This week, the Ravens take on the 3-8-1 Minnesota Vikings for just the fifth time. The all-time series is tied at two games apiece, with the Ravens winning in 2002 and 2005, and the Vikes prevailing in 1998 and 2009.
The Ravens needed to win all three of their late November/early December home games to put themselves in a position to make a late-season run, and so far they’ve done just that, besting the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium over the last two weeks. If they lose this one, it will likely all be for naught, so they absolutely cannot afford a letdown against the “other” guys in purple.
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
“I’ve said from early in the season that resilience has been the overlooked trump card for the Ravens in the era of John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco. No matter how helpless they look in stretches, no matter how painful a loss they suffer, they never quit on games, and they never quit on seasons.”- The Baltimore Sun’s Childs Walker
“We’re playing the playoffs right now. We just have to be focused during the week, just like you are in the playoffs. You just can’t lose, or you’re out. Everybody is coming together as a group, and I think we are playing well.” – CB Lardarius Webb on the Ravens’ mindset
“We look at things as a team. And as a team, we need to all start playing our best football. We all know we need to make a run, and he’s our quarterback. We’re going to do it on his arm. We’ve done it on his arm in the past, and nothing is going to change that way.” – OLB Terrell Suggs on if the team expects QB Joe Flacco to play his best football at this time of year
“I really don’t even acknowledge when people tell me that I’m on some sort of streak or anything. I just feel like I’m doing my job. I’ve got two guys [holder Sam Koch and snapper Morgan Cox] that are on the field who are helping me do it to the best of their abilities. That’s where I get my confidence from, what we do out on the practice field at Owings Mills. We feel like we’re unique. We work, we put in some hours. We pay very close attention to detail, and as long as we’re doing those things, we know we always have a chance to be successful.” – K Justin Tucker on his FG streak of 27-straight makes
“If I ever become a coach, I want to be just like him. I want to coach just like him. Sometimes he can be hard on you, but I want to be just like him. He’s hard on us, but he’s hard on us for good reason. He’s always trying to get the best out of me. I love that guy, I do.”- CB Lardarius Webb on why he admires John Harbaugh
A LOT IN OUR FAVOR
GETTING TO KNOW YOU ~ Q&A with Jameel McClain
You’ve had a few games back after your 2012 season ended with a scary spinal cord contusion. How are you adjusting?
“I feel like I’m out there getting in the groove of it. I’m getting back into football mode, going out there and doing the things necessary for our team to get where we need to go. I don’t feel like there is any rust at this point. I’m definitely still the same person out on the football field. I’m aggressive, and I go after it, so there is no hesitation for me.”
What’s the mindset of this defense, and do you believe this year’s team upholds the standard set by past Ravens defenses?
“To me, I believe this defense does uphold that standard. We have our downfalls at times, but our understanding is to get the ball back as fast as we can. Our goal is to always play better than the defense on the other side. So, that standard is still there, but we’ve got to continue to uphold it or do better at upholding it.”
As a rookie, you were more of a pass rusher. Now, you’ve developed into a prototypical inside linebacker. Describe that process.
“It was something that I knew I had to do coming in. They told me, ‘We’re going to transition you to the middle linebacker position.’ The organization did a great job of molding me to that position from Day One, starting with SAM linebacker and then getting reps on the inside. It was an easy transition, but it was only easy because of the way the organization handled it.”
Talk about the importance of giving back to the community, especially during the holiday season.
“It’s important to give yourself and your time to others, because you could be guiding someone else to be great or to be better than they thought they could be. The value in giving up my time is priceless. I’ll share my time as much as I can with people, because I know the benefit of what it could do for people. Someone gave back to me at some point and gave me something that pushed me on, so it would be selfish of me to not share – with kids or with the adults – a story or something that may be inspirational for them.”
What event are you most proud to be a part of?
“My ‘53 Families’ event touches me closely to the heart because it’s directly connected to The Salvation Army. It’s amazing to see the looks on the kids’ faces – and not just the kids, but to see the parents happy to see their kids happy.”
HEY, YOU LOOK FAMILIAR ~ Key Connections
Ravens tight ends coach Wade Harman (1997-98) broke into the NFL as a coaching assistant for the Vikings.
Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier (DBs, 1999-2002), offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave (offensive coordinator, 1998) and strength and conditioning coach Tom Kanavy (assistant strength and conditioning, 1995-2005) worked with several Ravens coaches on the staff of the Philadelphia Eagles, including head coach John Harbaugh (special teams coordinator, 1998-2006), run game coordinator Juan Castillo (offensive line, 1998-2010) and senior defensive assistant Steve Spagnuolo (defensive assistant, 1999-2000; DBs, 2001-03). Frazier (2005-06) also served as a special assistant to head coach Tony Dungy and worked with the Indianapolis Colts’ DBs on a staff that included Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell (QBs/assistant head coach, 2005-11).
Vikings defensive coordinator Alan Williams (2001) got his first coaching job working with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defensive backs, while Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell (2001) was serving as the team’s quarterbacks coach. Williams (2002-11) and Caldwell (2002-11) then departed for the Indianapolis Colts the following season, and both were with the team in various roles for the next 10 seasons. Vikings assistant defensive line coach Diron Reynolds (2002-06) also spent five seasons on the Colts’ staff as the team’s defensive quality control coach.
Ravens G Marshal Yanda (2005-06) and TE Dallas Clark (1999-2002) played at Iowa with Vikings LB Chad Greenway (2001-05).
Vikings LB Erin Henderson (2004-07) played his college ball at the University of Maryland. Henderson was an All-ACC performer during the 2007 campaign.
LAUGH OF THE WEEK AT EXPENSE OF RAVENS’ OPPONENT
Yeah…us too, AD.