Ravens sacks leader Terrell Suggs earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl Wednesday, where he will join four teammates that represented the AFC a year ago.
Suggs, fellow linebacker Ray Lewis, offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, safety Ed Reed and cornerback Chris McAlister were all named to the 2004 Pro Bowl.
When head coach Brian Billick announced the selections to his team following its Wednesday walk-through, Suggs got the biggest cheer.
“I didn’t think I was going to go this year, for the simple fact that I didn’t go last year,” Suggs said. “I thought it was just a popularity contest, and I didn’t think I was that popular yet. I get to go over there and play with Ray and Ed and Chris and JO and the other Pro Bowl players, so I’m happy.”
Suggs has recorded 9½ sacks this year, tied for third in the AFC. He has also become a complete player in his second NFL season, playing the entire year as an outside linebacker.
Suggs won Defensive Rookie of the Year honors a year ago, but played solely in passing situations for most of the season. This year, he has 61 tackles, recovered two fumbles and forced another.
For Ogden and Lewis, an invitation to the Pro Bowl has become an annual tradition. Ogden is making his eighth consecutive visit, a team record, while Lewis is going for the seventh time.
“We like to refer to it as the Jonathan Ogden Invitation, as opposed to the Pro Bowl,” said Ravens coach Brian Billick. “As we know, the Pro Bowl also has sort of a cumulative presence, which is right, to a degree. [We are] well represented.”
Ogden earned a berth despite missing four games due to various injures. In the 10 games he has started, the Ravens have averaged 141.9 rushing yards per game. In those he has missed, they have gained just 95.8 per contest.
Lewis again leads the Ravens in tackles with 184, has recovered two fumbles and forced another. While Lewis has not made as many game-changing plays as he did a year ago, he has consistently played at a high level, helping the Ravens rank sixth in total defense and fourth in points allowed per game.
“It’s the same feeling now [as it was the first time],” Lewis said. “Every year you go out and you always want the respect of your peers, the respect of your fans, the respect of your coaches and opposing coaches. Anytime you gain that respect from all three aspects, you have to be overwhelmed.”
Reed, who leads the league with eight interceptions and is a candidate for NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and McAlister are both making their second visit to Honolulu.
Reed also has two defensive touchdowns, including the NFL-record 106-yard interception return against the Browns on national television.
McAlister’s stats are not as gaudy as some of his teammates, but that is due in large part to the fact that teams do not throw on him very often. McAlister has an interception, two fumble recoveries, seven pass defenses and 39 tackles.
The corner also has a pair of defensive touchdowns, but he was not sure if that was enough to get picked.
“I didn’t know. I didn’t think so,” McAlister said. “You never know what’s going to happen. It is what it is. You see guys that get in, they stay in. It’s hard to kick guys out.”
Kicker Matt Stover was selected as a first alternate. Stover, a Pro Bowler in 2000, ranks second in the AFC in field goal percentage (92.9) and third in points (104).
Suggs was interviewed by NFL Network’s Rich Eisen shortly after he got the news, which will appear on “Total Access” at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Also, Lewis will appear on ESPN’s NFL Pro Bowl special Wednesday night.
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
After standing toe-to-toe with the defending World Champions for 30 minutes, the Ravens saw first-hand what is needed to take the next step.
In the Patriots’ 24-3 home victory Sunday, as Gillette Stadium was swamped in a heavy rain storm, the Patriots’ momentum overtook Baltimore like a tidal wave.
New England capitalized on good defense, a big turnover and made virtually no mistakes in the game’s final half to win for the 17th straight time at home.
“We just clearly weren’t a good enough football team today to come in and challenge the World Champions,” said Ravens coach Brian Billick, whose team dropped to 7-4 with the loss. “We’ve got five weeks to…improve to the point that we can come in here and play with a championship-caliber team.”
With a top-heavy AFC, the Ravens need to play at a playoff level for the next five weeks if they want to return to the postseason for the fourth time in five years.
The loss put Baltimore three full games behind Pittsburgh in the AFC North with five to play, making a Wild Card berth the most likely path to the playoffs. Currently, the Ravens are tied with Denver for the conference’s 6th-best record, but only six make the playoffs.
If they do return to the postseason, they will face teams like the Patriots (10-1), who minimize their opponent’s strengths and exploit any weaknesses.
The second half of Sunday’s game was a perfect case study. By most accounts, the two teams played an even first half, but in the third quarter, New England hit on all cylinders.
The Patriots scored on three consecutive possessions – two long Adam Vinatieri field goals and a 1-yard touchdown run by Corey Dillon – to stake to a 14-point lead.
A comeback of that magnitude, against that team, in that stadium, would be difficult for any team.
But for a Ravens outfit that was without three offensive starters – including two Pro Bowlers – it was a task too tall.
Right tackle Orlando Brown was a game-day scratch due to a lingering knee injury, and so he joined running back Jamal Lewis and tight end Todd Heap, both of whom have ankle ailments, on the inactive list.
Without these players, the Ravens’ offense stalled in the sludge, generating just 29 yards and no points in the second half.
“We really couldn’t get that good drive going,” said quarterback Kyle Boller, who threw his first interception in a month and lost a fumble that resulted in a Patriots touchdown. “It was pretty much a mud fest out there, in the middle [of the field].”
The torrential rain storm – which converted Foxboro into a Woodstock-like mud pit – surely limited both teams’ ability to throw the ball, as neither Boller nor Tom Brady went over 200 yards or threw a touchdown.
When the elements are at their worst, teams rely on their running backs the most. With Lewis, the NFL’s rushing champion a year ago, sidelined, Chester Taylor filled in admirably against a stout Patriots defense. However, he was out-dueled by Dillon, who went over 100 yards against his longtime rivals for the first time in three years.
The former Bengals back churned out 123 yards and the score on 30 carries, with the bulk of his production coming in the decisive second half.
“They came out and executed their game-plan in the second half,” said defensive end Anthony Weaver. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to execute ours.
“We’ve got to play a 60-minute game if you play a team like that,” Weaver added. “We didn’t do that today.”
The Ravens’ defense had the disadvantage of fighting uphill for the first three drives of the second half.
New England took over on its own 41, 48 and Baltimore’s 48-yard line on those possessions. Thus, they had to go only 30 yards on each of those drives to move into scoring range. In a game that field goals were as valuable as touchdowns, that field position was crucial.
Conversely, the Ravens were never able to get out of their own end. New England protected its banged up secondary by giving the Ravens the short passes, but doubling up on the intermediate and long routes.
That’s what fooled Boller in the first quarter, when he threw his first interception in 124 attempts. Cornerback Randall Gay, who was thrust into action due to injuries to the Patriots’ top three corners, stepped in front of a sideline pass and made the pick.
“We’re not built to come out in three-wides and four-wides all the time to take advantage of some of those mismatches,” said Ravens offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh. “Until we turned the ball over, it was a relative close game.”
Boller’s second turnover – a fumble on a sack that was recovered by Jarvis Green in the end zone – gave the Patriots a 24-3 lead and put the game away.
With the loss, the Ravens’ margin for error the rest of the way is tiny. They have three home games against sub-.500 teams, but 10 wins will not necessarily get them into the postseason.
They might have to beat either Indianapolis or Pittsburgh on the road just to earn the conference’s sixth playoff spot.
“We’ve got five more weeks left and anything can happen,” said cornerback Gary Baxter. “Our hopes are still high. We’ve just got to take care of business."
Monday, November 08, 2004
Ed Reed took a special game and made it unforgettable.
The walking highlight reel of a safety made the Ravens’ biggest play at the most critical time, returning a last-second interception for a touchdown to preserve the Ravens’ 27-13 victory over Cleveland.
Don’t let the score fool you. It may have been the closest 14-point game in team history.
Down a touchdown with less than 30 seconds remaining, the Browns (3-5) had the ball on the Ravens’ (5-3) 5-yard line, facing second-and-goal.
Browns quarterback Jeff Garcia, who had rallied his team and put them in a position to win the game, saw tight end Aaron Shea streaking across the middle of the field at the goal line.
He threw a perfect pass, but Shea, who was covered closely by Ray Lewis, had it bounce off his hands and into the grasp of Reed. An NFL-record 106 yards later, Reed was celebrating in the end zone. His play saved the game, and possibly the Ravens’ playoff hopes.
“It was definitely a blessing and a miracle if you knew what happened the whole play,” said Reed. “Ray tells me where I’m supposed to [be]…to get the ball. It was a great tip by Ray, and I just caught it.”
Reed could have downed the ball and the Ravens would have won just the same, but he saw an opening on the right side, beat the Browns to the edge and outran everyone to the end zone.
According to cornerback Gary Baxter, since Reed decided to take it out, he sure had better go the whole way.
“He scared me a little bit,” Baxter said with a laugh. “I wanted him to take a knee, but he took it out. If he had dropped that ball, I would have skinned him alive.”
Thanks to a sterling special teams performance in the game’s final 59 minutes, 46 seconds, the Ravens were in position to win, even if it was by the skin of their teeth.
The unit had bad start – giving up a 93-yard return for a touchdown to Richard Alston on the game’s opening kickoff – but finished strong and kept the Ravens in the game.
Kicker Matt Stover kicked four field goals – all in the first half – and punter Dave Zastudil had the play of the game, until Reed stole the show.
With the Ravens trailing 13-12 early in the fourth quarter, Zastudil placed a punt inside the Browns’ 5-yard line. Playmaker B.J. Sams made a diving save, throwing the ball out of the end zone before he or it hit the ground, and Chad Williams downed it at the 1.
The Browns challenged the ruling, but it stood.
On the ensuing possession, the Ravens’ defense was tenacious, allowing just one yard on three plays, and the Browns had to punt from their own end zone.
Then, with the pressure of the end line behind him and the Ravens’ punt block team closing around him, Browns punter Derrick Frost had the ultimate shank – kicking it just seven yards.
Three Jamal Lewis runs later, the Ravens were in the end zone. Lewis, who was playing in his first game in nearly a month, lowered his shoulder on third-and-goal from the 2 and powered his way in.
“It was nice to get the ball three times in a row,” said Lewis, who had 81 yards on 22 carries. “It showed we have confidence in the run. We punched it in the end zone.”
After a two point conversion – in which Kyle Boller connected on a perfectly-thrown jump-ball to Clarence Moore – the Ravens put the game in the hands of their defense, which turned in another stellar game.
Entering the game, the Ravens’ defense ranked first in the NFL in scoring (14.3 points per game). They allowed 13.
They ranked seventh in the NFL in yards allowed (290). They gave up 217.
“The thing we do is trust,” Lewis said. “We really just trust each other. That’s really our philosophy. It doesn’t get any more complicated than that.”
With each passing game, Boller earns more trust from his teammates. He turned in another solid game that will never get the headlines, but put his team in position to win.
Boller completed 57 percent of his passes for 142 yards, but did not throw an interception for the fifth time in eight games and led the Ravens on three consecutive scoring drives to end the first half.
“You want to score touchdowns, but to get those three points is awful huge,” Boller said. “We kind of started out a little bit slow, but as the game went, we went better.”
The same can be said about their season. Since a season-opening loss to Cleveland, the Ravens have won five of their last seven contests, even with Pro Bowlers Todd Heap and Jonathan Ogden missing multiple games.
At the halfway mark, they trail Pittsburgh (7-1) by two games, but with a head-to-head still looming next month, the Ravens want to stay within shouting distance to make a move when their principals return.
“Hopefully we just keep going,” said head coach Brian Billick. “Hopefully we don’t have to do that too much longer.”
I must say that Ed Reed and Ben Roethlisberger are should have been the first two draft picks.
Ed Reed has opened up many eyes as rookie. Weather it is on defensive or on special teams. Reed is playing with flashes of pro bowl ability.
Expect great things from this kid.
Monday, October 18, 2004
Brian Billick called it a new season.
But for Edwin Mulitalo, it was the difference between sardines and caviar.
“It’s like going from the Holiday Inn to the Ritz,” the Ravens’ starting left guard said after Sunday afternoon’s practice, their first in more than a week. “This is what it’s all about. It’s like you have brand new shoes. You don’t want to mess them up, but you definitely have to break them in and make them feel comfortable.
”While every first practice after a bye brings a little extra jolt of adrenaline, nothing in the team’s nine-year history has been like this. The Ravens moved into their brand new, 200,000 square-foot training facility this past week, and Sunday, practiced for the first time on their recently-planted outdoor fields.
Players toured their new home Saturday afternoon, and following a short meeting, nearly a dozen Ravens camped out in their lounge, playing pool and watching college football.
Owner Steve Bisciotti wanted the $31 million building to be a place where players wanted to work and play, and they were back in their rec room before Sunday morning meetings.
Cornerback Chris McAlister and wide receiver Clarence Moore shot pool, while safety Chad Williams hung out by the team’s personalized pinball machine.
The newness of the Ravens’ surroundings created renewed excitement about the season in general, Billick said after the team’s hour-long practice Sunday.
“This all feels new, so it does feel like a new season,” Billick said. “Obviously, there’s some familiarity. We’ve already gotten over that. It’s not like we’re literally having to start over, but the energy, in the sense that it’s a new season, that’s a good thing.”
For Travis Taylor and Mike Flynn, returning to the practice field Sunday meant that their seasons could start in earnest. Flynn, the Ravens’ center, has missed the entire season thus far due to a broken clavicle, while Taylor has been held out since the season opener with a groin injury.
However, both players practiced Sunday and are expected to play when the Ravens host Buffalo next week.
“I’m definitely ready,” said Taylor, who worked some with the scout team last week, but is preparing as if he will play this week. “We haven’t talked about [my role].
It’s like Brian says. We can never have too many good receivers. I’m not worried about that. When I get my chance to go back out there and play, that’s what I’m going to do.”It’s been a long road back for Flynn, who injured his shoulder during a blocking drill in training camp. After weeks of rehabilitation, he was back on the field on Sunday.
The same could not be said for tight end Todd Heap, the Pro Bowler who has missed three games due to a sprained ankle. Heap worked out separately Sunday, but Billick would not rule him out for the Bills game.
“Our plan is to run him through, as we did today, and to see how he comes out on Wednesday,” Billick said. “Todd’s the one that I’m least optimistic about, but I don’t know that yet. We’ll have to see what Wednesday shows.”
Monday, September 27, 2004
CINCINNATI – To beat the new-look Bengals, the Ravens once again relied on their Old School persona.
Running back Jamal Lewis was dominant. The Ravens’ defense was stingy. And the special teams were special, all contributing to a 23-9 victory at Paul Brown Stadium.
Lewis, the 2003 rushing champion, capped a historic day with a 75-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter, blowing open a close game.
Lewis broke through a slow start to the 2004 season by churning out 186 yards on 18 carries Sunday, putting him over 5,000 yards in his young career.
Lewis, 25, is the fifth-fastest to that milestone; he also tied an NFL record by eclipsing 100 yards seven straight times against the Bengals.
For the Bengals, who surrendered 254 rushing yards Sunday, Lewis looked like he moved at the speed of light.
His touchdown run could not have come at a better time. Shayne Graham kicked his third field goal of the game to draw the Bengals to within eight points with 9 minutes, 3 seconds remaining in regulation.
But on the first play of the Ravens’ ensuing possession, Lewis broke through a trio of arm-tackles and sprinted to the end zone. In fact, he was so far clear of the Bengals’ defense, he slowed down and trotted for the final 10 yards.
The touchdown was more than enough for the Ravens’ defense, which did not allow a touchdown for the first time this season, despite surrendering 398 yards.
In the football version of rope-a-dope, the Ravens (2-1) allowed young quarterback Carson Palmer to move the Bengals (1-2) into Ravens territory on eight straight possessions, only to force a turnover or hold the Bengals to three points.
Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed intercepted Palmer twice, including once in the end zone on a pass to standout receiver Chad Johnson. Palmer saw that Johnson had inside position on the Ravens’ defense, but apparently did not account for Reed.
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
For 3/4 of the game, the Ravens defense seemed like the Ravens defense. With 24 seconds left in the 3rd quarter, the Browns started a series of scoring. The Browns produced 17 unanswered points and dropped our Ravens in there season opener. It is only the first game of the season. But that is no excuse. Lets see our stout defense take field against the Pittsburgh Steelers this coming Sunday. See how the Ravens fair then.
Deion Sanders played his first game since the 2000 season with the Redskins.
Kyle Boller has started to consecutive season openers for the Ravens.
Friday, September 03, 2004
Late in the first quarter of Thursday night’s preseason affair, the Ravens went ahead of the New York Giants for good.
The celebration was muted, however. The team’s mind was not on the present, but the future.
Relief swept through the organization when the team learned that all-world tackle Jonathan Ogden, who had limped off the field just moments earlier with a knee injury, had merely suffered an MCL sprain. Had he torn the ligament, his season likely would have ended in the Meadowlands.
Rather, Ogden, the seven-time Pro Bowler, is questionable for the season opener against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 12.
Thank goodness. Get well soon Ogden!
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
As the third cornerback on a Ravens defense that has its sights set on history, Sanders believes there is no better place for him. Had it not been for Dale Carter, who was supposed to be the team’s corner this season, developing a blood clot and Sanders falling out with CBS, where he was an on-air personality, this situation would have never materialized.
“As I went through the first two weeks of the conversation, and I had to think about why a player would want to come back and play, I had to think about myself in the last two years in my career, and why I wanted to continue to play the game of football,” said Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, a Hall of Fame tight end. “I think the one driving factor that led me to play the last two years, and I think the a driving factor that Deion had put in the forefront of his own mind is the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl.
“If you can wake up everyday and go out there and work out, knowing that you have the chance to go out and play in the ultimate game, then it really gives you an incentive to do it.,” Newsome added.
Let's hope that Sanders gets a chance to play in the Superbowl this year!!
Friday, August 27, 2004
Edwards, the second-round pick out of Oregon State, will likely start at left defensive end against the Lions. If so, he will battle stout right tackle Stockar McDougle, who in tandem with Jeff Backus, gives Detroit a set of first-round bookends.
Edwards will likely start in place of Anthony Weaver, who suffered a high ankle sprain in last week’s preseason game against the Eagles. With both McDougle and 2002 Pro Bowl guard Damien Woody on his side, Edwards is in for a demanding first NFL start.
Go Ravens! Be sure to watch the game on Saturday!
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
The camp was also largely about continuing the development of second-year quarterback Kyle Boller, who will start against the Browns.
Boller progressed “very, very well” over the past four weeks, Billick said. Boller’s improvement was most noticeable in how he handles difficult situations, like protection breakdowns or when a receiver runs a wrong route.
If Boller can make two additional completions per game, the Ravens’ passing attack, which ranked last in 2003, can jump to the middle of the pack this season. A productive aerial attack, combined with their dominant running game, would result in a more efficient and balanced offense.
“[The passing game] has a lot of potential,” said wide receiver Kevin Johnson. “With Jamal back there running the ball and knowing what the defense is going to give you, I think it gives us a lot of one-on-one opportunities on the outside. It gives us the freedom to make a lot of plays. So, if the quarterback and the receiver get on the same page, I think the sky is the limit.”
Now it's about time for the season to begin. GO RAVENS!!!
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
A knee injury has temporarily sidelined Casey Rabach and, consequently, the competition for the Ravens’ starting right guard job.
Rabach, who is battling incumbent starter Bennie Anderson during training camp, was scheduled to start in Friday’s preseason game against the Eagles. However, he will likely not return until the Aug. 28 affair against the Lions, at the earliest.
“It definitely hurts [my chances],” said Rabach, who has tried to consistently crack the Ravens’ starting lineup since entering the league as a third-round pick in 2001. “There’s no doubt about it. Anytime I’m not out there, Bennie’s getting more reps and more looks for the coaches.”
Rabach sprained his MCL during goal line action in last Saturday’s practice and has been limited ever since. Rabach said that center Mike Flynn accidentally rolled on the leg during a repetition, but he was able to walk off the field under his own power, usually a good sign.
Get well soon Rabach!
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Baltimore placed injured players Peter Boulware, Trent Smith and Anthony Wright on the Physically Unable to Perform list, which is far less ominous than it sounds. All it means is that these players cannot practice or play in preseason games before they’re removed from the list, which can happen at any time. While on the PUP, the players do not count on the active roster.The Ravens also waived long snapper Mike Solwold and placed cornerback Dale Carter on the non-football illness list.Baltimore also signed a pair of veteran corners, Rashad Holman and Fred Weary, to compete for Carter’s spot. Holman, No. 25, spent three years with the 49ers, amassing 78 tackles and two interceptions.Weary, a seventh-year pro out of Florida, will wear No. 23. He last played for the St. Louis Rams.
More info as it comes...
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
The Ravens took a big step toward securing all of their rookies before training camp Monday, reaching contract agreements with three of their seven draft picks, including both first-day selections.Second-round pick Dwan Edwards agreed to a five-year deal and third-rounder Devard Darling signed a three-year contact; linebacker Roderick Green, a fifth-round pick, agreed to a three-year deal.Add in Josh Harris and Brian Rimpf, who agreed in principle to three-year deals last week, contractual agreements with just two draft picks remain unsettled – wide receiver Clarence Moore (sixth round) and kick returner Derek Abney (seventh round).
Welcome, Welcome, Welcome!!!! I can't wait to see all of the new guys in action on the team!
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
The Baltimore Ravens begin their ninth training camp with two practices (8:45 a.m. and 4 p.m.) at McDaniel College on Friday, July 30. All players will report to the Best Western (451 WMC Drive) Westminster on Thursday, July 29, for a 5 p.m. meeting. Baltimore will break camp on Tuesday, Aug. 24 following a morning practice.There will be 29 practices over the 26-day training camp, including the Ravens yearly intra-squad scrimmage on Friday, Aug. 6 at 6 p.m., at Bair Stadium on the McDaniel College campus. Following the scrimmage, players will be available for a half-hour autograph session along the fence-line of the Stadium.
So, is anyone else excited??? I can't wait for everything to begin!!!
Friday, July 16, 2004
The Ravens drafted 6'1" Devard Darling from Washington State and 5'11" Kevin Johnson from the National Football League back in April. This is part of the Ravens strategy to be smaller, faster and more dependable.
According to the Ravens homepage, receivers coach David Shaw said:
"We want to get more dependable. We want to give a young quarterback (Kyle Boller) someone who’s going to be there every week and have them build a relationship to where they can play off of each other. What a young quarterback needs is defense, a running game, consistent receivers."
So what do you think? Do you think that this new strategy will work well for the Ravens? Personally, I hope so.