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One Winning Drive: Third Time, Still No Respect


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http://blogs.extremeravens.com/ravens/2009...no-respect_154/

 

David Steele wrote a column today saying that the Ravens may have finally lost their underdog status, the status that has defined this team for its entire existence. But less than 24 hours after learning that the Ravens division rival Pittsburgh Steelers will be the foe in the AFC Championship, I have yet to see the tide change much for the Ravens in the national media - or at least with ESPN.

 

In John Clayton’s early analysis of the match-up, the focus is almost entirely on the Steelers. His questions are fair; the answers are loaded. According to Clayton the Steelers have more to prove, the Steelers have the difference maker in Willie Parker, the Steelers have the edge in the series (and we’re not just talking records), and his bottom line: you have to put your money on the Steelers.

 

In his early analysis, ESPN’s AFC North blogger James Walker is heavy on Steelers talk as well. Walker has done a fabulous job all season and it’s nice of both teams to repay him with such success in the postseason. But still, the talk is leaning slightly to the Steelers.

 

But perhaps most disrespectful to the Ravens has to be the analysis in last night’s Sportscenter Special Report with analysts Merril Hoge and Cris Carter. Cris Carter who has gone a pathetic1-7 in his postseason picks so far this year (his only correct pick was the Steelers last night).

 

Steele might be right. The tide might be turning for the Ravens. But the early analysis is all Steelers and its getting to be frustrating. I don’t want or need or expect the Ravens to be favored. I don’t even want the experts to be picking the Ravens - I like my inferiority complex just the size it is. But it would be nice if, based on their comments, we could walk away with at least the notion that some of these guys have watched the Ravens play more than once.

 

Let me poke a few holes while I have the chance…

 

From John Clayton: Willie Parker will be the difference maker.

 

Willie Parker looked great last night… against the Chargers. Those Chargers of the league’s 25th ranked overall defense and 11th ranked rush defense. Cris Carter adds that the Ravens struggled against Chris Johnson in Tennessee, so watch out for Willie Parker. But Parker isn’t quite as fast as Johnson and the Steelers line isn’t quite a nimble as the Titans.

 

If we really want to get into the nitty-gritty of it all, let me bring it up this way: in six career games against the Ravens, Parker has averaged just 43 yards a game. In his last four games against the Ravens, Parker has not even topped 43 yards a game. In fact, his only games with more than 50 yards against the Ravens were both in 2005, when he was splitting carries with soon to be Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis.

 

Also from Clayton: The Steelers won’t be surprised by anything the Ravens do on Sunday.

 

These I hate. Are we supposed to expect that the Ravens will be surprised by anything the Steelers do, though? The teams are familiar with each other. Beyond familiar. How Clayton can so easily proport that the Steelers are therefore at an advantage is beyond me. If anything, I would say that the familiarity favors Joe Flacco more than anyone else. Even Steelers linebacker, in Clayton’s article, is quoted as saying that Flacco gets better every game, every week.

 

And from Walker: Roethlisberger made the important plays in the early season match-ups, Flacco didn’t.

 

Perhaps Walker should review his own blog, or even Clayton’s article. Flacco, for all his early mistakes, engineered a beautiful drive against the Steelers in the first match-up to tie the game with just minutes remaining. Remember that? It was eerily similar, in fact, to Big Ben’s drive against the Ravens in Week 15. Head-to-head, I’d say that Flacco and Ben have both had their drives.

 

Ben certainly has the edge in many ways in these match-ups, but to say that Flacco hasn’t been able to make the plays when they count is somewhat absurd. The whole Ravens offense failed five weeks ago, not just Flacco.

 

… I won’t even bother with Cris Carter.

 

http://blogs.extremeravens.com/ravens/2009...no-respect_154/

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Taken from John Clayton's 'conclusion' about the game:

 

You have to put your money on the Steelers. Although it's hard to beat a division rival three teams, the Steelers have a defense that can stop the run and pressure Flacco into mistakes. Plus, the Steelers won't be surprised by anything the Ravens try. The Steelers are peaking at the right time -- they are healthy, Parker is running well and Roethlisberger couldn't have been any sharper against the Chargers.

 

To reiterate...

 

"Plus, the Steelers won't be surprised by anything the Ravens try."

 

This is what I'm afraid of. Not because the Steelers are so well-prepared, but because I'm afraid that our coaches (see: Cam Cameron) won't try anything risky (see: try to score touchdowns) in this game. Playing not to lose against Pittsburgh = fail. Does anyone think he will actually try to open it up a bit more in this game? Because the Steelers will definitely open it up against us.

 

The best thing that happened to us against Tennessee was them scoring early. Instead of being distraught, I thought to myself "Thank God. Now we will have to actually try to score a touchdown." And then we did.

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Our problem against the Steelers has always been converting redzone opportunities into touchdowns. With the Steelers, fieldgoals will not suffice. You have to get touchdowns when given the opportunity. We cannot afford to let the Steelers hang around when we have a chance to put them away. Also, we cannot give the Steelers easy defensive points. If we do these two things, I believe we will win.

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Our problem against the Steelers has always been converting redzone opportunities into touchdowns. With the Steelers, fieldgoals will not suffice. You have to get touchdowns when given the opportunity. We cannot afford to let the Steelers hang around when we have a chance to put them away. Also, we cannot give the Steelers easy defensive points. If we do these two things, I believe we will win.

 

So what you're saying is running a Tim-Tebow-style-fake-QB-run Pass in a Goal-To-Go situation isn't the most effective playcalling against Pittsburgh?

 

Interesting theory TC.

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We're in the championship game because we played turn over free football, why does it seem everyone wants a rookie QB to throw more??? It just doesn't make sense. Stick to what's workin, there's not reason to believe this won't be another low scoring game and that the same gameplan won't win us another one.

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We're in the championship game because we played turn over free football, why does it seem everyone wants a rookie QB to throw more??? It just doesn't make sense. Stick to what's workin, there's not reason to believe this won't be another low scoring game and that the same gameplan won't win us another one.

 

I agree with that. If we play smart, Ben will eventually do something dumb to turn the ball over, he always does. We just have to take advantage of such an opportunity by converting those turnovers into 7's instead of 3-and-outs.

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We're in the championship game because we played turn over free football, why does it seem everyone wants a rookie QB to throw more??? It just doesn't make sense. Stick to what's workin, there's not reason to believe this won't be another low scoring game and that the same gameplan won't win us another one.

 

Largely because in all five of our losses, including and especially both to the Steelers, you could see that the offense was shut down from the inside.

 

Yes, the Steelers and Titans and Colts all seemed to do a good job of containing our team in a number of ways... but the play-calling and the schemes were nothing like what we saw against lesser teams.

 

There needs to be a compromise.

 

Even on Saturday we were lucky in some senses. Yes, I'm willing to say that. Our play-calling was weak and had Tennessee made one more play, or our defense made one less play, we wouldn't be talking about this game against the Steelers.

 

I don't want a big, open, turn-it-over offense. But I do want an offense that at least APPEARS to be trying to score points -- EVERY drive. And 6 runs up the gut for 11 yards followed by one bomb to Derrick Mason (complete or not) doesn't cut it.

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In the Titan game there was never a need to "open up" the offense. Cam was being patient and allowing the game to unfold. On the scoreboard, the game never got out of hand, therefore there was never a need to "open up" the offense.

 

Also gimick plays work against lesser teams......................because they are lesser teams.

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I don't mean gimmick plays. I mean quick plays.

 

Have you noticed that in the playoffs/against good teams we are back to "dump it off or throw it deep." There is hardly anything in the middle.

 

Where are the quick, short, over the middle passes that work for every other team in the league? Where are the 10 step comebacks to Mason and Clayton?

 

In the Titans game, our offense was dead the entire game. With the exception of two big plays, we were just plain lame. And it didn't look like we were trying.

 

It's not only about scoring points, its about creating drives to give our defense rest. Our D was on the field FOREVER. Ravens 3 and out... Titans 10 play drive... Ravens 3 and out... Titans 10 play drive...

 

If you're going to play for field position and time of possession ... you need to actually move the ball, at least a little. Our offense couldn't do that with the calls we had on Saturday. So something needs to change.

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Fair enough, I do see your point on the comeback routes. Is it possible that having Heap not at 100% is making life hell for the outside throws???

 

Heap is not challenging the linebackers in the middle, or maybe Flacco is missing him and the defenses see this and key on the out routes and routes to the flats???

 

I have been thinkin and sayin it a few times on this board.....Flacco must use Heap more if he wants to be really successful.

 

A quick remedy is the slant route by a WR, but what if Flacco just can't hit that route with regularity??? If he misses the WR, it's a pick, and good chance for pick 6.

 

My point is, I think Flacco still has limitations and during games of this magnitude, it's not the time to be using any plays that are not the strength of a teams players. If Flaccos strengths remain the deep ball, screen passes, and running, then play to them. If he's not strong throwing to TEs and slants, don't call those plays.

 

It's the playoffs, we need to maximize and play to our strengths as often as possible. That will equal the highest chance of winning.

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I think the biggest limitation is having Heap as our only TE. Wilcox's injury has been huge.

 

We have gone to our "heavy" package with Terry lining up next to Gaither a lot... when we run, it's fine. When we play-action, it's ok.

 

But overall, if we pass in that heavy formation, we are one receiver short.

 

Having Wilcox and Heap, two big, powerful, over-the-middle threats would change things dramatically. Instead, defenses can key-in on Heap over the middle and force Flacco outside more.

 

But part of me believes it is still partially on Flacco... he misses Heap (doesn't see him) often. Trust in Todd, Joe.

 

Perhaps the big catch on the "delay of game" play by Heap will inspire Joe a bit more.

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By dumbing down our offense as we have, we are allowing these lesser teams to hang around with us. We are too good to be letting the games come down to a 4th quarter field goal. If Cam Cameron was actually not trying to score points every time we had the ball, then he is a bad big-game offensive coordinator. We have the offensive firepower to score a lot of points, and we have the defense to hold other teams under 20.

 

When we're FORCED to score points, we can. When we need a touchdown drive to tie the game, we get it. When we need a good drive to win the game, we get it. So why aren't we doing these same things all game long? We could go into the 4th quarter up by 14+ points in many cases.

 

As long as we don't FUMBLE the ball, we will be fine. Opening the offense does not equal turning the ball over. Tennessee moved the ball with ease against us...and we could do the same against them if we had wanted to. They FUMBLED the game away; that was the only reason we won. Fumbling has nothing to do with passing... fumbles happen all sorts of ways. As long as Flacco doesn't throw off his back foot, he will not throw interceptions, and we will win big.

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And I suppose that these teams garnered their 12-4 and 13-3 records out of luck. Besides the Tenesee game, Pitt's largest loss margin was 8 points to the Eagles, a playoff team. Tenesee's largest loss margin was to the Jets when the Jets where playin near playoff level football. Tensee's other games were close with the exception of the Indy game when Tenesee did not play their starters.

 

The basic point is, these teams are good teams, it's not an opinion, and they garnered their records playing great defense and NOT getting blown out.

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It's been a down year for the overall ceiling of NFL play. Brady going down, Peyton's slow start, and Merriman not playing certainly brought the top end down a lot. As a result, the playoff races were more intense, and every week there was a new favorite to make it to the Super Bowl.

 

The Titans and Steelers are good teams, no doubt, but they're certainly not anything special. The Panthers, Cardinals and Eagles are all pretty good teams as well, but only because of the level of competition that they're facing.

 

But after last year's near-perfect Patriots and all of the hot teams (Packers, Cowboys, Giants, Chargers, etc.) it's kind've nice to enjoy a little medium-level football.

 

Oh, and I think we could be the best team in the NFL if we let Flacco do his thing on offense. But we won't. So we're not.

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I honestly think that Tenn D is better than the steelers. They have a much better secondary and alot better run d. Steelers are great at rushing the passer, we will win this game if our line gives flacco some time. Last week our pass protection was pretty solid, i think it will need to be better on sunday.

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last week our D line was pathetic. Aside from the one sack, we probably werent within 5 yards of collins all day long. He picked us apart.

 

i know the steelers o line isnt as good as TN but they will turn it up a notch sunday and if we dont get to ben we are screwed. We need to be in that mans face every play.

 

Comparing the Tenn and Pitt lines is impossible. It's ridiculous.

 

Tennessee allowed Collins to be sacked just 8 times this year. EIGHT. In 16 games. Do that math yourself. The Ravens thought they were good when McNair was sacked 13 times a few years back.

 

Roethlisberger was sacked 46 times. And you can add in 3 more for Leftwich.

 

Add to that the fact that Suggs was out for half the game and you've got a recipe for some disasters defensively. Somehow we made it work.

 

We should be all over Ben all game long. We should be down his throat and forcing bad pass after bad pass. My biggest concern is his ability to shrug our defenders and step outside. We don't need the big hit. We need hits. We need the sacks more than we need some highlight reel smash.

 

These two games (Tenn and Pitt) should be very very very different. The scores might be similar, but I expect very different games.

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Comparing the Tenn and Pitt lines is impossible. It's ridiculous.

 

Tennessee allowed Collins to be sacked just 8 times this year. EIGHT. In 16 games. Do that math yourself. The Ravens thought they were good when McNair was sacked 13 times a few years back.

 

Roethlisberger was sacked 46 times. And you can add in 3 more for Leftwich.

 

Add to that the fact that Suggs was out for half the game and you've got a recipe for some disasters defensively. Somehow we made it work.

 

We should be all over Ben all game long. We should be down his throat and forcing bad pass after bad pass. My biggest concern is his ability to shrug our defenders and step outside. We don't need the big hit. We need hits. We need the sacks more than we need some highlight reel smash.

 

These two games (Tenn and Pitt) should be very very very different. The scores might be similar, but I expect very different games.

 

Exzcellent point dc.

I missed that. Plus Chris Johnson is a better runner than Wee Willie.

 

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