We surrender! No, not like the French of 1940. I’m talking about the Cleveland Browns, the NFL football team (allegedly) that laid a Lake Erie-size egg at the Purple Vault on Sunday. They didn’t run, they didn’t tackle and, with the exception of initiating a few shoving matches, they didn’t seem to care.
The Browns fans in attendance also seemed resigned to their team’s fate. Unlike previous games where the Clown faithful made a modest presence, we only had two ‘Clevelanders’ in our section. As they were seating themselves, a Ravens fan sitting behind me remarked to them, “You’re in for a whippin.” How true.
The game was so lopsided that, by the end of the second quarter, we started feeling sorry for these guys and we eased up on the vocal taunts we usually serve up to visiting fans. I give these two old guys credit, though…..they stayed in their seats until the end of the game. On second thought, maybe they were just masochistic.
What I Liked
John Harbaugh set the tone during a week of hard practice. Underestimate no one. Step on your opponent’s neck early, and keep your foot there for 60 minutes.
· The Ravens assumed command in the first series by intercepting a Brady Quinn pass and they trucked on from there. The numbers look great: 479 total offensive yards (342 courtesy of Joe Flacco’s arm), an impressive defensive display with 4 interceptions, and, most importantly, the special teams kept the dangerous, game-changing Joshua Cribbs in check.
· When the Browns kicked a 29 yard field goal at the start of the 4th quarter instead of pushing for a first down, we all looked at each other and said, “What was that about?” Answer: It was the official surrender notice, sans doute.
· Here is a shout out to my favorite Ubermensch, Derrick Mason, who made 5 catches for 118 yards and 1 TD. With his 3rd catch of the day, Derrick became the 23rd player in NFL history with over 800 pass receptions in a career.
· Kelley Washington. The more I see him, the more I like him. Tall, fast, with soft hands, he’s developing a rapport with Flacco and is an asset in the slot.
· Cincinnati 23, Pittsburgh 20. Magnifique!
What I didn’t Like
· I hate to quibble when the Ravens win by 31, but I didn’t see any appreciable improvement in the pass rush from the front four. This simply has to improve, and/or Greg Mattison has to implement some blitz packages. In the next 3 weeks the Ravens face 3 classic pocket passers in Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, and Brett Favre. If they don’t improve the rush, you can count something we don’t want to see – a repeat of the San Diego game.
Play of the Game:
The Domonique Foxworth interception in the first Browns’ series. The Ravens took control of the game from that point on.
NEWS & NOTES:
Seen in My Section:
Cleveland Browns Jerseys – 2
University of Delaware # 5 Joe Flacco Jerseys – 2
Best Tee Shirt
A purple tee with the iconic “Mr. Bo” of National Bohemian Beer fame framed in a hubcap, flanked by wings.
Inscription: Festivus Hubcapus Bohemius
Best Wrestling Move
Shaun Rogers shoving 315 pound Ben Grubbs so hard that he landed several feet away on his back. Shaun has a career when his playing days are over – on the pro wrestling circuit.
The Browns uniforms are ugly enough, but the prize goes to the horrid combination of neon green and gray worn by the Seattle Seahawks. For a minute I thought I had the tint on my TV all wrong. I haven’t seen that much florescent green since the movie Predator.
The Ravens were ranked # 1 in the ESPN, Peter King’s Fine 15, and Sports Illustrated rankings going into the Browns game and I anticipate they will be there, or close to it, when the new polls come out later this week. Baltimoron that I am, it makes me nervous. Why not put the Ravens on cover of S.I. and get the jinks thing over with?
The question on everybody’s mind is, are the Ravens for real? Are they truly Super Bowl worthy? It’s a good question, but impossible to answer, given the opposition so far. Arguably, few teams are as bad as Kansas City and Cleveland. The Ravens had their comic relief with the Browns, but things get dead serious this coming Sunday as we play a real NFL football team in the Patriots.
But, courtesy of Rex Ryan and the New York Jets, we have a blueprint for a win. Blitz Tom Brady early and often. Get him off his rhythm. Drive Brady out of the pocket where he is far less effective. Keep your gap integrity on running plays. Continue to play a wide-open offense against a team that has lost 6 starters on defense from last year.
You can count on one thing….there will be no surrender in Foxborough.
Ravens 23, Patriots 20.