Tag: Harbaugh

Superstitions & This Isn’t Reed’s Last Ride

Words: Kyle Simpson

There are quite a few headlines coming out of the Ravens’ facility this week. Here’s a quick rundown of the news in Owings Mills:

The Ravens began practicing yesterday for the Big Dance on February 3rd. The Super Bowl patches have been placed on the jerseys and the camera crews from CBS have arrived at the facility to take headshots and interview video of the Ravens. With them, they brought a few props such as footballs, helmets and one other prop that had everybody talking. That prop was a genuine, un-engraved Vince Lombardi Trophy. The greatest prize in the NFL was within reach. And that is the exact reason Ray Lewis demanded it was put away. What he said was essentially that they had not earned the real trophy yet, so they do not deserve it. The CBS Associate Director said few teams actually have an issue with taking shots with the Lombari trophy, but the Ravens do not want to leave anything to chance. “I don’t want to jinx it. That seems like a jinx,” said cornerback Jimmy Smith to baltimoreravens.com.

The other major story developing at the Under Armour Performance Center was Ed Reed’s announcement that he was indeed playing next year; no matter if February 3rd is a win or loss, or if he is in a Ravens’ uniform next year. The 11-year saftey’s six-year contract ends this year and he is worth a pretty penny; a pretty penny that the Ravens might not be able to afford with the salary cap. Danelle Ellerbe, Carrey Willams and Paul Kruger all have contracts that need renewal. And all three might not be able to come back depending on how well contract negotiations go with Joe Flacco. My ideal situation is that the Ravens win the Super Bowl and Reed walks away with Ray Lewis after winning in his hometown and we see them in Canton this time in five years. But nobody really knows with Reed, he has marched to his own drum for years, flipping back and forth between retirement and staying. As he put it his press conference, “this isn’t my last ride, I just got a bike.” I sincerely hope he will not be riding that bike in New England. Really, he could ride anywhere but New England and I would be okay.

One more week to the big day!

Road to the HarBOWL

Harbowl

Words: Kyle Simpson

You know that numb feeling? The one of sheer disbelief? Well that feeling was strong with me on Sunday night as I watched the Baltimore Ravens clinch their first Super Bowl berth in 12 years. Once again, the Ravens pulled off the impossible. They are heading to the Big Easy for one last stop on the final ride of Ray Lewis, thanks to a 28-15 victory over the New England Patriots, logging yet another chapter of this story book season.

The game itself was very entertaining (less intense after the second half, unlike the last outing). Flacco and the offense continued their hot streak notching 28 points (21 of which where in the second half) and picking apart the Patriots offense. Anquan Boldin enjoyed two touchdowns, while Ray Rice and Dennis Pitta both got one a piece. Turns out Justin Tucker’s leg was not needed in the clutch like last week against the Broncos, which I am okay with.

What did this game prove? Flacco has arrived. Let me show you some numbers:

29/54, 320 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions

21/36, 240 yards, 3 touchdowns

The top numbers are the product of future Hall of Famer Tom Brady. The bottom were produced by Joe Flacco.

Would you believe me if I said in week 15 that the Joe Flacco that was laying face-down in the end zone after throwing a pick six would be the same Joe Flacco to out-duel two of football’s best quarterbacks of all time? I would not believe me. I would tell me that I am crazy. So what has happened to turn Joe around? Quite a few things.

First, The Ravens have finally found an offensive line that works, with Bryant McKinnie at left tackle and Michael Oher at right tackle (where he belongs, might I add), giving Flacco much more time to stretch plays and air the ball out more with his strong arm. Second, Joe is a MUCH better post-season quarterback. His levelheaded attitude really pays off in high intensity games when a team needs a level head under the center. And finally: Ray. Lewis.

Lewis told Joe something before the game in Denver. Something that, I think, will change Joe Flacco for good. Ray Lewis told Joe Flacco that he, Joe Flacco, was the general of the Ravens now, and Flacco had to lead the Ravens to victory. A position that Lewis has held for 17 years now rested squarely on the shoulders of the fifth-year player out of Delaware. Lewis commented after the game that he saw something different in Joe’s eyes during the game in Denver. A fire. I saw it too. I saw the same fire Sunday, as he picked apart New England and proved every pundit, analyst, hater and Skip Bayless wrong. He is Baltimore’s quarterback. He deserves a top five spot, and if it takes a Super Bowl ring to prove that that spot is his, then I’m inclined to believe he will get it.

He got the job done last year. He’s getting the job done this year. He has one game left between him, and what he has always deserved: respect.

This brings me back to number 52, Ray Lewis. The last game in his career will be the Super Bowl. Nobody could write a better ending to his storybook career. On his last playoff ride, he has participated in some of the best moments in Raven’s history: A double overtime playoff win and the vengeance upon New England to send the Ravens to their second Super Bowl. He will also never forget the last time he came out dancing into M&T Bank Stadium to the thunderous roar of 70,000 people. Hopefully he will add a Super Bowl win to his list of unbelievable moments on his last playoff ride in two weeks.

We are just under two weeks away from the Super Bowl, and I will have more coverage coming over the next two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.