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After the Ravensâ€™ were defeated by the Colts, I sat down with two friends of 24×7, Gerome Sapp and Matt Katula to get their thoughts on the tough loss, their state of mind and their thoughts on the future as it relates to the business side of football and their future roles with the Ravens.
TL: Talk about your expectations heading into the game against the Colts.
Gerome: Our expectations were to win the game and we thought we had a good game plan. We knew if we stopped the big play and kept them from dumping off to the running back we felt like we could win the game. Defensively speaking we did hold them; and we held Peyton to his lowest rating ever as a pro but we just didn’t win.
Matt: Well I think none of us expected it to turn out the way it did. We had a week off and were very confident going into the game and coming out on top.
TL: What could the Ravens have done differently in your opinion to change the game’s ultimate outcome?
Gerome: I think we could’ve been more in tune as a team. Some of the units of the team were clicking and some weren’t. And in a really big game like that everyone has to be in synch.
Matt: I can only comment on the part that I know about. I just know what Stover, Sam and I do and I know we could have probably done some other things different but hindsight is 20/20 and the game ended like it did.
TL: Describe your feelings as the game clock ticked down and it became obvious that your season was ending.
Gerome: It was kind of tough at first knowing that all that we did this season was about to end without recognition especially defensively. Statistically, we finished as[one of the] best defenses of all time in the NFL and no one will ever know because we didn’t win a championship. In 2000, the defense received it (which they should of) because they won a Super Bowl. We would have been right up there too.
Additionally, you just think about the guy sitting next to you may not be there and/or you may not be there next year. We had a good year but a disappointing ending.
Matt: It was terrible. My first year last year we knew when the season was going to end; whereas, this year when it was over it was just over and none of us were ready to be done. We all wanted to keep playing.
TL:I can tell you that the fans felt very much the same wayâ€¦ When a season ends unexpectedly and abruptly as yours did, the reality of the NFL kicks in. Teammates, friends with whom you worked so hard might no longer be your teammates next year. The composition of the 2006 Baltimore Ravens will never be the same. How does that affect you personally?
Gerome: That’s the toughest part because out of everything what you miss the most is hanging out with your teammates â€“ just the companionship and camaraderie. And to know that some guys may not be there next year is kind of sobering. That is the hardest part for me – out of everything with switching teams and our season ending – the hardest thing for me is there is nothing permanent about the NFL.
Matt: I went through this last year and it was really difficult because it was my first year experiencing it but hopefully this year will be a little easier. I’m not really wanting to think about it. Let it play out and I’ll take it in stride.
TL: How can the Ravens improve in 2007?
Gerome: We can be more consistent on every side of the ball. A great team as a whole is one that is consistently consistent and clicking on all cylinders. One of our goals for defense was to be able to win the game if we needed to. Even though we were a magnificent defense we kind of fell short sometimes.
Matt: I say we can improve by just trying to keep the team together and keep as many players together. We’ll definitely be hungrier than we were this year, and will come in with higher expectations.
TL: The bitter loss makes the offseason longer and certainly drives that hunger Iâ€™m sure. Gerome, you are an unrestricted free agent and Matt, you are an exclusive rights free agent. How do you both expect your contract status to shake out?
Gerome: I really have no idea. This part of the year is the business side of the NFL and can get tricky. How I handle it is I just stay out of it. Me and my agent will sit down and talk about the teams, but that won’t start for awhile so I’ll cruise through the next month or two.
Matt: I expect to be playing for the Ravens next year.
TL: Weâ€™d love to see you both back guys. Have a great offseason, stay happy, healthy and our best to you in all your endeavors.