Late For Work 10/31: Flacco, Cam Get Charge From Booing Fans

Ravens plan to franchise Rice; good and bad of Steelers win; Lewis shrugs off stinger.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Monday, October 31st, 2011 at 9:09 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Flacco, Cam Get Charge From Booing Fans

When Baltimore was trailing the Arizona Cardinals by 24 points in the second quarter, Ravens fans weren’t happy.

And they let their team know it.

Floods of boos were directed at quarterback Joe Flacco and Co. as the offense failed to get into the end zone on six different drives (two punts, two field goals, a fumble and an interception). Flashes from the brutal offensive performance in Jacksonville crept into spectators’ minds.

Luckily, the Ravens came out a different team in the second half and the fans’ reaction may have had something to do with it.

“No one screamed at half time [in the locker room]. The Ravens did, however, get a little bit of an extra charge out of the storm of boos that poured down on them from the home crowd at M&T Bank Stadium,” wrote the Baltimore Sun’s Kevin Van Valkenburg. “Cam Cameron, of all people, said he actually respected the fans for booing. And he absolutely understood that a lot of it was being directed at him.”

Not only does Cameron understand the fans’ frustration, but he said he appreciates it. Flacco even said that if he were in the stands, he would have booed too.

“Our fans are brutal when we do what we did the other night, and rightfully so, because they’re so passionate about what we do,” Cameron told reporters. “Maybe I’m getting goofy at this stage, but I appreciate the brutalness of our fans in a way because it’s so important to them. I’ve got no problem being the target, because I’ve got great guys.”

The Ravens turned to the no-huddle offense and Flacco ended up finishing with 336 yards – his third 300-plus game of the season, and set a career-high with 51 attempts. Receiver Anquan Boldin caught seven passes for 145 yards and running back Ray Rice added a career-high three touchdowns.

“Let’s give Cameron some credit though,” wrote Van Valkenburg. “Maybe it was ingenuity, or maybe it was desperation, but either way, his decision to put Flacco in the shotgun made him hustle the offense to the line of scrimmage and changed everything about this game. It slowed Arizona’s pass rush, it gave Flacco a boost of confidence, and raised the energy level of the entire offense.”

The Ravens will be the first to say there is still a lot to improve (one being pass protection). The offense knows it is inconsistent. So it’s up to the Ravens to prove they are truly the team of the second half of Sunday afternoon’s contest, and not the inefficient one of the first.

“So how are we going to view Baltimore’s 30-27 win over the Cardinals on Sunday?” asked PFT.com’s Gregg Rosenthal. “Was the 24-6 halftime deficit a sign that this offense is deeply flawed? Or did the second half comeback show this team can get it done when necessary?

“This was a game the Ravens absolutely couldn’t afford to lose, so we’ll take the positive approach. We wanted to see Joe Flacco take a game over, and that’s essentially what he did in the second half.”

Others had the same question, like SI.com’s Don Banks. After predicting the Ravens would make it to the Super Bowl earlier this year, Banks said Baltimore makes him slap his forehead by its inconsistent ways.

But he hasn’t lost all hope.

How media and fans will ultimately take the Ravens’ struggle to beat a team on a five-game losing streak will be answered by their performance against Pittsburgh next Sunday night.

Schefter: Ravens Plan To Franchise Rice

The Ravens plan on using their franchise tag on running back Ray Rice, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter. If the report turns out to be true, Rice would go from making a $550,000 this year, the last on his rookie contract, to $9.45 million to $7.71 next season, according to Schefter’s franchise tag calculations.

The move “wouldn’t come as a shock” says ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.

By franchising Rice, the Ravens would avoid having to hand out two large signing bonuses in the same year, assuming Baltimore negotiates a contract extension with Flacco. Additionally, the Ravens could put off a big payday similar to the one Titans running back Chris Johnson received early this season which totaled a reported $53.5 million over four years, including $30 million guaranteed.

There is a downside to putting off a long-term contract, however.

“[A tag] offers no security over the long haul,” said Ryan Wilson of CBSSports.com. “And while we think that it doesn’t require much effort to find a replacement-level back, Rice and [Bears running back Matt] Forte are exceptions because their offenses go through them. If Ravens fans are frustrated with Joe Flacco now, what state of mind would they be in if Rice wasn’t touching the ball 30 times a game?”

Through seven games this season, Rice has tallied 862 yards from scrimmage. He has produced 25 games of at least 100 yards of total offense since he became a starter in 2009. That mark tops Adrian Peterson (24) and Chris Johnson (22).

“I firmly believe that I am going to be here for a while,” Rice said earlier this season. “I really try not to worry about that kind of stuff, obviously, during the season. I have the right guy, my agent (Todd France), and the organization will definitely take care of that. Whether it’s right now or after the season, my job right now is just to play football.”

The Good And Bad Of Steelers Knocking Off Pats

If the New England Patriots had continued their dominance over the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday, the Ravens would have the edge in the AFC North standings.

Instead, the Steelers not only keep that spot, but they are now leading the entire conference in both standings (6-2) and reputation.

“[The Steelers] made the statement that they’re the team to beat in the AFC,” wrote Hensley. “Pittsburgh won its fourth straight game but this was its first against a legitimate playoff contender.”

That’s where the potential good news comes in – this is the Ravens’ chance to knock off the AFC’s top team on a national stage Sunday night. It would go a long way in erasing the country’s memories of the meltdown in Jacksonville last Monday night.

Remember, though, this division is not a two-team race. Even if the Ravens win, they may not take the lead. The Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) would claim that spot with another win next week through tie-breaking procedures.

Lewis Shrugs Off Shoulder Stinger

Ray Lewis only missed five plays all of last season.

He missed four after suffering a shoulder stinger in the first quarter against the Cardinals.

It was a scary moment watching trainers attend to the two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year on the sidelines. But relief came when cameras caught Lewis pumping out a few push-ups next to the bench, showing he was OK and ready to re-enter the game.

“It is what it is,” Lewis said. “You always catch those hits sometimes, and my arm was caught in an awkward position when I tried to engage the guy. And just regular numbness, and I just had to let it shake off. I was more concerned with not letting them score than my arm at the time. So, I just brushed it off, and once it settled in, it’s OK.”

Calls For More No-Huddle

Count Van Valkenburg and CSNBaltimore.com’s John Eisenberg as two people that want to see more shotgun and no-huddle from the Ravens offense going forward.

“The switch to a no-huddle offense paid huge dividends for the Ravens.” wrote Eisenberg. “They were 21 down and getting booed when they went to the no-huddle late in the first half. They scored 27 points in the game’s final 33 minutes to come back and win, with quarterback Joe Flacco looking far more comfortable in the no-huddle than in the traditional offense. There’s no doubt the Ravens will have to use the no-huddle more, perhaps a lot more.”

Added Van Valkenburg, “I’m not going to pretend I have even a sliver of the football knowledge that Cameron does. But I will say … that I’ve been arguing for three years that the Ravens needed to put Flacco in the shotgun more and pick up the tempo of the offense. I don’t know why exactly, but he just sees the field better. And when you get him in the line of scrimmage faster, with more time on the play clock, I think it’s obvious he has more time to survey the defense and anticipate what they are going to do.”

Quick Hits

  • “The taunting penalty on Rice in the fourth quarter was absurd,” wrote Eisenberg. “He gestured his strength, directed at no one, after making a nice play. His actions seemed little different from what many players do on many plays, but the penalty basically killed a key Baltimore possession with the score tied.” [CSNBaltimore.com]
  • “The pass protection of tackle Bryant McKinnie and guard Andre Gurode was seriously lacking at times, enabling Arizona defenders to harass Flacco and hit him repeatedly,” added Eisenberg. “The move to the no-huddle, with its quicker routes, took the heat off the line.” [CSNBaltimore.com]
  • “The Ravens sacked Kevin Kolb five times with five or more defensive backs on the field (one sack every 3.2 dropbacks). Coming into Sunday, the Ravens averaged one sack every 10.3 dropbacks using at least five defensive backs, the third-highest rate in the league.” [ESPN Stats and Information]
  • triplcarr: I did not want to tweet until, i got my butt back on the field, thanks for all the support the past couple of weeks [Twitter]
  • jamisonhensley: Refs should flag Ravens for taunting again. They threw to Dickson when Heap is on the other sideline. [Twitter]
  • brendon310: Neck- hurts, shoulder- hurts, pinkyfinger-hurts, winning= euphoric [Twitter]
  • vleach44: It was not pretty but I will take the W great team win [Twitter]
  • TorreySmithWR: Great team win!!! I appreciate my teammates for helping me keep my head up after I dropped that pass…they helped me bounce back #ravens [Twitter]
  • RealJimmySmith: Good win. Fans really pushed us through today.. great day for the raven nation [Twitter]

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