Monday, January 10, 2011

The Good, Bad, Ugly & The Megan Fox: Wildcard Game, Ravens @ Chiefs

This game had the early makings of another typical gut wrenching Ravens football game filled with offensively directed frustration and unnecessarily passive defense. I have to admit that thoughts of testing the league’s new overtime rules uncomfortably danced through my mind.

But then suddenly something snapped and it was a Kansas City Chief!

At the 6:40 mark of the second quarter with the Chiefs holding a 7-3 lead they faced a third and 8 from their own 48. In the face of pressure Matt Cassel hit RB Dexter McCluster out in the left flat who was almost simultaneously flattened by Ed Reed forcing a Kansas City punt.

Inspiring his team by playing with a heavy heart given the sobering news of his missing brother, Reed’s “jacked up” highlight hit on McCluster completely changed the momentum of the game, particularly when the Ravens were on defense, a defense that played lights out from that point forward. In fact the Ravens defense allowed only 24 net yards from that play to the game’s final gun.

The Wild Card Playoff win was a signal to the rest of the league and a confirmation to their fans of what the Baltimore Ravens are capable of when they are firing on all cylinders.

And yesterday, that’s exactly what happened…

THE GOOD: Leading 10-7 at 9:48 of the third quarter the Ravens were forced to defend a fourth and 1 attempt at their own 33 yard line. Kelly Gregg knifed his way into the Chiefs backfield to make the penetrating initial hit on Jamaal Charles, followed by a sea of white jerseys hell bent on cleaning up after Gregg and finishing the turnover on downs…Terrence Cody might not have shown up much on the stat sheet but his massive presence was felt nonetheless enabling the Ravens to stuff the interior run on a day when Haloti Ngata wasn’t at his best… Terrell Suggs had two sacks and four QB hurries but perhaps even more impressive was his ability to hold down the edge on Chiefs rushing attempts. He had two tackles for losses…Ray Lewis recovered from a bad tackling angle on Jamaal Charles’ TD run and rallied the team’s run defense to make needed adjustments to contain the dangerous Charles. He also added a sack and a key forced fumble to set up a Billy Cundiff field goal staking the Ravens to a two score lead at 16-7…The Ravens secondary shut out the dangerous Dwayne Bowe. He was blanketed so well that Bowe was not even targeted once the entire afternoon. They also combined for three interceptions of Matt Cassel who had been picked off only 7 times all season…

Anquan Boldin woke up from a 3 week nap to hall in 5 passes including a clutch TD catch on a skinny post in the back of the end zone… Todd Heap was a mismatch all afternoon for the Chiefs. He was too big for heralded Chiefs rookie safety Eric Berry and he was too quick and/or shifty for Chief linebackers. He had 10 catches and eclipsed the century mark with 108 receiving yards…Cam Cameron answered his critics including yours truly and executed a very solid game plan, save some of his red zone and short yardage play calling...Greg Mattison’s unit made the necessary halftime adjustments, choking off the run after the break and forcing the Chiefs to beat them by air and when they did, Mattison unleashed a few blitz packages that caught Cassel by surprise…When I first noticed Mike “Malice in his Heart” Carey as the game’s referee, visions of Detroit ’05 haunted me briefly. However outside of a very questionable non-call on an obvious helmet to helmet hit on Joe Flacco and some extremely exaggerated shenanigans with the back of Todd Heap’s helmet that Carey’s crew decided not to flag, this team of officials did a very nice job of controlling the game particularly when the frustrated Chiefs defense started to get a bit chippy during the game’s waning moments.

THE BAD: The Ravens offensive line struggled to provide any kind of push early in the game when running the ball and they too often had no answer for Pro Bowl DE/OLB Tamba Hali…Donte Stallworth enters the game seemingly for one of two reasons: to be a decoy on deep routes or to run a reverse, a play that apparently has seen its better days given Stallworth’s obvious tendencies.

THE UGLY: So let me get this straight – when a quarterback pulls down the ball in order not to throw it but in the process of avoiding the throw the ball is knocked out of his hands and it is then ruled a failed throw (i.e. incomplete pass)? This qualifies for things that make you go Hmmmm. Or is that WTF? The "tuck rule" is an ugly rule that needs to be buried once and for all. But then that might taint Mr. Gisele Bundchen’s legacy, wouldn’t it? …Haruki Nakamura handing the ball back to the Chiefs after intercepting could have been very costly. Fortunately Kelly Gregg bailed him out. It’s ok to emulate Ed Reed’s game on so many levels but not his insatiable desire to lateral the ball after turnovers.

THE MEGAN FOX AWARD: Joe Flacco delivered his best career performance, perhaps not statistically but when considering the game’s importance and the increasing concerns over his inability to deliver in the clutch and/or the post season, this game was a defining moment for the Ravens’ QB. Flacco was 25 of 34 for 265 yards and 2 scores without an interception (115.4 passer rating) while under pressure throughout the day. He also used his legs effectively to help extend drives (26 yards on 7 attempts). Some of those tight spirals were textbook throws. On the downside, Flacco needs to clean up his ball security particularly with the opportunistic Steelers up next on the schedule.


Scott said...

Tony, if you Photoshopped that Superman emblem over Megan Fox's exposed chest then I am done with this blog forever! =)

Harryos29 said...

Harry OS 29 Jan 10th.
...HEY SCOTT..Photoshopped or NOT MEGAN FOX is HOT. But not as HOT as the Ravens when they played in KC on Sunday.
.. I too was clutching my throat when I saw MIKE CAREY and his crew. One side note.. I know it was a play off game and you do not want to eject players, which may affect the game outcome! However, being an official myself, its the players responsibility to behave within the rules. Earlier in the game, you could read Le' Ron Mc Clains lips when after the Chiefs LB had put his hand up inside Le' Rons mask and tried to hurt his face! Then when KC was ripping at Todd Heaps helemet: had I been out there, there would have been a couple of CHIEFs EJECTED: PERIOD! That kind of behavior has no place on the field. Sure they were frustrated, because the Ravens were in the process of a big SMACK DOWN, thus ruining their play off hopes.
..Speaking of KC FANS...Where were they on Sunday? All we were told all week was how tough it was to play there, because of the deafing crowd. I'd love to hear from some Ravens Fans who made the trip to KC?
. Awesome plays that stuck in my mind!
1.) Mountain Cody tackling Charles and stripping the ball and giving his best Siragusa impression on smashing Rich Gannon.
2.) Ed Reeds smash of # 22 to force a 3rd down. (that Play changed the game IMHO).
3.) Major props to Todd Heap, record setting 10 catches.
4.) Boldins great TD catch on the skinny post.
...and finally Joe Flacco
who had the hand cuffs taken off and Joe was allowed to show his passing skills.
..Lets hope that Cam continues to call the same type of game next week in Pittsburgh; that is the only way the Ravens have a chance of winning at Heinz Field!! The Ravens need to challenge the Steelers weakness at Corner!!!!.

Jerry B said...

You pretty much nailed it, TL! Yes, this team is frustrating to watch at times because they don't (sometimes aren't allowed to) play up to their talent, which is as good as any in the league! Only Cam Cameron could turn Anquan Boldin into Mark Clayton, but yesterday, even Boldin was "allowed" into the mix. Memo to Cameron: yours is a "passing team", coach, and if you want to beat the Steelers, you'll go three wide to take away the blitz and pass their weak secondary into oblivion, with an occasional dish of....Rice! And, please put your QB in the shotgun where he's A.) more comfortable, B.) set to pass when he gets the ball, C.) sees the passing lanes and, D.) sees the pass rush! Many of his sacks come from wasted time backpeddling from under center! Memo to Mattison: great adjustment at halftime yestersday, coach; now, please pressure Big Ben, but contain him in the pocket where he's less effective than on the run! Oh, it will take more than 3 or 4 to accomplish that, but our secondary has proven capable of covering when the QB is hurried! Finally, there is no better team in the playoffs than the Ravens IF the talent is used and used...wisely!

Phil said...

It's so refreshing to have a poster like you you has more football knowledge than Cameron and Mattison...All they've done for the last 50 combined years of their lives is coach football. It's amazing to me how you are able to watch a game on TV each week and come to so many ingenious conclusions.

Jerry B said...

Phil: thanks for noticing! Mattison gets props for making adjustments in the second half, something he's rarely done this year if you've been playing close attention. His defense has blown leads multiple times this year in the fourth quarter due to his "soft" defensive philosophy, which works in college, but not the pros where QBs with time thrive on accuracy! As for Cameron, for most of the season he's managed to turn Anquan Boldin into Mark Clayton, who went to St. Louis with a rookie QB and became an instant success prior to his season ending injury! He has completely ignored Stallworth and, if I'm not mistaken, is solely responsible for personnel packages, game planning, setting the tempo and calling plays all year, which have failed, in my opinion, to utilize the talent at his disposal! Coaching in the NFL is a merry-go-round with so called "experienced" coaches hired and fired on a regular basis. Drew Brees blossomed after leaving Cameron & the Chargers and Cameron's 1-15 record in Miami speaks volumes about his competence. But, you go on believing the myth that their combined 50 years of experience qualifies them as competent.......

Jerry B said...

Phiil: I hope you watched this game because you would have seen just how inept this Ravens coaching staff is. Cameron does not know how to plan or call a game; and Mattison is nothing more than a recycled old colege coach who still thinks you can stop NFL QBs with a three man rush! This is an amateur coaching staff from top to bottom!