For the fourth consecutive season, the Ravens and Bengals meet in the season finale. In 2010, the Ravens squeaked by Carson Palmer and Cincy at M&T Bank Stadium on their way to the postseason. In 2011, the Ravens beat rookie Andy Dalton’s squad at Paul Brown Stadium in a game that decided the AFC North Champion – losers Cincy were relegated to the Wild Card spot. Last year, the Ravens had nothing to play for, and pulled most starters early in the first quarter as the Bengals defeated Baltimore’s backups right before the Ravens’ Super Bowl run.
This week, the Ravens need a win and some help – or a loss and even MORE help – to get to the playoffs, while Cincy has locked up the AFC North title and is still in the hunt for the AFC’s #2 seed.
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
“It still seems like John Harbaugh doesn’t quite get the credit he deserves. He’s the only coach in NFL history to win a playoff game in each of his first five seasons, and he’s deftly guided the Baltimore Ravens through a retooling this fall and back into contention.” - NFL Network’s Albert Breer on the coaching job of John Harbaugh in 2013
“In the sweeping theatrical production that is the NFL, every team plays a certain character, fills a role. There are royals. There are peasants. There are court jesters. There are dashing young men destined to break your heart. There are radicals, over-the-hill knights, honorable soldiers and Rex Ryan’s team. (See if you can match those archetypes with teams. It’s fun.) Who are the Ravens? I see them as the savvy gladiator, calm in conflict, knowing what it takes to prevail – a role they have almost perfected.”- BaltimoreRavens.com’s John Eisenberg on the 2013 Ravens
“No one can discount the toughness the Ravens have shown during the second half of this season. No one can say they don’t deserve to be where they are in the playoff picture right now — for better or worse … The Ravens are one of the scariest teams in the NFL right now because no one knows what they’re going to do next.” - The Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck on the 2013 Baltimore Ravens
“We just have to put this one behind us. We’ve got to focus in on the task at hand, which is the Cincinnati Bengals. It’s a one-game season for us, so that’s going to be our focus, and that’s going to get all of our energy.” - DE Chris Canty on how the team regroups from the New England loss
“He’s so much more sure of what he’s doing. He’s not afraid to be wrong. He’s not second-guessing himself [thinking], ‘Should I have done this?’ or ‘Should I have done that?’ He’s just going out there and playing. I think because of that, his ball skills have improved so much. He’s reacting to those things so much better because he’s not thinking in his head, ‘What happens if I don’t make this play?’ He has confidence, he’s very sure of himself, and a lot of the basic things that his talent allows him to do – he’s freed up, and those things are just starting to come out.” - QB Joe Flacco on CB Jimmy Smith’s progress in 2013
“He still is so big and strong and just gets up and swats guys and goes. He’s another guy, who down the line, will have an opportunity to be considered as a possible Hall of Fame player for his accomplishments since he’s been in the league.” - Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis on NT Haloti Ngata
GETTING TO KNOW YOU ~ Q&A with Jimmy Smith
When did you know you were going to be a cornerback?
“When I was 13 years old, my brother told me. I didn’t play football – I played basketball – growing up. I played football one day, and I saw one of my best friends playing it. I looked at it thinking, ‘Oh, I could do that.’ My brother took me to Oklahoma and put me on the field to do drills. He had me covering in man-to-man, and I was naturally jamming up receivers. He saw that and said, ‘You’re going to play corner.’”
Was there ever a time when you had the mindset of an offensive skill player?
“I played two ways in high school. When I was getting recruited for college, a lot of people wanted to play me at wide receiver, but I knew I wanted to play corner. I just knew that my size and athleticism at corner is rare, compared to a wide receiver. It was a business decision.”
What is the mindset of being a coverage specialist?
“In my head – and this is how I thought coming in here – I wanted to cover every single route, no matter what the coverage is, no matter what our weak spot in the defense was. I wanted to cover every single route. I had to learn that I couldn’t do that. I had to give up some things to get other things. When I go out there man-to-man, I immediately think I can cover every route. Going into the game, I’m thinking I’m not going to allow any catches, but one or two is OK. Really, I’m trying to go for zero.”
How much can going up against players like Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones in practice help you grow as a cornerback?
“Any type of guy like that who has a lot of speed is rare in the NFL. To face that type of speed and agility every day can only make you better.”
What was your “welcome to the NFL” moment?
“When I was facing Ted Ginn Jr. in 2011. They didn’t throw it to him, but he beat me so bad. He just took off. My rookie season against San Francisco, I was in press coverage, and when the ball snapped, I went to put my hand on him. He took off so quick that by the time I turned around, he was 10 yards behind me. I was thinking: ‘Geez! I have never seen speed like that.’”
What’s your favorite play from your career?
“The fourth down stop in the Super Bowl. They had their best receiver on me – the third corner – split wide by himself. I knew it was either going to be a slant or a fade. I was gearing up for the slant, but they ended up throwing the fade.”
What’s one thing people don’t know about you that you’re proud of?
“I’m one of 11 siblings: three girls, eight boys. All of them live in California except for me and my brother, who moved in with me here.”
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) during 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 2000, 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 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
Let’s take it back a few years…”I hit Ray by accident…”