Internet Explodes After Flacco Hit, Eye Poke, Irish Dancing and Cat
What in the world happened last night?* *
Oh, just a 40-0 Ravens' primetime victory over the Miami Dolphins that nobody saw coming in this unpredictable league. It featured a controversial illegal hit to franchise quarterback Joe Flacco, a throat grab, an eye poke, an Irish Dancer becoming the Ravens' first 100-yard rusher …
– takes breath –
… two Ravens' pick-sixes, a Justin Tucker 57-yarder, followed by a blocked Tucker attempt, the Ravens rescuing their playoff hopes, Brandon Williams shushing all the haters and a cat on the loose.
The Internet exploded with reaction. Here we go:* *
Pundits Say Alonso Should've Been Ejected to Send a Message That NFL Won't Tolerate Dangerous Hits
It was a scary moment.
The tough and durable Flacco was dazed and putting his finger in the air seemingly signaling to come out of the game. His ear was bleeding from a laceration to his outer earlobe.
One couldn't help but think of his wife and four kids after suffering a violent illegal hit to the head from Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso. Alonso was flagged for a 15-yard penalty while Flacco was dangerously knocked out of the game. * *
At a time when the league is trying to protect defenseless players, debate ensued about whether the punishment levied out by officials to Alonso was severe enough to deter him, and other players, from illegal hits in the future.* *
"The NFL continues to have a problem when it comes to adjudicating on-field punishment as it relates to big hits," wrote CBSSports.com's Will Brinson. "The NFL repeatedly points out it plans on being tougher when it comes to players who could be ejected for dirty hits, but the league repeatedly fails to follow through." * *
There's no question that Alonso delivered an illegal hit based on the rule book. Flacco gave himself up as a runner by sliding feet first, and Alonso still made forcible contact with Flacco's head. It didn't matter when Flacco started the slide or how close he was to the first-down marker. You can't hit a player in the head while he's giving himself up. That's why the referees threw the flag, and no reasonable person disagrees with that.
What's being debated, however, is whether Alonso's hit was "flagrant," a prerequisite for an ejection. The referees didn't view it as flagrant, which is defined as "extremely objectionable, conspicuous, unnecessary, avoidable or gratuitous."
Some analysts such as NFL.com's Bucky Brooks and former Steelers Head Coach Bill Cower made the case that the hit was "bang-bang" and say it's asking too much of Alonso to pull up in such a fast sequence. Thus, they say it was worthy of a flag, but not an ejection.
They were in the minority.
"In what world is this not an automatic ejection for Alonso?" asked Brinson. "Consider the facts: Alonso knocked Flacco's helmet off, took a shot at a quarterback's head after the quarterback gave himself up, drew an obvious flag and immediately sent Flacco into the concussion protocol."
"I don't know how the NFL can claim to be serious about combating head injuries if its officials won't eject a player for a delivering a forearm strike to the head of a sliding quarterback," added The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker. "What would Alonso … have needed to do to get booted? Walk up to a prone Flacco and kick him in the face?"
What's the message the NFL and officials are sending when they fail to eject Alonso after that kind of hit? Brinson says defenders are learning that it's worth hammering a quarterback because all the Dolphins lost was a 15-yard penalty. Meanwhile, the Ravens lose their starting quarterback for not only the game, but because concussions are so serious, it could be for much longer.
It's unpredictable. Flacco could be back in 10 days when the Ravens take on the Titans in Tennessee. Or he could miss that game. He could miss a month with a severe concussion. Shoot, some players never recover from blows to their head. It potentially threatens his career and the Ravens' season.
"It's just inequitable," Brinson wrote.
"And the NFL is doing a disservice here by not reviewing these plays. There's no reason to ascribe intent to various players in situations like this one, but take the time to look at the play and determine whether or not a player should be tossed. In this case it should have been obvious that Alonso needed to be ejected. Expect a suspension to be handed down. One certainly should be."
CBS reported during the game that the NFL officiating crew would not make a comment, but it will likely study the play and subsequently give a response. Many are expecting a suspension, but don't feel that's enough.
"Ejecting Alonso would not have wiped away his sin," Walker wrote. "But at least it would have suggested the league will not tolerate such reckless aggression."
Flacco Was Playing One of His Best Games. When Will He Return?
What everyone wants to know is when Flacco will return. He's the person the Ravens can least afford to lose, especially when he's playing as well as he was before getting knocked out of the game.
"Flacco was playing either his best or his second-best game of the season, so the injury — awful under any circumstances — was especially ill-timed for him," wrote Walker.
Flacco's best throw of the night was an absolutely perfect deep ball to receiver Jeremy Maclin for a 34-yard touchdown. Oh, and he did it despite the Dolphins having 12 men on the field.
In terms of recovery, the good news is the Ravens have a mini-bye that gives him three extra days to return for Week 9. But we won't get an indication until next week when Head Coach John Harbaugh speaks on Monday or the injury report is released on Wednesday.
There's one person who doesn't think Flacco will miss any more game action.
"He's got 10 days until our next game. He'll be there," safety Eric Weddle said. "Joe is one of the toughest players I know."
Was This the NFL or WWE? The Throat Grab, Eye Poke and Suplex
In addition to awaiting the NFL's reaction to Alonso's hit on Flacco, we could also get word on a potential punishment for Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh for grabbing Ravens backup quarterback Ryan Mallett's throat. It happened in the fourth quarter when Mallett said something to Suh for hitting him in the facemask after handing the ball off after the whistle was blown.
Maybe we'll also hear more on Dolphins defensive lineman William Hayes' eye poke to Ravens right tackle Austin Howard. This happened after a scrum broke out because of the throat grab.
"[T]here were plenty of scuffles between the two teams after the hit on Flacco," wrote SB Nation's Adam Stites. "Suh was in the middle of many of those moments, but his reach for Mallett's throat was the one moment where he crossed a line and will likely face punishment from the NFL as a consequence."
In case you're getting confused, no, this is not a recap of a WWE wrestling match. You are still reading about a football game, although viewers certainly noted the similarities.
The Ravens also got in on the WWE action, but legally, thanks to outside linebacker Matthew Judon.
As If This Game Wasn't Crazy Enough, a Cat Interrupted the Fourth Quarter
There are several questions we need answers for after a cute little kitty interrupted the game in the fourth quarter.
First, where'd the cat come from?
Second, where is it now?
And, third, who gets to adopt him/her? Seriously, just look at the Ravens' social media feed and you'll see there is no shortage of hopeful people asking for the chance.
We're trying to get answers folks …
It's Not Hyperbole to Say This Ravens Win Was Season-SavingIf Baltimore had lost Thursday night, its season would've virtually been over with only an 11 percent chance of advancing to the playoffs, according to ESPN. But because the Ravens were victorious, their chances grew to 33 percent.
As such, Press Box's Bo Smolka says it's not hyperbole to say this win rescued Baltimore's season.
"The Ravens would have said all the right things about having half the season remaining, but really, at that point they would be playing for draft position," Smolka wrote. "And dramatic changes at the Owings Mills, Md., facility might have been forthcoming.
"At 4-4, the Ravens are not where they want to be or expected to be at the season's midpoint, but at least they enter their idle weekend with a dose of confidence and – Flacco's injury notwithst`anding – with the needle trending upward again."
Baltimore deserves credit for coming out swinging with their backs against the wall, and emphatically delivering a statement that they shouldn't be counted out. The Ravens get a 10-day break before visiting Tennessee, leading into their bye week when they can recover and prepare for an Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers.
Tony Romo Obsessed Over Alex Collins and His Irish Dancing. Ravens Should Feature Him Even More
Goodness gracious, Tony Romo sure did become obsessed with Alex Collins.
"Where'd this kid come from?" the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback asked more than once.
"Call him the Irish Dancer!" he'd tell fellow CBS analyst Jim Nantz.
When Collins would bust out for a chunk-yardage play, Romo would attribute it to his dancing.
Oh, come on, Kevin. It's at least a 95-5 split.
On a serious note, Collins has done enough to prove that his ball security issues are behind him with a new high-and-tight ball carrying technique. He hasn't lost a ball in four games. That doesn't mean he'll never do it again, but he's shed the "fumbler" label.
After becoming the first 100-yard rusher for the Ravens this season on just 18 carries and splitting time with Buck Allen, Brinson thinks Collins should be featured more on offense.
"The Ravens are not one of the best offenses in the NFL. But they might have one of the sneaky best running backs in the league on the roster, and it's a little surprising they don't feed Alex Collins more," he wrote. "The Ravens need to continue to feature him heavily and if for some reason he's unowned in your fantasy league, go snag him now."
Brandon Williams Literally Shushes the Haters
This performance HAD to feel good for defensive tackle Brandon Williams and the Ravens defense. All week they've heard how they ranked dead last in the run, and Head Coach John Harbaugh said they took it personally.
Things got off to a shaky start when the unit allowed running back Jay Ajayi to break off a 21-yard rush on the Dolphins' first run. But by the end of the game, Ajayi only totaled 23 yards on 13 attempts.
Soak that in. Two yards on 12 carries. In total, the Dolphins only notched 45 rushing yards on the day.
Additionally, Thursday night marked just the fourth time in Ravens history that the defense scored two touchdowns (pick-sixes by cornerback Jimmy Smith and linebacker C.J. Mosley). The 40-0 victory was the largest shutout in franchise history.
I think Williams deserves this: