Archive for the ‘Ravens’ Category

Remembering the Regular Season: Great Memory #8 – Undefeated at Home

January 7, 2012

With a 20-13 victory over the Cleveland Browns in Week 16 (a game that was much closer than it should have been), the Ravens capped off their first ever undefeated season at M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore, since coming into the league in 1996, has still never posted a losing record at home (they’ve gone 4-4 a small handful of times). The Ravens went 7-1 at home in 2006 and 2010, but had never managed a perfect 8-0 until this year.

They joined Green Bay and New Orleans as the only teams to pull off that feat during the 2011 season, and they are now 27-5 at home in the Flacco/Harbaugh era.

Hopefully they can continue their winning ways through at least one (and hopefully two) more games at “The Vault” (or “The Bank,” or “The Flocktagon” if you prefer) here in January, and finish off the entire 2011-12 NFL year unblemished on Russel Street.


Remembering the Regular Season: Great Memory #7 – Finally Beat the Colts

January 6, 2012

The Indianapolis Colts came to town in Week 14, but it certainly wasn’t the typical horseshoes we were used to seeing. Indy entered the game winless, at 0-12, as they had played the entire season without Peyton Manning. Many Ravens fans were having nightmares, remembering the 2007 season when B’More went to Miami and lost to a then 0-13 Dolphins squad.

This game was never in question though, as the Ravens finally put to rest a decade’s worth of frustrations, beating Indy for the first time since 2001.

It was a cathartic victory for all Ravens fans, young and old. The older generation who still remembers when the Colts were ours will always light up when a Baltimore team beats and Indianapolis one. The younger generation (the “get over it” crowd) was just glad to finally get a win after being beaten down by Manning year after year after year.

Eric DeCosta Staying in Baltimore

January 6, 2012

Ravens’ Director of  Player Personnel Eric DeCosta, whose name has been thrown around this week as a potential General Manager candidate for several teams, will not be going anywhere.

According to the team’s official Twitter account, DeCosta will be staying in Baltimore.

This comes as a great relief to Ravens fans. It’s no secret that DeCosta is the GM-in-waiting in Baltimore, prepared to take over whenever Ozzie Newsome decides to retire from the Ravens and (likely) head back to his Alma mater the University of Alabama. Eric is one of the great football minds in the game, and has been with the Ravens since graduating with a Master’s Degree from Trinity College in 1996.

The Ravens obviously have a great deal of confidence in DeCosta’s abilities to eventually be a successful GM, as they almost undoubtedly had to increase his pay to entice him to stay, with all these other teams requesting his services.

Remembering the Regular Season: Great Memory #6 – A Thanksgiving Harbowl Victory

January 6, 2012

This past November, the Ravens played in their first ever Thanksgiving game. It was the NFL Network’s prime time game, the one that fans all over the country would have to fight their tryptophan comas to stay up and watch. As it turned out the made-for-TV storyline of brother vs. brother won out over the lure of cozy beds (or at least, they turned the game on before passing out), as the game was the Network’s most-watched program EVER.

John Harbaugh took on his little brother Jim’s San Francisco 49ers in what was dubbed the “HarBowl” or “Harbaugh Bowl” by the national hype machine. When the schedule first came out, this game looked like a cake walk for the Ravens – San Francisco hadn’t won the NFC West since 2002, and they were annually near the bottom of that traditionally poor division. However, Jim – like his brother John before him – took a losing team and immediately made them winners. The 49ers rolled into town with the NFL’s second best record, at 9-1. Quarterback Alex Smith, widely considered a first round “bust,” was playing the best football of his career, managing the game so San Fran’s strong running attack and suffocating defense could do their things.

The game was a slug fest, with Baltimore taking a 6-3 lead into the half, and scoring the game’s only touchdown on a Joe Flacco to Dennis Pitta strike from eight yards out. The Ravens’ defense bruised and battered Smith, tying a franchise record with nine sacks, while the Baltimore crowd backed them every step of the way (the stadium was the loudest I’ve ever personally heard it, though to be fair, I wasn’t at the season opener against Pittsburgh).

With these two locking down the #2 playoff seeds in their respective conferences, it isn’t too far-fetched to think that we could be in for another “HarBowl” here in the pretty near future – one that would have much higher stakes.

(Again, beware the music)

Remembering the Regular Season: Great Memory #5 – Flacco's "Drive of the Year" to beat Pittsburgh

January 5, 2012

Chronologically, this is great memory #5 in our “Remembering the Regular Season” series, but I have a feeling it is #1 in the hearts of just about every Ravens’ fan.

For the second consecutive year, Joe Flacco threw a final-minute touchdown pass at Heinz Field to beat the Steelers and send the yinzers home cryin’ in their towels. In 2010, his strike to T.J. Houshmandzadeh capped off a relatively short game-winning drive. This year, the odds were stacked even more strongly against late-game heroics – Joe and the offense took over at their own eight yard line with 2:24 on the clock, one timeout, and trailing 20-16.

What Flacco did next earned him the distinction of “Drive of the Year” (scroll to the bottom) by the website

Against their bitter rival, the Ravens trailed 20-16 with 2:24 left, one timeout, and needing to go 92 yards against one of the best defenses in the league. The often criticized Joe Flacco put a signature win on his resume with a near-flawless drive, throwing for all 92 of the yards, and overcoming some drops by his receivers. It’s an easy choice for Drive of the Year, given the ramifications it had on the AFC this season. Without the drive, the Ravens are likely preparing to go to Denver as the 5th seed right now, while the Steelers would have had the No. 1 seed, and home-field advantage over the Patriots and everyone else.

For a season that produced many great comebacks, no drive had the kind of impact and degree of difficulty as Baltimore stunning Pittsburgh to complete a season sweep.

Torrey Smith, whose holding penalty negated Ray Rice’s long touchdown run on the Ravens’ first offensive play, and who failed to tap his toes in the end zone a bit later, AND who dropped what should have been the game-winner earlier in the drive, redeemed himself by catching the game-winning score on their last play.

It was an incredible win for the Ravens, and one that ended up being extremely crucial to their current status as the AFC’s #2 seed. Here are three great videos that every Ravens fan could watch on repeat for hours on end.

Remembering the Regular Season: Great Memory #4 – Largest Comeback in Team History

January 5, 2012

As the second quarter of the Ravens’ Week 8 game drew to a close, it certainly didn’t look like any “great” memories would be made that day – not for Ravens fans anyway…maybe for Cardinals fans. Arizona had come into Baltimore and, on the strength of a sack-fumble deep in Baltimore territory, a Torrey Smith drop that became an interception, and a long punt return touchdown rookie Patrick Peterson, taken a commanding 24-3 lead with just under four minutes left in the half.

This was immediately following the Monday Night loss in Jacksonville, and it looked like the entire season was unraveling before our eyes.

Then the Ravens started to play.

Specifically, Anquan Boldin had absolutely no interest in letting his old team come into his new home and smack him around. Boldin – with plenty of assists from Joe Flacco – took over.

After pulling to within 24-6 with a late first half field goal, the Ravens took the opening kick of the second half and went 80 yards on seven plays to make the score 24-13. Forty-eight of those yards were courtesy of Boldin – a great catch along the sideline for 37 and an 11 yard pass interference flag in the end zone.

Later in the third, Boldin had what may have been the series of his life: Six receptions on 10 plays, good for 89 yards and another PI flag – again in the end zone – for good measure. That’s right: Q generated an even 100 yards on the drive (it didn’t start at the goalline – a Ravens penalty set them back during the course of the series).

With the Ravens now trailing 24-20, Boldin would draw ANOTHER pass interference call near the end zone (this one at the 3), setting up Ray Rice’s third touchdown of the day as Baltimore took a 27-24 lead just one play into the fourth.

It would take a Billy Cundiff field goal as time expired to put the finishing touches on the win, but in the end it was the largest deficit ever overcome by a Baltimore Ravens team. Boldin finished his day with 7 receptions for 145 yards, and his pass interference flags set up each of Rice’s three short scores.

It wasn’t easy, but without Boldin and this giant comeback, we wouldn’t be talking about an undefeated season at M&T Bank Stadium.

Remembering the Regular Season: Great Memory #3 – Rex's Creation Destroys Him

January 4, 2012

Rex Ryan was the Ravens’ defensive coordinator from 2005-2008. Since he left following the 2008 season to be the head coach of the New York Jets, he has turned their defense into one very similar to that of the Ravens (though they had a bit of a down year in 2011). While the two teams met in New York in the 2010 opener, Week 4 of 2011 was Rex’s first “homecoming” to Baltimore.

The Ravens’ defense, many of whom had played under Rex and still love him, were eager to show their former chief that they hadn’t skipped a beat after he left town.

And they did exactly that.

On the Jets’ first snap, Ed Reed blitzed off the edge and caused a Mark Sanchez fumble that Jameel McClain would recover in the end zone for a Raven’ touchdown. The Ravens only scored four defensive touchdowns during the 2011 regular season, but the final THREE of them would come in this game. Haloti Ngata also caused a Sanchez fumble that went for six the other way, and Lardarius Webb threw in an interception returned for a score.

After the game, linebacker Jarret Johnson said this of his former coach: “Rex created us, now he has to deal with us.”

Terrell Suggs vs. Skip Bayless….Again (Video)

January 4, 2012

At this point it seems like Terrell Suggs should just be an every day guest on ESPN’s “First Take.” Once again Tuesday he took on windbag Skip Bayless, and Sizzle was absolutely entertaining and engaging as always. Here’s a short clip of the exchange.

Skip is nothing but a professional troll at this point, but he and Suggs seem to truly enjoy their little banter sessions. And Suggs is also ratings gold for ESPN; following his appearance, he was trending both in the US and Worldwide on Twitter. To hear the entire clip, listen to the First Take podcast at the link below (Suggs starts at about the 46 minute mark).

Remembering the Regular Season: Great Memory #2 – Torrey Ain't No "Bust"

January 4, 2012

Many Ravens fans were elated when former Maryland Terrapin wide receiver Torrey Smith fell to Baltimore in the second round of the 2011 draft. We had watched Torrey torch ACC defenses during his time in College Park and he seemed like the perfect burner to compliment Anquan Boldin and let Joe Flacco’s shoulder howlitzer unleash its true potential.

However, a shaky preseason had many of those same fans knee-jerking like fools and throwing around the “bust” label before #82 had even had a chance to get his feet under him. It’s a very rare thing for a wideout to come in and make an immediate impact, but in today’s “what have you done lately?” world of instant gratification, people expected Torrey to be Randy Moss as soon as he stepped foot on an NFL field.

After not catching a single ball over the seasons first two games, the “bust” cries on local airwaves had only gotten louder as Torrey made his first start in Week 3 in St. Louis.

Replacing the injured Lee Evans, Torrey answered the doubters in a huge way. His first THREE NFL receptions went for touchdowns, as he and Flacco hooked up for scores of 74, 41, and 18 yards in the first quarter against the Rams.

Torrey’s rookie campaign continued to have its ups and downs, but there were far more ups when it was all said and done. Hopefully Smith, who has shown a gear that not many Ravens’ receivers have ever possessed, can continue to make positive impacts and big plays in the postseason.

(I apologize for the music in this video – make sure you turn your sound down/off before hitting play)

Remembering the Regular Season: Great Memory #1 – Ravens 35 Steelers 7

January 3, 2012

While they’ve been in the playoffs every year that we’ve been around save for one, this is the first time since the Nest has been in existence that the Ravens have earned a postseason bye. We find ourselves unsure of how to best fill the time. Instead of letting the wheel-spinning “moves” that the Orioles are making rain on our purple euphoria parade, I thought it best to use this time to reflect on what may have been the most satisfying regular season in Ravens history.

While we all obviously hope that there are plenty more great memories yet to be written by this 2011-12 Ravens’ squad, it seems as good a time as any, as we wait to find out who our first playoff opponent will be, to do some reminiscing.

Great Memory #1 – Week 1 – Ravens 35 Steelers 7

The Ravens started off the 2011 season with quite a bang, spanking their hated rivals from the opening whistle. Ray Rice’s first run of the year was a 36 yard gain. Joe Flacco’s first pass of the year was a 27-yard touchdown strike to Anquan Boldin. Terrell Suggs’ first sack of the year caused a fumble that was recovered by Haloti Ngata. The Ravens took a 14-0 first quarter lead, caused a total of seven Steeler turnovers (5 by Ben Roethlisberger), took turns blowing up Hines Ward, and cruised to a four touchdown win.

It was a great day for all Ravens fans, but it was a day that will always be extra special for us here at the Nest. We watched the game at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Morehead City, North Carolina, because the previous day Goob had gotten married in beautiful Beaufort, NC.

His wedding/Ravens vs. Steelers video tells the story better than words can, so let’s take a few minutes and reflect on just how awesome Week 1 of the 2011 season was.