Dangerous Steelers Starting To Threaten Ravens
There’s good news and bad news coming out of the Ravens’ Week 8 bye.
The good news is that Baltimore’s standing both in the division and the conference didn’t change. Even with a week off, the Ravens (5-2) are still sitting atop the AFC North and No. 2 in the AFC with the Houston Texans (6-1) the lone team ahead.
The bad news is that the AFC North went undefeated Sunday (Bengals had a bye), while Pittsburgh and New England have momentum on their side and are seriously threatening the Ravens’ lead.
“Pittsburgh is starting to finally look like Pittsburgh,” wrote SI.com’s Don Banks. “Mike Tomlin's team looks to be intent on making it a race with Baltimore for the AFC North title after all.”
Despite their atrocious bumblebee throwbacks, the Steelers (4-3) have now won two in a row after convincingly beating the Redskins, 27-12, to come within a one-game striking distance of Baltimore in the AFC North. Meanwhile the Patriots (5-3) had a jolly good time in London running over the Rams, 45-7, and are poised to take over the No. 2 spot in the conference.
“True, 5-3 at the midway point of the season passes for mediocrity with the Patriots, but they've won four out of five and look ready to go on a real roll in light of their 45-7 humiliation of St. Louis in London,” Banks wrote. “You have to like the Pats' chances to win at least three of [the next four] games.”
Even the AFC North rival Browns, who play host to the Ravens Sunday, have a little home streak going, winning the last two at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Both Cleveland and Pittsburgh running games are starting to come alive, which has been the Ravens defense’s Achilles heel, ranking 30th in the league by allowing 142.9 rushing yards per game.
In the short term, the Ravens have to figure out a way to stop rookie running back Trent Richardson when they meet next week. He finished yesterday with 122 yards and a touchdown against the league’s second-best run defense in the San Diego Chargers.
In the long term, Baltimore has to keep an eye on the Steelers, who suddenly “have the look of a dangerous team” with an improved running attack behind Jonathan Dwyer (107 yards Sunday), says ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.
“All of a sudden, the Steelers have gone from nearly pushing the panic button to causing the division-leading Baltimore Ravens to sweat,” Hensley wrote. “Pittsburgh (4-3) has crept to within one game of Baltimore primarily on the legs of Dwyer.”
What’s the moral of the story?
The Ravens are still in good position, but they need to leave the Houston debacle in the past and get back to their winning ways (especially on the road) if they want to hold off the charge.
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Roethlisberger Nails Ref With Football (Video)
Before we completely move on from the Steelers game, check out this video of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger nailing an umpire with an errant pass.
The referee tried to move out of the way by ducking, but it only brought his head closer to the path of laser pass. You can audibly hear him grunt as the ball seemed to pound into his gut/chest area. Ooff.
Hensley: Ravens Didn’t Do Anything Wrong With Reed
As was reported Friday, the Ravens were hit with a $20,000 fine for not listing safety
The league disagreed, citing the injury report policy that says all players with significant or noteworthy injuries must be listed even if they take all reps in practice and are believed to play in the upcoming game.
Hensley, however, doesn’t think the Ravens were wrong in their actions, and doesn’t agree with the fine.
“I don't think the Ravens did anything wrong,” the AFC North blogger wrote. “On the same day Reed hinted that the right shoulder injury affected his play, he was seen throwing passes to teammates before practice. A player with a torn labrum probably should be resting the shoulder, not tossing the ball around. That makes me question whether the injury is really affecting his play.
“I also don't agree with the amount of the fine. If the NFL believes the Ravens did something wrong, the league should make them pay much more. This is essentially a slap on the wrist. A $20,000 fine for an NFL team is like one of us getting docked $1 for doing something wrong at work. Is that really a deterrent going forward?”
Big Changes To Ravens Injury Report Coming?
Whether one thinks Baltimore did anything wrong with the Reed injury, the fine could change the way the Ravens’ injury reports will look in the future.
Prior to the fine, Harbaugh explained that the team usually only lists players who have missed game or practice time because of their injuries. Other teams take a different approach and load up their injury reports.
"We’ve kept the injury report very tight,” Harbaugh said last Monday. "We’ve kept it to the guys who have to be on the injury report. It’s not that we’re trying to hide any injuries, but we could do what some other teams do a put a bunch of them on there. I’m just as happy to do that. We could put all the guys on the injury report. If they’d rather us do that, we’ll do that.”
The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec believes the Ravens’ injury reports will now take on a new look.
“Harbaugh said that he had about 25 guys in similar situation as Reed,” he tweeted. “Translation; Ravens injury report is gonna be packed from now on”
ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio reported that the price on repeat injury report offenders will go up.
Wrote Florio: “[NFL Spokesman Greg] Aiello called it ‘unlikely,’ but ‘multiple offenses of a very serious nature’ could result in a team losing draft picks.”
Big Names Discussed, But Little Trade Activity Expected
Rams running back Steven Jackson.
Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe.
Titans running back Chris Johnson.
These are three big names being discussed as the NFL trade deadline approaches Tuesday afternoon, but the likelihood of a trade is “extremely remote,” according to CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora.
With NFL parity in full bloom and few teams completely out of the playoff picture, there is little expectation of any trades, especially these bigger names, considering their salaries and ensuing availability on the free-agent market. That’s the message La Canfora is getting after talking with general managers and agents around the league.
“Those are very difficult trades to make,” an NFC executive told La Canfora. “Budgets are set, so to get your owner to spend another $3 million on a veteran, now, in October, for a rental, that can be a tough sell.”
One general manager, who has been willing to make deals in the past said: “I haven't heard a thing.”
“It's crazy,” another one said. “I haven't heard a thing, honestly.”
La Canfora notes that the same executives said they wouldn’t be surprised if Bucs backup running back LeGarrett Blount, Rams receiver Steve Smith, Browns backup quarterback Colt McCoy or Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore were traded by the 4 p.m. deadline.
Potential Hurricane Effects
Florio reports that various teams located in the path of Hurricane Sandy may have to deal with disruptions to their practice schedules and training facilities.
I can tell you that as long as our website crew doesn’t lose power, we will keep Ravens fans updated on any potential schedule changes or effects on the Under Armour Performance Center today. As of right now, the team is still scheduled to practice and Harbaugh has his usual Monday presser at 4 p.m., but that could easily change.
The Ravens don’t appear to be involved with any trades for tomorrow’s deadline, but the NFL offices have closed down and Florio wonders how that will affect business.
“Meanwhile, the trade deadline is Tuesday, which could complicate efforts to transact business — especially if the league office in Manhattan doesn’t have electricity to receive and process proposed deals,” he wrote.
Lewis Gets A National Wrestling Hall of Fame Award
As a high school wrestler, Lewis won the Florida Class 4A state championship in the 189-pound class as a senior.
Lewis’ high school coach, Stephen Poole, accepted the award on the linebacker’s behalf. Lewis is currently involved with therapy on his surgically repaired triceps, plus Hurricane Sandy has had an effect on travel from Florida.
"He's a natural leader, a great person," said Poole, per The Sun. "No hassles, you tell him to do something and he just did it. Whatever the opponent gave him, he took advantage of whatever there was to take advantage of. He wrestled some great athletes. The wins weren't easy. He was sweating bullets doing it."
Aaron Wilson posted on Twitter this wrestling photo of Lewis from high school.
- @artj97: Stuck in Dallas!!! Thanks god for my platinum passport Hyatt points. I got a free room. [Twitter]
- @bryanhall95: This hurricane is sounding more and more bad... [Twitter]
- @tandondoss: Alright well if we get hit feel free to bring food and board games to my crib! [Twitter]
- @brendon310: Looks like I get to hit sandy twice. I think she will be better in Baltimore since all she did was blow in fla [Twitter]
- @torreysmithwr: If I didn't know any better I would think the world is gonna end by Wednesday...but I guess I should be a little prepared [Twitter]
- @TeamSizzleFilms: I kid you not, I woke up the other morning and my son was waiting on me looking just like this picture. Well...he had his jersey on backwards and he was sporting his overnight pullup...but you get the picture. [Twitter]
- Wide receiver Torrey Smith works hard to be the best. [The Baltimore Sun]
- The Browns game is the perfect time for the Ravens' offense to bounce back. [The Baltimore Sun]
- Ed Reed was listed at No. 4 in Ron Jaworski’s top 10 scariest defensive players list. The NFL analyst wrote: “Reed's great ability is reading a QB's eyes, but he does it so well you'd think he was reading his mind. He is instinctive and one of the best ball hawks in NFL history. If you want to throw to the right, you'd better not look there as soon as you get the snap. If you do, you'll be chasing after Reed as he streaks by you with the ball. Ironically, because of his scary talent to pick off passes, Reed makes every QB in this league better. You must have great eye discipline and be mindful of every little nuance in your passing motion. Because if you don't pay attention to those tells, you know Reed will.” [ESPN]
- While Harbaugh was candid about several changes that could be made after the bye (offensive line shuffles, staying patient with the run, less no-huddle on the road), Jeff Seidel says fans shouldn’t expect full-scale changes. [CSNBaltimore.com]