Ravens Not Just Playing Playoff Defense, But 'Championship Caliber' Defense
Is Baltimore's defense playing at a high enough level that it can carry the team to the playoffs?
After the unit pitched its third shutout of the season in a 23-0 pounding of the Green Bay Packers Sunday, ESPN is skipping right over that question and taking it to a whole other level.
"Recent NFL history suggests this defense can do more than carry the Ravens to the postseason," the website wrote.
"If defenses truly win championships, the Ravens must believe they have a shot."
Prior to Sunday's third Baltimore shutout, only four other teams had accomplished that feat in the last … get ready … 30 YEARS. That's the number ESPN Stats and Information dug up, and it turns out that three of the four teams went on to win the Super Bowl.
1991 Washington Redskins ------> Won Super Bowl
2000 Baltimore Ravens -----------> Won Super Bowl
2001 San Francisco 49ers --------> Lost in wild-card round
2003 New England Patriots -----> Won Super Bowl
The Ravens' shutouts have come against the Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins and Packers. Doubters are quick to point out that the latter two came against backup quarterbacks Matt Moore and Brett Hundley.
"That also could mean the Ravens are gearing up for that fourth shutout Monday night, when they play host to the Houston Texans and backup quarterback Tom Savage," ESPN wrote.
Something tells me this kind of talk won't sit right with defensive leader Terrell Suggs, who downplayed the significance of the unit's shutouts Sunday.
"It don't mean [bleep]* *if we don't make the playoffs," Suggs said. "It's good. But if we don't get in, y'all won't remember [the shutouts]."
Suggs makes the obvious point that everyone is thinking.
Before Sunday, some people would scoff at putting the words "Ravens" and "playoffs"* *in the same sentence because of the team's 4-5 record. Now at 5-5, Baltimore currently owns the sixth and final AFC wild-card spot, but talking about their Super Bowl prospects feels premature.
That is more a result of the offensive struggles, however, and less about the defense's potential.
"What could hold back this stingy defense from being 'super' is an offense that has struggled all season," says ESPN. "Baltimore ranks 31st in offense and failed to score an offensive touchdown in the first half Sunday, the sixth time that's happened this season."
One of those offensive players is all-in on the idea, however, and knows the players on his side of the ball need to raise their performance level.
"Our defense is playing championship football," wide receiver Mike Wallace said. "Our offense, we have to catch up."
'No Touchy, Touchy.' Best Commentary Ever for Sam Koch's Masterful Punt
While watching the replays of Sam Koch's punt inside the 1-yard line, I immediately thought Head Coach John Harbaugh should challenge the ruling on the field that it was a touchback.
It seemed to me there was conclusive video evidence that the ball didn't touch the white goal line or a Ravens player.
"This will be an easy 'win' for Harbaugh's challenge record," I thought.
But it wasn't to be, as New York's review officials apparently didn't think the evidence was as conclusive as I did.
Psshhh (I'm happy I could fit this in one article twice).
Not only was Harbaugh robbed, but perhaps the more egregious crime was committed against punter Sam Koch, who delivered the "greatest punt in the history of football," according to Harbaugh.
I think not, and neither does Barstool Sports comedian and former NFL punter Pat McAfee.
"No touchy, touchy," McAfee says of Maurice Canady as he dives past the ball.
"That right there, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what every punter attempts to do every single time he steps onto the field. That was an absolutely perfect punt. …Call stands?!?! Bull [bleep]. I'm on your side, Harbaugh."
Warning: There is some cursing in the video below.*
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Calls Ryan Jensen 'Trash,' But Wishes They Were Teammates
Harbaugh defended center Ryan Jensen after Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix called him "trash" and a "dirty player." Teammate Kenny Clark was carted off the field with an ankle injury on a play Jensen was involved in.
Clark went down when running back Alex Collins fell into his leg while Jensen was blocking him. Clark bent over backwards.
"Ryan said he felt it right away, and said he felt him bending backwards, and tried to hold him up," Harbaugh said. "When you look at the tape, that's what I saw."
Harbaugh added that Jensen plans to reach out to Clark via text message.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Clark suffered a high ankle sprain "but it does not appear to be a serious injury." Clark is expected back this season after missing some time, per the report.
It's commendable for Clinton-Dix to stick up for his teammate, just as Jensen did for quarterback Joe Flacco when he was knocked out of the game against Miami. The part of Clark's quote that raised eyebrows was this:
"I've been watching film of 66, and he's a dirty player," Clark said. "I would love to have him on my team if he was like that, but at the end of the day, you can't play like that and want to be a great in this league."
Jensen was mic'd up for the Packers game, and here's a little teaser for Ravens Wired, which will be published Wednesday.
This Thanksgiving, Give Thanks for Justin Tucker
The Monday Night Football bout between the Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons once again highlights how grateful Ravens fans should be for Justin Tucker.
Down by three points with seven seconds remaining in the game, the Seahawks sent kicker Blair Walsh out for a 52-yard field goal attempt to try to send the game into overtime.
It's certainly not an easy kick, but one the Ravens would confidently send Tucker out to convert. Walsh was on target, but came up just short.
Ravens Must Keep Themselves in Playoff Contention With Consistency
Now that the Ravens have grabbed the sixth AFC seed, they are in the playoff driver's seat. Nobody else must lose. Nobody else must stumble. Baltimore just has to take care of business.
At 5-5, The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec says the next step for the Ravens in protecting their playoff spot is show they can be consistent.
"Ten games into the season, the Ravens have proved they can play with anybody when they're at their best, and they can lose to anybody when they're at their worst," Zrebiec wrote. "What they have yet to prove — and they'll probably have to if they're going to make the NFL playoffs — is that they're capable of maintaining a high level of play on a consistent basis.
"When the Ravens host the Houston Texans (4-6) next week on Monday Night Football, they'll be looking to win their first back-to-back games since weeks 1 and 2, when they defeated the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns."