Reality: Joe Flacco had a QB rating of 137.5 when the Jets didn’t blitz Sunday. When they did, it dropped to 16.7.
Perception: I think this says more about the offensive line than it does Joe Flacco. Give Joe time and he is really effective. Give him little or no time and he struggles. It just goes to show how important a strong offensive line means to this team being successful. Let’s hope that the offensive line that we saw against the Bears shows up against the Steelers.
Reality: Justin Tucker has made 22 straight field goals.
Perception: Is there a better kicker in the NFL than Tucker right now? In extremely windy conditions Sunday, he made a 53 yard field goal. Last week in terrible conditions in Chicago, he was perfect. I just love this kid. And he is going to be critical in the bad-weather months in helping this team win down the stretch.
Reality: The Baltimore Ravens have recorded at least 1 sack in 22-straight games, which ties a franchise record from the 2000-2001 season.
Perception: This defense has been really good. Not only have they been smothering the quarterback, but they have also been smothering the receivers. So they are getting great pressure on the quarterback, but even when the QB gets the pass away, the Ravens secondary has been phenomenal. And it’s not just Webb and Jimmy Smith. Corey Graham was targeted three times Sunday and he had two interceptions and a pass deflection. It doesn’t get much better than that. And the secondary will need to come up huge against the Steelers for the Ravens to come out a winner.
Reality: Since opening night in Denver, the Ravens have given up just 16.6 points per game.
Perception: And that should be good enough to win every week! Twenty points has always been the number. If your offense can score 20, you should be able to win each week. Well, that’s been the problem. Our defense has held teams to under 17 points per game, but our offense hasn’t been able to keep up their end of the bargain. The Ravens offense has scored 20 points just twice and lost (both were 3 point games that they should have won).
Reality: Joe Flacco Tuesday spoke about the “Wildcat” offense, saying “I don’t like that stuff. I think it makes you look like a high school offense. That’s just my opinion.”
Perception: Well, everyone wanted to know what Joe thought, and now we know. He’s been labeled “boring” for so long, I like his honesty. He is getting paid the big bucks to throw the football and win the Ravens games. When he connects on a long pass and then gets taken out, how is that helpful to getting him into a rhythm? He shouldn’t like it. He should want to be in there to help his team win.
The only comment that I didn’t like from Joe was when he said “I’m not doing a single thing. I’m not blocking, I’m not doing anything,” in regards to lining up at Wide Receiver.
Now that sounds like a spoiled brat. I don’t mind him saying all the other stuff. But he still needs to be a team player. If they line you up at wide out and want you to do something, your response is “Yes Coach”. Now, if they coaches have told him to “just stand there”, then fine. But the way he said it was not appropriate.
Now doing a “Wildcat” to mix things up a little and help get some sort of a running attack going is not a bad thing. But as our own Brian Bower pointed out on Twitter Tuesday, “12 out of 62 snaps in the wildcat” is a “bit much”. I agree. It was too much on Sunday, but a position that comes from it, is that the Steelers must now prepare for it. I just hope the Ravens don’t use it another 10 times Thursday night.
Reality: The Ravens will wear their all black uniforms Thursday night against the Steelers.
Perception: Personally, I love the all black unis, but my favorite for the Ravens is what they wore Sunday against the Jets… the Purple top and the Black pants. Teams are allowed to wear their alternative uniforms twice a year, and the Ravens have done that with this Black uniform for the last 3 seasons. They are 10-5 all time in all-black and are 7-2 under John Harbaugh wearing black pants and black tops. Last season, they lost to Pittsburgh when they wore their black jerseys with white paints, but dominated the Giants when they wore all black.
Reality: The last 4 games between the Ravens and the Steelers, and 8 of the last 10 have been decided by just 3 points.
Perception: How can we not expect this to be any different? It’s going to a playoff atmosphere at the Bank. I couldn’t be more excited. Terrell Suggs said “If you’re not ready for this game, you have no business being on either one of these teams.”
This is the best rivalry in the NFL. The closeness of the games, the hatred between the players and fans, and impact their games have had on the division all play a role in making this the best in football and one of the best in all of sports.
Coming in with identical records, it’s basically an elimination game for the Ravens. If they lose this game, they fall behind too many teams for the last playoff spot, and will fall basically 2 games behind the Steelers (1 in win/loss and 1 in tiebreakers). As most games from here on out, this is a “Must Win”. The Ravens are 7-1 in Prime-Time games under John Harbaugh, and I have a good feeling about this game, but against the Steelers you just never know.
No time for a tryptophan nap Thursday!
I’ll be screaming at my TV all night.