Late For Work 9/15: CJ Says Ravens Tried To Hurt Him In Playoffs

Plus O-line could be best in team history. And do the numbers 27 and 48 mean anything to you?

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Thursday, September 15th, 2011 at 9:12 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

CJ Says Ravens Tried To Hurt Him In Playoffs

The last time the Ravens and Titans clashed, it was Jan. 10, 2009 in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Rookie running back sensation Chris Johnson was off to a hot start – 100 total yards from scrimmage – until he got hurt in the second quarter and was forced to leave the game, never to return. That’s when the Titans’ offense went cold, and Baltimore went on to secure a 13-10 victory.

Over the years, bad feelings have lingered among the Titans faithful, who believe the Ravens intentionally knocked Johnson out of the game.

While Johnson told reporters yesterday that his ankle was injured on a “fair play,” the 5-foot-11, 191-pounder doesn’t think the Ravens were completely innocent.

A few snaps earlier, the rookie’s run was stopped by defenders, but he was still bent awkwardly backward over a pile after the whistle.

“Yeah, they were trying to hurt me a little bit,” Johnson said, per The Tennessean. “When they were actually trying to do it, it didn’t happen. It actually happened on a fair play.”

On a conference call with Tennessee media, safety Ed Reed saw it the same way:

“Chris didn’t get hurt on that play [when he was bent awkwardly], he got his back stretched out a little bit, but that wasn’t the play that hurt his ankle,” he said. “…I just remember some big guy falling on his ankle, man. Anytime you get a guy like Chris Johnson and his size and then one of those D-linemen fall on it, it’s going to be tough.”

Johnson said he doesn’t think the Ravens are a dirty team, but his teammates said they will be watching their offensive star’s back just in case.

“I don’t know if they tried to hurt him or not,” guard Leroy Harris said, “but their whole game plan was to be physical and take as many shots as they could since he was a rookie, and a smaller back. … We’re going to protect Chris as much as possible.”

Said guard Jake Scott, “I am not going to accuse anyone of anything. But if they’re going to take their shots, we’ll take ours, too. We can play that way.”

Do the numbers 27 and 48 mean anything to you?

If you can’t get it, don’t worry. The Ravens defensive line didn’t either.

Defensive Line Coach Clarence Brooks put those numbers on a whiteboard in a team meeting room. After getting blank stares, Brookes revealed 27 was the number of sacks Baltimore notched in 2010, a franchise low.

And 48 was the number of sacks the Steelers totaled last season, tops in the NFL.

The emphasis is getting that number higher,” defensive end Cory Redding told The Baltimore Sun’s Edward Lee. “We know the type of men we have in this building and who can pass rush. We added [rookie defensive end Pernell] McPhee, [outside linebacker] Paul Kruger has stepped up big time in his development and understanding what’s going on, and we have an angry man [outside linebacker Terrell Suggs] coming off the corner.

“Guys are really understanding the system and making every possible effort to get to the quarterback to get that number higher because we know we should be in the top five in any category with the defense we have playing.”

Ray Rice: Offense Was ‘Vanilla’

On their way to a 35-7 beatdown of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens’ offense was aggressive, fast and … vanilla?

That’s what Ray Rice said after becoming only the second running back in the Steelers’ past 51 games to rush for 100 yards against them.

“I’m not saying that to downplay our opponent, but we didn’t do a lot of trick stuff,” he said. “It was stuff that we practiced in camp. But one thing we did was we tempoed. The tempo of our offense was a fast tempo — moving guys in and out — because we figured we had to tempo them with it being the first game of the year. They like to play base defense. The tempo was really high. I caught myself coming in and out at times. So everything else worked out really well.”

Hensley, Walker Say Goodbye

I wanted to give a quick shout out to The Baltimore Sun’s Jamison Hensley and ESPN AFC North blogger James Walker.

Walker won’t be covering the Ravens anymore as he is moving to ESPN’s AFC East blog. Meanwhile, Hensley is leaving The Sun to take over Walker’s former duties.

Since I read all their articles every day, I wanted to wish them well and let them know they will be missed. Fortunately, we haven’t heard the last of Hensley, as he’ll still cover the Ravens as part of his new ESPN role.

As any writer in this business knows, covering an NFL team completely takes over one’s life. In a written farewell to his readers, Hensley shares an example.

“When Joe Flacco signed his rookie contract in July 2008, a source texted me the news while I was on a first date in Canton. I had to place the laptop computer on the dinner table and write the article.

“Somehow, three years later, that date became my wife.”

Ha! Congrats, and good luck to you both.

Quick Hits

  • 1WinningDrive: Ray Rice tried to douse Joe Flacco with water today during interviews and totally missed. “That’s why I don’t play quarterback, Rice said. [Twitter]
  • 1WinningDrive: Suggs: “I think I’ve taken my film study up to a new level. I can see things before they happen now.” [Twitter]
  • RavensInsider: Terrell Suggs: ‘Ray [Lewis] is the general, Ed [Reed] is the lieutenant and I’m the captain. Yeah, Captain Suggs. I like it’ [Twitter]
  • untouchablejay4: Thanx Bmore for the support. AFC player of the week. We all just workin on that Lombardi. [Twitter]
  • The New York Giants signed former Ravens receiver Brandon Stokley, who caught a touchdown pass in the Ravens’ win over the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV. [Newark Star-Ledger]
  • Listen to receiver Anquan Boldin on The Scott Van Pelt Show, as he weighs in on the season-opening win, the offense and Flacco. [ESPN]
  • The Titans will get two talented defensive ends – Derrick Morgan and Jason Jones – returning to the lineup for Sunday’s game against the Ravens. [The Tennessean]
  • What John Eisenberg learned about the Ravens Sunday, including that this year’s offensive line could potentially be the best in franchise history. []

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