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One Winning Drive: Rope a Dope


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http://blogs.extremeravens.com/ravens/2009...ope-a-dope_153/

 

Apologies for the long hiatus. Hopefully the writing will be more frequent these days.

 

Waking up this morning, I still am not quite sure what I saw yesterday afternoon. Well, I know what I saw, but I still have not been able to fully comprehend it. I suppose all that matters is that the Ravens have at least one more game on their schedule for now.

 

In shuffling through the piles on online jargon about the Ravens-Titans game, however, one thing kept coming up. The repeated mentions of how these defensive battles are so much like boxing matches; how many times have you heard “knock down, drag out fight of a football game” in the last 24 hours?

 

So it got me thinking, if last night’s game were a boxing match, which would it be? The answer is all too obvious: Foreman and Ali’s classic Rumble in the Jungle, where Ali unveils his classic Rope a Dope scheme.

 

It doesn’t fit perfectly, I know, but it still fits.

 

For the entire game, the Ravens were on the ropes - and I mean that as literally as possible when talking football. Tennessee’s underneath passing game had the Ravens defense on the field for more than ten minutes in the second quarter alone. Before his injury, Chris Johnson was cutting through the Ravens like Walter Payton. And in terms of an offense for the Ravens, we can say simply: what offense? The Ravens running gamewas practically non-existent and the passing game was hardly better.

 

The Ravens were toast. They were out-planned, out-played and out-manned. As much as I hate hearing it from the big media sources as a reason the Ravens are in trouble, this is certainly one game where the Ravens brutal 17-straight weeks of football was clearly slowing them down.

 

Andd yet, every time the Ravens looked like they were about to go down - every time it seemed like the brutal assault from the Titans was just too much to take - the Ravens would fire back. Perhaps only with a punch or two - a forced turnover or a solid punt return - but they would fire back.

 

Somehow, in the end, the Ravens were able to stand up, put together a pair of scoring drives, and stop the Titans when it mattered most. And so the Ravens, battered and bruised, are left standing. Beat up but not yet beat down.

 

In football terms, the Ravens were completely outplayed and outmatched. They were on the receiving end of a few friendly calls and a few magical plays. You won’t hear any argument about that. But that’s how football is sometimes. The Ravens have been on the wrong side of this kind of game plenty of times in recent memory - twice this season, even. It is certainly not the kind of performance that should be flaunted.

 

Offensively and defensively, this team is far from perfect. We all know that. We can admit that. There is no shame in saying that. There is no shame in saying we slipped away with one. LenDale White may be right; the Titans may win that game nine times out of ten.B ut if he wants to play a series, he can go play baseball.

 

But perfection is overrated. Just ask last year’s Patriots (zing!). Excuse the sappy romanticism and the Billick-ism, but football is as much about toughness and resiliency as it is about specific skills. And in those terms, in terms of intangibles, you will not find a team that can compete with the Ravens this season.**Quick Bonus Thoughts**

 

Jim Leonhard: My post-season awards are waiting for the Ravens season to end. Jim Leonhard continues to make a strong argument that he deserves all of them… MVP, Unsung Hero, Best New Raven… his tackling is precise, he is always around the play, his blitzing is phenomenal, his value as a returner is unmatched. And did anyone else pick up that bit from last week’s game - Leonhard learned the Ravens entire defensive scheme in a week. A week.

 

Running Game: Hard to be happy with the way it performed yesterday. Running up the gut on the Titans line clearly wasn’t working. Still not sure why the Ravens never tried to get outside with either Willis or Ray Rice, who was in on a few plays but never got a carry. I think it could have really helped the offense find its feet. And for all that has been said (including by me), it sure is nice to have Willis McGahee on this team in a playoff run. His blocking could still use some work.

 

The Officials: With the exception of the delay of game call, there should be no complaining about the officials. They did a pretty solid job both ways. The Titans were called for some personal fouls, but the Ravens were called for their fair share of penalties to help the Titans. Defensive holding may only be five yards, but its still a first down. The Ravens gave the Titans two on their first scoring drive. And as for the delay of game? How ironic that just last week the same thing happened with the Dolphins and Phil Simms, in all his wisdom, was able to explain that when the clock hits zero, the ref has to see it, then see the ball unsnapped… so there’s always a second or two. All I can say is phew.

 

The Gameplan: Weak. Defensively you could tell that even Ray did not like what the Ravens were calling in the first half. He was on the bench with Rex Ryan more than once shaking his head and clearly saying the plan wasn’t working. By the second half the defense had made some quality adjustments. Offensively, the game plan was classic Cam Cameron in a big game - the same Cameron we’ve seen against every other good team this season. The Ravens almost had to overcome his game plan. It’s not a matter of stretching the field and going deep. It’s a matter of opening the field up… find the 5-10-15 yard passes, the outside runs. Luckily, in a rematch with the Steelers or a game against a weaker San Diego unit, I think the Ravens will find their offensive footing.

 

http://blogs.extremeravens.com/ravens/2009...ope-a-dope_153/

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Nice article dc...thanks.

 

I said on the gameday thread that this was the hardest hitting game I've ever seen. That's a lot of hard hitting games considering the Ravens smashmouth stlye of "Old School" football.

 

'Rope a Dope' is a good term to describe this game although I'm sure that wasn't the game plan. It worked because of the character, heart, training and mental toughness of this Ravens team. All 53 men and coaches.

 

The knockout punches came from the Ravens. They forced the turnovers with pressure and a higher physical intensity. The Ravens made the big plays and the Titans didn't.

Plain and simple.

The Ravens out punched the Titans.

 

The NFL awards wins on who scores the most points by the end of the game. To score points, the football must cross the plain of the goal line.

It matters not how much a team moves the ball up and down the field. No points are awarded for that. Only when the ball crosses the plain of the end zone.

 

The Titans scored the fewest points.

The Ravens out punched them in this most important catagory.

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'Rope a Dope' is a good term to describe this game although I'm sure that wasn't the game plan. It worked because of the character, heart, training and mental toughness of this Ravens team. All 53 men and coaches.

 

I agree 100% here.

 

Normally the team who hits more wins... we somehow flipped that yesterday. We got beat up and down the field on both sides of the ball... but lured them in.

 

It wasn't planned. It won't work again any time soon, I bet. But it worked yesterday and that's all that mattered.

 

The Titans scored the fewest points.

The Ravens out punched them in this most important catagory.

 

Couldn't say it better.

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Yea dc...to follow though with your analogy...

There are jabs and there are upper cuts to the jaw.

The Ravens were bloodied by the jabs, but they delivered the brain snapping, upper cut to the jaw...:)

 

I'll say this...I was thinking no way they could hold up in this top notch physical game. 17 games in a row, 23 guys on IR...losing Anderson (brief period), Rolle, Suggs, McLain's ankle...players were dropping like flies. They were losing in this war of attrition. Their legs were giving out to fatigue.

 

They look so battered as a result of the last 4 games that I can't see how they can win another one...:(

Seriously.

These guys have given their all and at the moment...they seem spent.

I cringe at the thought of another snotknocker with the Stealers only because the Stealers are the only team that can play this physical and because Ravens are definately not a healthy team...at the moment.

 

We'll see as the injury report comes out this week....maybe there will be some miraculous recoveries.

 

I fear this is the end of the miraculous run. I think this 2008 Ravens team might be "spent".

 

They have proven me and everybody else wrong as to what thery can and cannot do.

 

I hope they have one more surprise left.

 

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Make that two more ;)

 

 

Check smokey..:)

 

I was thinking if they can win next week then I wouldn't be as worried about the Super Bowl because they will have a week off to heal. That is huge.

 

The 2000 Ravens were spent after the Raider game and their playoff run....the week off helped them immensely.

 

So next week...in my troubled mind...:0....is the huge hurdle.

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Check smokey..:)

 

I was thinking if they can win next week then I wouldn't be as worried about the Super Bowl because they will have a week off to heal. That is huge.

 

The 2000 Ravens were spent after the Raider game and their playoff run....the week off helped them immensely.

 

So next week...in my troubled mind...:0....is the huge hurdle.

 

No doubt. Next week will be the hardest game of the year for us.

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