My bye week is over. It was a great Thanksgiving time off. I was in Buffalo, New York, where the idea of post season play is a distant memory, something us fans of the Baltimore Ravens should truly give thanks for.
Three games have passed since I last wrote about the Ravens. In summary, I thought all three games were well played and showed this team seems to be picking up steam at exactly the right time.
Cincinnati, aside from the circus catches, one thing that really stood out to me was the fact Andy Dalton looks to be a legitimate quarterback destined to give the Ravens fits for the next ten years. Good thing the pass rush is back!
San Francisco, or the Harbaugh Bowl as it was known. A very hard hitting game, but the thing I took away was the Ravens were clearly more physical. Watching it at a bar in Buffalo, I was amazed that there are Ravens fans there! But then again, I was one as well! When I got back to the area, I watched the NFL Networks version of “mic’d up”. Great job, lots of cameras, but someone from the NFL Network should have tipped John Harbaugh off to say something other than “Where else would you rather be?” half-a-dozen times. Of course Ray Lewis had the best comeback of all for that, “On the field.” But I’ll tackle Ray’s injury later.
Then there was Sunday’s four o’clock flood at the “Factory of Sadness” in Cleveland. Really, I’m not sure that was precipitation or merely the fans in the upper decks weeping at another year of being a Browns fan. No need to get into specifics of the game, you are a fan; you know what the Ravens did. The most exciting, electrifying, and dynamic play by anyone on the field not wearing a Ravens uniform was the squirrel that ran on to the field. Seriously, that squirrel should be signed long term. To hell with Peyton Hillis and the deluded fan base of Cleveland whose only noteworthy accomplishment in recent sports history, aside from watching LeBron leave, was padding the vote to get their player on the cover of Madden. (The curse lives!)
Before I get into the rest of the league, let me say it again, count your lucky stars if you ever had the chance to see Ray Lewis play. I don’t know the status of his toe, but turf toe, from my recollection, has ended a few All Pro careers. I’d hate to think the day will come when there will not be a 52 on the field, and after all these years, we are getting a preview. Ray, you are the GREATEST MIDDLE LINEBACKER EVER. If anyone you know says or thinks the D has been as good or better with out him, slap them in the back of the head.
Ndamukong Suh. You can’t tell me at draft time there wasn’t a spot of you that said he’d be awesome to have. Now, I am glad he isn’t a Raven. It is one thing to play violent; it is another to be a dirty player. I know a lot happens under a pile, but to stomp another player is beyond bad. In the end, they are all brothers in the NFL; to do that threatens their livelihood, not only their body. The man has anger issues. I think he should have gotten 5 games, and then maybe reduced it.
Packers, I am hoping they go undefeated in the regular season. It only ups the odds of them falling in the playoffs. That added pressure has to take a toll. If the Ravens are fortunate enough to make it to the Super Bowl, I am hoping they will use the formula they used against the Browns – pound the ball. The Giants almost beat them Sunday, but here is the problem, they got into a shootout. You aren’t going to win a shootout against the Packers. If you play hard hitting defense, smash mouth offense, keep the ball away from Aaron Rogers while controlling the clock, there is a great chance of defeating them. One caveat to this thought, there is a slim chance that New Orleans could win a shootout if Aaron were having an off day.
Now, just keep playing hard and the road to the Super Bowl for the AFC just might have to go through Baltimore.