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Baltimore Ravens Struggling to Bask in Super Bowl Glow 0

Posted on March 16, 2013 by Dean Hybl
The Baltimore Ravens broke the bank to keep quarterback Joe Flacco.

The Baltimore Ravens broke the bank to keep quarterback Joe Flacco.

The Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens sure haven’t done a very good job basking in the glow of their remarkable Super Bowl run. They have made some very questionable decisions that have impacted the team both on and off the field.

The Ravens certainly have been busy in the six weeks since defeating the San Francisco 49ers to win Super Bowl XLVII.

In a move that many felt they had to make, but some question as being excessive, they made quarterback Joe Flacco the highest paid quarterback in the NFL. By signing him to a six-year, $120.6 million contract, they have now given a player who in five seasons has spent more time being average than being great a contract higher than that of the quarterbacks generally thought to be the best in the game in Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees.

They say timing in sports is everything and Flacco’s timing was perfect. With his contract expiring, Flacco was marvelous in the playoffs with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions in four games as the Ravens rolled to the Super Bowl Championship.

If Flacco can perform like that every week for the next six seasons, then the Ravens have certainly made a good investment. However, Flacco’s own history suggests otherwise. During the 2012 regular season Flacco threw 22 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions. He had only five games in the 2012 regular season where he threw a touchdown pass without also throwing an interception. And while Flacco threw three touchdowns with no picks in three straight playoff wins, he had previously accomplished that feat only three times in 80 regular season games.

With his new contract in hand, Flacco in 2013 will be judged in a very different manner than in previous years. In the past, the fact that he has never made a Pro Bowl and that his statistics were very good, but not great, really didn’t matter because the team has always been a winner. Flacco is the only quarterback to win a playoff game in his first five seasons and has a 9-4 career playoff record. Read the rest of this entry →

One Career Ends And Another Is Born: Super Bowl XLVII Storylines 0

Posted on February 05, 2013 by Andy Larmand
Ravens receiver Torrey Smith celebrates on the field of the Superdome following Super Bowl XLVII.

Ravens receiver Torrey Smith celebrates on the field of the Superdome following Super Bowl XLVII.

The good news? Super Bowl XLVII had just about everything one could have asked for in the final professional football game for 213 days. It featured a pair of brothers facing off against each other, an icon of a generation going out on top, an energizing rookie quarterback, a jaw-dropping halftime show, an intentional safety, a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and one 33-minute power outage. Not to mention a furious comeback in the second half that fell just short of making it the greatest Super Bowl ever played.

The bad news? It’s the final football game for 213 days. It was a great one though.

As always, we have a lot to get to in the last edition of the weekly NFL storylines being that this was the final game of the 2012-13 season. I’d just like to thank God for giving me the fingers to type this with. God is so great.

Joe Flacco, Super Bowl XLVII MVP, tied the all-time record with 11 touchdown passes in a single postseason in the first Super Bowl since 2002 without either Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger or Peyton Manning. Only he and Joe Montana have ever accomplished that. All five quarterbacks to ever throw eight-plus touchdowns and no interceptions in the playoffs have won the Super Bowl. Ray Lewis is going out on top if you haven’t heard. After 12 seasons, Lewis won his second career title. It is the longest span between titles by any player in NFL history. Baltimore has won four straight against the 49ers, outscoring them 103-50. San Francisco lost its first Super Bowl in their history and Baltimore improved to 8-1 all-time as the No. 4 seed in the playoffs. They also improved to 2-0 all-time in Super Bowls (won Super Bowl XXXV in 2000). When they won it all in 2000, they were the No. 4 seed as well and the last two Super Bowl champions have been the No. 4 seed in their respective conferences. The previous two meetings between these two teams featured a total of two touchdowns; this one had six.

Baltimore finished the regular season with a record of 10-6. In each of the last three seasons, the eventual Super Bowl champion finished the regular season with no better than 10 wins (Packers with 10 in 2010, Giants with nine last season). The NFC had won three straight Super Bowls before the Ravens win. The last AFC team to win a title before this was the Steelers in 2008. With 65 points being scored in the Super Bowl, the total from this postseason grew to 571, which broke the previous record of 530 set in 1995. No. 2 seeds had been 4-1 in their last five Super Bowl appearances before the 49ers’ loss. With Flacco winning MVP, six of the last seven Super Bowl MVP’s have been quarterbacks. Only Santonio Holmes in 2008 won the award as a non-quarterback. Baltimore became just the second team to ever win a championship after leading the league in penalty yards during the regular season (1974 Steelers). After 19.5 sacks in his first 13 games, Aldon Smith hasn’t recorded one since. In the Super Bowl, he had no sacks and made just two tackles. Six games are the longest he has ever gone without a sack.

No NFL team had ever even reached the Super Bowl after ranking 15th or worse in both total defense and total offense during the regular season. The Ravens were the first and they won it all. Flacco has no interceptions in his last 195 pass attempts. With a second-quarter interception of Colin Kaepernick, Ed Reed tied the all-time record with his ninth career postseason interception. Baltimore improved to 11-5 in road or neutral playoff games in their history, the best win percentage of any NFL franchise. The 49ers had 15 former first-round picks on their roster for the Super Bowl to the Ravens’ eight, but Baltimore beat them anyway. With his first-quarter TD catch, the fourth for him this postseason, Anquan Boldin tied the amount he had in the regular season. Kaepernick was able to set the record for the most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single postseason with 264. He came up just two yards shy of tying the all-time record for rushing yards by a quarterback in the Super Bowl as he finished with 62, but did have the longest ever TD run by a quarterback in the big game with his 15-yarder.

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Sanchez Finally Benched: Week 13 NFL Storylines 0

Posted on December 05, 2012 by Andy Larmand

Mark Sanchez may have pulled off a miracle by remaining in the New York lineup for 12 weeks, but it appears his reign as starter may be over after being replaced in the 2nd half of Sunday’s game. Surprisingly, without “butt fumble” in there, the Jets got a win. So did 15 other teams.

Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez may have finally found something he’s good at: holding the clipboard and keeping Tim Tebow (left) company on the New York bench.

The Saints traveled to Atlanta to take on the division-leading Falcons on Thursday night in a game that they had to have to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Drew Brees, however, threw FIVE interceptions and saw his NFL-record streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass end at 54 in a row. This was the first time since Oct. 4, 2009 that Brees did not throw a touchdown pass in a game and the first time he, or any Saints quarterback, has ever thrown five picks. Roddy White had no catches in the 1st half for the first time in his last 78 games. His first catch came with less than two minutes left in the 3rd quarter.  With four on the night, tight end Tony Gonzalez now has at least 70 receptions in 10 straight seasons, tying the NFL record, and 13th season overall, tying that record as well. Matt Bryant made a 55-yard field goal in the 4th quarter and has now been good on his last seven kicks of 50 yards or more. Atlanta improved to 11-1 with the 23-13 win and has won 46 of 47 games when holding a lead at any point in the 4th quarter. The Falcons converted on just one 3rd down in the game (1-11). With the Tampa Bay loss to Denver, the Falcons clinched the NFC South for the second time in three seasons.

Stevan Ridley scored a rushing touchdown in his fifth straight game as the Patriots improved to 9-3 and won the AFC East, beating the Dolphins 23-16 in South Florida. Tom Brady did throw his first interception in his last 202 passing attempts in the 1st quarter – that had been the longest active streak in the NFL. He also threw a touchdown pass in his 44th straight game – the longest active streak in the NFL since Brees’ was snapped on Thursday night. With a second quarter reception, Wes Welker went over 1,00 yards receiving for the fifth time in his career, extending his Patriots record and he tied Jerry Rice‘s all-time record with 17 10-reception games. He had 10 catches for 89 yards…in the 1st half! If that wasn’t enough his 12 catches for 103 yards got him to the 10-catch, 100-yard mark for the 16th time in his illustrious career – the most all-time. Ridley became the 12th Patriot to run for 1,000 yards in a season. The Patriots clinched the AFC East for the fourth straight year and have won 20 straight games in the second half of the season. Brady became the first QB in NFL history to win 10 division titles. Finally, the Pats have won 12 straight regular season December games, dating back to 2009 and are currently on a six-game winning streak.

Something had to give in the Meadowlands as the 4-7 Jets hosted the 4-7 Cardinals – losers of seven straight following their undefeated start. It certainly was not a pretty thing to watch. Sanchez gave Brees a run for his money, throwing three interceptions in a game that ended 7-6 in their favor. He was finally pulled by Rex Ryan, but not for Tim Tebow – for Greg McElroy, who promptly threw a TD pass. Tebow was inactive for the game with a rib injury. The Cardinals have lost eight straight following this ugly game. New York improved to 4-111 in their history when scoring seven points or less in a game. Arizona did not convert on a 3rd down the entire day (0-15). The Jets improved to 1-6 all-time in games that Sanchez has thrown three or more interceptions. The two teams combined for more punts (16) than points.

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NFL Classic Rewind: Palmer Leads Cincy to 4th Quarter Comeback Versus Ravens 79

Posted on November 18, 2011 by A.J. Foss

When he was selected as the #1 overall pick of the 2003 NFL Draft, Carson Palmer was destined to be the savior for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Ever since a 9-7 season and an AFC Central title in 1990, the Bengals did not have a winning season for the next 12 years and had nine seasons with at least 10 losses.

However, the 2003 NFL season brought hope as first-year head coach Marvin Lewis led the Bengals to an 8-8 record with Palmer not starting a single game during the season as he watched Jon Kitna take the reins.

But for the 2004 season, Palmer was given the starting job and led the Bengals and had started all 11 games as Cincinnati was a respectable 5-6 when they traveled to Baltimore to take on their divisional rival, the Baltimore Ravens.

The Ravens entered the game with a 7-4 record and needing a win to increase their chances of obtaining an AFC Wild Card berth.

The Ravens were still led by their defense that had led them to a Super Bowl title in 2000, but were hoping that they had found their franchise quarterback in Kyle Boller, who was also selected in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft.

Unlike Palmer, Boller started several games in his rookie season until a thigh injury suffered in the ninth game of the season, knocked him out for the rest of the season.

However, the Ravens still made the playoffs with a 10-6 record and Boller was back as the Ravens’ starting quarterback for the 2004 season, where he started every game when going into the Ravens’ match-up with the Bengals. Read the rest of this entry →

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