Late For Work 9/30: America’s Game Of The Week

NBC photo shoot. And watch out Ravens secondary, Jets WRs looking for ‘knockdowns.’

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Friday, September 30th, 2011 at 9:22 am | Categories: Sarah Ellison, Week 4 vs Jets

America’s Game Of The Week

Mike Florio made an interesting point a few days ago.

The scribe said that Torrey Smith was the toast of Baltimore after his three-touchdown performance in St. Louis.

But he would have been the toast of the league had he done it on a nationally-televised primetime stage.

Well the spotlight is officially shining on the Ravens as they prepare to face defensive coordinator turned Head Coach Rex Ryan and the New York Jets.

After this Sunday night’s game on NBC, the toast of the country can only go to one team. And the loser will take home the consolation prize: a .500 record.

“When we beat the Jets, I’m going to give Rex a hug and a kiss,” Terrell Suggs told’s Don Banks. “And then I’m going to kiss Bart [Scott], and hug Bart. And then I’m going to Disney World, because it’s our bye week.”

Major, major props to NBC for putting together an exciting campaign for “America’s Game of the Week.”

Check out the pump-up video below, and then a photo shoot with Ray Lewis, Ray Rice, Michael Oher, Suggs and Haloti Ngata (there are more pics here too).

In the infamous words of Bart Scott: I. Can’t. Wait.

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Ravens-Jets Week 4 Picks

Last year we saw a season-opening defensive struggle that ended in a low-scoring 10-9 victory for the Ravens.

But both teams have bolstered their offensive units, which could make for more points.

“A week ago, before I saw the impact of Torrey Smith on the Ravens offense, I probably would have picked the Jets, with Baltimore tormentor Santonio Holmes the main culprit,’ wrote’s Peter King. “But Smith is a certifiable field-stretcher, the kind of player the Jets just may have to put Darrelle Revis on to take out of the game. That could leave holes for underneath routes. Interesting chess match here.

“I say the Ravens make one more play and win it.’

But The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec sees it going a different way.

“The Jets will reverse the script of last season’s opener, making just enough plays late to give Rex Ryan a victory that he is craving.’

Baltimore Sun: Six of seven pick the Ravens over the Jets
ESPN: Eight of eight pick the Ravens over the Jets’s Peter King: Ravens 23, Jets 20
USA Today: Six of eight pick the Ravens over the Jets
Yahoo! Sports: Three of three pick the Ravens over the Jets Two of two pick the Ravens over the Jets Four of five pick the Ravens over the Jets

Picks total: Ravens 30, Jets 4

Watch Out Ravens Secondary, Jets WRs Looking For ‘Knockdowns’

Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress haven’t put up the big receiving numbers some have anticipated so far this season.

But the two Jets receivers have “become infatuated’ with an unofficial stat for which they both compete.

They are on a mission to savagely block and knockdown opposing defensive players. Each time they do, they get a point added to their tally.       

We try to get knockdowns,’ Burress said, per The Star-Ledger. “We see how many knockdowns we can get every week. I think I’m leading right now.’

“It’s just trying to set the tone from the start of the game. It’s going to be physical, and we’re going to get after it.’

More than just setting a tone, it also provides entertainment during film study.

“We go into our meeting room and we just have something else to laugh about,’ Holmes explained. “Whether it’s knocking those guys out and making big plays, it’s always helping the team out first.’

Burress recalled his days as a New York Giant when he laid out former Ravens cornerback Samari Rolle. He dealt a crushing blow that knocked Rolle down right in front of Ryan, the defensive coordinator in Baltimore at the time.

“I dropped him right off at his defensive coach’s feet and let him know, ‘Hey man, go get another player,” said Burress.

“Samari is a good friend of mine, and I didn’t want it to be him. But when the whistle blows, there ain’t no friends.’

Pettine Calls Jets’ Defense ‘Lackadaisical’

It’s rare for a coach to publicly call out his players for lack of effort.

But that’s exactly what former Ravens outside linebackers coach and current Jets Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine did four days after his unit was scorched by the Oakland Raiders, giving up 234 rushing yards.

“You can handle technique mistakes, and sometimes guys just go against somebody who’s better and you come up short, but when it’s mental errors or it’s a guy being lackadaisical or it’s an effort thing … those are things we consider unacceptable,” Pettine said, per ESPN New York.

“We have our standards of play and, when we don’t play up to them from an effort standpoint, that’s the most troubling. It’s certainly something we talked about Monday when we watched the tape.”

Travelling to the West Coast has routinely tripped up teams. Linebacker Bart Scott attributed some the team’s “lethargic’ play to being thrown off by the time change and travel.

But that wasn’t a good enough excuse for Pettine, who said he was “disgusted’ and “frustrated.’ 

Pettine expects his unit to rebound against the Ravens and become more like the team that finished third in the league last season in yards allowed.

“If you can’t get pumped up for [the Ravens], if you can’t get your juices flowing … you’re sitting in the wrong room,” he said.

Farewell To A True Class Act: Mike Duffy

I would be remiss if I didn’t say something about my longtime co-worker Michael Thomas Duffy, whose last day is Sunday.

I wish readers could have known the man behind all the stories.

Obviously a sports and music buff, Mike is also the quintessential southern gentleman. In the six years I have known him, I never saw him lose his temper or raise his voice – a remarkable feat considering the pressure he was under while covering an NFL team with constant deadlines. He was always making us laugh and was rarely in a bad mood.

I’ll never forget escorting a contest winner in an elevator up to the M&T Bank Stadium press box a couple of years ago. Just as the doors were closing, somebody stuck his long, skinny arm in to block them from completely shutting.

There was Duffy.

The contest winner, a young lady, could hardly contain herself, “Oh my! Oh my! Mike Duffy! I can’t believe it’s you! I read you every day.’

He was the face of for six years, and I know many of you will miss his contributions.

Watch out for his farewell blog that we’ll post tomorrow.

Until then, please watch my all-time favorite Duffy video. This was filmed in April when he went through a mock interview with the Ravens scouting staff at the NFL Combine.

I feel awkward just watching it. Enjoy!

Quick Hits

  •  Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who returned to practice yesterday after suffering bruised ribs Sunday, gave his take on Ravens receiver Torrey Smith, “He had one big game. That’s it. He has five catches for his whole career. He has a three-game career.” [MASN]
  • Want to get tickets to the Ravens-Jets game Sunday night? Good luck. So does everyone else. The contest is listed as the fourth most- popular NFL matchup on the NFL Ticket Exchange Buzz Index. 
  • Worried the Ravens are throwing the ball too much? Turns out, they’re in the middle of the pack. Baltimore is ranked 19th in called pass plays (60.8 percent of all plays called). Jamison Hensley explained, “Some might argue that offenses are only balanced if their play selection is 50 percent run and 50 percent pass. But in today’s game, 60 percent passing is the true measure of being balanced.’  [ESPN]
  • “I love playing against Rex, because I think he gets to see his finest work up close,’ said Suggs. “If he’s Michelangelo, I was his Sistine Chapel.’ []
  • The wake and funeral for former Ravens tackle Orlando Brown will be Oct. 7 at Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson considers Lewis a friend and mentor. When he was the San Diego Chargers team leader in 2003, they were struggling with a three-game losing streak. So, he called Lewis for some advice. “I said, ‘Ray, my team is struggling. How do I lead these guys? What do I need to do?’ He gave me his number and said, ‘Call me. We need to talk.’ And we’ve been talking ever since.” [The Star-Ledger] 

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