Archive for September, 2011

Jets (2-1) @ Ravens (2-1)

September 30, 2011

Rex Ryan and Gang Green come to M&T Bank Stadium this week for some Sunday Night Football action. The Ravens are riding high following their 37-7 shellacking of the St. Louis Rams, while the Jets are licking their wounds after being run over roughshod by Darren McFadden (171 yards) and the Oakland Raiders last week 34-24. Despite being 2-1, the vaunted New York defense has been looking very vulnerable and un-Rex-like here over the last couple weeks. They find themselves ranked 31st in the league against the run on the heels of allowing Maurice Jones-Drew and McFadden to rush for 4.9 and 9.0 yards per carry, respectively. They undoubtedly come into Charm City with a chip on their collective shoulder, ready to do anything and everything to stop Ray Rice.

Rice, the Ravens do-everything running back, is off to a fast start here in 2011. The diminutive former Scarlet Knight sits fourth in the NFL through three games with 409 yards from scrimmage, and is averaging a hefty 5.6 yards per carry. It was tough sledding for Rice when these teams last met though, as he gained only 43 yards on 21 carries in 2010 week 1.

Helping open things up for Rice has been the Ravens’ suddenly (maybe) respectable passing game. Joe Flacco threw for a personal best 389 yards in St. Louis last week, hooking up with rookie Torrey Smith for touchdowns of 77, 41, and 18 yards. Smith, though, will have to prove he can make plays in the NFL on a consistent basis, and going from facing the Rams secondary to that of the Jets is akin to jumping from the high school J.V. to a BCS opponent. Smith will likely find himself matched up with Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie for most of the night. Cromartie had a rough game in Oakland before leaving with a bruised lung – as incredibly painful as that sounds, he has been practicing and expects to play. On the other side, Anquan Boldin, one of the most physical wide receivers in the league, will find himself dealing with one of the most physical cornerbacks in the league, All-World defender Darrelle Revis. Boldin had 7 catches for 110 yards in his Ravens debut against New York in 2010, as the Ravens moved him around while pretty much avoiding Revis altogether. They’ll likely aim to do the same this week, unless New York decides to just match Revis up with Boldin wherever he goes, daring the Ravens’ rookie wideouts – Smith, Tandon Doss, LaQuan Williams – to beat them. The Ravens would certainly feel better about their chances if Lee Evans was on the field, but he may miss his second straight game. In his last two games against the Jets though, Evans has just 2 catches for 44 yards.

While the Jets have struggled to stop the run of late, the other side of their typical “ground and pound” philosophy has also failed to live up to expectations. New York finds themselves just 25th in the NFL in rushing yards, with both Shonn Green (3.3) and LaDainian Tomlinson (3.6) averaging less than four yards per carry. They’ve been successful through the air however, riding this new NFL wave of 300-yard-passers as the norm, with quarterback Mark Sanchez putting up 295 yards per game passing. Sanchez’s favorite target is tight end Dustin Keller (16 receptions, 249 yards), and if Keller can shake the memory of what happened when he went over the middle against Ray Lewis in 2010, he could do some damage on Sunday night.

Of course the Jets also bring perennial Raven-killer Santonio Holmes to town. Holmes, who gave the Ravens nightmares as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, missed the 2010 opener due to suspension. This will be the first time the Ravens face Holmes wearing white and green, so let’s hope the results are much different than when he wore black and yellow.

The Ravens’ already depleted secondary got some more bad news this week when Dominique Foxworth was placed on injured reserve. Lardarius Webb has played well lately, and Chris Carr should continue to improve the pain from his quad injury fades away and he gets more reps, but teams have been picking on Cary Williams. Rookie Chykie Brown and practice squad signee Danny Gorrer don’t inspire much confidence either. One thing the Ravens may have going for them is that Sanchez has never faced Ed Reed. The ballhawk extraordinare could goad the Jets’ QB into some mistakes, despite Rex undoubtedly stressing to Sanchez all week how dangerous Reed can be.

New York have given up nine sacks as well, while the Ravens have registered nine of their own.

The Jets, for the first time in Rex’s tenure, can’t run the ball and can’t stop the run. While Rex will be pumped up to beat his former team, his intensity won’t be able to match that of the Ravens, who are not only playing at home for the first time since decimating Pittsburgh 35-7 in Week 1, but they’re doing so in their all black uniforms, at night, in a nationally televised contest. M&T Bank Stadium will be rocking, Ray Rice will be running, and the Ravens will get enough pressure on Sanchez to keep him from doing too much damage to their still very questionable secondary.

Ravens 23 Jets 13



September 28, 2011

Honestly, I figured I was done with O’s posts for the season. The team could be making some big changes in the coming weeks, so the next O’s-related post I expected to write was of the “Andy MacPhail officially steps down” or “Buck Showalter is the new GM” variety. However, the team found themselves suddenly relevant in late September for the first time since 1997.

Of course, the circumstances surrounding their sudden relevancy were mostly not of their own doing. The Boston Red Sox, who held a 9-game lead in the AL Wild Card race the first week of September, crashed and burned spectacularly, going 7-20 in the month. Against the O’s over season’s final two weeks, they went 2-5.

Last week, I started the hashtag #SpoiltheSox on twitter. Despite what some idiotic local sports personalities may think, rooting for a spoiler team can be a blast. Especially when your team hasn’t had a winning record in over a decade. And especially when the team you get to spoil is one whose fans continually invade our home turf and attempt to make it their own.

Over the last three nights at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, O’s fans stepped up and routinely drowned out the Massholes’ attempted “Let’s Go Red Sox” chants with “Let’s Go O’s” calls of their own.

It looked like the O’s efforts to #SpoiltheSox were going to fall just a bit short last night. Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the 9th inning, against closer Jonathan Papelbon, the O’s were down to their last out.

Chris Davis ripped a double to right field.

Papelbon got Nolan Reimold down to his last strike. It looked like it was going to be a disappointing end to yet another disappointing season.

But Reimold came through.

The guy that should go into 2012 as the team’s unquestioned starting left fielder smashed s ground rule double to right-center, tying the game. One batter later, Robert Andino singled to left, and the O’s secured the walk-off win.

It was the Sox first loss when leading after 8 innings all season.

To make things even better, not five minutes after the O’s won – which ensured that the best case scenario for Boston was a 1-game playoff on Thursday with Tampa – the Rays’ Evan Longoria smoked a walk-off home run of his own, and just like that, the Sox were spoiled.

The best part of all of it was watching the O’s players going nuts on the bench. Though there was no chance the O’s were going to make the playoffs, it was a postseason atmosphere at the yard, and they responded. Here’s hoping the young guys on the team, who have never been a part of anything like that, now understand what they’re out there playing for all season. Take in that feeling, and fight for it next year. When things start going bad in June or July, instead of just packing it in, remember back to this game, this series, and keep fighting to try to return to relevance.

Honestly, tonight was the most excited I’ve been over a baseball game since 1997. It was a great feeling. And it made me realize how much I miss it. It would be nice to be watching meaningful baseball games in late September in Baltimore again – ones that are truly meaningful to OUR team, and not just to the opposing team.

However, for now this is all we have. Screw you, Red Sox nation.

The “lowly Orioles” spoiled yo’ shit.

Have a nice winter.

Deal with that.

UPDATE: To see all five of the O’s wins over the Sox during the season’s final two weeks, watch the video below:

GOOBVISION: Jets at Ravens

September 28, 2011

In this week’s GOOBVISION, Goob takes a look into his crystal ball to get a glipmse of the future of Rex Ryan, finds Rex on the trail of some not-so-sexy toes, and wonders why Mark Sanchez likes to date members of the prom committee.

What's Important Now – Torrey Smith Becoming a Threat

September 27, 2011

In last week’s W.I.N. installment, we said that the Ravens would need to improve their passing game moving forward.

Well, 389 passing yards and 3 aerial touchdowns later…mission accomplished.

For now, anyway. The next step is obviously for the team to continue to improve, and show some consistency from week to week, not take a giant step backwards between weeks 3 and 4 as they did between 1 and 2.

The New York Jets secondary doesn’t resemble that of the St. Louis Rams in the least. With players like Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Kyle Wilson, and Jim Leonhard, yards through the air will be much more difficult to find for Joe Flacco and company this week. New York is currently 6th in the NFL in passing defense, allowing 188.7 yards per game.

For the Ravens to have success against not only the Jets, but many of the remaining teams on their schedule (read: those not in the NFC West), rookie Torrey Smith will have to continue to develop his game. Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome was obviously an INCREDIBLE start for the former Maryland Terrapin, but he has to follow up that performance with more like it.

Not to suggest that #82 is to be expected to put up 152 yards and 3 scores every game – don’t be ridiculous.

The point is that, now that teams have film on Smith, they have to respect him. Unlike in years past, when the Ravens had supposed “vertical threats” like Demetrius Williams, Yamon Figurs, or Donte Stallworth – receivers who opposing safeties let run by¬† without so much as a second glance – this year’s team has shown that the guy going long can haul the pigskin in for big plays.

Again, for one game only.

That’s why I hesitate to label Smith as a “weapon” in the Ravens offense. To be a true weapon, he needs to show up on Sundays consistently. Right now he is simply becoming a “threat” that opposing defenses have to be aware of and respect in their game planning. Adding Lee Evans back into the mix will only make the purple attack that much more explosive in the coming weeks and months. With potentially two viable deep threats on the outside, the underneath areas in which Anquan Boldin, young tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson, and running back Ray Rice operate in will expand almost exponentially.

Congratulations to Torrey Smith, and let’s hope his evolution from “threat” to “weapon” continues on the steep upward trajectory he set for himself against the Rams.


Want to be the Next GOOB? (The Next DirecTV Ultimate Displaced Fan, that is?)

September 27, 2011

Last season, Goob won the DirecTV Ultimate Displaced Fan contest. His win produced what was easily one of the best weekends of either of our lives . We got to go to the Super Bowl in Dallas, where we hung out on Media Row with Ray Rice, Goob played in the DirecTV Celebrity Beach Bowl (and caught a touchdown pass and did the Ray Lewis dance), and then we got to watch the Steelers lose the Super Bowl in person. It was absolutely incredible.


You should be.

But you should also do something about it, if you too are “displaced” like Goob was.

DirecTV is once again having their annual Ultimate Displaced Fan contest, and if you’re a Ravens fan living more than 4 or so hours away from Baltimore, you’re eligible to have the weekend of your life just like Goob and I did last February.

Wanna see what Goob got to do?

DIRECTV Ultimate Displaced Fan 2011 Prize Sizzle from Genuine Interactive on Vimeo.

That can all be you, if you’re the 2011 DirecTV Ultimate Displaced fan. Need some pointers on how to give yourself the best chance to win? Listen to Goob, and you’ll be well on your way…

How to Enter DIRECTV’s Ultimate Displaced Fan Contest 2011 from Genuine Interactive on Vimeo.

So, go enter now. DirecTV assures us that, if your entry is good enough, they will have no problem crowning a Ravens fan champion for the second straight year. Let’s show the entire country that Ravens fans show their purple pride better than any other fans, regardless of how far from home they may be.

Good luck!

True Crime – Ravens Sideline Assault

September 26, 2011

Late in the second quarter of Sunday’s 37-7 win over the Rams, Joe Flacco scrambled out of the pocket and ran out of bounds. It was at this point that the CBS cameras picked up a heinous instance of Raven-on-Raven crime. A blow-by-blow photographic analysis is presented below:

Here we see Joe as he reaches the Ravens sideline. The clock has ticked under two minutes during the play, and so the two-minute warning is now in effect. Joe is likely ready to go talk the rest of the two-minute drill over with offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Ray Lewis is visible on the left of the screen. Suspected perpetrator of the crime, Jarret Johnson, is off screen to Lewis’ right.

Host of Ravens Game Plan on Comcast Sports Net Larry Rosen is pictured in the Ravens polo shirt, eyeing the dreamy Flacco. Lewis appears to be giving Joe some verbal encouragement. However, coming into our field of vision are the assault weapons, a water bottle and some stray ice cubes.

As Lewis continues to chastise Joe for not being in church on Sunday or something similar, we see that Rosen has noticed the weapons. However, it is much too late for him to warn Joe in time. Things are about to get very violent on the Baltimore sideline.

BOOM! The ice and bottle crash into an unsuspecting Flacco. Lewis is immediately speechless for once. Now, and only now, can we see our main suspect, Johnson. Having already hurled his icy projectiles, his nonchalant demeanor belies his guilty conscience. Does he regret what he’s done to his quarterback? Does he wish he could take it all back? Let’s have a look…

With a knowing smirk, Johnson gives the aura of the schoolyard bully who just gave Flacco a wedgie. Lewis and Rosen are seen having a good laugh at Joe’s expense, and it is only now that we realize they are nothing but sidekicks of the bully, far from innocent bystanders. Lewis was obviously just distracting Joe with his incessant jibber-jabber, allowing Johnson the time he needed to prepare his assault. One could surmise that Rosen is, in actuality, the mastermind of the crime.

We can’t see Flacco’s face, but we can only imagine the anger that Johnson has awoken. Joe is surely planning his swift and immediate reven…


Oh for crying out loud, Joe, suck it up. It’s only ice.

Ravens 37 Rams 7 (The TORREY SMITH MIGHT NOT BE A "BUST" Game)

September 26, 2011

The Ravens bounced back in a big way from their disappointing loss in Tennessee, crushing the overmatched Rams in St. Louis 37-7 yesterday, on the strength of not one, not two, but THREE first quarter Joe Flacco-to-Torrey Smith touchdown strikes.

It was a hell of a coming out party for the rookie wide receiver from Maryland, whom many Ravens fans have been quick to label a bust, calling him the next Travis Taylor or Mark Clayton. Smith, though, not only did something those two never did, he did something that no NFL wide receiver has EVER done – caught touchdowns on each of his first three career receptions. Some who watched the game might point out that Smith caught a short screen from Flacco in between touchdowns 1 and 2 (the play where Anquan Boldin was mistakenly flagged originally), but that pass was behind the line of scrimmage, so goes down in the books as a running play, not a pass reception.

It wasn’t just Smith setting records, though he was obviously a huge part of it. The entire Ravens offense set a franchise mark for yards in the first half (406 yards) and in a game (553 yards). Flacco set a career high for passing yards in a single game with 389, and tied his career high with those three touchdown passes.

With Lee Evans sitting out while trying to nurse his injured ankle back to 100%, it was unclear whether or not the Rams would respect the Ravens’ downfield passing attack, which would allow them to stack the box and sell out on stopping Ray Rice. However, the Ravens’ offensive mindset was obvious from the first drive – they were going to attack the St. Louis secondary, regardless of the fact that three of their four active wideouts had 0 NFL catches entering the game. It was an aggressive scheme from Cam Cameron, and it was a welcome sight for Ravens fans.

On top of the three touchdown passes (77, 41, and 18 yards), Flacco missed Smith on two other deep throws, and failed to connect with tight end Ed Dickson on another.

On the ground, it was another ho-hum 100+ total yard performance from Rice (8 carries 79 yards, 5 receptions 83 yards), and Ricky Williams added 42 yards on 5 carries, including a 28 yard scamper on which he showed an explosiveness we had yet to see from #34.

On defense, the Ravens dominated the Rams’ offensive line, collapsing it and getting good pressure on quarterback Sam Bradford from the outset. After failing to register a sack in Nashville, they got to the St. Louis signal caller five times (by five different players), and harassed him countless others throughout the game. Though they failed to record the shutout, they also scored their first touchdown of the season, when Haloti Ngata put a cherry on his great week by scooping and scoring for his first career six-pointer.

It’s hard to find much to complain about after a 37-7 beatdown, but here are a few nit-picky things that could be an issue moving forward against teams that aren’t better suited to playing in the SEC.

  • Cam Cameron, though he had a brilliant game plan that the team executed to near perfection, still did some things that had us scratching our heads. On one sequence early in the second quarter, the Ravens faced 3rd-and-1 from the Rams 45-yard line, and ran consecutive empty-backfield passing plays. Flacco picked up the first down on 4th by scrambling for five yards but…come on man. Didn’t we hear all offseason that the focus was to fix the power running game? You’ve got Vonta Leach and Ray Rice…pound the ball in there twice and get a damn yard the old fashioned way.
  • As for Harbaugh, his decision to continue not only playing Joe Flacco late in a blowout game, but to have him still dropping back and throwing the ball was another head-scratcher. With the game well in hand, Flacco took several nasty shots from the Rams defense, which continued to blitz and often got home with it. Why risk getting your quarterback hurt in that situation? Harbaugh said his reason was to give Joe more time with Smith, LaQuan Williams, and Tandon Doss but…come on. We can do that in practice. If you’re up by 30 in the fourth quarter, it’s Tyrod Taylor time.
  • Speaking of odd personnel decisions…your new $40 million defensive tackle playing tight end on the goal line when you’re already up 21-0?
  • Michael Oher. Ugh. No false start penalties, but flags for both illegal hands to the face and holding.
  • The secondary had a decent day thanks to the strong pass rush, but there are still holes. Cary Williams continues to disappoint after a relatively strong preseason, and it seems that teams are starting to pick on him. Hopefully the Ravens can survive the Jets next week and go into the bye at 3-1, then get rookie Jimmy Smith on the field with Lardarius Webb and/or Chris Carr.

The Ravens have now outscored their opposition 72-14 in their two wins this year. Trouncing the Rams, who play in the woeful NFC West, is nothing to beat your chest about, but stomping inferior teams is something that championship contenders need to do, and the Ravens did just that on Sunday.

Bring on the Jets.

Ravens (1-1) @ Rams (0-2)

September 23, 2011

The Ravens’ wound-licking from the beating they took in Nashville finally comes to an end Sunday. Unfortunately for them, they find themselves facing a fellow wounded animal of a team in the winless St. Louis Rams. St. Louis nearly won the NFC West in 2010, and had hoped to take the next step in 2011; the next step being of course, not only winning the division, but doing it with a winning record (7-9 earned the Seahawks a home playoff game last season). They find themselves desperate for a win coming off a short week in which they fell in New York to the Giants by a score of 28-16.

Those of us that watched that Monday night contest saw a Rams team with some strengths that look to potentially match up quite favorably for them with many of the weaknesses the Ravens displayed in Nashville. Second-year quarterback Sam Bradford – lucky him – has a head coach and offensive coordinator who actually trust him to run a hurry-up offense, and St. Louis has moved the ball extremely effectively between the 20’s through two games, but have been undone by some red zone woes.

Bradford lost his favorite target in week 1, when wide receiver Danny Amendola went out for at least another week or two with a dislocated elbow. They may also be operating without stud running back Steven Jackson, who has also been out since opening day. Jackson was limited in practice on Thursday. Even without Amendola, the Rams have had some guys step up, as four other wideouts have caught passes from Bradford (this, of course, more than doubles the number of WRs that Joe Flacco has connected with so far). Brandon Gibson and Mike Sims-Walker combined for 10 catches at the Meadowlands, while Danario Alexander is the team’s main deep threat, averaging over 40 yards on 3 receptions.

Even with that group of no-names, the Rams may have some degree of success against the depleted Ravens’ secondary. Dominique Foxworth is quickly becoming 2011’s version of Frank Walker or Fabian Washington, as his surgically repaired knee is still causing him pain and has rendered him largely uneffective. John Harbaugh hinted that Foxworth may get a rest this week, in the hopes of healing up more. This does no favors for the Ravens, who are already without Jimmy Smith. Chris Carr says that he hopes to play Sunday, but how many plays will he be out there before his injured quad flares up again? Cary Williams was toasted in Tennessee, and will need to bounce back quickly. Lardarius Webb has been the team’s best CB through two games, and rookie Chykie Brown may see his first NFL action against the Rams.

Long story short, the Rams will test the Ravens through the air. Bradford doesn’t possess the quick release that Matt Hasselbeck used so effectively, but you can bet getting the ball out on time will factor heavily into St. Louis’ game plan after watching film on the purple and black. Hitting the young quarterback early and often will go a long way toward coming out of the Edward Jones Dome with a victory. Watching Monday’s game, once the Giants were able to get in Bradford’s face, they slowed the former greatest show on turf considerably.

One tactic the Ravens won’t be able to use to slow the hurry-up is the ol’ “fake an injury” formation. With the Giants doing so extremely blatantly on Monday, this issue has become the overblown story of the young season. The refs will undoubtedly be on high alert for such shenanigans in all games this week, but especially the one in St. Louis.

When the Ravens have the ball, they will look to reestablish the power running game that had so much success against Pittsburgh before sputtering in week 2. The Rams allowed 236 and 119 yards rushing, respectively, in their first two games, and they couldn’t stop the Giants at all late in the game Monday even when everybody in the stadium knew they were going to run the ball. Philadelphia’s Lesean McCoy gave them fits all afternoon, and his skill set very closely matches that of one Ray Rice. The Ravens’ best offensive play a week ago was the screen pass to Rice, but for some reason they only ran it once.


The Rams have a high-pressure pass defense, and they racked up three sacks in each game so far. They blitz from all over the place, and the Ravens’ O-line will need to rebound and – like the rest of the team – play more like they did against Pittsburgh than like they did against the Titans, or Joe will be running for his life all afternoon yet again. Lee Evans could miss the game, which means the young wideouts – Torrey Smith, Tandon Doss, LaQuan Williams – will need to grow up quick and finally make a contribution to the team.

Basically, if you have Ray Rice on your fantasy team, feel good about starting him Sunday. If you have Flacco or any of the Ravens’ wideouts…you’d probably be well served looking for better options.

These two teams haven’t met since the “Battle of the Backups” game back in 2007, a 22-3 Ravens win. I don’t see this one being nearly as much of a laugher, but the Ravens should rebound and get to 2-1. A more efficient red zone offense from the good guys propels them to the victory.

Ravens 20 Rams 13

Lookalikes! St. Louis Rams Edition

September 22, 2011

The Ravens haven’t played the Rams since back in ’07, when the Nest was in its infancy. As such, we’ve never had the pleasure of putting together Lookalikes! for the St. Louis squad. That is, until today!

Let’s get to it:

To stop the Rams on Sunday, the Ravens will have to deal with their no-huddle attack, led by wonderboy second-year quarterback Sam Bradford. If they can’t Ravens fans will be screaming “(Apolo) OH, NO!” all afternoon.


That was a horrible joke. I’m sorry. To make it up to you, I’m going to bring in defensive tackle Gary Gibson, who spends his offseasons as comedian Joe Rogan. On with the good jokes, Gary!

When I saw a picture of wide receiver Dominique Curry, I was immediately reminded of the Princess in Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls.

I think he said she is not a virgin.

“They can tell that???” (8:15 of video in link)

Now, you all know by now that I can’t do a Lookalikes! post without some fictional characters sprinkled in.

Here we have tight end Billy Bajema, whom Nick-a-What!? shrewdly identified as being peas-in-a-pod with “Brain” from the 90’s cartoon “Pinky and the Brain:”

Two weeks ago, the Ravens played the Steelers and their friendly ogre-looking offensive lineman Chris Kemoeatu. Well, the Rams have an ogre on their o-line as well, guard Tony Wragge, but he doesn’t look nearly as nice as Kemo/Shrek:

Damn, that’s one hell of a brow.

As always, Go Ravens!

GOOBVISION: Ravens @ Rams

September 21, 2011

This week, with the Ravens traveling to St. Louis, Goob takes a look at some adjustments that need to be “rammed” into the Ravens’ heads, playbooks, and…other places.