Colin Cowherd Apologizes for 'Worst Take Ever' on Ravens
Remember when the Ravens suffered a deflating, 40-25 loss to the Cleveland Browns at home, dropping them into second place in the AFC North behind the Browns?
It was only five weeks ago, but that's a lifetime in the NFL. The Ravens haven't lost since, the Browns haven't won since, and the Ravens (6-2) now lead the division by two games over the Pittsburgh Steelers and four over the Browns.
Despite the fact that the Ravens and Browns are trending in opposite directions, Fox Sports Radio's Colin Cowherd declared last Friday that Cleveland would be back in first place in a month because of their easier schedule.
Yesterday, Cowherd issued an apology on his show for his "worst football take ever." When he predicted the Browns would overtake the Ravens, Cowherd said he had discounted the four things he believes the elite teams in the NFL all have: a strong general manager, owner, head coach and quarterback.
Cowherd said: "It is a clean sweep for Baltimore. They've got a great owner and a smart GM [Ozzie Newsome]. And then he retired and they got another smart GM [Eric DeCosta]. And they've got a great coach who's 10-2 off byes. And they found this quarterback and made an immediate pivot into, 'We're going to change the way we play football.'
"Everything that matters to me I bailed on because I couldn't get over the schedules, and it's embarrassing," Cowherd said. "As I'm sitting there [Sunday night] watching Baltimore win and Cleveland implode, I'm thinking, 'Timeout. I forgot some very obvious things.'
"John Harbaugh is excellent … I forgot that Lamar Jackson is coachable and hard-working and quiet and getting better. He's even changed his body. … I forgot that Baltimore historically is a step-up organization. Two Super Bowls, two-for-two. They just win big games. They've never been intimidated by New England -- in Foxborough, in Baltimore."
Cowherd went on to say that the Ravens' 37-20 win over the previously undefeated New England Patriots Sunday night makes them a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
"[Sunday] night wasn't about New England, it was about Baltimore. It was about John Harbaugh being disrespected for years, and it was about Mark Ingram and Lamar Jackson being a pain to prepare for. In the new NFL world where you use pads once a week, good luck preparing for the best rushing team in the league by a mile, who is also super physical.
"Because they're so structurally excellent, some of their defensive and offensive issues early on have been solved. That's what good teams do. Last night was Harbaugh, Jackson, and Ingram saying, 'We deserve to be in the Super Bowl conversation, too! Not just in it, we can win it.'"
Meanwhile, "Good Morning Football's" Nate Burleson admitted he was wrong when he said the Ravens couldn't beat the Patriots.
"I can appreciate the fact that the Ravens went out there and basically put a butt-whipping on the Patriots," Burleson said. "I was the first one to say that they didn't have a chance. I thought [the Patriots] would be able to smother the running attack of Lamar Jackson, but this travels well. … This style of gameplay is what wins championships.
"If they can maintain this style of play, I don't care who they play — the Patriots, the 49ers, the Seahawks — this is a team that can't be beat."
"Good Morning Football's" Peter Schrager agreed that the Ravens are playing championship-caliber football.
"I'm very encouraged by the Ravens, and I do think if they are to play the Patriots again in the playoffs, they'll give them hell again," Schrager said, "because this team is so unique and so unlike anything else that the Patriots are going to see."
Kevin Clark of "The Ringer NFL Show" podcast also believes the Ravens' win over New England wasn't an aberration.
"This is not a one-time thing. … You have to recalibrate your expectations of the Ravens," Clark said. "They can win the AFC because we saw what they can do [Sunday] night. … They can be the best team in the NFL."
Jackson Shows Why Teams Shouldn't Have Passed Him Over
With the entire football world watching Sunday night, Jackson put on a dazzling performance against a New England defense that had been historically dominant halfway through the season. As the chants of "MVP! MVP!" rained down on the second-year quarterback during the latter stages of the game, one can only wonder what the GMs who passed on Jackson in the draft were thinking.
It's well-documented that one de facto GM who was interested in Jackson before last year's draft just happened to be standing on the opposing sideline Sunday night.
"The New England Patriots liked Lamar Jackson quite a bit," Charles Robinson of "The Yahoo Sports NFL Podcast" said. "I wonder if that's the sort of heir apparent to Tom Brady that Bill Belichick is sitting there coaching against this guy going, 'Man, I really would've liked to have this guy, knowing if Tom is going to seg out of the Patriots roster after this season, Lamar Jackson would've been the ideal guy.'… They really liked him in that draft."
Robinson's colleague, Terez Paylor, said he's grateful Jackson ended up in Baltimore rather than with some other organizations that drafted a quarterback in the first round last year.
"He's getting really good coaching now with [Offensive Coordinator] Greg Roman, a guy who's used to developing an offense around that skill set," Paylor said. "Baltimore has gone out of their way to custom-fit that offense to what he does well. And there's a culture there and it's a winning culture there. I'm just glad he's there."
"The Ringer NFL Show's" Clark praised the Ravens for being forward-thinking in drafting Jackson and the approach they've taken with him.
"They took a quarterback, and instead of complaining about what he can't do … they celebrated him and they built a team with him and can be one of the best teams in football with him," Clark said. "That is the lesson of this decade. When there's a special player, you take him and figure everything else out later. They figured everything else out later. Congratulations to the Ravens for doing that."
Schrager noted the contrast between Jackson's performance against the Patriots and those of other second-year quarterbacks who went in the first round.
"This guy showed [Sunday] night, 'Bring it. I've got a national spotlight stage,'" Schrager said. "A lot of second-year quarterbacks were not up to that test the last few weeks. We saw Josh Allen fail. We saw Baker Mayfield fail. And we certainly saw Sam Darnold fail. Lamar Jackson had his best game as a pro in the biggest game of his career."
NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal wrote that Jackson showed Sunday night "just how difficult it is for even the greatest defensive mind to solve a problem like him]."
"It's safe to say the Chargers' defense didn't provide a 'blueprint' in the playoffs last season to stop Jackson, a notion that was always ridiculous." Rosenthal wrote. "The Ravens have taken an approach that appears to have come out of the 1970s and made it new, because Jackson is unlike any quarterback in football, and he deserves an offense to match. This is the history of the NFL writ small, mixing the old and out-of-fashion with the cutting-edge, then racing to the end zone before the rest of the league can catch up."
Ravens-Patriots Scores Big Audience
A lot of TV sets were tuned into the Ravens-Patriots "Sunday Night Football" game, both nationally and locally.
The game on NBC averaged 19.26 million viewers in primetime in the fast nationals, up 19 percent from the comparable figure last week, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
"It will adjust up in the finals after accounting for the live broadcast," Hollywood Reporter's Rick Porter wrote. "It should pass the Oct. 20 contest (21.45 million) and post the biggest audience for 'SNF' since 24.1 million people tuned in for the Sept. 29 [Cowboys-Saints] game."
Locally, "WBAL said the audience of 568,371 was the largest audience for an NFL telecast on the channel in five years," The Baltimore Sun's David Zurawik wrote. "Nationally, the game was seen by 22.6 million, making it the most-watched Ravens' Sunday night game ever on NBC, according to the network."