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Week Twelve Observations

November 27, 2012 in Observations

Down by 10 points with only 8 minutes left in the game, the 9-2 Baltimore Ravens found a way to force overtime and then win 16-13 against the 4-7 San Diego Chargers.

Joe Flacco
Finally, Joe Flacco has a good game on the road this season.  Even then, you can still argue that he only played good at the end of the game but, you want your quarterback to play good at this point in the game and Flacco did just this.  In the first half the Ravens had a total of 110 total yards and in the second half they had 333 yards.  Flacco was 8-of-16 for 59 yards in the first.  The second half (plus OT) was much better as he went 22-of-35 for 296 yards and 1 TD.  When the offense was doing good, they were running the hurry up offense.  Even though this hasn't worked on the road the whole year, it worked yesterday because Qualcomm Stadium isn't very loud.  In overtime, Flacco had a great throw to WR Torrey Smith for 31 yards on a 3rd and 10.  This put the Ravens in field goal range and they just lined the ball up with the middle of the field and kicked after this play.  If Flacco can play like he did in the second half, then the Ravens are serious Super Bowl contenders.  If he plays like he did in the first half though, they could be in some trouble.  On deep passes alone, Flacco overthrew his receivers 5 times.  A few of these the receiver was wide open and probably would have scored.  He almost threw an INT on one of these as Chargers S Eric Weddle dove and the pass hit him on the fingers.  Flacco just didn't comfortable in the first half.  In the second half he still had some mistakes like on a key 4th and inches inside the Chargers 20 yardline.  Flacco audibled from the original call and the play was stopped for a big loss and more importantly, the Ravens lost a chance for at least 3 points.  He was also very lucky that Weddle wasn't able to corral a pass before he fell out-of-bounds late in regulation. By the time the game was over, Flacco was 30-of-51 for 355 yards, with 1 TD, and had a QBR of 40.2 and QB rating of 86.6.  These were season highs in completions and attempts and his 355 yards were the most he has thrown for this season on the road.

Ray Rice
Rice had one of the best plays that I have seen in a while and quite possibly it was the play of the year.  If you haven't seen it yet or just want to see it again, here it is.  It was 4th and 29 for the Ravens with 1:59 left in the game and they were down by 3.  All of the receivers went deep but none were open.  Therefore, Flacco just dumped it off to Rice and hoped for the best, which happened.  Flacco said“I didn’t just want to throw a Hail Mary, I wanted to give somebody a chance.”  Rice caught it at the line-of-scrimmage and cut across the field to get the first down.  On the play, Rice directly broke 4 tackles and there were 8 Chargers players near him.  Still this wasn't enough to get the first down.  Wide receiver Anquan Boldin came in and leveled S Eric Weddle and in the process

Bernard Pierce

Ravens backup RB Bernard Pierce.

took out another defender.  This gave Rice the room to dive for the first down which he made by about half a yard.  Some people, like Chargers QB Philip Rivers don't think Rice made the first down but, most do.  Rivers said "He did not get the first down. They just did not have a view to overturn it. He did not get it,” he said. “You can't help it. When you don't have a view to overturn it, you cannot overturn it." Former head of officials for the NFL, Mike Pereira, said "I think it probably was a first down."  Either way it was great effort by Rice. Believe it or not, Rice contributed to the game in other ways.  He ran for 97 yards on 22 carries and had 8 catches for 67 yards on 9 targets.  However, he did drop an easy screen pass where he had two blockers and open field in front of him.  Lastly, I am still wondering why Rice wasn't in at RB on the key 4th and inches play.  It was an important play so you would expect the Ravens to have him in for the play.

Bernard Pierce
The other half of the Ravens run game, in Pierce, had a good game also.  He had 9 rushes for 34 yards and a long of 18 yards.  On this 18 yard run he was just tripped up and if he wasn't, he would have been off to the races and probably would have scored.  Another good run by him was on a 3rd and 1 where he took toss and got the first and ended it with an amazing hurdle.  As talked about with Rice, Pierce was on the field for the 4th and inches and never really had a chance to convert it as the Chargers were in the backfield straight away.

Anquan Boldin
Early in the game, Boldin had a rare drop on a curl route which would have give the Ravens a first down on 3rd and 10.  He still was able to get first downs on both of his catches though.  On the first one he wouldn't go down without a fight and he put his shoulder down and hit S Atari Bigby hard causing rookie CB Asa Jackson to go crazy on the sideline.  The other first down was in OT on a 3rd and 10 from their own 10 for 23 yards.  This wasn't the drive that led to the game winning field goal but it gave the Ravens some momentum and helped flip field position.  As I said above, if it wasn't for his block on Weddle, Rice wouldn't have reached the first down marker.  This block also gave Weddle a concussion.  Lastly, Boldin had an uncharacteristic unnecessary roughness penalty where he blocked a Charger hard after the whistle.

Jacoby Jones
Like Boldin, Jones had an uncharacteristic drop which hit him right in the hands on a 2nd and 10 which would have been enough for a first down. Late in the game, when it mattered most, he had his hands as he had 3 catches on the Ravens only TD drive.  On the next drive he had 2 catches for 8 yards.  He totaled 5 catches for 50 yards on 7 targets.  On special teams, he injured his ankle on a kickoff return but was able to return.  Due to this, Tandon Doss took over as punt returner twice.  When it mattered most though, Jones was back there and returned a punt to the Ravens 40 yardline to set up their final drive in regulation.

Torrey Smith
This was an atypical game for Torrey Smith but he still put up great numbers.  Smith is known around the league as a deep threat but yesterday, it was his underneath game that was key.  According to ESPN Stats and Information, "Torrey Smith did most of his damage on short passes, catching a career-high six passes for 113 yards on throws 10 yards or fewer downfield. Smith had a career-high 82 yards after the catch, with 79 coming on those short passes. Smith entered the day with 42.9 percent of his targets coming on short throws, while seven of his 13 targets [yesterday] came on short throws (53.8 percent).”  It was also Smith's 4 career 100 yard receiving game.  Another impressive stat is Smith's 6 first downs on his 7 catches.  I am pretty sure this is a season and even career high but I'm not 100% sure on that.  The play that sparked the Ravens offense in the second half came from Smith on a 54 yard catch and run.  It was a shallow crossing run and Smith caught it 4 yards downfield and ran the rest.  This was the Ravens longest offensive play of the season.  In OT Smith played great, drawing a pass interference call of 11 yards on the second drive and had the catch that set up the field goal.  In the middle of the game, Smith missed a few plays with a thigh bruise, but based on is play later, he is fine.

Torrey Smith

Ravens WR Torrey Smith.

Dennis Pitta
As usual, Pitta produces good stats and ended up with the Ravens only TD.  This TD was the Ravens first offensive TD since the week 10 Raiders game.  To put that in perspective, it was about 23 possessions and 139 minutes which equals just over 9 quarters or 2 games and 1 quarter.  He had 6 catches for 42 yards on 9 targets.  Of these 6 catches, half of them were for first downs.  On the final OT drive, Pitta had a key catch on a 3rd and 4.

Offensive Line
By giving up 5 sacks for a loss of 39 yards I am going to say this was the worst performance by the line this year.  They will have to get their act together fast as they face the Steelers potent pass rush this week.  Starting from the right side, RT Kelechi Osemele probably had his worst game of his short career.  The only good point I have for him was he had a good block on Rice's 16 yard run on the Ravens first drive.  Osemele gave up 2 sacks for a loss of about 11 yards.  The first sack was on a first down and the second was with less than 1 minute left in the first half. Both times he was beat to the outside.  On the 4th and inches play, Osemele was completely beat off the line.  Marshal Yanda, the RG, was able to draw an offsides call by moving after a Chargers lineman jumped. On the flip side, Yanda was called for a hold on a screen play with just over 2 minutes left in the game which gave the Ravens a 2nd and 20.  This was one of the reasons the Ravens had a 4th and 29.  The penalty call was close but the it was the right call despite Yanda being upset.  The hold wasn't necessary to the play so Yanda only has himself to blame. Center Matt Birk had another uneventful game.  Left guard Jah Reid, was called for a false start.  Finally, LT Michael Oher also missed his block on the 4th and inches run.  Just as bad, Oher gave up a sack at the 2 minute warning giving the Ravens a 4th and 29.  Two more general observations are there was a sack on 3rd and 10 where Chargers DE Corey Liuget split Reid and Birk.  The last sack came from an untouched blitzer.  All of the linemen were blocking someone so there just wasn't enough people in to block.

Arthur Jones (white)

Ravens DE Arthur Jones in white.

Arthur Jones
Jones easily had his best career game yesterday as he recorded his first 2 career sacks.  The first came on a 2nd and 6.  Terrell Suggs lined up outside of him and stunted in while Jones went to the outside.  This allowed Jones to get to Rivers. The second sack came on a 3rd and 5.  He just straight up blew up the guard on the play.  He was one-on-one because the Chargers were more worried about Suggs on the outside and other rushers on the other side.  His impact wasn't just on the passing game either.  On one run play, Jones blew up a double team by the tackle and guard and stopped a run for a loss of 1 yard.  If Jones can keep playing this way, the defensive line will be in much better shape.

Dannell Ellerbe
On a 3rd and 7, Ellerbe blitzed up the middle and got the sack with a big hit on Rivers.  He also stuffed a 3rd and 1 run inside the Ravens 30 yardline.  However, the Chargers went for it on 4th down and got it.  He was beat once in pass coverage by TE Antonio Gates but this was while he was limping because of an ankle injury.  This injury eventually took him out of the game and he was replaced by Brendon Ayenbedejo who played great in pass coverage.  Despite the injury he finished with 6 tackles.

Terrell Suggs
This game was literally filled up the stat chart as on ESPN he filled up every column except the TD one.  On a 3rd and 2, Suggs batted down a pass.  His sack came on a 2nd and 10 inside the Ravens 25.  This pushed a field goal attempt back 7 yards but it was still made.  The sack did kill the Chargers momentum on that drive.  In the run game, Suggs stopped a toss play despite a double team.  He got pressure and was able to force the RB to keep going outside allowing the rest of the defense to catchup with the play.

Paul Kruger
With his sack on the Chargers first third down on their first drive, Kruger now has a sack in his 3rd straight game and has a total of 4 sacks in those games.  On his sack he pushed the blocker right back into the backfield.  He also got good pressure on Ellerbe's sack.

Cary Williams
Cary only gave up 4 catches in man coverage but, 3 of them were for first downs and the other was the Chargers only TD.  However, he made up for all of this with a great pass breakup on a 3rd and 4 on the Chargers first OT drive.

Corey Graham
I only counted 2 passes completed on Graham.  This is always good and Graham also blized a few times and had good pressure on Ellerbe's sack.  He almost had a pick 6 but the receiver just got a finger on the ball to deflect it.  On a 2nd and 7 with 3:30 left in the game, Graham had a great pass breakup on a pass that would have been a first down.  On the next play the Chargers didn't get the first down and had to punt.

Remember to check out our SPORTS Trivia Nights in Baltimore at Plug Ugly's on Monday nights @ 7 p.m.! See you this Monday!

 

 

Week Twelve Injury Report

November 24, 2012 in Injury Reports

Baltimore Homepage

Ravens

Out
CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen)

Doubtful
CB Chris Johnson (hamstring)

Dennis Pitta

Ravens starting TE Dennis Pitta is probable this week after suffering a concussion last week against the Steelers.

Questionable
DE Pernell McPhee (thigh)

Probable
DT Terrence Cody (elbow)
TE Ed Dickson (neck)
LB Dannell Ellerbe (toe and finger)
S James Ihedigbo (neck)
WR Jacoby Jones (ankle)
DT Haloti Ngata (shoulder)
TE Dennis Pitta (head)
S Bernard Pollard (chest)
S Ed Reed (shoulder)
OLB Terrell Suggs (shoulder and ankle)
LB Brendon Ayenbadejo (shoulder)
OLB Courtney Upshaw (shoulder)
G Marshal Yanda (ankle)

Chargers

Out
OLB Larry English (calf)
WR Eddie Royal (hamstring)

Doubtful
G Tyronne Green (hamstring)
TE Dante Rosario (hamstring)

Questionable
DT Aubrayo Franklin (knee)

Probable
S Atari Bigby (shoulder)
P Mike Scifres (ankle)
G Louis Vasquez (ankle)

Week Twelve What To Look For

November 24, 2012 in What to Look For

This week the 8-2 Ravens travel to San Diego to face the 4-6 Chargers for their 4th road game in their last 5 games.

1.  Trap Game
If this isn't the definition of a trap game, I don't know what is.  The game is put right between games against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  To make matter worse, the Ravens have to travel across the country.  The Chargers are 4-6 but started the season 3-1.  They also have a hit and miss QB in Philip Rivers who has the ability to light up a secondary.  The Ravens will be banged up after their game against the Steelers and could be looking forward to the Steelers game next week as well.  Last year, the Ravens lost all of their games on the road to teams that finished under .500.  One of these was against the Chargers in week 15.  Revenge, should be on the Ravens mind as last year they were embarrassed by the Chargers.  To make matters worse, the game was on NBC's Sunday Night Football.  While the scoreboard says they lost by 20, it was in fact nowhere near as close.  The Chargers out gained the Ravens 415 to 290 and the Ravens didn't score their second touchdown until there was 1:55 left in the game.

2.  Ray Rice
Rice will probably have his 9th game with under 100 rushing yards this week.  The Chargers rank 3rd in the NFL giving up 87.9 rush yards per game.  They also have given up 3.8 yards per attempt, 4 TDs, and the longest rush they have given up is 37 yards.  Lastly, the Chargers have only allowed one person rush for over 100 yards and that was Trent Richardson who rushed for 122 yards in the Browns 7-6 victory over the Chargers.  The Ravens will have to just keep feeding Rice the ball and hope that he can wear down the Chargers front 7 by the end of the game. If the offensive line can't make any holes though, this won't work.  The passing offense hasn't been as good on the road as at home and Rice has averaged 76.2 rush yards per game on the road compared to 63.2 at home.  Also 3 of Rices 4 best rushing games have come on the road (99, 102, and 98).

Ray Rice (27)

3.  Turnovers
This is a battle between a Ravens defensive strength and a Chargers offensive weakness.  The Chargers rank tied for 14th in the AFC with 22 giveaways.  They have 14 interceptions and 8 fumbles.  Their QB Philip Rivers has accounted for all of the turnovers.  He also has a NFL high 43 turnovers since the start of the 2011 season.  The Ravens on the other hand, rank 2nd best in the NFL with a turnover differential of 12 compared to the Chargers -3.  The Ravens have forced 11 interceptions and 10 fumbles for a total of 21 turnovers forced.  This ranks them 2nd only to the New England Patriots.  An even more impressive stat is that the Ravens have forced 9 of their 21 turnovers on 3rd down.  This astonishing 42.9% of their forced turnovers ranks 1st in the NFL.  The Ravens opportunistic defense will need to show up against the Chargers on Sunday. Last year they didn't, and the Ravens lost 34-14 and gave up 415 total yards.  Expect the Ravens to force 2 turnovers and turn them into 10 points which will be the difference in a close game.

4.  Joe Flacco vs Eric Weddle
When you think of the top safeties in the NFL, you think of Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu.  However, Weddle has made the last two All-Pro teams and is just as good.  Polamalu is 31 years old, Reed is 34, and Weddle is 27.  Weedle doesn't get all the attention like Reed and Polamalu but over the last few years, you can argue that he has played better.  Last year he had 7 INTs and he already has 3 this year.  Flacco will need to know where Weddle is on every play.  If he doesn't Weddle could make a play that changes the game.  Flacco hasn't played well on the road this year but he can't have that on his mind as they play.  Expect the Ravens to attack the other side of the field against the other safety, Atari Bigby, who isn't nearly as good as Weddle.  The Ravens probably won't have less deep passes in the gameplan because of Weddle, but Flacco will be told to look out for Weddle on these passes.

Joe Flacco

Ed Reed's Suspension Overturned

November 20, 2012 in News

Baltimore Homepage

Only an hour ago, news came out that arbitrator Ted Cottrell has overturned the NFL's suspension of Ravens star S Ed Reed.  Instead of missing one game, Reed will only be fined $50,000 which is much less than the $423,529  he would have lost for missing one game.

Cottrell wrote to Ed Reed saying "I do not believe your actions were so egregious to warrant a one-game suspension without pay."  He also said that Reed's actions do warrant discipline and finished with "I hope in the future that you will focus on ensuring that your play conforms to the rules."  Cotrrell played football as a LB from 1969-1971 and coached from 1973-2009 where he was a defensive coordinator in the NFL for 4 different teams.

Reed will now be able to play this week in San Diego against the 4-6 Chargers.  Last year the Chargers torched the Ravens secondary for 270 yards on 23 attempts and finished with 415 yards of total offense.  Reed and the Ravens will be looking to avenge their 34-14 loss against the Chargers.

Ed Reed

Week Eleven Observations

November 20, 2012 in Observations

Baltimore Homepage

The Baltimore Ravens snuck out of Pittsburgh with a 13-10 win, despite not scoring an offensive touchdown and they are now 8-2 which puts them as the number 2 seed in the AFC and gives them a 2 game lead in the division.

Joe Flacco
The most important thing that comes from this game for Flacco, is he didn't turn the ball over.  This is always important in close games like this. The Steelers turned it over twice and the Ravens turned that into 6 points which was the difference in this game.  This game brought back memories, for me, of older Ravens teams where the QB was a game manager and just had to not lose the game.  The offense didn't score a touchdown but they still won because of the defense and special teams.  Flacco finished 20-of-32 for 164 yards with a QBR of 38.9 and a passer rating of 75.5.  As stated above though, the Ravens will be fine with this as they did enough to win the game, and in a league with no style points, this is all that matters.

Ray Rice
As I predicted here, the Ravens didn't have success with the run game.  Rice saw very few holes to run through and as a result only finished with 40 yards on 20 carries with a long of 8 yards.  The biggest contribution from Rice this game was his receiving.  He had a total of 5 catches for 53 yards on 5 targets and had a long of 31 yards.  On one key 3rd and 6, he caught a pass a few yards short of the first down but spun around right after catching it.  This move dropped Steelers LB Larry Foote to the ground allowing Rice to get the first.

Jacoby Jones
Each game this signing looks better and better.  Jones now leads the NFL with 3 return TDs now this year.  Yesterday, he had his first punt return for a TD which went for 63 yards.  The key block on this return was by backup S Sean Considine.  This return was very, very important because it was the Ravens only TD of the game.  It gave the Ravens their first lead of the game with 3:16 left in the first quarter and they never looked back.  On the offensive side, he had 2 catches for 1 yard with a long of 4 yards and was targeted 4 times.  The Ravens offense didn't get many yards his offensive output shouldn't be a concern, however his touchdown dance is a whole different conversation.

Jacoby Jones

Anquan Boldin
As usual, when the Ravens win, Boldin got first downs and was very close on many other occasions.  In total, he had 3 of his 8 catches for first downs.  On one of these first downs there was a holding penalty called on the CB covering him and on another he was able to spin away from 2 Steelers to get the extra yards need for the first down on a 3rd and 10.  Boldin was close to getting other first downs because the Ravens threw to him many times on first down for between 6 and 9 yards.  This then setup 2nd and 3rd and short opportunities.  Boldin definitely benefited from the Steelers putting CB Ike Taylor on Torrey Smith and them bracketing him with S Ryan Clark on many occasions.  Boldin finished with 8 catches for 79 yards on 12 targets and had a long of 23 yards.

Offensive Line
Overall, the offensive line did a decent job as they only allowed 2 sacks for 11 yards against a very strong Steelers defensive front.  However, they weren't able to open up any run lanes for RB Ray Rice.  Jah Reid started at LG for Bobbie Williams who was inactive with an injury.  Don't be surprised if Reid keeps the starting job for the rest of the season.  He did have a false start last night but that was his only major mistake.  Left tackle Michael Oher allowed a sack on 3rd and 2 with 2 minutes left in the game.  However, Flacco gave up at the end of this play which was for the better as the it allowed another 40 seconds to run off the clock.  If Flacco threw it away, the clock would have stopped, giving the Steelers much more time to mount a comeback.  Lastly, RT Kelechi Osemele gave up a sack on 3rd and 8 on the first play of the 4th quarter.

Paul Kruger
This makes back-to-back great games to Kruger, who is in his contract year.  On three straight Steelers drives he got a hit on Steelers QB Byron Leftwich.  The first was a sack on 3rd and 10, the next possession, also 3rd and 10, had Kruger hit Leftwich's arm as he threw the ball, causing it to fall incomplete.  The third time, he got pressure on Leftwich and hit him just after he threw the ball. All of his pressure came against rookie RT Mike Adams.  He also got good pressure on DE Haloti Ngata's sack.  On the final play of the game, Kruger batted a lateral to the ground which OLB Courtney Upshaw recovered to end the game.  The only negative from Kruger's game was he missed an easy sack on Leftwich on a key 3rd and 8.  Somehow, the Steelers didn't even block Kruger on the play but Leftwich was able to escape and completed a pass for the first down.

Paul Kruger (white)

Terrell Suggs
It came as no surprise when Suggs introduced himself as Hacksaw from Ball So Hard University.  He is known for doing unique introductions for Sunday and Monday Night Football.  Last year, he announced himself as Sizzle from Ball So Hard University.  It turns out that "Hacksaw" has a special meaning to Suggs.  He posted on his Twitter account that "Hacksaw" was a nickname for his uncle who passed away in February and Suggs wanted to pay tribute to him.  Game wise, Suggs didn't do much though.  The Steelers were able to contain his pass rush but Kruger was able to pick up the slack.  He was able to get pressure on Ngata's sack but, so did many others.  His best play was when he blew up a run by himself.  The Steelers pulled a G to try an block Suggs but he had other ideas.  Suggs dove right at the knees of the blocker which quickly took down the lineman and also caused the RB to fall down.

Bernard Pollard
On Leftwich's TD run, Pollard missed a very easy tackle which let Leftwich go for the TD.  Like Graham, he also had a big hit to breakup a pass with 20 seconds left.  This big hit injured the receiver, Jerricho Cotchery which contributed to Cotchery dropping it after the hit.  Pollard finished with 5 tackles with 1 for a loss and 1 pass breakup and was very important in stopping the Steelers run game.

James Ihedigbo
Ihedigbo made probably the most important play of his whole season with his sack of Leftwich on 3rd and 11 with 4 minutes left.  The hit visibly hurt Leftwich, and now it looks like Leftwich will be out next week.  Other than the sack, Ihedigbo made some nice special teams tackles as well. He finished with 2 tackles and the one sack.

Cornerbacks
Cary Williams had a pretty uneventful night as the Steelers targeted other DBs.  However, on the first play of the game the Steelers went deep on him and drew a 42 yard pass interference call on WIlliams.  He also broke up 1 pass when it hit him in the back.  Earlier this week, the Ravens signed veteran CB Chris Johnson and already the signing is worth it.  He forced a fumble after allowing WR Mike Wallace to get a catch.  Ed Reed then picked the ball up and returned it for a few yards.  Other than this play he wasn't on the field very much.  The biggest night for a CB goes to Corey Graham.  The Steelers tried to pick on him all night with mixed results.  Based on my count, they targeted him on 11 passes.  Of these, he only gave up 5 catches for 79 yards.  One of these catches was for 37 yards on a 3rd and 2.  Graham was able to make up for this as a few plays later, he intercepted Leftwich with a nice catch on 3rd and 8.  When the Steelers got inside the 10 yardline late in the 3rd quarter they tried two passes against Graham and both failed.  The first Graham was able to breakup and the second Graham had good enough coverage to cause Wallace to catch the ball out-of-bounds.  With 28 seconds left in the game, he had a big hit on a receiver to breakup a deep pass which was near midfield.  Overall, Graham was very impressive as coming into the season he was only known as a special teamer.

Corey Graham (far right)

Ed Reed Suspended

November 19, 2012 in News

Baltimore Homepage

Just a few hours ago the NFL announced that Ravens S Ed Reed has been suspended for 1 game for repeated violations of the rule prohibiting hits to the head and neck area of defenseless players.

During this suspension, Reed isn't allowed to be at the Ravens practice facility until after the game against the San Diego Chargers, which is this Sunday.  He will also lose his game check which is worth $423,529.

Ed Reed

Ravens star S Ed Reed has been suspended one game.

Last night, against the Steelers, Reed had his third hit in as many years.  Here is the video of Reed's hit on Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders last night and Ravens head coach John Harbaugh's statement on the subject.  The two other incidents occurred on September 23, 2012 against the New England Patriots and December 19, 2010 against the New Orleans Saints.

The hit against the Patriots was on WR Deion Branch on a pass over the middle.  You can see the hit here (skip ahead to 0:42).  Right after the play, Reed and Branch embraced each other so you can tell he didn't mean to do it. Reed was also flagged on this play and fined $21,000 for the hit.

The hit against the Saints was on QB Drew Brees and Reed was penalized for roughing the passer and was later fined $10,000 for his hit.  Unfortunately, I can't find any video footage of this play.  However, this play occurred in 2010 which was a long, long time ago by NFL standards.

Not surprisingly, Reed has already appealed his suspension and a hearing is expected on Wednesday.  My opinion on the matter is very similar to the ESPN people on this video.  The NFL may have good intentions to try and stop the helmet to helmet hits in the NFL, but they are enforcing it the wrong way.  Trey Wingo says it best a 3:27 in this video, saying the main difference in a clean hit and illegal hit is whether the receiver ducks or not.  If you go around the league, people will tell you that Ed Reed isn't at head hunter at all. For one, he has never played this way, and two he would be putting himself at risk because of his nerve damage in his neck and shoulders.  If Reed's suspension is upheld, the Ravens will start either James Ihedigbo or Sean Considine in his place.

Week Eleven Injury Report

November 17, 2012 in Injury Reports

Baltimore Homepage

Ravens

Out
CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen)

Doubtful
DE Pernell McPhee (thigh)

Dannell Ellerbe

Ravens starting ILB Dannell Ellerbe is probable with a finger injury.

Questionable
DT Terrence Cody (elbow)
S Christian Thompson (thigh)

Probable
S Sean Considine (knee and chest)
LB Dannell Ellerbe (finger)
WR Jacoby Jones (ankle)
DT Haloti Ngata (shoulder)
S Bernard Pollard (chest)
S Ed Reed (shoulder and neck)
RB Ray Rice (toe)
WR Torrey Smith (chest)
LB Terrell Suggs (ankle)
LB Courtney Upshaw (shoulder)
G Bobbie Williams (ankle)
G Marshal Yanda (ankle)

Steelers

Out
WR Antonio Brown (ankle)
T Marcus Gilbert (ankle)
S Troy Polamalu (calf)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder and rib)

Questionable
LB Stevenson Sylvester (hamstring)

Probable
CB Curtis Brown (quadricep)
S Ryan Clark (concussion)
DE Brett Keisel (shoulder)
RB Rashard Mendenhall (achilles)
T Max Starks (ankle)
CB Ike Taylor (illness)

Week Eleven What To Look For

November 17, 2012 in What to Look For

Baltimore Homepage

This week the 7-2 Baltimore Ravens travel to Pittsburgh to face the 6-3 Pittsburgh Steelers in a key divisional game on NBC's Sunday Night Football.

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1.  Ravens Cornerbacks      
This week the Ravens will start Cary Williams and Corey Graham against the Steelers.  At the beginning of the season, Williams was the number 2 CB and Graham was the 4th and mainly a special teamer.  The nickel back will be Chykie Brown, who was 5th on the depth chart.  Just this week, the new number 2 corner, due to injuries, Jimmy Smith, had surgery for a sports hernia and will be out for a while.  Due to this, the Ravens went out and signed veteran Chris Johnson.  This should provide some depth but, it is unknown when he will be ready to play as he didn't even attend a training camp this summer.  Last week, against the Raiders, the secondary gave up 368 passing yards and Corey Graham played decently.  If he can play the same this week against Byron Leftwich and the Steelers, I am sure the Ravens will be happy.  Expect the Steelers to come after him early and often.  The same goes for Brown in the slot.

2.  Joe Flacco
According to ESPN's Jamison Hensley, Flacco has played surprisingly good in Pittsburgh.  The last two times they played in Pittsburgh, Flacco has thrown a game winning TD pass with under 1 minute left in the game.  This year has been different for Flacco though as he has been so inconsistent.  At home he is averaging 322.4 passing yards per game and on the road he has averaged 179.75 yards.  For his career, he has averaged 196.7 pass yards at Heinz Field, but the last time they played he had 300 pass yards.  This week he will go up against the number one pass defense in the league.  The Steelers are allowing 171.1 yards per game.  They also rank 5th in the NFL in rush defense, allowing 94.6 yards per game.  The game plan going into Pittsburgh has to be passing the ball though.  The Steelers have always been weak in the secondary, relying on their front seven to get pressure and this year is no different.  If the Ravens can stop the Steelers pass rush, Flacco could have a field day. However, the receivers will have to get separation which has been a problem so far this year and the offense will have to be on the same page due to the noise.  I'm not saying abandon the run, but if they Ravens want to beat the Steelers, they will probably have to do it in the air, not on the ground.

Joe Flacco

3.  Tight Ends
This applies to both teams as whenever their TEs are playing well, the offense is doing good.  The Steelers have veteran Heath Miller who has 43 catches for 431 yards and 6 TDs.  The Ravens have a combo of Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson who have combined for 49 catches for 520 yards and 3 TDs.  Both Pitta and Dickson are key targets on third downs and get many first downs.  Pitta has quickly become one of Flacco's favorite targets because of his great hands.  The Steelers and Ravens like to target their TEs in the redzone to exploit the size mismatches.  For the Ravens on defense they will have to stop Miller as he will likely be a safety blanket for QB Byron Leftwich who will start for the injured Ben Roethlisberger.  On offense for the Ravens expect Pitta to have 5 or more catches with at least 3 for first downs.

4.  Terrell Suggs
Over his career, the Steelers have become one of Suggs's favorite teams to play, and definitely his favorite to hate.  In last years week one matchup, he had 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles and the second time they played he had an INT.  While Suggs has played in the last three games, he hasn't looked himself after coming back from a torn achilles tendon.  He could use this to show the world that he is back and just as good as before.  He will be helped by Roethlisberger's injury as he is the hardest QB to take down.  Leftwich is more of a pocket passer so it will be easier to get after him.  The Steelers offensive line ranks tied for 13th in the NFL having given up 19 sacks.  Over the last few games they have played very well giving Suggs a tough matchup.  Suggs always shows up for big games so expect at least one impact play from him on Sunday night.  I will predict 1 sack with a forced fumble.

Prediction:  Ravens 23 Steelers 17

Terrell Suggs (white)

Week Ten Observations

November 13, 2012 in Observations

The Baltimore Ravens beat the Oakland Raiders 55-20 to improve to 7-2 on the season.  They set a franchise record for most points scored in a game, the previous best was 48, and scored the most points by a team this season.

Joe Flacco
Flacco was on point all game long.  He barely had any bad throws and went 21-of-33 for 341 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 1 rush TD, 115.8 passer rating, and had a 91.6 QBR.  Usually, Flacco is inconsistent with his deep throws, but yesterday he was on the money and I can only remember 1 deep pass that he overthrew.  In all he had 5 passes over 20 yards.  All of this happened in the first 3 quarters as backup Tyrod Taylor came in to replace Flacco.  The Ravens will need Flacco to play like this again next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Torrey Smith
While he only had 2 catches, Torrey Smith made a big impact on the game as both went for touchdowns.  The first was for 47 yards and the second was 20 yards.  This means Smith finished with 2 catches for 67 yards, and 2 TDs, on 6 targets.  Both the touchdowns were great plays. On the first, Smith just ran right past the Raiders secondary and was wide open for the TD.  The second was a little tougher as it was a jump ball in the endzone.

Anquan Boldin
Yet again, Boldin was a first down machine getting 3 this game.  Overall, Boldin had 4 catches for 38 yards on 7 targets.  All throughout the season, when the Ravens are doing good, Boldin gets catches on 3rd down.  This is one, easy way to tell whether the offense is playing well or not.  The one play that impressed me the most this game was when Boldin took a screen 9 yards for a first down.  While this doesn't seem very impressive on the surface, it is when you look deeper.  As soon as Boldin caught the pass, the CB was on him.  Boldin was able to hold him off for 9 yards to be able to get the first.  Boldin also had the funniest moment of the game.  Raiders CB Joselio Hanson decided to talk smack to Boldin after he broke up a pass on 3rd down in the endzone which was intended for Boldin.  Boldin then walked over to Hanson and pointed at the scoreboard.

Jacoby Jones
This was another great game from Jones, who has emerged as a very good 3rd WR and kick returner.  As a receiver, Jones had 2 catches for 54 yards on 3 targets.  One of these catches was deep pass for 47 yards.  On the following play, he ran an end-around for 6 yards.  Even more impressive was his play on special teams.  For the second time this season, Jones returned a kickoff for a TD, this time for 105 yards.  On the return, he was untouched.  The lead blocker, RB Anthony Allen, didn't even have to block anyone!  With this return, Jones became the first player in NFL history with 2 kickoff return TDs of 105 yards or more.  What is even more impressive, is Jones did this in a span of 4 games.

Tight Ends
Both of the Ravens TEs, Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson, played good games.  Starting with Pitta, he led the Ravens with 5 catches for 67 yards. He also had 1 TD and caught every ball that was thrown his way.  Three of his catches for for first downs and his touchdown was a nice grab. Dickson also caught every ball that was thrown his way.  He had 2 catches for 59 yards including one for 40 yards.  Both of these catches were for first downs and the 40 yard catch was on a 3rd and 11.  The Ravens TEs played a great game combining for 7 catches, 126 yards, 1 TD, and 5 first downs.

Offensive Line
All throughout the game, the offensive line allowed little pressure giving up 0 sacks.  They weren't able to make big holes for RB Ray Rice most of the time but they did on his touchdown where LT Michael Oher, LG Jah Reid, C Matt Birk, and RG Marshal Yanda all had good blocks letting Rice go untouched into the endzone.  Oher also was able to draw an offsides call when he moved after a Raider jumped.  Jah Reid came in for Bobbie Williams early in the game, but Williams said he could have stayed in.  Reid was called for illegal use of hands to the the face but overall he did a good job.  Right tackle Kelechi Osemele had a hold that took away a nice 12 yard run by Bernard Pierce.

Bernard Pollard
Due to the Raiders not having an effective ground game, Pollard was tested in pass coverage and he played great.  He did give up many catches but that was because they were short passes that he couldn't get to in time from his safety spot.  I am not sure if Pollard missed a tackle at all yesterday.  As soon as he got to the ball carrier, the ball carrier wasn't going anywhere.  He led the Ravens with 11 tackles and also had 1 sack. Lastly, he showed great closing speed on a few plays, stopping the receiver just short of the first down.

Corey Graham
I just wanted to put a quick note in about this.  Starting CB Jimmy Smith didn't play at all yesterday because he couldn't get loose before the game or after halftime.  This pushed Graham into the starting spot.  He would then move into the slot and Chykie Brown would go to the outside in nickel packages.  Both did decent, having some good moments, and also showing why they were 4th and 5th on the depth chart when the season started.

DeAngelo Tyson
Just like Smith, starting DE Haloti Ngata didn't play this week.  However, Ngata said he could have played but has happy to rest his injuries. Rookie, 7th round pick, DeAngelo Tyson, out of Georgia, played in his spot and did a great job.  While Tyson didn't record any tackles, he still made an impact on the game.  He batted down 2 passes at the line which is something the Ravens haven't done much this year but had 6 against the Raiders.  Lastly, late in the game, the Ravens sent two people to rush the passer and Tyson was able to knock down QB Carson Palmer just after he threw the ball.

Outside Linebackers
All of the Ravens top 4 outside linebackers were impressive in the win against the Raiders.  Star OLB Terrell Suggs, wasn't able to get pressure on Palmer this week but he was still very disruptive in the pass game.  He batted down 2 passes and almost had another 2.  On the stat sheet he had 3 tackles.  Another impressive play he made was when he singlehandedly stopped a play action pass with his pressure forcing Palmer to throw the ball away.  Rookie, 2nd round pick, Courtney Upshaw had great contain as usual on the outside.  He stopped an end-around to his side of the field for a loss of 4 yards.  He also had 4 tackles and knocked down a pass at the line-of-scrimmage.  Albert McClellan, who hasn't played very much with the return of Suggs, made three good plays.  Early in the game, he was a few inches away from blocking a punt.  At the end of the first half, he blew up a draw that the Raiders ran to try and end the half.  Lastly, he recovered a fumbled snap on a 4th and 3 at the end of the game and totaled 4 tackles.  The most impressive performance was saved for last.  Paul Kruger played the best game of his career.  He had 6 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT, and 1 pass deflection.  The first of his sacks came when Palmer fell down right after the snap so it doesn't really count. The other sack does though.  Kruger probably had the play of the game when he tipped a pass straight into the air and was able to catch it himself for the INT.  These OLBs were a big reason why the Ravens were able to beat the Raiders yesterday.

Week Ten Injury Report

November 10, 2012 in Injury Reports

Ravens

Out
DE Pernell McPhee (thigh)

Questionable
DT Haloti Ngata (knee and shoulder)
G Bobbie Williams (ankle)
G Marshal Yanda (ankle)

Ravens starting RG Marshal Yanda is questionable with an ankle injury.

Probable
LB Josh Bynes (thigh)
S Sean Considine (chest)
LS Morgan Cox (shoulder)
LB Dannell Ellerbe (finger)
WR Jacoby Jones (toe)
DT Ma'ake Kemoeatu (knee)
T Michael Oher (ankle)
S Bernard Pollard (chest)
S Ed Reed (shoulder and knee)
CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen)
LB Terrell Suggs (ankle)

Raiders

Out
RB Mike Goodson (ankle)
RB Darren McFadden (ankle)
DT Richard Seymour (knee and hamstring)
CB Shawntae Spencer (foot)

Questionable
OT Khalif Barnes (groin)

Probable
DT Desmond Bryant (cardiac)
LB Miles Burris (elbow)
LB Keenan Clayton (shoulder)
CB Coye Francies (thumb)
S Matt Giordano (hamstring)
TE Richard Gordon (hamstring)
Sebastian Janikowski (left groin)
S Michael Mitchell (finger)
TE Brandon Myers (shoulder)
RB Marcel Reece (hamstring)
DE Matt Shaughnessy (shoulder)
OT Willie Smith (knee)
DE Dave Tollefson (shoulder)