PERCEPTION IS REALITY: Mr. Automatic

Tucker v Steelers

Reality: Mike Tomlin said crowd noise was a factor Thursday night on the botched field goal by the Steelers.

Perception: The thought is that Suisham couldn’t hear cadence properly and started too soon, which resulted in the bad play. I was at the game Thursday, and it was stinkin’ cold! But I thought the crowd did a really good job of being loud, even with being all bundled up. It’s days later and I still am hoarse… and I’m okay with that.

Reality: In the 3rd Quarter, on 3rd down and 6 yards to go from the Ravens 7 yard line, the Ravens handed the ball off to Ray Rice.

Perception: Overall, I thought the Ravens did a nice job on offense and defense with their play calling. But that series just left me scratching my head. Rice has averaged 2+ yards per carry all year and continued to Thursday night. So what are they doing giving him the ball with 6 yards to go on 3rd down in the Red Zone? Of course they were left to kick a field goal.

As much as I like Ray Rice, it was interesting to hear the stadium chuckle every time Bruce Cunningham (Ravens PA Announcer) would say “Ray Rice with the carry… gain of 2 yards.”

Seriously, every single time Ray ran the ball it was for a gain of two yards, and every now and then there was a three yard gain. One time there was bigger gain, you could hear the crowd sarcastically cheer in shock. If this continues, it will be very interesting to see what happens in the off-season. I know that a lot of the struggles come from the offensive line, but still. Rice is an All-Pro running back who has just not looked good.

Reality: Justin Tucker made 5 field goals Thursday night and has now hit 27 straight this season.

Perception: As I said in my previous Perception is Reality column… there is not a better kicker in football right now. Through 28 career games, Tucker has hit 92% (59-64) of his field goal attempts, and 100% (64-64) of his extra point attempts. That’s a total of 96% accuracy in his young career. He is on a tear, and the Ravens have been blessed with great kickers in their history… namely Matt Stover and now Justin Tucker. Not many other teams can claim that. Right now the Ravens know if they get to at least the 35-yard line, they are guaranteed 3 points. That is huge for a team struggling offensively.

Reality: Joe Flacco was 24-35 for 251 yards and a TD.

Perception: Joe had a few struggles Thursday night, but overall played well behind a poor offensive line. I loved seeing them take shots down the field. Like I’ve said before, with the wide receivers that we have, you have got to throw it downfield. There’s a good chance they’ll make the catch or get a pass interference penalty. We saw that play out against the Steelers. The ref’s missed a pass interference on the first offensive play for the Ravens, but we still were able to capitalize on going downfield. That needs to continue.

Reality: If the playoffs started today, the Ravens would be in as the 2nd Wildcard and the #6 seed in the AFC.

Perception: The Ravens are in the driver’s seat now, but it’s not going to be an easy road. Yes, they play the Vikings next and at home. It should be an easy win, but watch for the “trap game”. If it was on the road, I would be more worried. At home, I think we’ll be okay. But following that game, we go on the road to Detroit, who is playing very well, especially at home. Then we face the Patriots at home, who are always tough. And then Cincinnati on the road… and as much as many of us thought the division was out of reach, it’s not. That game could be for the division crown.

I could see us being 8-7, going into Cincinnati. The Bengals are 7-4 and play at San Diego, at home against the Colts, at Pittsburgh, and at home against the Vikings before we play them. I could see them also being 8-7 going into the final game of the season. If we are 8-7, and the Bengals are 8-7 or 9-6 headed into the final week of the season, a Ravens win would give Baltimore the division title and (more than likely) the #4 seed in the playoffs, and a first-round home game.

I know just last week I was conceding the division, but I can admit when I might be wrong (just don’t tell my wife). If the Ravens take care of their business, they could make the playoffs either as a division winner or as a wildcard. And I don’t care what anyone says… anything can happen in the playoffs, and I would take the Ravens over many of the AFC contenders come January.

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About Joe Polek

Joe Polek
Joe Polek was born in Baltimore, MD, and was raised in Bel Air, MD. In 2001, he moved to Portland, Maine for a job in radio. In 2012, he moved to Columbia, SC for another gig in radio, where he currently resides with his wife, Nicole, and their two daughters....more

4 Raves on “PERCEPTION IS REALITY: Mr. Automatic

  1. Stack on said:

    I was at the game too. The crowd noise was incredible, almost as if every play was on 3rd down. And I don’t recall any other game where the crowd (or at least our section) stood just about the entire time. It was also my first game against the Steelers so that’s probably typical. Such a good game though!

    • Tyler on said:

      Why? So you can see him fall down for 4 yards over 2? The man can’t run. It’s like he decides when he’s going down. He doesn’t break tackles, something that’s almost a must on a screen. He gets touched and dives.

  2. Rick on said:

    Not this topic, just a thought .I don’t think Tomlin intentionally got in to the play. From every replay I see he was in the same spot from the inception of the kickoff. I think he lost his bearing. Here is why, his back was turned entirely, to know that the play was going to come down to the exact spot he was standing downfield is Notsradamus-like in the first place, also it could have affected a defender just as easily.He sees at the last second that the play is coming his way (we all have been caught up in the moment and lost our bearing with regards to awareness). I have heard people say he knew because he smirked, laughed, etc. I think that was nothing more than a nervous laugh born of embarrassment for being caught up in the play. How do you know his last instructions to his team before the kickoff weren’t with regards to positioning and being responsible for lane integrity on the return?, we don’t.

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