Late For Work 11/30: Leach Puts Busted Helmet In Trophy Case

Ravens jump in power rankings, but one head-scratcher. Feeling uptight with QB injuries?

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Wednesday, November 30th, 2011 at 9:05 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Leach Puts Busted Helmet In Trophy Case

Vonta Leach understands his species is almost extinct.

He says there are only a couple “true” fullbacks like himself left in the NFL.  Some teams don’t even carry a fullback on their roster anymore.

As a true fullback, Leach takes pride in breaking down his opponents and making them want to quit by the time the fourth quarter rolls around.

But on Thanksgiving night, Leach faced who he called “one of the best linebackers in the game today” in Patrick Willis.

The two collided repeatedly throughout the night, but despite train wreck after train wreck, neither would back down.

Running back Ray Rice posted on Twitter the result of the bruising matchup.

“This is crazy lol @vleach44 [Leach] has to get a new helmet because of the damage he did to his old one,” tweeted Rice.

It isn’t the first time Leach has had to retire a helmet.

He told’s Steve Wyche on his “Cover Two Podcast” that he usually runs through two or three helmets a year. Additionally he gets a new facemask “just about every game.”

Helmets that are decorated with enough “scars” have a special spot in Leach’s trophy case.

“I saw some collisions with you and Patrick Willis that were absolutely off the charts,” said Wyche, who covered the game from the sideline. “He didn’t give and you didn’t give. No matter how hard you were hitting each other, you guys kept coming.”

“That really gets the juices going,” Leach said.  ”I knew it was going to be a heavyweight match going against [the 49ers linebackers], it was on national TV, and so it did get my blood pumping.”

After watching the battle up close with his own eyes, Wyche said if he had to get through a crowd of 10 million on Black Friday, he would want Leach opening the doors for him.

Not a problem, says Leach.

“We could probably make our way through in some kind of way.”

Week 12 Power Rankings: Ravens A Big Jump, One Head-Scratcher

There’s mostly good news in the power rankings for the Ravens this week, but there is one head-scratcher coming from

The Ravens are No. 2 in most of the lists around the web (No. 3 for It’s tough to argue everyone’s decision to put the defending Super Bowl champions and undefeated Green Bay Packers at the top of their lists (Brian Billick has New England at No. 2). Analysts are showing respect for the Ravens after their latest win over the 49ers.

But there is something about head-to-head competition that seems to hold little value for’s Elliot Harrison, who has San Francisco at No. 2 and Pittsburgh, who the Ravens swept, at No. 3.

His explanation for keeping San Fran second on the chart?

Man, if that Ted Ginn touchdown hadn’t been called back, one can only wonder what would have happened last Thursday night. Maybe the 49ers hit a roadblock, but here are the facts:

a. The Niners are winning the NFC West and getting a bye.
b. The defense still is ridiculously good, good enough to win in the playoffs.
c. The loss in Baltimore cost nothing as no one is catching the Packers for the No. 1 seed.

All that aside, Thursday night’s game was the worst performance by Jim Harbaugh’s offensive line all season (nine sacks allowed.)

Below is the Week 12 list, with this week’s and last week’s rankings in parentheses. (2/5): “With a statement win over the 49ers, the Ravens proved they are a legitimate title contender.”’s Peter King (2/4): “Holding Alex Smith to 96 net yards passing … priceless.”’s Pete Prisco (2/4): “Let’s see how they do after a big victory this week at Cleveland. The pattern says they will struggle.”’s Brian Billick (3/8): “The Ravens make a significant jump in the rankings with a win over the 49ers and an uninspired performance by the Steelers on Sunday night. The Ravens’ defense was spectacular, even without Ray Lewis, and showed a pass rush that will scare the heck out of anyone. Road trips to San Diego and Cincinnati seem like unlikely bumps in the road for the Ravens to grab the No. 1 or No. 2 seed with a 13-3 record.”’s Mike Florio (2/6): “Given their history of stumbling against bad teams, the next four “easy” games could be the hardest on the schedule.”’s Elliot Harrison (6/7): “If the Ravens can create the kind of pressure they did Thursday night, they’ll go to the Super Bowl. That’s no exaggeration. The corners have long been considered a weakness on John Harbaugh’s team. They’ll get far less exposure with the kind of collapsing pocket Niners QB Alex Smith faced Thanksgiving Night. Of course, Joe Flacco’s inconsistent play is always a concern. He was solid in Week 12. How will he fare next week at Cleveland? Don’t snicker. The Browns have the top pass defense in football.”

Recent QBs Injuries Has Some Feeling Uptight

The Colts lost Peyton Manning and their season went down the drain.

The Chiefs are 4-7 after losing Matt Cassell.

What will become of the Texans (Matt Schaub) or Bears (Jay Cutler) now that their starting QBs are knocked out of the season?’s Stan “The Fan” Charles is contemplating these teams’ situations and it’s making him a little nervous.

“The Ravens have a very real chance to return to the Super Bowl for the second time in their 16-year history,” Charles wrote. “Seemingly, nothing can get in the team’s way of heading to the Super Bowl in Indianapolis. Right? Well, sort of — provided the Ravens offensive line can keep their starting quarterback upright for the rest of the season.”

In light of the recent quarterback injuries, Charles says Ravens fans can find comfort in quarterback Joe Flacco’s durability, as he has started all 59 games of his NFL career. But Flacco isn’t exempt from that one fatal blow that could end his season and the CSN writer isn’t sure rookie backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor could lead the Ravens as far as Flacco.

“The rigors of an NFL campaign are brutal on all. But nobody is as prone to one bad play that can end a season like a quarterback,” said Charles.  ”That’s why, of all the people with skin in this game, perhaps nobody has his breath taken away more than Ozzie Newsome, when he sees his starting quarterback knocked down.”

Charles’ point? The o-line needs to continue what they did against the 49ers’ vaunted defense, and keep Flacco upright. Otherwise there will be a lot of uptight fans around Baltimore.

Quick Hits

  • The Kansas City Chiefs announced the release of the massive former Raven Jared Gaither. “Once regarded as a potential cornerstone left tackle in Baltimore, Jared Gaither is now out of a job… after committing a key false start late in Sunday night’s loss to the Steelers.” []
  • Flacco gets a B-plus for his effort on Thanksgiving night when he went 15-for-23 for 161 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. [ESPN]
  • Ravens Ring of Honor inductee and former kicker Matt Stover will preside over this year’s lighting of Baltimore’s Washington Monument. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • In conjunction with grants from Living Classrooms and the city, the Ravens helped renovate the full-size regulation field at City Springs Elementary/Middle School. Lee Evans and Ricky Williams and former Baltimore Colts legends Art Donovan and Lenny More participated in the ceremony to celebrate the new field. []
  • Brad Jackson breaks down Ray Lewis’ toe injury.


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