The Ravens didn’t get much help in the early games of Week 15. On Thursday night, the Chargers beat the Broncos in Denver to keep their hopes for the sixth playoff spot in the AFC alive. On Sunday afternoon, the Miami Dolphins beat the New England Patriots to (momentarily, we hope) jump ahead of the Ravens for said final spot.
Sunday night though, the Ravens got some help from the unlikeliest of places – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Thanks to the Steelers’ drubbing of the Cincinnati Bengals, the AFC North crown is still very much in play for our purple birds. If the Ravens can win the next two games (remember, beating New England in the process), then the Week 17 matchup in Cincy will be for the division crown, a home playoff game, and potentially even a first-round bye (should the Patriots lose to the Bills in Week 17).
How about that?
It all has to start with a win in Detroit though, or we’re back to needing some help for that AFCN crown.
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
“Honestly, it doesn’t matter what you or I think about the Ravens. What’s important is this team is starting to believe. A teetering 4-6 team a month ago has turned into a confident 7-6 one. This is what happens when the Ravens rip back the lead every time it seemed like the Vikings had pulled off the upset. The defending Super Bowl Champions refused to fold, scoring three touchdowns on their final eight plays of the game. It’s officially time to stop counting out [Joe] Flacco and the Ravens. How many ‘miracles’ need to happen before you’re convinced? There’s no disputing this is a team with flaws. But this is also a team that plays its best when the odds are stacked against it.” – ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley
“It probably makes you tough. It probably makes you resilient. It probably puts a lot of callouses all over your psyche and your character. When you’ve got callouses on your character, that’s probably a good thing in the end.” – Head coach John Harbaugh on overcoming adversity and battling back in improbable fashion
“I wouldn’t put him up there with Aaron Rodgers, as far as he’s going to get outside the pocket. But I think his pocket presence is that of almost a [Drew] Brees or something like that where he moves himself within the pocket or will escape to get himself the ability to make a big play down the field. That’s what makes him successful. You see him do it time and time again.” – Vikings DE Jared Allen on QB Joe Flacco’s mobility
“Not that I know of. We are pretty much battle-tested against anything a team can throw against us. We just keep trucking along. This team is very tough and very mentally strong, and this team has a lot of fight in it. It’s fun to be a part of. We just have to keep staying the course.” – OLB Terrell Suggs on if there’s anything Baltimore can’t overcome
“Jimmy [Smith] is becoming one of the top corners in the National Football League by the way he is playing. The numbers bear that out, and the film bears it out. It’s important to our football team, and I really like the way he is playing.” – Ravens head coach John Harbaugh on CB Jimmy Smith
“I’m proud of the progress I’ve made Years 1 through 3. Nobody else will comment on the first two years, but, for me, I see exactly how it was going along the whole time. I’m very proud of where I’m at. Obviously, I’m still a work in progress. I’ve still got to do a whole lot of things, get more turnovers, but I’m proud of what I’ve done so far. … Once you get comfortable in the defense, the game does slow down. Everybody is fast, but once you understand what’s going on mentally, it slows down.” – CB Jimmy Smith on his progression in his third season
THE MAN EARNS HIS DANCES
GETTING TO KNOW YOU ~ Q&A with Elvis Dumervil
What led you to finally becoming a Baltimore Raven?
“From afar, once you’ve been in this business for a long time, you build relationships amongst players, coaches. One thing that was always mentioned was the Ravens being a first-class organization. Denver is a first-class organization, so leaving there, I wanted to make sure I was in the same situation, and an opportunity came up, so that’s why I’m here.”
You have 9.5 sacks in what has been a strong year for the Ravens’ pass rush as a whole. Is this the kind of success you envisioned?
“I just came here to try to get the Ravens to where they were a year ago, which is the Super Bowl. But we have a lot of work ahead of us. I do think we’re doing some good things, but we still have a lot of work to do. And for me personally, I just want to contribute and help the team as much as possible and just try to remain healthy so I can do so.”
What has surprised you most about the Ravens organization?
“I was a little bit surprised that it was every bit as advertised. Sometimes, things are mentioned or talked about, and they turn out to be not as advertised. But this was pretty head-on, so it was like, ‘OK, this is good.’”
Being shorter than most pass rushers, you are able to gain lower leverage on O-linemen. Considering that, why do you think there are so few pass rushers under 6-feet?
“I think there are a few now. But really, it’s about heart. It’s about what you can do. I’m not a guy who is about potential. I think about production over potential. That’s what one of my great friends told me before. A guy can have a ton of potential, but if a guy has production, if I’m a scout, that is who I’m going with.”
Aside from the schedule changes, do players prepare differently for a Monday Night Football game?
“Everybody knows it’s nationally televised. There used to be John Madden, so that will always historically be Monday Night Football. But Jon Gruden and Mike Tirico, those guys are good guys. I’ve spoken to those guys throughout my career. There is just something about Monday night. Everybody is watching, and you want to put your best foot forward.”
The Lions have a big-play offense. What will be your focus in combatting that?
“We have to try to get to the quarterback. They have a lot of weapons, and it’s an explosive offense. They are a well-coached team, and it’s a hostile environment in that building. It’s a great challenge for us. We have to continue to work hard and get after it.”
HEY, YOU LOOK FAMILIAR ~ Key Connections
Ravens RBs coach Wilbert Montgomery played his final season (1985) in the NFL with the Detroit Lions before eventually going on to coach the team’s running backs for two seasons (2006-07).
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz (1996-98) began his NFL coaching career as a defensive assistant/quality control/outside linebackers coach with the Ravens. Prior to that, Schwartz (1993-95) served as a college and pro scout in the Cleveland Browns’ player personnel department alongside current Ravens executive vice president/general manager Ozzie Newsome (1991-95) and senior personnel assistant George Kokinis (1991-95).
Lions assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham (1982-84) coached the defensive line/linebackers for the Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts.
Lions offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn (2003-08) spent two seasons as a player personnel assistant for the Ravens, followed by another four seasons as an area scout.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (1998-2006) served as special teams coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles for several seasons, where he oversaw the development of Lions K David Akers (1999-2010), who earned three Pro Bowls (2001-02, 2004) under Harbaugh’s guidance.
Lions assistant defensive line/pass rush specialist Jim Washburn (2011-12) spent two seasons as the defensive line coach for the Philadelphia Eagles while Ravens run game coordinator Juan Castillo (2011-12) was the team’s defensive coordinator.
Lions QB Shaun Hill (2000-01) played his college ball at the University of Maryland. Hill was an All-ACC performer in 2001, leading the Terrapins back to the Orange Bowl for the first time since 1956. Lions head coach Jim Schwartz also spent time in College Park, as a graduate assistant in 1989.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and offensive line coach Andy Moeller both attended Pioneer (Ann Arbor, MI) HS.
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz is a Baltimore native and attended Mount Saint Joseph HS, where he played football.
LAUGH OF THE WEEK AT EXPENSE OF RAVENS’ OPPONENT