Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Back in the Saddle

Well it has been a while since I have blogged on this site. Sorry for the delay. Blame the computer issues I've been having, and the school work I need to do.
Much has happened since my last post a few days after the Baltimore Ravens lost a heartbreaker to the Minnesota Vikings that left their record at 3-3. The Ravens have won five out of their last eight games to put them in great position to grab one of the final two wild-card spots in the AFC. I like their chances because everyone else is losing, and they have been playing much better of late. The Ravens need to beat Oakland in the last game at the least, or hope they can beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh. It certainly wouldn't hurt to see other 7-7 teams lose their final two games.
As for the Orioles, I'll have a lot more on them as soon as the season ends, but I do like the moves they have made. People need to realize that the Millwood, Atkins, and Gonzalez moves they have made this offseason are not to win the World Series. They are building block players towards making runs in a year or two. We need to realize that in baseball, there are several stepping stones to building a winning team. They have grown prospects in their system, and now it's time to bring in a veteran presence to the pitching staff, a solid closer, and a solid corner infielder until the arrival of one of their top prospects Josh Bell. I'll have a lot more on the Orioles as we go along, and certainly as we get closer to spring training.
Ladies and gentlemen, the time has come for another Raven's playoff run. More on that this week....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Heartbreaker III

This story is getting old---and more heartbreaking. The Baltimore Ravens lost their third game in a row in a different fashion: a missed field goal at the buzzer by Steve Hauschka. The Ravens lost 33-31 to the Minnesota Vikings.

Granted, the Ravens defense was getting chewed up by all-time great Brett Favre. Favre threw three touchdown passes and played pitch and catch all day against over matched corners Frank Walker and Domonique Foxworth.

The Ravens have now fallen to 3-3 entering their bye week. The good news? Running back Ray Rice has become one of the best backs in the NFL leading the league in yards from scrimmage. Joe Flacco once again led the team down the field with a chance to win the game. Flacco threw two touchdowns and had 385 yards passing. The man is a star, ladies and gentleman.

The bad news? This Ravens defense is having issues. They can't cover, rush the passer, or stop anybody from scoring points. Well, Other than that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln??? Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison really needs to figure some things out. Quite frankly, Dawan Landry is a shell of his former self, which is a shame because before he injured his spinal cord, he was developing into a very good strong safety. In no way am I suggesting Landry was a pro bowler in the making, but he didn't need to be. The Ravens miss current Jet Bart Scott. Scott was a terrific all-around football player. He could cover, rush the quarterback, and tackle with the best of them. The man played with an incredible amount of passion and heart. Tavares Gooden and Daniel Ellerbe have not filled his shoes quite yet. Do I believe they will? Yes, they are both very, very young. People don't remember that it took Scott four years to crack the starting line-up. Both Gooden and Ellerbe are in their second and rookie years, respectively, and both are under the age of 24. Give them time.

The Ravens need this bye week to get ready for the stretch run, and to get the defensive back on track. The Ravens need to win at least seven out of the next ten games to reserve a wild card spot. Can they? Why not? They went 9-2 last year. Am I being optimistic? Maybe. However, this team has heart and is run by a coach, gm, and owner who believe in doing things right by hard work. Obviously, Dan Snyder and Vinny "the village idiot" Cerrato are not members of the Raven fraternity.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Now that it's Wednesday, I'm able to come back to the blog and write another article. If I wrote the blog on Monday morning, I'd probably get fined by the league for blasting the officiating that has been going against the Ravens. Therefore, I even give myself a three day grace period! Now to the game....

The Baltimore Ravens lost another heartbreaker on Sunday to the Cincinnati Bengals. Carson Palmer hit Reche Caldwell on a post pattern for a game-winning touchdown with 22 seconds left to lift the Bengals to 4-1, and first place in the AFC North.

The Bengals dominated this football game. The Raven offense looked like the offense under Brian Billick, and the defense allowed Cedric Benson to become the first rusher in 40 games to rush for over 100 yards against the Ravens.

The Ravens were lucky that Ed Reed reverted back to superman in the 2nd quarter, as he picked off a Palmer pass and returned it 52 yards for the games first touchdown just minutes after Joe Flacco threw an interception at the goal-line on the Ravens first drive. The offense really never recovered from that moment on.

In the fourth quarter, Flacco found Ray Rice for a 48 yard touchdown that showed Rice's strength and speed combination. With the game on the line minutes later, Flacco found Mark Clayton for what would have been a game-sealing touchdown pass. Unfortunately, the pass sailed over Clayton's head by a few yards, and the Ravens were again set up for heartbreak.

The Bengals drove 80 yards in 11 plays (aided by three defensive penalties) to win the game and make M & T Bank Stadium ghostly quiet. It was a bad loss for the Ravens because it was a division loss, and with a tough game coming up against Minnesota, a 3-3 start heading into the bye is entirely likely. The Ravens need to remember what they do best for these next few months: play good defense and let Flacco win the game. He has the ability to do it.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

First Place Showdown

Who would've thought when the schedule came out in April that Sunday's game between the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals would be for first place in the AFC North? I certainly looked at the game and marked down an easy "w." However, the sudden resurgence of the Bengals has made this a must-see game.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis as his team are riding a three game winning streak heading into Baltimore. Quarterback Carson Palmer is seemingly healthy again, and is making touchdown connections to wideout Chad Ochocinco that remind one of 2005. The Bengals even have a good running game (122 ypg) these days with Cedric Benson. However, it's the Bengals defense that is turning heads around the league.

On Wednesday night, defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's wife died suddenly. Zimmer's wife was portrated on HBO's series "Hard Knocks" as a team favorite who made cookies for the defensive players. People will say the Bengals defensive players will now play even harder---don't buy into it. They will play hard no matter what. And it won't even matter.

The Ravens are simply too powerful on offense in 2009. They have too many options both running the football and throwing it. The offensive line will most likely be without left tackle Jared Gaither, but OT Michael Oher is more than capable at filling in for Gaither. In fact, some believe Oher is a better left tackle than Gaither already because of his extreme foot quickness. Oher will quickly be put to the test by Bengals defensive end Antwan Odom (Leading league in sacks with eight) and will need to protect quarterback Joe Flacco's blindside. Lineman Marshal Yanda will now step in at right tackle. There's no need to worry; Yanda is more than capable and has a nasty streak to him that is needed in an o-lineman. Injuries happen, and that's why you need offensive line depth. Listening to me, Dan Snyder? That statement was directed at you.


The Bengals aren't nearly as bad as they were last year, but they have won three straight games in the last seconds of games. They have played sloppy football, and can't seem to put games together. That trend will need to change if they want to have any hope of winning in a very hostile environment. Ravens cornerbacks Fabian Washington and Dominique Foxworth must be on their A games to handle Chad Ochocinco and Chris Henry. I believe they will do just fine. The Ravens will continue to put numbers on the board, and I can see them pulling away in the fourth quarter to take first place.

Ravens 31 Bengals 17

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ravens Have it Bounce off their Chest

The Baltimore Ravens stormed into New England on Sunday at 1 pm with a 3-0 record. By 4:25 pm. their record was 3-1, and their hearts were broken. The Ravens dropped a thriller 27-21 as Joe Flacco's 4th down pass was dropped by Mark Clayton with 28 seconds remaining in the game. The drop quite possibly could have cost the Ravens a big-time win. It would have marked the second 4-0 start in the teams history, and loses a tie-breaking scenario with the Patriots in late December, which could result in the team heading back to Foxborough, Massachusetts in January.

Even in defeat, quarterback Joe Flacco announced to the rest of the NFL that he is a big-time player. He drove the Ravens down the field just as his counterpart Patriots QB Tom Brady would have deep the fourth quarter. The difference is Tom Brady has Randy Moss and Wes Welker to make the big catches for him. Heartbreak aside, it was a terrific game played at the highest level of football. Hey, when was the last time the Washington Redskins played a game like that? 1991? Don't even get me started on that joke of a franchise.

The Patriots got help from all angles. Two roughing the passer calls cost the Ravens 14 points. Curiously, when the Patriots hit Flacco late five times there were no calls. HMMMMM. Okay, sorry. Excuses aside. Even though the Ravens lost this game, they showed that they are every bit as good as the Patriots and can play with them anywhere. Keep in mind that the Patriots haven't lost in New England with Brady as QB since 2006. That's an incredible streak and record with a very talented team and coach.

The Ravens will look to unleash hell on the Cincinnati Bengals (3-1) on Sunday, which marks a pivotal game because the winner will grab full control and a one game lead in the AFC North. Who will kiss the baby in the the game Sunday? We'll find out at 4 pm on October 11. GAME ON

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots, Sunday 1 PM

You may have heard the term "getting over the hump" at some point in time of your sports watching career. This phrase refers to a team or organization that is not quite there yet. They have been fighting to get up to the top of the heap, but for whatever reason cannot quite seem to make it. Well, for the Baltimore Ravens, this game on Sunday is one of those "getting over the hump" games.

The New England Patriots (2-1) are the team of the 2000's. Behind mastermind head coach Bill Belicheck and future hall-of-fame quarterback Tom Brady, the Patriots have won three Super Bowl championships in the last decade. Brady has already cemented his position as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, but you can bet he wants to win more championships; and he certainly wants to equal the four championships his childhood idol Joe Montana won with the San Francisco 49er's.

The Ravens (3-0) come into this game undefeated and looking to move to 4-0 for only the second time in franchise history. Head Coach John Harbaugh's team is 14-3 over the past 17 games (including playoffs) and are heading into this statement game riding high. Led by sophomore quarterback Joe Flacco (6 TD's, 2 INT's), the Ravens have the second ranked offense in the NFL at 430.3 yards per game. The Ravens have also averaged 34.3 points per game in three contests, which is also good for second in the league.

Flacco has thrown for 300 yards or more in two of the three games the team has played. Helping Flacco out has been the play of the offensive line. Led by center and wily vet Matt Birk, the young Ravens o-line has not only helped keep Flacco on his feet; but also has opened gaping holes for running backs Ray Rice (38 attempts, 192 yards, 1 TD) and Willis McGahee (32 attempts, 190 yards, 5 TD's). Most importantly, however, the Ravens are 8-4 on the road under Harbaugh. The Ravens won only seven games on the road between 2005-2007.

The Patriots have gotten off to a solid start. Their offense is averaging 20.0 points per game, and 395 yards per game. Pretty good, right? Not if you are the Patriots. This is the same team that went 18-1 in 2007 with their only loss coming to the New York Football Giants in the Super Bowl. The Patriots are used to scoring 30 or more points, and don't think for a second their offense is thrilled with scoring only 20 ppg so far this campaign.

Led by Brady, running back Fred Taylor (38 attempts, 176 yards, 2 TD's) and wide receiver Randy Moss (26 catches, 281 yards, 0 TD's) the Patriots will try and exploit the Ravens defense. Traditionally, the Ravens have been built on defense, but things are changing. Though the Ravens are still stout with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, their pass defense allowed 436 yards to San Diego two weeks ago.


The Ravens are to get over the hump. This bandwagon has been building for some time now, and Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh are trying to build something big in Baltimore. Are the Ravens the new Patriots? No, not even close. But they are ready and will take the next step by beating the Patriots in New England. The Ravens offense is simply clicking on too many cylinders, and they are on a mission. How will Randy Moss pay for the fines after the game? "Straight cash, Homie."

Ravens 31 Patriots 20

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ravens Stats through week 3

Passing: Completions/attempts PCT Yards TD INT RATING
Joe Flacco 68/104 65.4 839 6 2 101.4
Troy Smith 1/2 50.4 4 0 0 56.2

Rushing: Yards Attempts TD
Ray Rice 192 38 1
Willis McGahee 190 32 5
Le'Ron McClain 38 12 1

Receiving: Catches Yards TD
Derrick Mason 12 196 1
Kelly Washington 12 167 1
Mark Clayton 9 132 1
Todd Heap 10 124 2
Ray Rice 11 85 0
Le'Ron McClain 8 68 0
Willis McGahee 6 48 1

Ravens Thump Browns

The Baltimore Ravens did what they had to do with the Cleveland Browns last Sunday: crush them early and eliminate any thought of a Browns upset. When running back Willis McGahee walked in for the first of his two touchdowns, that is exactly what the Ravens did.

Quarterback Joe Flacco went 25-35 for 342 yards and one touchdown as the Ravens offense lit up the scoreboard like it was July 4th. Ray Rice scored his first NFL touchdown and Derrick Mason collected his 800th career reception. The Ravens put up 34 points to increase their AFC lead in the scoring department; as well as in the standings.

The Raven defense rebounded from the previous week in a big way collecting four interceptions. Domonique Foxworth ended the Browns' first drive with an interception off of quarterback Brady Quinn. Quinn looked like it was the first game he had played since leading Notre Dame in 2007---okay so it was actually his 5th game since that time. Pompous penguin head coach Eric Mangini put in Derek Anderson to try and get something going for his team in the 2nd half, but to no avail as the Ravens picked him off three times. The Browns may well be the worst football team I have seen in my 10 years of going to football games. They are lethargic, pathetically put together, and poorly coached.

The Ravens are clicking on all cylinders right now. It's always a great sign when your quarterback isn't being sacked, and your offensive line stands waiting in the end zone for your running back to greet them. This is exactly what has been happening as the o-line has been dominating. Flacco is much better than last season and can now win games with his right arm, which is a huge plus for this team. The Ravens are not a flash in the pan. Newsflash: these Ravens are legit.

Next: preview of the game @ New England on Sunday

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cleveland Browns vs Baltimore Ravens preview

Okay, let's be honest: the Cleveland Browns flat out stink. They cannot score, and if not for their all-world return man Joshua Cribbs, they would have about seven points total this season. Having said that, this is the NFL and anything can happen. Right?


The Baltimore Ravens are coming off one of their best regular season wins in franchise history. They flew cross country to San Diego, gave up 436 yards passing and still found a way to win. This team under head coach John Harbaugh does not lay down for anybody nor do they look ahead to the next game.

Quarterback Joe Flacco is still rolling with his offense. Running back Willis McGahee is back to his pro bowl form, and Derrick Mason is three catches away from 800 for his career. The Ravens offensive line is doing their best impression of a bowling ball of late and are knocking d-lineman down field on every running play. These ingredients are the recipe to a promising season for the Ravens.

Defensively the Ravens are still sound. They are clearly still getting the kinks of a new coordinator out of the way, but with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed the Ravens surely will not miss a beat. This game is the perfect opportunity for the defense to pick up sacks and turnovers. Browns QB Brady Quinn has been shaky and Braylon Edwards continues to show that he cannot catch a cold.

The Browns simply cannot score and the Ravens have shown they now can. The Ravens defense should be able to suffocate the Browns.

Ravens 30 Browns 10

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ray Saves the Day for the Ravens!

By the time Darren Sproles met Ray Lewis head on five yards behind the line of scrimmage for a three yard loss to end the game in San Diego on Sunday, one thing was for sure: Ray Lewis is still one of the best players in the game today.

Despite a career passing day from Chargers Quarterback Phillip Rivers, the Ravens held on for dear life at the end of the game because of a play from Lewis. Lewis had seen the formation before on film, and decided to take a risk to shoot the gap to meet Sproles. The result was a Ravens win.

The Chargers were able to throw the ball at will on the Raven's cornerbacks and safeties. However, they were unable to find the end zone in five red-zone trips. While the Chargers failed to accumulate touchdowns in the red-zone, the Ravens scored three times. Ravens Quarterback Joe Flacco found tight end Todd Heap for Heap's second td of the season, and running back Willis McGahee found the end zone twice.

This is a huge win for the Baltimore Ravens. Not only was this a brutal cross-country road trip, but the Chargers are expected to make the postseason and make some noise. The Ravens essentially let everyone know that they can play with anyone, anytime, anyplace. The Ravens now come home to face the lowly Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Is there any doubt Ray and his team will show up big yet again? I wouldn't bank on it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Baltimore Ravens vs. San Diego Chargers Preview

The Ravens and Chargers both escaped out of week one 1-0 last Sunday. While the Ravens piled up 501 yards on the KC Chiefs, the Chargers struggled mightily on both sides of the ball against the Oakland Raiders. QB Phillip Rivers led the Chargers on a come from behind victory with a little less than a minute to play on Monday night. The real test for both teams will be this week in San Diego at 4:15 PM.

The Chargers are coming into the game a tad gimpy with two starting offensive lineman injured. Most importantly, their one in a generation running back LaDainian Tomlinson is injured and will most likely be limited in the game. Enter RB Darren Sproles. The shifty back from Kansas State can really fly and is especially dangerous in the return game and out of the backfield. The Ravens defense will need to account for him wherever he goes. The same goes for Tight End Antonio Gates. Gates is a physical beast who can run, block, and make tough catches in traffic. He is a hard matchup for linebackers because of his speed. Look for safety Ed Reed to shade to Gates throughout the afternoon.

The Ravens come into this game more confident than ever with developing star Joe Flacco. The Delaware product has done nothing but get better each and every week since he was thrust into the lineup as a rookie in 2008. Flacco now has a few weapons of his own in Running backs Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, and short yardage/fullback LeRon McClain. A finally healthy tight end Todd Heap is now playing the way he did when he was a Pro Bowl player in the mid-2000's. Where the Ravens must attack is through the air. The Chargers ranked 2nd to last in pass defense in 2008, and judging by their performance in Oakland on Monday night that stat doesn't look like it will change too soon. The Ravens offensive line must account for Charger Lineback Shawne Merriman at all times. Look for the Ravens to throw early to get a lead and then run and grind it out in the late third and fourth quarters.

The Ravens are coming off of a game in which they almost gave the game away. Everything that could have gone wrong did---yet they still pulled the game out with huge plays in the fourth quarter. The Chargers were dominated by the Raiders offensive and defensive lines. In the NFL, it all starts in the trenches. Phillip Rivers is a premier player in the league, but he doesn't have enough help as Flacco does. I'm looking at a very close game until the fourth quarter when the Ravens run away with it.

Ravens 27 Chargers 20

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A glimpse into the future???

Last night the Orioles took a glimpse into what they, and the fans, hope is a bright future. Battery mates catcher Matt Wieters and pitcher Chris Tillman have been hyped by Major League Baseball since they were signed just a few years back. Both players made their debuts in 2009 and have struggled adjusting to the difficulty of the major league game. It seems that these struggles are starting to turn into wins and home runs, which is a great thing for the Orioles.
Tillman followed his eight strikeout performance against the Yankees with a solid 6 2/3 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays. Tillman allowed one run on five hits and one walk. Wieters showed the poise and patience at the plate delivering a sac-fly and a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. Most impressive, however, was Wieters' stellar work behind the dish. He threw out base-stealing machine Carl Crawford out at 2nd base twice. This was only the second time in Crawford's career he has been thrown out twice in the same game.
If the Orioles hope to continue to build for the future, these two building blocks have shown that they can carry their weight. Having a very good pitcher and a very good catcher are keys to being successful. Throw in some of the other young arms like Brian Matusz and the Orioles just may be on to something.
Last nights game was not one for the ages, but when it comes to the Orioles and their fans, it showed a glimpse of what is to come for the next decade.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ravens Vs. Chiefs: "Joe Cool" begins the year hot

If the Ravens hope to make a strong push towards the Super Bowl this year, they will have to get better quarterback play than they have ever gotten. Enter Joe Flacco. If Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs was any indication of what is to come, Baltimore looks to finally have the QB they have long sought. Flacco finished the afternoon 26/43 for 307 yards with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. A career day for Flacco pushed the Ravens past the Chiefs.
The Ravens piled up a franchise record 501 yards on the Chiefs defense. Now let's be honest, the Chiefs were 2-14 last season. They have a new coach in Todd Haley, new quarterback in former Patriot Matt Cassel, and new general manager in Scott Pioli. However, the Ravens had never piled up yards the way they did on Sunday. It was a very encouraging sign to see the entire offense get into the act. We saw the emergence of Ray Rice (19 Carries for 108 yards), the re-emergences of former Pro Bowlers Willis McGahee and Todd Heap, and a wide receiving core with a serious chip on their shoulders.
The defense only allowed 188 total yards of offense. So how, do you ask, was the game close? Well, a blocked punt for a touchdown and a 70 yard interception return to the 4 yard line certainly helped KC stay in the game. Those were fluke plays and the stats were so lopsided that a graph would look like the Titanic being flipped high and on its side. The game was very tight, but the Ravens simply couldn't be stopped. Having Flacco be able to go out and win games is something Baltimore hasn't had since Steve McNair was on the team.
Coming up---
My thoughts on this Sunday's game in San Diego!


Hey everyone!!!

What's up? My name is Alex and I have been living in the Maryland area my entire life. I'm a 21 year old student at the University of Maryland-College Park. I've been a Ravens fan since they moved from Cleveland, and continue to be a loyal Orioles fan. This blog will cover mostly the ravens and Orioles, but I will occasionally delve into the sports teams of the city to our south. If you have any suggestions or want to exchange links with me hit me! I'll have my email up