles. You know who else likes to smile a lot? That’s right, guys that plan on stealing every Christmas present in ENTIRE TOWNS!


What Lookalikes! (or any Steeler-hating piece for that matter) would be complete without old faithful, Jeff Reed. We’ve been over the laundry list of stupid looking poses, dumb hairstyles, and drunken hijinks of Reed before, but until now, never realized that he was the “Heat Miser” in the Childrens’ classic, “The Year Without a Santa Claus.”


Now, since it’s Christmas and all, I’ll give a gift to any Steeler-fan vermin that happen to stumble upon this post.

The Ravens aren’t exempt from showing up in Christmas movies. Why, just the other day, I was watching “The Muppet Christmas Carol,” and, lo and behold, Joe Flacco!


Happy Holidays to all, and GO RAVENS!

Vote for Flacco for Air Player of the Week

December 22, 2009

Natty Joe is up for the FedEx Air player of the week. His competition is fetus-head Manning and Baby Ben, so be sure to go VOTE FOR JOE!

Play Like a Raven – Week 15

December 22, 2009


Played Like a Raven – Dominique Foxworth

dom fox

Sure, Natty Joe was the easy choice. In setting career highs for QB rating and touchdown passes, he played like a Raven on Sunday, no doubt. However, I thought I’d go ahead and recognize Dom Fox here, considering how often this space has been used to skewer the guy during the 2009 season.

It was the first game in which Foxworth recorded an interception since Week 3 against Cleveland, and it was the first multi-pick game of his five year career.

Foxworth did a fine job against the Bears’ less-than-mediocre receivers, a performance that will hopefully give him some confidence going in to this week’s game against Pittsburgh’s comparatively stellar WR corps. Especially without Lardarius Webb out there, Foxworth will absolutely need to continue to Play Like a Raven in Week 16 and beyond.

Did Not Play Like a Raven – Frank Walker

frank walker

Like last week, the Ravens plastered their opponent, and pretty much everyone played well.

Like last week, the starters played SO well, that many of them got to take a seat and catch the end of the game as comfortable sideline spectators.

And like last week, a guy that doesn’t usually get the chance to make many plays – made a play. And then proceeded to make an ass of himself.

Walker (who technically was in the game more because of Lardarius Webb’s extremely unfortunate and disappointing injury than of starters being taken out due to the score) picked off his first pass since Week 8 of last season against Oakland. Then, with just over four minutes remaining in a game that his team was winning by a count of 31-7, Walker inexplicably launched the ball across the field. The Ravens were docked 5 yards for delay of game, but it easily could have been unsportsmanlike conduct and 15 yards.

Ten more yards made no difference in this game, but with Walker likely to see significantly increased playing time here in the very near future, his boneheaded penalties need to stop NOW. We all remember the “loogie eye” incident from the second Pittsburgh game last year, and you can be sure the Steelers do too. Cheap Shot will undoubtedly be taunting Frank early and often come Sunday, trying to goad him into a silly flag, and if he loses his composure it could severely cost the Ravens.

The coaching staff needs to beat the importance of this game, and the utter lack of any room for mental errors therein, into Walker’s head non-stop this week. He must play like the 7-year veteran he is, and not like the loose cannon that he has proven himself to be again and again during his time in B’More.

Frank, this week is your chance to make up for the Vikings’ game.

Dominique, great job against the Bears. Now, prove to us that you can string together some strong games, against tough competition.

If Frank Walker and Dominique Foxworth can play themselves into the top half of this feature for next Tuesday, chances are the Ravens will escape Pittsburgh with a win. If, on the other hand, they fall into the bottom half, again, victory in western Pennsylvania seems all the less likely.

Ravens 31 Bears 7 (The JAY CUTLER IS TERRIBLE Game)

December 21, 2009

Cutler Goggles

Wow, is Jay Cutler bad. This morning, I had this exchange with a friend regarding da Bears’ QB:

Me: sulksulksulksulk

Friend: that guy is a one trick pony

me: sulking?

Friend: interceptions
hey.. i’m known for my interceptions
here’s why

Me: haha
everything you’ve heard about me is true

Friend: maybe he has another undiagnosed disease: he needs glasses

me: hahaha
“ya know, this would be a lot easier if there were some way to tell the teams apart”

Friend: haha
he’s tryin to read names
is that my johnson or theirs?
that doesn’t sound right
man.. why are three of my receivers all next to each other?
oh well.. one of them will get it
all the great qbs must really be good with names

me: guys, spread out!


In short, Jay Cutler = really, really bad. How bad?

“He threw an interception to Frank Walker” bad.

“He threw TWO interceptions to Dominique Foxworth” bad.

“His 7.9 QB rating was the worst EVER by a Ravens’ opponent” bad.

Edit. Thanks to Matt for reminding us that Eli Manning recorded a 0.0 rating against the Ravens in 2004

That’s some kinda bad. Especially that last one, considering some of the great defenses the Ravens have had over the years, defenses that the current version does not even sniff. Jay Cutler, fittingly, made the Ed Reed-less 2009 Ravens look like the 1985 Bears.

Cutler was made to look even worse by comparison, thanks to the nearly perfect day turned in by Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco.

Flacco set single-game career highs for touchdown passes (4) and quarterback rating (135.6). His two touchdown passes to Todd Heap in the first quarter, both of which were set up by Cutler-ceptions, gave the Ravens a 14 point lead that ended up being more than enough for the day. For the second week in a row, Flacco’s day was done early, as the second-year starter was sent to the bench after helping build up an insurmountable Ravens’ lead. Natty Joe will need to continue his stellar play of the last two contests, over the next two (against much stiffer competition), for B’More to hold on to their still-precarious Playoff spot.

Speaking of Heap, it was his first touchdown since Week 2 in San Diego, and his first two-touchdown performance since Week 10 of 2008 in Houston. Welcome back Todd. Now please, try not to limp off the field after every single catch.

Still more praise to go around, especially to the guys catching passes.

Demetrius Williams made a beautiful catch in double coverage for his first score since Week 8 of last season against Oakland. His four grabs were his most since the Colts game last year, and his 71 yards marked the most he has amassed since his only career 100-yard game – in Week 15 of his rookie campaign, waaaaaay back in 2006. A very warm welcome back to you as well, Mr. Productive Demetrius Williams. Two requests for #87:

1. Stay healthy.

2. Don’t do whatever the heck you did to land in John Harbaugh’s ridiculous “dog house” ever again.

Finally, a congratulations to Derrick Mason, who caught his 850th career pass, along with 5 others on the day, for 86 yards and a touchdown. Ho hum, just another day at the office for the Ravens’ oldest player.

Moving on to the ground guys…

Ray Rice had two nice 28-yard gains, one on each of the team’s first two scoring drives, on his way to 87 on the day. He looked to be in for another MONSTER performance, but the Bears did a nice job of putting the clamps on him after a few big chunks (of course, that just opened the door for all of the above mentions). Tack on 17 receiving yards, and Mighty Mouse was good for 100+ from scrimmage for the 11th time in 15 games this year.

Troy Smith, in his first “wildcat” action of 2009, ran the option well for 8 yards on his first try. After that, he was mostly unremarkable. Why Cam Cameron decided on this game to throw in the gimmick plays is anybody’s guess. Guaranteed we don’t see any more of that against Pittsburgh.

Unfortunately, that was about it for the running game. Willis and Pain Train combined for just 15 yards on 7 carries. Hardly the kind of 3-headed monster we had in mind, especially against the league’s worst run defense. When you get four scores through the air though, it’s hard to complain too much. And those two should be nice and rested for what should be another grinder in Pittsburgh next week.

It wasn’t all good news, though. The Ravens’ special teams had a rough day. First, they allowed the Bears’ only touchdown of the day, a punt return by Earl Bennett, robbing the defense of what should have been a shutout. Much, much, worse was that they are now without a kick returner, as Lardarius Webb injured his knee in the third quarter, and is expected to miss the rest of the year.

The loss of Webb hurts not only on special teams, but in the secondary, where he had quickly became the team’s best cornerback. The presence of #21 back there was a big reason for the improvement over the last month or so. It really is a shame for the rookie out of Nicholls State, and it could be potentially disastrous for the Ravens. Baby Ben threw for like 900 yards or some ridiculous mess against Green Bay’s strong secondary, and the Ravens’ comparatively weak one will look all the more appetizing to that big dummy without Lardarius roaming. The return of Ed Reed just got much more urgent.

We wish Webb a full and speedy recovery, and can’t wait to see him starting for the Ravens in 2010.

By virtue of the Denver Broncos’ loss to Oakland, the Ravens moved up to the #5-seed in the AFC, and now have some margin for error, albeit a razor-thin one. A loss next week in Pittsburgh will not be totally devastating, as the Ravens will still hold the edge on the evil ones thanks to a better conference record.

Screw that noise, though. According to Heap, the Ravens were already thinking black-and-yellow (it’s not gold, you tools, the Saints are black and gold) thoughts in the post-game locker room.

It’s Steelers week again, B’More. Let’s not let our festive and joyful holiday spirit get in the way of some good old-fashioned Hapalochlaena-grade venom spewing towards those towel-waving heathens. They probably don’t celebrate Xmas anyway.

Da Bears (5-8) @ Ravens (7-6)

December 18, 2009

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The Ravens have a chance to end their season series against the NFC North at .500 by beating the Chicago Bears this week at M&T Bank Stadium. More importantly, they will hold onto their tenuous as-of-this-writing hold on the final wild card spot in the AFC (by virtue of Jacksonville’s loss to Indy last night).

The Bears came into 2009 with big hopes. After barely missing the Playoffs at 9-7 last year, they made a huge splash in the offseason by bringing in the big arm of quarterback Jay Cutler, who was supposed to put them over the top. However, the first season under Jay has been quite a disappointment, as instead of lighting up the Windy City sky with touchdown passes, he leads the league with his 22 interceptions.

Cutler’s penchant for turning the ball over is good news for a Ravens secondary that is likely to be without Ed Reed for the third consecutive game. Second year safety Tom Zbikowski has stepped up in Reed’s absence, picking up an interception in each of his two starts and Ravens cornerbacks Lardarius Webb, Chris Carr, and Dominique Foxworth played well last week against Detroit…but that isn’t really saying much. On the bright side, the Bears don’t have a weapon that resembles anything close to that of the Lions’ Calvin Johnson. Their leading receivers are former kick-returner extraordinaire turned wideout Devin Hester, and sophomore Earl Bennett. Tight end Greg Olsen leads da Bears with 6 receiving touchdowns, and could provide match-up problems for the Ravens’ linebackers, who have struggled in coverage all season.

On the ground, da Bears don’t do much, as many a Matt Forte fantasy football owner will attest. People want to slap the “sophomore slump” label on B’More’s Joe Flacco, but a guy that is exemplifying the term is the Bears’ running back. Forte averaged 3.9 yards per carry in his rookie year, on his way to a 1,200 yard, 8 touchdown campaign (he also scored 4 receiving touchdowns). This year has been a different story, as he has been held to just 3.4 yards per carry and 4 total scores. It will be weakness against strength, as the Ravens lead the league in yards-per-carry allowed on defense.

Speaking of defense, da Bears, much like the Ravens, are not quite what they used to be. Team leader and linebacker Brian Urlacher managed just three tackles in the 2009 opener, before suffering a season-ending wrist injury. Chicago is 16th against the pass and just 25th against the run. Cam Cameron would be wise to once again unleash the 3-headed monster running back, as he did last week against Detroit, when Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, and Le’Ron McClain all had at least six carries.

One area in which da Bears have excelled in is causing fumbles. They have forced 19, 2nd in the league just behind San Francisco. Their secondary gang-tackles, holding up ballcarriers, while other defenders, entering the play late, go for the strip. With Ray Rice suddenly catching a case of fumble-itis over the last two games, it is cause for concern for us purple faithful this week. Let’s hope ball security was a point of emphasis this week at practice in Owings Mills.

Those practices, by the way, have been disconcertingly ill-attended. Reed, Jared Gaither, S K.J. Gerard, Jarret Johnson, Brandon McKinney, Terrell Suggs, Kelley Washington, and Mark Clayton all missed Thursday’s session, according to Glenn Clark at Also limited were Matt Birk, Derrick Mason, Haloti Ngata, and (shock!) L.J. Smith.

All teams are beat up this time of year, but…yikes. Will we even recognize the guys running around out there in black jerseys (and, ugh, white pants…John Harbaugh, your taste is nearly as bad as your clock management skills are) on Sunday?

Harbaugh, by the by, will have the chance to match mis-wits with another guy who never met a challenge flag or poorly used timeout he didn’t like, Bears’ head coach Lovie Smith. Sunday is likely to be a textbook example of “How not to manage the clock” with those two going at it.

All kidding aside, this game sets up very well for the Ravens. Many of those listed on the injury report are likely to play, and da Bears’ inability to stop the run plays right into the Ravens’ hands. The game plan should be to run, run, and run some more. They should have success, which will help take the pressure off Joe Flacco. Last week was nearly a bye for Natty Joe. With the game was never in question, he was an efficient 13/20 for 230 yards, and his line kept him on his feet for just the second time all season. Hopefully the easy day against the awful Lions helped restore some confidence in Flacco, after his terrible night in Green Bay.

The Ravens need this win to finish the year a respectable 6-2 at home. I don’t have the numbers, but it doesn’t seem likely that teams who go 5-3 on their home turf make the post-season very often. They should be able to make Forte a non-factor, force Cutler into some mistakes, and impose their will with the running game.

For crying out loud, two weeks ago Chicago struggled to get past St. Louis, squeaking by the Rams 17-9.

The Ravens close M&T Bank Stadium for 2009 in style.

Ravens 27 da Bears 17