RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Baltimore hopes to make Manning a spectator

Street Talk RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Baltimore hopes to make Manning a spectator

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OWINGS MILLS – Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Greg Mattison has a new favorite pastime.


He’s enjoying the view from the sideline while the Ravens’ punishing running game bullies opposing defenses, grinding out huge chunks of the scoreboard clock.

Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron called 52 runs during a 33-14 AFC wild-card win over the New England Patriots, generating 234 rushing yards and four touchdown runs.

Now, Mattison is hoping for a similar approach during tonight’s AFC divisional playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts that could keep star quarterback Peyton Manning watching from the bench.

“My favorite thing is to look up at the clock and watch it go tick, tick, tick,” Mattison said. “You know what? I can’t be a real bad coach when I’m not out there calling defenses, right? So when Cam’s running the football, I’m the most excited guy there on that sideline.”

Against the Patriots, Cameron called for just 10 passes.

And quarterback Joe Flacco, who was limited with a hip contusion, completed four of them for 34 yards and one interception.

“Johnny Unitas could have been the quarterback in that game and the game plan would have been the same,” Cameron said. “That’s what was called for in the game. It’s my job to help us win as a team and not get caught up in the offense’s stats.

“We can’t be stubborn and try to make something fit that doesn’t fit. I think to do something that’s never been done since I was a senior in high school probably took something that maybe some people hadn’t thought of that.”

The Ravens are well-equipped to pound the football.

Headlined by Pro Bowl runner Ray Rice, the Ravens also have Pro Bowl fullback Le’Ron McClain blocking for him and former Pro Bowl selection Willis McGahee operating as Rice’s backup.

During the regular season, the Ravens had the fifth-ranked rushing attack as Rice rushed for a career-high 1,339 yards with McGahee rushing for a dozen touchdowns.

“I believe that’s their strength,” Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney told Indianapolis reporters “I think what they want to do is ball control. I believe they want to keep the ball in their hands and run and pound the ball. That will keep the ball out of our offense’s hands.”

Rice rushed for 159 yards and two touchdowns against the Patriots.

Closing out the regular season against the Oakland Raiders to clinch a playoff berth, McGahee rushed for a career-high 167 yards and three touchdowns.

“Our game plan leading up to this game has been very simple,” Rice said. “We run the ball when we need to run. This is the time of year when the run game tends to emerge a little more. Everybody knows that.

“We’re just establishing ourselves as a team right now. I think we’re blossoming as a team.”

During the first game against the Colts, the Ravens lost, 17-15, despite rushing for 98 yards.

They failed to score a touchdown, getting stuffed in the red zone.

"When we get down there inside the 5, we’re going to have to rely on our run game to get the ball in the end zone," Flacco said. "That’s what we’ve done all year, and that’s the kind of team we are. The last time we played each other, they did a good job of stopping us. So we’ve got to make sure to come up big and get some scores down there."

INJURY UPDATE: Every player listed on each team’s respective injury report participated fully in practice Friday and all are listed as probable.

The Ravens listed the following players as probable: offensive tackle Jared Gaither (ankle, toe), inside linebacker Tavares Gooden (knee), tight end Todd Heap (back), wide receiver Derrick Mason (hand), safety Ed Reed (groin, foot) and cornerback Cary Williams (hamstring).

For the Colts, the injury report includes: defensive end Ervin Baldwin (groin), middle linebacker Gary Brackett (quadriceps), defensive end Raheem Brock (hip), safety Melvin Bullitt (shoulder), defensive end Keyunta Dawson (knee), tackle Ryan Diem (elbow), defensive back Aaron Francisco (quadriceps), defensive end Dwight Freeney (foot), wide receiver Pierre Garcon (hand), cornerback Tim Jennings (knee), defensive tackle Antonio Johnson (shoulder), offensive tackle Charlie Johnson (foot), defensive end Robert Mathis (shoulder), defensive tackle Dan Muir (shoulder), quarterback Curtis Painter (ankle), cornerback Jerraud Powers (hamstring), guard Jamey Richard (shoulder), tight end Gijon Robinson (knee), linebacker Clint Session (knee), offensive tackle Tony Ugoh (knee), kicker Adam Vinatieri (right hip) and wide receiver Reggie Wayne (knee).

OFFICIATING CREW: The officiating crew assigned to tonight’s playoff game is led by Carl Cheffers, and they have called the fewest pass-interference penalties this season.

They have only thrown five pass interference flags while working 15 regular-season games. And they have thrown the fifth-fewest penalties this season with a total of 180.

QUICK HITS: Since taking over for an injured Lardarius Webb, new kick returner Jalen Parmele has provided consistency in the return game. He averaged 31.4 yards on nine kickoff returns during the regular season. “The thing that Jalen brings to the table is running back skills,” special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said. “He’s been able to go in there and catch the ball well, secure the ball well and then run vertically.” … Former Ravens kicker Matt Stover has converted 15 of 20 postseason field goal attempts. “Matt’s a highly skilled player,” Rosburg said. “He’s a veteran with poise, so I suspect that this environment is not going to be anything that’s going to bother him. He’ll go out there and play his usual game, I suspect. I suspect our kicker is going to do the same thing. We have a lot of confidence in Billy [Cundiff]. They’re never going to be on the field at the same time, I don’t think, so it won’t exactly be a battle between those two guys. It will be more the field goal block team against their field goal unit.” … The Ravens lost a muffed punt that struck safety Tom Zbikowski’s pads against New England. NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira later said that an instant replay would have awarded the ball to Baltimore since the Patriots didn’t have control of the ball before heading out of bounds. “We didn’t get the guy blocked at the line of scrimmage, which led to him running down the field and we never stopped him before the ball got there,” Rosburg said. “It was a really good punt. It had really good hang time and we had to fair catch it. By that time, the gunner was right on top of us and it was our fault. We messed it up. We’ve got to do better this week in that situation because this punter is fully capable of hitting those kinds of balls as well.”

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and Ravens24x7.com. He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors.  More from Aaron Wilson


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