Tag: Baltimore Ravens

Jacoby Jones to be on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars”

Words: Kyle Simpson, Ravens Corespondent

Jacoby Jones is a self-named “dancing fool.” And he was known this season for his crazy touchdown celebration dances, including his jazzed up rendition of Ray Lewis’ “Squirrel” during the Super Bowl.

Looks like Jacoby Jones will be able to take his dancing abilities to the big stage on the small screen this year on ABC’s widely successful reality show “Dancing with the Stars”.

He was asked the week after the Super Bowl on Jimmy Kimmel’s Late Night Show and he said “I’d love to. It’d be fun.”

Come out and support Jacoby on March 18th when the show starts up. Other NFL players that have appeared on the show in the past include Pittsburghs Hiens Ward and Green Bay’s Donald Driver. Both of whom won the year they appeared on the show.

In other news, contract negotiations are continuing with Joe Litna and Pat Moriarty on the terms of Joe Falcco’s new contract. They have until next Monday to bang out a deal before they have to use the $20 million franchise tag. All of that $20 million would count against the Ravens $17.5 million cap space. Now with some simple math, it is apparent that the Ravens cannot afford the exclusive rights tag and they MUST make a deal with the Super Bowl XLVII MVP.

Knowing these kinds of deals, expect it to be made in the eleventh hour on March 3rd  or 4th. The Ravens will still manage to stress me out in the off season, in true Ravens form.

Ravens-Broncos Preview: A Chess Match for the Ages

Words: Kyle Simpson, Ravens Corespondent

The weekend is finally upon us where, once and for all, a week of speculation is put to rest. The Ravens go to battle with the Denver Broncos in a game that many have written off as an easy win for Denver, leaving the Ravens as 10-point underdogs. Let me tell you why it is not wise to write off the Baltimore Ravens.

The team that played three weeks ago and got smashed by the Broncos in Baltimore will not be showing up this week. The Ravens offense as of late has been stepping up to make plays, unlike in the last match-up where the first half was plagued by turnovers that Denver capitalized on easily. Joe Flacco put up fantastic numbers against the Colts last week (12/23, 282 yards, 2 touchdowns, 125.6 quarterback rating) and played very well in the Giants game.

If the Ravens want to win, the offense needs to come out strong and maintain a presence in the game. The Ravens have also had quite a few players step up and make plays when they need them to, such as corner backs Chykie Brown and Corey Graham. Both of who have been playing well the last few weeks they have started. The Ravens have also appeared to have figured out their offensive line situation by putting Bryant McKinnie at left tackle and putting Micheal Oher at right tackle, where he belongs. The offensive seemed to hold up well against the Colts, giving Flacco a lot of time in the pocket and holding the Colts to one sack. Another major part of the Ravens’ offense has been Ray Rice (rushed for over 100 yards, despite two fumbles) and Bernard Pierce (rushed for a combined 300 yards in the last two games) on the ground.

The Ravens also are a healthier team with safety Bernard Pollard, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, right guard Marshal Yanda, tight end Ed Dickson, and of course Ray Lewis all making returns to the field. Out of all of these players, Lewis brings the most impact. Not necessarily physical impact (though Lewis did lead the team last week with 13 tackles), Lewis brings a mental presence unmatched by any other player on the Ravens defense. He, just like Peyton Manning, is a chess master at football.

Oh, yeah. Manning. That guy. You have probably heard his name all week. And for good reason, he is probably one of the best quarterbacks to ever live. Bernard Pollard even called him “A MacBook” (which is where Ashley Fox of ESPN got her clever opening line for her article she posted earlier in the week). Is he a computer? Coach John Harbaugh said in his press conference earlier in the week, “he might have the brain of a computer, but he is still a man.” Could not put it better myself. Can you one hundred percent shut down Manning? No, but you sure can contain him. He threw for just over 200 yards against the Ravens four weeks ago, his fewest this year. He is also historically is shaky in the post season, Manning is 0-3 in his post season career in game below forty degrees (it is supposed to be around seventeen degrees at kick off) and 1-3 in post season games after a bye week. Manning is not a young guy either. He is 36. As Gerry Sandusky put it, “He has to battle Mother Nature and Father time.”

So am I saying that the Ravens have the win locked up and should begin preparations for the AFC Championship because it is going to be a bit brisk out in Denver? Of course not. What I am saying is: do not count the boys in purple out. They have surprised in the past and they absolutely love when they are the underdogs. They feed off the energy to prove people wrong and go out and play hard. If they can contain the Denver offense and Flacco and the Ravens offense show up ready to work, there is a very good chance the Ravens move on.
Expect a good match-up between the Broncos and the Ravens. Forget the point spread. My prediction is 23-20, Ravens out on top. We, in all likelihood, will be throwing Justin Tucker a parade when he gets back to Baltimore. Ray Lewis’ career will not end in Denver, contrary to popular belief.

The Last Dance

Words: Kyle Simpson, Ravens Correspondent

Baltimore, MD – It was a bittersweet day walking into M&T Bank Stadium yesterday. Everybody was walking in knowing what to expect, but not really prepared to face the hard truth, this was the last time they were going to see Ray Lewis dance out of the tunnel and play in M&T Bank Stadium.

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It was the most crowded I have ever seen the stadium before the game, most of the 71,284 attendees were in their seats ten minutes before the game to make sure they did not miss Ray coming out of the tunnel. The Indianapolis Colts were introduced coming onto the field, meeting a mix of cheers and booing, the former for Coach Chuck Pagano and the latter for the team many believed were stolen from Baltimore. After that was over an announcement came over the loudspeaker, “Ladies and gentlemen, here. Come. THE RAVENS!” and the crowd went berserk. The offense and back up defensive players made a tunnel for the starting defensive players. Name after name was called met with cheering and clapping from the crowd for their beloved defense as per usual, “Terrence Cody”, “Haloti Ngata”, “Terrell Suggs”. Most of the players kept their usual celebrations short, Terrell Suggs especially. Instead of walking into the crowd of his teammates flapping his arms like wings and then standing in the middle and raising his arms, he walked half way, looked back at the tunnel then ran the rest of the way. Then Ed Reed ran out putting his index finger to his lips and pointed back at the tunnel. The moment had arrived, they showed Ray in the tunnel on the big screen, on his hands and knees, head on the floor, saying a prayer before running out.

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“Thirteen-time pro-bowler…,” the crowd begins to cheer, “two-time defensive player of the year…,” the noise level goes from a dull roar to an all out frenzy of sound, “number fifty-two. RAY. LEWIS.” In that moment, it was the loudest I have ever heard M&T Bank Stadium get. Lewis did the dance that got me into football and was met by hugs and high-fives from the other 52 men on the roster. There was not a single dry eye in the stadium after that. Every person in that stadium was ready to do what ever they had to to give the man a win in his last home game, players and fans alike. Whenever Lewis’ face would appear on the big screen the crowd would cheer and scream. They wanted to send the man that had been there literally since the beginning of the franchise off right, and let him know how much what he had done for Baltimore football meant to them.

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At the end of the day, Lewis notched a team leading 13 tackles, and was instrumental in holding the Colts to only three field goals. Lewis walked off the field after the last defensive series with his good friend Ed Reed and was met by more high-fives and hugs from the coaching staff. He thought he had played his last series at M&T Bank Stadium. He was in the process of taking off his pads when head coach John Harbaugh told him to put his pads back on. With thirty-five seconds on the clock, referee Micheal Carrie announced “Number fifty-two is declaring eligible.” Ray Lewis’ last down of football in M&T Bank was played on offense as a running back. And as Joe Flacco took a knee to run the clock out and win the game, Lewis did one last dace at mid-field. One last Squirrel, met by a chant of “Thank you, Ray” and monumental cheering. He did a “Ripken Victory Lap” around the field (like Cal Ripken did when he retired, hence the name) thanking all the fans that had supported him over his 17 year career.

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Though it was Lewis’ final home game, the number of games he has left in his career is still to be determined. The Ravens face off against Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Denver on Saturday at 4:30 PM. From there the Ravens would advance to their third AFC Championship in five years against the winner of the Patriots-Texans game held on Sunday at 1 PM.

Overall, the entire game was a surreal experience for me. It was hard to comprehend that this was the last time I get to see Ray Lewis play in person. As many people have said on radio call-ins and comments on articles about Lewis, he was an inspiration to the players, coaches, and fans. There will be no one like him, and I look forward to listening to his Hall of Fame acceptance speech in five years. But for now, I am excited to watching my favorite team make a run for the Super Bowl, more emotionally charged than ever.

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The general vibe of the players status updates, interviews, and tweets after the game that I read on the way home from the stadium all said one thing: “We have to get to Louisiana, for him.” Expect inspired football from number 52 and the men in purple over the next few weeks as they make a run for Louisiana.

Raven Ray Lewis to Retire At the End of the Season

Words: Kyle Simpson

Baltimore, MD – I have been alive for 17 years. As a Ravens fan, I have never experienced a team without Ray Lewis either on the field or on the sideline. The number 52 has become synonymous with Baltimore football over the last 17 years, but following this year’s playoff run it will be the last time Ray Lewis steps on the football field as a player. The Raven that I had grown up with is retiring.

Lewis was an inspiration to his teammates, family, and fans. Not only professionally (although having 13 Pro Bowls and the titles of Super Bowl MVP and Defensive Player of the Year do gain you more than a little credibility), but personally as well. He more often than not would lead the team in a pregame huddle that would fill the team with a fire to do what was necessary to win, preaching about sacrifice and not playing for yourself, but for your team. He was also vocal after a loss, most noticeably after the AFC Championship last year when the Ravens Super Bowl hopes were dashed by a dropped catch and missed field goal. He said “We did what we had to do, we did all we were supposed to do, now it’s our job to make sure we finish it next time.”

Lewis cited the main reason of his retirement in the press conference held early today as he just wanted to be with his kids as his oldest son got a full ride to the University of Miami. Lewis vowed to be there to watch his son play football and break the generational cycle of fathers abandoning their children that he had been exposed to as a boy. “My children have made the ultimate sacrifice for the last 17 years, it’s my turn to sacrifice for them.”

As of now, this Sunday at one o’clock will be the very last time Ray Lewis steps on M&T Bank Stadium’s turf as a Raven. The only way the Ravens can host his last potential AFC Championship game is if the Cincinnati Bengals win all of their slated playoff games (which would be Houston then Denver, both away) and the Ravens have to go through the Colts at home, then play away at New England. “We’ve got to battle for that, we’ve got to get to Louisiana for him,” stated Ravens’ Safety Bernard Pollard.

Ray has my best wishes going forward and eternal gratitude for showing me what life is really about, he will never know the way he touched so many lives by just speaking his mind. There will never be anybody like him to ever put on shoulder pads. And while his retirement does not come as a complete shock, it is still heartbreaking nonetheless. 52 forever, Ravens Nation.

“I want to live long after my records have fallen, long after my rings have tarnished. And whatever you got to do, to chase your legacy every second of your life. Will you be remembered, how will you be remembered, why wouldn’t you fight for the greatest achievement ever? Leave. Your. Mark. To endure. Forever.”- Ray Lewis

Photo used with permission from Keith Allison

Ravens Lose Third Straight Game

Words: Kyle Simpson

Disappointment, shame, frustration. There are not enough words in the English language to describe the Ravens third straight loss, this time to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Mistake after mistake left fans stunned as the Ravens struggled through most of the game, getting shut out going into halftime 17-0. The offense was dead (it took two quarters to get a first down), the banged-up defense played fairly well considering they were up against one of the greatest quarterbacks to walk the Earth with their five best tacklers injured. But the Ravens fired Cam Cameron! Their problems were supposed to be over on offense! So why did the offense still perform extremely poorly (to put it mildly)?

What yesterday proved is that Cameron was not the entire (although he was a major part of) the problem. Joe Flacco let down the team this time, though most fans would argue that he is the reason the Ravens have lost three straight. I would argue that the blame needs to be partially shifted away from Flacco and to the offensive line. They have had problems last few years but especially atrocious the last few games. Flacco has little to no time in the pocket to get the ball out before the other team’s defense is in his face. The counter to that is Flacco needs to get the ball out to his receivers quicker and Jim Caldwell needs to change the place to compensate for the weak line, forcing Flacco to make shorter but quicker passes as opposed to longer plays that force him to spend time trying to sling the ball down the field while the offensive line collapses in front of him. As much as you can blame the offensive line for the offense woes, I will give the Flacco-haters merit and admit that Flacco needs to get it together. My message to him is that if he wants $100 million, he has to play like he deserves it. Quarterbacks that get paid that kind of money do not throw stupid picks that give away seven points like he did yesterday. He does not play consistently, he cannot read the defense, and he just does not make smart choices.

Flacco is due to get his contract re-negotiated this year, which leaves the Ravens with a choice. To get rid of or not to get rid of number 5? If you get rid of Flacco, you have a chance to pick up Matt Flynn from Seattle, who was a very productive back-up to Aaron Rodgers at one point, or Alex Smith from San Francisco, who has also proven himself not to be a push over. Those options are not guaranteed however, and I would not bet on either of those guys to end up wearing purple and black next year. You could trade him from a high pick to teams like Kansas City or Arizona to try and get somebody in the draft, but then you risk the guy you pick up being a bust. The third, and I feel most likely scenario is that the Ravens resign Flacco for one last shot to prove himself to not be Kyle Boller round two. It is hard to imagine, but Flacco is too good to let go, he has taken us to the playoffs 5 straight years now and, although inconsistent at times, he has proven that he can play at an elite level. The off-season will be very interesting this year for general manager Ozzie Newsome, John Harbaugh, and Steve Bisciotti as they discuss the quarterback’s fate.

On a more positive note, despite that terrible loss on Sunday, the Ravens have clinched a playoff berth with Pittsburgh’s loss to the Cowboys in overtime. Although many are saying that the Ravens don’t deserve to utter the “P-Word”, it is a bright spot in an otherwise gray day of football. The Ravens are currently gearing up to take on Manning’s brother, Eli, next Sunday at 4:15. If the Ravens pull out a win, they clinch the AFC North for the second straight year. This will be the fourth week in a row they have had the opportunity to clinch.

Baltimore Ravens Release Cam Cameron

Words: Kyle Simpson

Following two heartbreaking losses, the Ravens and their fans were aware that change was needed in the upper echelon of the coaching staff. That change came Monday morning with the firing of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and the promotion of quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell. Leaving fans wondering, was this the right call to make this late in the season?

The short answer is that only time and results will tell. Cameron has led the Ravens to four winning seasons (and a winning record in the first 13 games of the current season) and two AFC championships. Through those four years Cameron had his moments of great play calling, but his inconsistency led to many moments where the offense would find itself struggling to find momentum. When Cameron would give quarterback Joe Flacco a little breathing room to call a few plays from the line of scrimmage, the offense would get great momentum and be generally very good at marching down the field. However, Cameron generally held onto the playing calling which had mixed results at best, many times having fans shouting “Cam you suck!” or “Cam needs to go!” Begging the question, now that Cameron is gone, will the offense magically become consistent? To be blunt, no. It won’t. Caldwell has no time to rework the current offense or generate new plays with only three weeks left. The true test will be next year after a full offseason and training camp, giving Caldwell much more time to work with the entire offense as opposed to just Flacco.

“My responsibility is the entire team and what’s best fir them right now. We need a change. Our plan and goals are to win games, win our division, and get to the playoffs,” said head coach John Harbaugh Monday in his press conference announcing the move.

Caldwell came from Indianapolis this year to help coach Flacco and improve communication between Cameron and Flacco; little did he know he’d be helming the offense by the end of the year. Back in Indianapolis he led a generally no-huddle attack with Peyton Manning (that was generally prolific game in and game out. Not to say that Flacco will suddenly play at a Peyton Manning-like level, but he will run a similar offense.

“It’s not a system change,” Caldwell commented in his press conference Monday afternoon,” Obviously the Ravens offense is the Ravens offense. It is not a philosophical change.”

Best wishes to Cameron and his family as they move forward, Cam Cameron will have many opportunities ahead of him. Harbaugh echoed the sentiment Monday, “Cam is going to go on and coach. He is going to be coaching very soon in the National Football League. A five-year run as an offensive coordinator in this league is pretty good.”

Pittsburgh Steelers Defeat Baltimore Ravens

Words: Kyle Simpson

Baltimore, MD – Frustration. It’s the only word that can really come to mind when describing Sunday afternoon’s match up between the Ravens and Steelers, ending in a 23-20 victory for Pittsburgh in the final three seconds of the game.

Going into the game, the general buzz among Ravens fans was that Steelers’ quarterback Ben Rothelisberger was ruled out and that the Steelers ended up starting their third string quarterback Charlie Batch who had an overall 5-3 record starting for the Steelers going into Sunday’s game. Considering the third string start with the 15-game home win streak and the 14-straight divisional wins; this game was shaped up as an easy win for the Ravens.

And it looked that way for the first half. The Ravens played fairly well, limiting Pittsburgh to only two field goals and got two of their own on top of a 31-yard touchdown pass to Ravens’ receiver Anquan Boldin after Steelers receiver Antonio Brown threw an interception to Ravens’ corner-back Corey Graham on a trick play. Going into half time with a 13-6 lead, the Ravens were confident. It all went sour in the second half though.

The Steelers redeemed their offensive showing in the first half (only 93 yards total) with a 73-yard drive for a 16-yard touchdown run by Jonathon Dwyer to tie the game at 13. Thanks to an inexplicable fumble by Steelers’ receiver Emmanuel Sanders to give the Ravens the ball back at their own 37, Ravens’ QB Joe Flacco was able to drive down the field and get seven points on a 34-yard run by Ravens’ running-back Ray Rice (not as impressive as the “Hey Diddle Diddle” play the week before, but good enough). The Steelers took the ball back and immediately drove down in scoring range to tie the game up again. Ravens’ safety Ed Reed would not allow that to happen, though. After miraculously intercepting the ball and running it back about 30 yards, Reed had given Flacco and the offense the chance they needed to get a two possession lead over the Steelers with a little over 10 minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

But Reed’s effort was wasted as Flacco was strip sacked by Steelers linebacker James Harrison on third and five to give the Steelers the ball back on the Ravens 27 yard line. With 7:24 left, Batch connected with Steelers’ receiver Heath Miller with 7:24 left in the game. The Ravens ended up punting the ball away to never get it back. The Steelers ran the clock down and scored the game winning field goal as time expired. The third string quarterback that everybody thought would hand the Ravens their playoff-clinching victory ended up out-playing Flacco and handing their first home loss in two years. “We were disappointed by our first loss at home in two years, that’s tough.” commented coach John Harbaugh at his press conference yesterday, “But now it’s our job to start a new streak, and that’s what will be our goal going forward.”

After the game many people were calling for Flacco’s head. Saying that he is not a good quarterback, that he was the full and only reason for the loss. While I will give the angry hoard of Flacco-hating fans that he had a bad game (16 for 34 on pass attempts and an ugly interception throw out of desperation), it is not his fault that the Ravens lost that game. Yes, he fumbled the ball. No, he was not playing smart football. I encourage those fans that would rather have Flacco’s head on a stake than have him start another game to ask themselves: is it REALLY all his fault? The Raven’s offensive line is a surprise every week these days. There is only so much Flacco can do when the defense is in his face the entire game because the offensive line gets beat like a drum on a regular basis. There were also multiple occasions when Flacco would put the ball in the receiver’s hands and it would still end up on the ground. Cam Cameron also must take part of the blame. His play calling is uninspired, predictable, and lacks any creativity on his part. Is this some sort of argument to say Flacco is off the hook for the loss? No, he made poor decision after poor decision and got sacked multiple times when he should have thrown the ball away and it is time for him to start playing like the elite quarterback he claims he is.

But one bad game on his part is not enough of a reason not to re-sign him like some fans want. He has led the Ravens to four winning seasons and the same number of trips to the playoffs the last four years, and has a good shot this year of doing the same. Flacco is all the Ravens have. There are too many other holes to fill with draft spots without worrying about replacing our quarterback; holes such as the offensive and defensive lines and buffing up the linebacker corps to try and add speed to the pass rush; which has been noticeably absent since Terrell Suggs tore his Achilles tendon last April. Not to mention fill the hole that will be left by the aging Ray Lewis if and when he retires.

Until the day that Flacco plays consistently bad and the Ravens hold a losing record, I stand by him as Baltimore’s quarterback.

As it stands now, the Ravens hold a two game lead over the Steelers in the AFC North, but fall three games behind the Houston Texans and into the number three seed in the conference as the New England Patriots win the three-way tie between themselves, Baltimore, and Denver. With four games left in the regular season, the Ravens are still in control of their destiny going forward despite the minor bump in the road.