Tag: The Ravens

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.

The Mile High Miracle

Ravensbroncos

Words: Kyle Simpson, Ravens Correspondent

The Mile High Miracle. That is the title that the Ravens game earned on Sunday after the Ravens upset the first seed Broncos 38-35 in double overtime. The Ravens shocked everybody by keeping pace with the explosive Denver offense helmed by Peyton Manning, tying the Broncos in every single quarter of the game, score for score. Let’s break down this victory that some are calling the best in Ravens history.

The first quarter started off on the wrong foot with Trindon Holliday returning a Ravens punt for a 90-yard touchdown. The Ravens answered with a 59-yard bomb to Torrey Smith to tie it up early. The next drive started very poorly for Peyton Manning and the Broncos, with the second pass being intercepted by Corey Graham for a touchdown. The Ravens had taken the lead. Manning then orchestrated a drive to tie up the game again near the end of the first quarter at 14 with a touchdown pass to former Raven Brendon Stokley.

The second quarter picked up right where the first left off. Denver drove and took the lead with a 14-yard pass to Knowshon Moreno. The Ravens answered with another 32-yard pass to Torrey Smith, again beating Champ Bailey to tie it up going into half time, which was crucial considering that Denver would get the ball to start the second half.

And get the ball they did. Tridon Holliday returned another kick for seven points and putting Denver up 28-21. The rest of the quarter was punt after punt until the waning seconds of the third quarter when Ray Rice ran it in to tie it up for the fourth time that game. It all came down to the fourth quarter. Sound familiar?

Half way through the quarter, Denver pulled ahead thanks to a touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas. The Ravens had seven minutes to score seven points. The first time they got the ball, Jacoby Jones (he’ll be important later) dropped the possible first down pass on third and five, forcing the Ravens to punt with about three minutes left in regulation. Most thought this would be the end of Ray Lewis’ last ride, but he saw it another way. The defense made a stand and forced a Denver punt with just over a minute and a half left to play. The Ravens had a few good passes and got the 30 yard line. They advanced eight yards and were stumped at third and two. With a little over 30 seconds left. Joe Flacco hiked the ball on a Hail Mary for overtime. He scrambled out of the pocket to avoid a sack and heaved it down field at Jacoby Jones. Jones beat the safety guarding him and caught the 70-yard catch for a touchdown to tie the game within the last 30 seconds. The stuff of legend. One ESPN analyst called it the “Flacco Fling”.

Now, it was overtime. The most stressful part of the game was upon us. The Ravens got the first possession in hopes of getting a game-ending touchdown. However, the Ravens were forced to punt on both of their first two possessions and the Broncos punted on their first. The Broncos would have the ball at the end of the first overtime, if the MacBook (Manning) had not glitched. Manning rolled out of the pocket and tried to hit Brendon Stokley in stride, but instead found Corey Graham. This put the Ravens within ten yards of field goal range in the second overtime. Thanks to a great run by Ray Rice, the Ravens got there. Justin Tucker lined up the kick and split the uprights from 47-yards and the Ravens’ upset was complete. They were moving on the the AFC Championship for the second year in a row.

That was Saturday. What are the Ravens heading into this week? The New England Patriots. Deja Vu. Here we are, it had to go down this way. Could you see it going any other way? Not me, personally. And I am a really glad that this opportunity has risen again. I will be going more in depth later this week as the magic day approaches, but for now: the Ravens are nine and half point underdogs, again.

Many people are saying that this week was a fluke, that the Broncos mistakes were the reason the Ravens walked away victorious. That is a lie. The Ravens played just as hard as the Broncos did. And what makes good teams good? The ability to capitalize off of other team’s mistakes and miscues like interceptions, bad play calling and gaffed field goals. Joe Flacco out played Peyton Manning (by the way, Peyton Manning is considered “Elite” if you did not know). And let’s be honest with ourselves, if the Ravens special teams came to play, Denver could possibly lose 14 points oof of the kick returns. People hate to admit it, but the Ravens are here and they are ready to play in New Orleans.

I will close with this: the Ravens have just as good a chance as anybody to make it to the big dance on February 3rd. Saying the Ravens win on Saturday was fluke is a joke. Saying the Ravens will get smashed on Sunday is an even funnier joke. The boys in purple are just as fired up as ever. They feed off the energy of being the underdog, and this Sunday they are out for vengeance (without Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff this time). They will not give up. That is just who they are, they stick around to the bitter end. Ray Rice told reporters after the game Saturday: “We are a team of destiny. I’ll say it again: we are a team of destiny.” The Ravens players do not say die either.

ESPN Writes Off The Ravens

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Words: Kyle Simpson, Ravens Corespondent

The Ravens have a tough game ahead, no doubt (they are 9 point underdogs). The Broncos are a great team and it will be a great game on Saturday. Most of the sports writers in the community have written the Ravens off as an easy loss and already talking about a Denver-New England AFC Championship. Most notably ESPN as they ran an opinion article by Ashley Fox on their website front page titled “Thanks for the Memories, Because Sunday was Your Last Win, Ray Lewis. Your Career Ends in Denver.”

The article title led to massive amounts of outrage from the Ravens fan base. Calling the article “disrespectful” and “a joke”. The rage does not stop there though; in her article, Fox says, “Baltimore would have to short circuit the MacBook [Peyton Manning] to win Saturday. Remove the hard drive, pour beer on the keyboard, take a hammer to the screen, whatever works. That is the only-the only way that the Ravens can beat the Broncos…”

Granted, as a writer, Fox is entitled to her own opinion, but there is a line where your opinion should be toned back, especially in your title on the front page. No team should be written off, even if they are nine point underdogs, the way Fox wrote it. That is just bad taste on her part and the fans have a right to be upset. As one fan on the Ravens message board put it: “As much as I hate Skip [Bayless], this crosses the line.”

It is apparent that Fox is assuming that the Ravens team that showed up three weeks ago will be showing up with no changes on either side of the ball. Which is just simply untrue. Her article was completely biased and appeared to be completely based on the betting line.

A more in-depth analysis of Saturday’s game will be posted here later this week, but the Ravens are a very different team then they were three weeks ago. Expect a good match-up, despite the nine-point underdog status.