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Patriots Beware Of Falling Into Easy Trap
Allow me to sum up just about every single recap of the Ravens-Texans contest posted on news outlets throughout web:
The Ravens’ win was ugly and they have to play better against the Patriots if they want to punch a ticket to the Super Bowl.
Now that the obvious has been stated, let’s look at this from New England’s point of view.
“In the words of Bill Belichick: ‘You know it. I know it. They know it.’”
Reiss said it would be an “easy trap” to think the Patriots have a big advantage over the Ravens just because they won ugly at home while the New England dominated the Broncos.
“The Patriots should roll, right?” asked Reiss.
“Not. At. All.”
He says New England can learn from the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers, who were both ousted from the postseason last weekend. They play similar styles of ball as the Patriots and momentum was supposedly on their side.
Yet their seasons are over.
The last time the Pats and Ravens met in a 2009 AFC wild-card battle, the Ravens ran away with a 33-14 blowout win. The two matchups before that, New England was the victor, but each time the margin of victory was less than a touchdown.
“This is going to be close. It’s going to be hard-hitting,” wrote Reiss. “And for those who appreciate the top-level, hard-core competition the NFL has to offer, it should be a treat, the type of contest that could come down to one play. When the margin for error is that thin, the focus must be razor-sharp and every little detail in preparation takes on added importance.
“So beware of dismissing the Ravens based on what you saw Sunday.”
Jason La Canfora has a message for those who thought the Ravens should sit future Hall-of-Fame safety Ed Reed on some plays during the playoffs:
You’re a moron.
No, seriously. That’s what he said.
“Ed Reed coulda had 3 [interceptions] today, and you knew he would get Yates at least once,” the NFL Network analyst tweeted. “Anyone who suggested Ravens should sit Reed is a moron.”
Reed finished the divisional playoff game with one game-preserving interception in the fourth quarter, four pass breakups and six tackles. And for all the talk about lingering injuries, Reed ignored his ailing body Sunday and put everything on the line to make a play.
For most of the season, veteran quarterbacks have tried to avoid Reed altogether, throwing as far away from himas possible. Rookie quarterback T.J. Yates knew he too should avoid Reed, he just didn’t realize how much ground the All-Pro could cover.
“I learned pretty quickly that just because I read the right coverage, it may not work,” said Yates. “Ed Reed makes up for so much. He is all over the place. You may be making the right read, but Reed will make a play anyway.”
“You can’t coach a kid enough as a quarterback how good No. 20 is in the middle of the field and he found out the hard way today,” Texans Head Coach Gary Kubiak added.
X-Rays Come Back Negative
Watching Ray Lewis and Jimmy Smith help carry Reed off the field after the final play of the game was a scary visual.
The Texans said they thought they beat themselves in their first loss to the Ravens in Week 6.
They are left with the same sentiment again.
“Because of the way it played out, they left town convinced they were the better team that just didn’t play better,” wrote ESPN’s Paul Kuharsky.
The Texans did just about everything they were supposed to do: get Arian Foster and the running game going, pressure Joe Flacco (five sacks) and prevent Ray Rice from carrying the Ravens offense.
But Houston turned the ball over four times, and the Ravens capitalized.
“I’m not going to get a lot of sleep tonight, I know a lot of guys on this team are not going to get a lot of sleep tonight,” said Foster. “It’s what we do for a living, it’s how we defend our legacy, how we write our story.
Prior to Sunday’s game, former NFL general manager and current CBS Sports analyst Charlie Casserly reported that center Matt Birk, 35, would retire after this season.
If that was news to you, you’re not the only one.
The 14-year veteran shot down the report after the Ravens’ divisional playoff win.
“I don’t know. It could be 100 percent true or it could be zero percent true, and there’s probably no in-between,” Birk told reporters. “No, I haven’t made that decision yet, and I don’t know Charlie Casserly. I mean, I know who he is, but he didn’t talk to me, and that’s all I can say.”
“Obviously, however, the final outcome of the Ravens’ season will have an impact on Birk’s thought processes, given that he could possibly pull off the rare Elway-Bettis-Strahan ride into the sunset with a Super Bowl trophy tucked under his arm,” wrote Mike Florio.
Enjoy Watching Ray And Ed … Just In Case
Once again, Lewis was asked after the game about possibly ending his career.
The 36-year-old linebacker actually sounded like he thinks he has a couple more years in him.
Watching Reed hobble off the field made many wonder how much he has left in the engine.
You should enjoy watching the two play while you can … just in case.
“When [Lewis and Reed] finally busted through the smoke and fireworks [during the pregame introductions], the roar was so enormous, I could feel the vibrations in my chest,” wrote The Baltimore Sun’s Kevin Van Valkenburg. “I don’t know what either of them was thinking in that moment. Maybe they weren’t thinking about anything in particular, other than the Texans. Maybe they have no intention of retiring any time soon. But in that moment, I think I know how most of the Ravens fans in that stadium – and many of them watching at home – felt.
Harbs Happy For Brother, But Focused On Own Journey
Both Harbaughs are still alive.
With the 49ers shocking the Saints and Baltimore outlasting the Texans, there’s still a chance for a Super Harbaugh Bowl.
After the Ravens’ win, Harbaugh was asked about Jim’s victory in San Fran. While John is happy for his brother, he’s got his own situation to worry about.
“We talked last night after the game,” John told reporters. “He was pretty happy. I was happy for him, but I couldn’t get quite as happy as he was. He was fired up, and I think he was really proud of his team.
“I’m proud of him. I’m proud of Jim. I’m proud of his staff over there, but I haven’t been thinking that much about him, to be honest with you.”
For the record, I disagree with the analysis that Flacco choked in the game vs. the Texans (which was echoed by many). I will further explore my objection later today in Three Takeaways. … “Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco had wanted to be regarded as a grown-ass man, like Brady and Rodgers,” wrote Jen Floyd Engel “What he has to settle for is being the luckiest SOB in football.” [FoxSports.com]
“Brady is still stinging from his divisional playoff loss to the Jets last year in Foxborough. He’s still stinging from his first-round elimination by the Ravens in 2009. He’s still stinging from losing a Super Bowl to Eli Manning and the Giants after the 2007 season,” wrote John Clayton. “He wants that fourth Super Bowl ring and he can taste it. You can sense extra intensity in his preparation and demeanor on the field. He’s now won 15 playoff games and won’t settle for anything less than a victory against the Ravens.” [ESPN]
“The fact that the Ravens didn’t commit a single penalty on Sunday should be worn like a badge of honor,” wrote Kevin Van Valkenburg. [The Baltimore Sun]
The columnist added, “I’ve done my best over the last four months to explain why I think he [Suggs] deserves to win the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award. So I don’t feel like I’m picking on him at all when I say this: He needs to step up his game a notch.” [The Baltimore Sun]
“Guard Ben Grubbs was an unsung hero for the Ravens,” wrote John Eisenberg. “Flacco fumbled in the first quarter, and Rice fumbled on the goal line in the third quarter. Grubbs fell on both loose balls, retaining possession.” [CSNBaltimore.com]
Added Eisenberg: “Ravens coach John Harbaugh really went out on a limb when he eschewed an easy field goal and went for it on fourth-and-goal at the Houston 1 late in the third quarter. The Texans stopped Ray Rice short of the goal, an impressive stop. I’m sure Harbaugh had his rationale for going for it, but those three points sure would have helped matters down the stretch.” [CSNBaltimore.com]
“The running joke in the press box inside M&T Bank Stadium was that Houston punt returner Jacoby Jones could have been named the Ravens’ Most Valuable Player,” wrote Ed Lee. [The Baltimore Sun]
This just in – defense still wins championships. “If, as some people contend, defenses don’t win championships anymore, will someone please explain why defenses launched all four weekend winners into championship games,” wrote Clark Judge. [CBSSports.com]
Added Judge: “If Baltimore puts as little pressure on Brady as it did T.J. Yates, the Ravens are cooked. They didn’t sack Yates and barely touched the guy, and that’s not how you beat Brady. Rewind Baltimore’s victory over New England in the 2009 playoffs — Brady’s first home playoff loss — and you’ll find pressure, with Brady sacked three times and intercepted three times. Of course, there’s a disclaimer. He played with broken ribs that afternoon.” [CBSSports.com]