We Interrupt So Joe Flacco Can Tell You To 'Stick It'
"We interrupt this blog so Flacco and Harbaugh can tell you to 'stick it.'"
That was the hilariously awesome headline plastered on the homepage of WNST.net, one week after quarterback Joe Flacco and Head Coach John Harbaugh endured heaps of criticism during the team's three-game losing streak.
The critics and the boo birds at M&T Bank Stadium didn't hold back their scorn as the Ravens endured their lowest moment of the season in last week's loss to the Broncos. Some questioned Flacco's viability as Baltimore's franchise quarterback and others doubted Harbaugh's move to replace Cam Cameron with Jim Caldwell at the offensive coordinator position.
While there wasn't a complete reversal in opinion after the Ravens offense put up a season-high 533 total yards Sunday, Flacco and Harbaugh did hush their critics for the time being.
- Clark Judge [CBSSports.com]: "Consider that a Joe Flacco rebuttal to critics."
- Jason La Canfora [CBSSports.com]: "Joe Flacco [is] pretty much playing out of his mind tonight."
- Drew Forrester [WNST]: "Flacco=potent. Torrey Smith=electric. Ravens defense=stingy. Ravens offensive line=reliable. … I didn't expect it. I assume most of you didn't, either. But that's the NFL, where no team is safe and no outcome is predictable."
- Luke Jones [WNST]: "Flacco reminded us why the Ravens think so highly of him and are committed to him for the long haul — even if the terms of a contract have yet to be ironed out. However, that faith had been tested more than ever after last week's performance and the Ravens' first three-game losing streak in over three years. … Sunday was a step in the right direction, but it's tough to feel convinced until we see more of it, at least with some improved level of consistency."
- Mike Silver [Yahoo! Sports]: The Baltimore Ravens were an absolute mess when I saw them lose to the Broncos last Sunday, and they faced the very real prospect of ending the season with a five-game losing streak. However, Baltimore has a lot of heart, and it showed in Sunday's 33-14 victory over the New York Giants. Give a lot of credit to coach John Harbaugh for pulling his team out of its funk — and for clinching a second consecutive AFC North title. As I wrote last month, there's a good reason he's 5-for-5 in reaching the playoffs as an NFL head coach."
Colts at Ravens 'Virtually Certain' In Wild Card
The AFC playoff teams are set, but the seeding is not.
The six teams, and current seeds, through Week 16 are: 1. Texans (12-3), 2. Broncos (12-3), 3. Patriots (11-4), 4. Ravens (10-5), 5. Colts (10-5), 6. Bengals (9-6)
If that seeding would remain after the season finale, Baltimore would take on the Indianapolis Colts, who will once again be led by Baltimore's beloved Chuck Pagano. Pagano is reportedly returning to work today and will resume his role as the Colts' head coach nearly three months after his leukemia diagnosis.
Indianapolis is "virtually certain" to play at Baltimore in the wild card round, says CBSSports.com's Clark Judge.
That order could change, however.
Here are a few AFC scenarios:
Ravens cannot fall lower than fourth seed, or climb higher than the third seed:To earn the third seed, Baltimore would have to beat the Bengals Sunday, and get help from the Patriots, who would have to lose their home finale.
The Colts will definitely be the No. 5 seed, and the Bengals will definitely be the No. 6 seed:While there isn't much to play for next Sunday in Cincinnati, there's more at stake for the Ravens than the Bengals. The final regular-season game is "meaningless" for the Bengals, says ESPN's Jamison Hensley, who is locked in as the bottom seed.
The top three seeds are still up for grabs:Houston seemed like a lock for the No. 1 seed a few weeks ago, but its 23-6 loss yesterday gave both the Patriots and Broncos the chance to take over the conference's top spot. If the Texans lose to the Colts next week, they could drop to as low as the No. 3 seed. However it winds up, if the Ravens win in the wild-card round, they will visit the top seed. Where would you most prefer to play: at Houston, at Denver or at New England?
Lewis, Reed On The Outs?
The Ravens still have a lot football left to be played, with lofty goals within reach, but La Canfora is already looking ahead to 2013.
Citing unnamed team sources, the CBS Sports reporter said Ray Lewis and Ed Reed's future in Baltimore could be coming to an end. "It could end up being a lot sooner than later," one team source told La Canfora.
Team sources also said some inside the Ravens organization don't view Lewis' scheduled $5.4 million salary in 2013 as "viable."
"While Lewis has told friends that he intends to play in 2013, when he will turn 38, some in the Ravens organization don't think its viable to pay him that kind of salary and wonder if Lewis would be able to come to grips with not being a guaranteed starter or full-time player after so many years as the face of the franchise," wrote La Canfora. "Lewis might have to agree to a restructured deal to remain in Baltimore.
Meanwhile, Reed, who will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, has not had any contract discussions with the Ravens this season, according to the report. If Flacco ends up getting a contract, there is a possibility to use the franchise tag on Reed.
"Given the age of Baltimore's defense in key spots and some pending salary cap issues (like quarterback Joe Flacco likely counting $14.6 million against a stagnant cap as a franchise player), finding a salary spot agreeable to Reed is far from certain, and teammates have said privately they believe Reed will be elsewhere next season," La Canfora wrote. "A long-term deal for Flacco could free up the franchise tag to be used on Reed, but sources said Reed would not take kindly to being franchised at this stage of his career, prompting another offseason stare-down between him and the front office."
Past Criticism Affected Refs' Call On Jones TD?
The officiating in the Ravens' win yesterday afternoon was deemed "laughable" by La Canfora, after a number of questionable calls throughout the contest.
But the ruling that came under the most heat was the officials' decision to overturn a 9-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Receiver Jacoby Jones caught a pass and then extended over the goal line for a score and lost possession when the ball hit the ground in the end zone.
After review, the touchdown was reversed to an incomplete pass, with refs saying Jones didn't perform "a second act." The Ravens ended up settling for a field goal on the drive.
Mike Pereira, the league's former vice president of officiating, disagreed with the final call.
"When defining a catch, the rule book states that a receiver must first control the ball, then get both feet clearly down and finally maintain control of the ball long enough to perform an act common to the game," he wrote. "Acts common to the game are described as being able to pitch the ball, pass it, advance with it or avoid or ward off an opponent, etc.
"On this play, since Jones reached the ball out to break the plane before he hit the ground, he is deemed to perform an act common to the game — or as officials call it, a second act. This should have remained a touchdown and not have been overturned. There was clearly not indisputable evidence to overturn the ruling."
Pereira believes criticism the same officiating crew received from the league a few weeks ago played a part in their decision. They were told by the NFL that there was not enough of a second act on a similar play (Pereira did not name the specific game or play).
"That had to weigh on their mind when they ruled on this play and certainly influenced this decision," wrote Pereira.
"Officials are held accountable for their calls on the field and they are graded. But grading can negatively influence what they do down the road. There is too much emphasis on grading, but that's another subject for another time."
- Perhaps just as satisfying as the Ravens win yesterday, was the fact that Pittsburgh got knocked out of the playoff race for good. Wrote Mike Freeman: "The Steelers have officially clinched a first-round spot on the couch thanks to a season of miscues -- particularly clown car-ish in their ridiculousness late in the year. …This one was particularly stinging for the Steelers, coming against division rival Cincinnati in what was essentially a playoff game before a jacked home crowd piped on all things Immaculate." [CBSSports.com]
- The Patriots barely escaped Sunday with a win over the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13), which has Pete Prisco doubting New England's ability to last in the postseason. "Super Bowl? If they don't get it together, they might be one and done in the playoffs – even with Tom Brady at quarterback." [CBSSports.com]
- Could the Ravens end up being this season's Giants? [CSNBaltimore.com]
- @pmgleason [Ravens PR]: The Giants' 186 total yards are the fewest Baltimore has allowed this season & the second fewest NYG has posted all year. [Twitter]
- @pmgleason: #Ravens have now won 10-consecutive regular season home finales (dating back to 2003), the NFL's longest such active streak. [Twitter]
- @ravens: John Harbaugh said there were no serious injuries. No update on WR .
- @crushboy31: Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes... [Twitter]
- @carywilliams29: Thanks for all the birthday wishes... I love y'all and Happy Holidays! [Twitter]
- @brendon310: I dig it! @tygixxer26: yo after that sack every vein in ur body popped out at the camera. Lls. Looked everything but human.... [Twitter]
- @ellerbe59: AFC NORTH CHAMPS!! BACK 2 BACK THAT IS!!!!! #ravensnation [Twitter]
- Terrell Suggs' original Christmas song, which had 113,881 likes as of this morning. [Facebook]
The weather outside is frightful...
But in Baltimore it's so delightful...
Cuz no matter where the Giants throw-ed...
Defense said no...
Defense said no...
Defense said no!