After pushing their losing streak to three games – their second such streak since last December – the Ravens return home trying to avoid their first FOUR game losing streak since 2007. To do so, they’ll have to beat a Cincinnati Bengals team that is looking to run away with the AFC North, and push the two-time defending division winners further down in the process. However, Cincinnati has some question marks coming into this game as well, coming off a lackluster loss in Miami during which they lost their best defensive player, tackle Geno Atkins, for the season with a torn ACL.
So can the Ravens show that they may still be a force to be reckoned with in this division, or will it be a battle of the Ohio teams (WHAT UNIVERSE IS THIS?!) down the stretch? The Bengals haven’t beaten the Ravens in a “competitive” game (excluding Week 17 of 2012) since 2010.
Let’s take a look at the numbers, stats, and quotes, in this week’s Crab Bag brought to you by Jimmy’s Famous Seafood.
KNOW THY ENEMY
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
“Defense, offense, everybody – it’s an advantage. This crowd, especially, of all the places I’ve been, there’s never been a crowd like Baltimore’s crowd that gets into the defense and gets going. It’s always a big advantage here. It’s harder on the [opposing] offense communication-wise with the noise, which is also hard on us because of the noise communication-wise. But I’d rather have that [than silence]. This crowd is the best I’ve ever been around in all the years I’ve coached, especially on defense. They take a lot of pride in it, and we take a lot of pride in it and love playing at home.” – Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees on M&T Bank Stadium’s Homefield Advantage
“It’s going to be a challenge; we are 3-5. The math says it’s going to be a challenge. We’ve got our work cut out for us; we are going to have to win some games. We have to start winning close games. That’s the No. 1 thing we need to get done. You do that first of all by not losing the game. You can’t put yourself in that position; you can’t make the kind of mistakes that create opportunities for your opponent. We’ve done way too much of that throughout the course of our season.” – Head coach John Harbaugh on the challenge ahead
“It’s not easy on Sundays when you’re going out there, and it’s tough sledding, and you’re not getting the job done. Having said that, you get back to work, put your head down, and look forward to the next one. You’ve got to be positive; you have to keep your head and your eyes forward, and that’s what we’re going to do. You have to stare it right in the face and just meet it. It’s obviously a little frustrating on Sundays, and we just have to continue to work. Like I said earlier in the week, we just have to play well on Sunday.” – QB Joe Flacco on the Ravens’ mentality moving forward
“We know what time of year it is. I think coach [John] Harbaugh will tell you we’ve built this team on November and December football to obviously have a chance to play in January, and then you know what happens after that. That’s where we’re at these next couple of weeks. If you want a chance to play in January, you’ve got to take care of your business in November and December.” – Ravens RB Ray Rice on the Ravens’ focus of playing great football in November and December
“If we’ve learned anything from [the Ravens] over the past five years, do not count them out. They’re at their best when everyone else has already counted them out.” – FoxSports.com’s Peter Schrager on the Ravens
WHEN THE WEATHER TURNS COLD, FLACCO, RAVENS HEAT UP
GETTING TO KNOW YOU ~ Q&A with Eugene Monroe
How has the transition from Jacksonville to Baltimore been?
“It’s been good and made easier because my wife’s family is from [Columbia, MD]. They’ve helped us move and made that part of it easier. And ball is ball – this is what I do. Having the past few weeks to learn the offense and catch up, it’s gone well. It’s like home now.”
How do you feel like you fit in with the rest of the team?
“I think I fit right in. I get along with everybody in the O-line room and everybody else on the team. It’s a good group of guys we have in here. Everyone has been helpful as far as getting me up to speed and even things outside of football. I’ve asked the guys where they live and areas of town to go. I’m fitting right in on every level.”
How did your passion for deep-sea fishing develop?
“When I was young, my grandfather fished, and I can remember just faint memories of him getting ready and going out and coming back with fish. After he passed, I didn’t really have a chance to go out. Once I got to Jacksonville, it’s a fishing city – pretty much everybody there does it. I got involved with some people who did it all the time. So, I got into it for about a year, fishing pretty much every other week. Even during the season, I’d sneak away on some Tuesdays when we were off and get out into the ocean. I would go out offshore, 20, 40, 60 miles, spending all day out there catching fish. I loved it.”
Has there been a time when a fish was too strong for you to reel in?
“I’ve fought fish for over an hour, and sometimes you get them up, and you’re like, ‘Man, how did this thing kick my butt like that?’ Sometimes, you reel all day, and you get close enough where you can see color under the water, and it gets away. It’s a fun challenge. It doesn’t matter how big you are or how skilled you are. You see stories of women reeling in 800-pound marlin. It’s just a fun deal.”
What are some of your favorite alternative workouts?
“This year, I started doing a little bit of Muay Thai, and I think it helped a lot. People do yoga and things like that, but when you’re actively doing explosive movements and some of the things you do on the O-line as far as hand movement and hip explosion and flexibility, I think it’s an awesome way to just switch up your workout routine.”
HEY, YOU LOOK FAMILIAR ~ Key Connections
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis was the defensive coordinator in Baltimore from 1996-2001, a tenure that included a victory in Super Bowl XXXV following the 2000 campaign when the Ravens set an NFL record for fewest points allowed (165) in a season.
Bengals DBs coach Mark Carrier (2006-09) served in the same role with the Ravens for four seasons, heading a unit that recorded the NFL’s second-most interceptions (93) over his tenure.
Bengals assistant strength and conditioning coach Jeff Friday (1999-2007) previously served as the head strength and conditioning coach of the Ravens, earning a Super Bowl ring in the 2000 season, when he was named Professional Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year by a national vote of his peers.
Bengals RBs coach and assistant to the head coach Hue Jackson (2008-09) served as the Ravens’ QBs coach for two seasons. Jackson (2007) had previously served as the offensive coordinator of the Falcons, while Ravens assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg (2007) was the Atlanta’s special teams coordinator, and Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer (2007) was the team’s defensive coordinator.
Bengals strength and conditioning coach Chip Morton (1999-2001) was the Ravens’ assistant strength and conditioning coach. Bengals special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons (1998) entered the NFL as the Ravens’ assistant special teams coach and assistant strength and conditioning coach.
Bengals RB Cedric Peerman was selected by Baltimore in the sixth round of 2009 NFL Draft (185th overall).
Ravens RB Bernard Scott (2009-12) was originally selected by the Bengals in the sixth round (209th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft, while Ravens S Jeromy Miles was an undrafted free agent signed by Cincinnati in 2010.
LAUGH OF THE WEEK AT EXPENSE OF RAVENS’ OPPONENT