After beating the Cincinnati Bengals in “thrilling” (some would say nauseating) fashion last week at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens are in a position to keep reeling in Cincy at the top of the AFC North. The Bengals face Cleveland this week with the Browns coming off their bye, so it’s very possible that they could lose their third straight.
However, that won’t matter if the Ravens can’t get back to .500 at 5-5. They have their work cut out for them heading to Chicago, where they are 0-2 in their brief history. The weather looks like it will absolutely be a factor Sunday, though not in the Chicago-in-November way you might expect. It won’t be frigid; it will actually be in the mid-60′s at game time. The issue will be severe thunderstorms, as rain and high winds (steady at over 15 MPH, gusting to over 50 MPH) are expected during the early afternoon.
Can the Ravens win ugly at Soldier Field and keep their playoff aspirations alive?
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
“What I see with Terrell is he’s playing more of a complete game than he’s ever played. He’s back to dominating against the run. The thing that happens to great players is their mind and body meet. I think his football mind is higher than it’s ever been, because it has to be. You don’t have Ed Reed or Ray Lewis to lean on for pre-snap recognition or information. Sometimes we took it for granted, that Ed and Ray, they know what the play is, and they’ll call it out. Terrell is closest to the line, and he sees the least as far as the whole formation, but I think he’s opening his vision up, he’s [processing] more information, and his attention to detail is higher.” - Former Ravens LB and current CBS analyst Bart Scott on the impact of OLB Terrell Suggs
“We’re going to ride or die no matter what. Ups and downs, we’re going to stick together. We’ll never t urn our back on each other. That’s not the Ravens’ way.” - WR/RS Jacoby Jones on the Ravens’ mindset for the second half of the season
“We’re going to earn our confidence. We’ll earn our confidence by doing well. Fundamentally, we have a confident group. There’s no question all of us are confident. We know we can get it done. We know we can get there. But until you start doing it with some consistency, it’s hard to be confident in what you’re doing. [That’s like] putting the cart before the horse. We’ve got confidence, but as we start doing things, we’ll build on that confidence.” - John Harbaugh on the Ravens’ confidence
“Football makes sense to him. I just can’t say enough good things about him. I think this guy is kind of unheralded in some ways, because some other guys overshadow him – and that’s OK, because those guys deserve it, too – but Courtney Upshaw does a lot for our defense.” - Defensive coordinator Dean Pees on OLB Courtney Upshaw
“We’ve always been underdogs. There’s something about the Ravens, something about us [that] we’ve always been underdogs. I don’t think it’s something that our guys read into. I think we’ve embraced being the villain at times. We don’t mind going into the game saying that we’re the underdog. We don’t mind that kind of stuff, because when you overcome it, [you gain confidence]. We were never the perfect football team. We won a Super Bowl last year, but we were never the perfect football team. We just found ways to win games, and that’s the kind of football team we are.” – RB Ray Rice on the longstanding mentality of the Ravens
CONTINUING THE DEFENSIVE TRADITION
GETTING TO KNOW YOU ~ Q&A with Terrell Suggs
Growing up early on in Minnesota, did you ever go to a Bears-Vikings game?
“We couldn’t afford to, but I was a big-time Vikings fan. At that point, I think our rival was more Detroit than Chicago. It was a very fierce division, which had Detroit, Green Bay, Chicago and Tampa Bay at the time.”
You grew up playing football with Twins catcher Joe Mauer. What were your youth teams like?
“We played football with each other and basketball against each other. We were a juggernaut; we were the best team in the state. We only lost one game in three years. Joe was the quarterback. He was younger than us, but dominated our league. At that age, he could read defenses, make throws and call his own game. I was center and also played middle linebacker.”
How was being recruited by Jim Boeheim to play basketball at Syracuse?
“They were the only school that wanted me for basketball and football, but I was an All-American in football, so the recruitment was pretty much by the football team. It was a unique experience. At that point, you know where Syracuse is but don’t know much about it. All I knew was Syracuse was in New York, and New York gets cold. At that point, I didn’t want to play for a cold weather team.”
Is the art of pass rushing similar to pitching, in that one thing you do is a setup for something else later?
“I’m different from other guys, but I’m more of a read-and-react player. At first, I was just a speed [rusher], and then I would switch it up to bull-rushing. The game has changed; you can’t just run around tackles anymore. I like to throw everything in there. It all depends on the tackle and on the quarterback, if he’s a scrambler. All that goes in to pass rushing.”
Do you keep some moves in your back pocket for late in games, and do you set those moves up earlier in games?
“Definitely. If you only use speed moves, then you switch it up with a power move. Or, you can do all power moves and then go speed. You can stay outside, stay outside, and then come under. Everything has a meaning to it.”
Are you as good at stopping the run as rushing the passer?
“I want to be the complete player. I can play the run just as effectively as I can play the pass. I really pride myself on being able to rush the passer, being able to stop the run and being able to drop in coverage. Whatever the team needs me to do, I’ll do.”
HEY, YOU LOOK FAMILIAR ~ Key Connections
Several Ravens are former members of the Chicago Bears: defensive line coach Clarence Brooks (defensive line, 1993-98), senior offensive assistant Craig Ver Steeg (offensive assistant/quality control, 1996-97) and director of player development Harry Swayne (team chaplain, 2003-07).
CB Corey Graham (2007-11) played for the Bears after being selected in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft. Graham posted 4 INTs with the Bears in five seasons and also earned special teams Pro Bowl honors in 2011. He compiled 104 special teams tackles during his time in Chicago.
Bears quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh (1999-2004) previously served as offensive coordinator for the Ravens, helping the team capture a Super Bowl XXXV victory in 2000.
QB Jay Cutler (2006-08), WR Brandon Marshall (2006-09) and LB D.J. Williams (2004-12) were teammates with Ravens OLB Elvis Dumervil (2006-12) and WR Brandon Stokley (2007-09, ‘12) on the Denver Broncos.
Bears TE Martellus Bennett and Ravens DE Chris Canty were teammates for two seasons – 2008 with the Dallas Cowboys and 2012 with the New York Giants.
In Jacksonville, Ravens T Eugene Monroe (2009-13) played alongside Bears G Eben Britton (2009-12). The duo was selected by the Jaguars in the first and second rounds, respectively, of the 2009 NFL Draft.
Ravens executive vice president and general manager Ozzie Newsome (1978-90) played TE for the Cleveland Browns when Bears head coach Marc Trestman was the team’s QBs coach (1988) and QBs/offensive coordinator (1989).
Bears K Robbie Gould was signed as a rookie free agent by the Ravens in 2005 and attended training camp.
Bears wide receivers coach Mike Groh attended Ravens training camp as a free agent quarterback in 1996.
LAUGH OF THE WEEK AT EXPENSE OF RAVENS’ OPPONENT