A few years back, the Ravens welcomed the Steelers to town on Thanksgiving Day. This time around, it’s Christmas, and the venue switches to Heinz Field. Can the Ravens keep their playoff hopes alive with a win?
Let’s take a look at the stats, quotes, and more in this week’s CRAB BAG c/o Casa Mia’s White Marsh.
KNOW THY ENEMY
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
LB C.J. Mosley on the emotions of a Christmas Day Ravens-Steelers playoff-type game:
“We put ourself in a great scenario; they did too. We know what they’re going to do. They know what we’re going to do. Obviously, they’re going to scheme up some stuff, and we’re going to do the same. But at the end of the day, it’s Pittsburgh versus the Ravens. So, we know it’s going to be four quarters [of action]. We’ve just got to get ready.”
“Some of the rookies are like, ‘Man, how is he out here?’ It’s not shocking, because ‘Sizzle’ is a team player. He’s going to do anything and everything – no matter what kind of adversity he’s facing – to give everything he’s got to the team. ‘Sizz’ is a freaking animal. No matter what, nothing is going to stop him from playing the game he loves and being 100 percent on the field every time.”
“In a league where playmakers and scorers are held in high regard, particularly on playoff teams, Tucker deserves strong consideration for the league’s top honor. While I’m fully aware that Mark Moseley (1982) is the only kicker to walk away with the MVP award, I think Tucker should have a chance to join him if he kicks the Ravens to the AFC North title.”
“He shows up every Sunday ready to go. He is a super passionate person on Sunday, and it shows in his play. Having said all of that, he is just a good player. He runs well and catches the ball. His speed, obviously, allows him to separate from people underneath and deep. He has beaten a lot of people underneath this year and has got some yards after catches in recent weeks, and that is what has been a big part of it for us – just beating man-to-man [coverage] underneath and letting him catch and run.”
ESPN broadcaster Jon Gruden on the Ravens’ defense:
“All you have to do is turn on the film and remember the slogan: ‘Play like a Raven.’ That’s what I see from this defense. They play their [butts] off. They can line up a couple of different ways in their base defense, but they never really play a base defense. They’re always in their sub package, and I love it. They have a very creative, three-down, three-linebacker, five-defensive-back sub package that I love. They play man coverage, they play zone coverage, and they play zone pressure coverage, and they don’t give up big plays. They can all tackle. It just looks like they’re having fun.”
GETTING TO KNOW YOU ~ Q&A with Steve Smith Sr.
To what do you compare the Steelers-Ravens rivalry?
“Elmer Fudd vs. Bugs Bunny, because they dislike each other and are always trying to find creative ways to get to the other one.”
What is it about a Christmas Day Ravens-Steelers game that excites you?
“You definitely look forward to these games. These are the kind of games that, as a kid, you watch and want to be involved in. Those are the kind of games I watched and said, ‘Man, I wish I could do that. I wish I could be that guy playing in those games.’ Now, I’m that guy.”
Of what individual honor are you most proud?
“Comeback Player of the Year [in 2005] is the one that stands out. When you get hurt, a lot of people don’t understand how much rehab you have to do to come back.”
What motivates you?
“My main motivator is myself. On the tough days, all I have is myself. On the great days, I can’t fool myself. What is hard is as you get older, you are able to weigh the percentages and the probabilities, because you have been doing it for a long enough time, and you can talk yourself out of it. It is easier to talk yourself out of doing something than it is to talk yourself into doing something. But every day, there is something new that I can learn, and there is a new challenge. That is what brings me to work every day and keeps me going.”
What do you like about being a Raven?
“The feistiness here, for sure. I’m not the only feisty one; there are a lot of other guys, too. Look at me and ‘Sizz’ [Terrell Suggs]. We are like long lost brothers.”
Was it good to put your locker next to Terrell Suggs’?
“That was a great idea. Anytime something starts in the locker room, it starts over there.”
When you came back this season, one of the first things you said was, “The bully is back.” What does that mean?
“You are not out there to say things like, ‘Excuse me,’ or ‘Pardon me.’ We are out here to play ball. We are not out here to make friends. We are not out here to gain your respect. I am not walking away saying, ‘Man, I hope that guy respects me.’ You just go out there, do your job and you do it well enough to where the opponent feels like, ‘Hey, we need to change up the game plan when this guy comes to town.’ That is what I mean by being a bully.”
Is there a switch that you turn on during the game?
“Yes, there is a switch. But I also love football, because I get to say how I feel and react and not think. It gets me in trouble sometimes. I probably shouldn’t say some things or make a face as much as I do. But here is the thing: If you carry a camera around and follow everybody around long enough, they are going to say some things that you do not want on camera. I’m just in a profession where cameras are always around me.”
Has your career gone exactly how you thought it would?
“No. (laughter) I never thought it would be like this. There are a lot of people that didn’t think so either, but I am just like them. Wow, 16 years.”
HEY, YOU LOOK FAMILIAR! ~ Key Connections
Ravens WR Mike Wallace was selected by the Steelers in the third round of the 2009 draft. He spent four seasons in Pittsburgh, where he earned Pro Bowl honors in 2011 after leading the team in receptions (72), receiving yards (1,193) and receiving TDs (8).
Steelers RB Fitzgerald Toussaint started his career as a Raven when the team signed him as a rookie free agent in 2014. Toussaint saw action in four regular season games and both postseason contests before joining the Steelers in 2015.
Steelers WRs coach Richard Mann served in the same capacity for the Baltimore Colts (1982-84) and the Baltimore Ravens (1997-98). In 1985, Mann was hired as the wide receivers/tight ends coach for the Cleveland Browns, where he coached Ravens GM/executive vice president and Hall of Fame TE Ozzie Newsome (1978-90).
Ravens WR Steve Smith Sr. and Steelers RB DeAngelo Williams combined for 17,060 all-purpose yards in Carolina from 2006-13. Steelers S Mike Mitchell joined them in 2013, and Steelers player engagement coordinator Terry Cousin played CB during the 2002-03 seasons while Smith Sr. was with the Panthers.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and Steelers special teams coordinator Danny Smith coached together in Philadelphia in 1998. Harbaugh was the ST coordinator from 1997-2006 and coached the secondary in 2007, while Smith led the special teams units from 1995-96 and the DBs during the 1997-98 seasons. Ravens secondary coach Leslie Frazier (1999-2002) took over as DBs coach after Smith.
LAUGH OF THE WEEK AT EXPENSE OF RAVENS’ OPPONENT
And Professor Hinkle…
(yes, Cowher and Hiney are long gone…but the hate lives on on my heart.)