AFC North Flexes Its Muscles
After beating the Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday night, 26-6, the Ravens had the weekend off and were able to scout their division competition.
And here's what they saw …
"The Ravens watched the AFC North flex its muscles Sunday," wrote CSNBaltimore.com's Clifton Brown.
The Cincinnati Bengals (2-0) remained undefeated by "manhandling" the Falcons in Week 2, 24-10. They hold a one-game lead over the rest of the division with the Ravens, Browns and Steelers all locked at 1-1.
"Now the Ravens' Thursday night victory over the Steelers looks even more important," Brown wrote.
Oh, and in case you didn't already know, the Cleveland Browns can play.
Historically a division rival that Ravens fans would count on for a win, the Browns showed Sunday against the New Orleans Saints that they are a real threat. Cleveland beat the Saints, 26-24, on a game-winning Billy Cundiff 29-yard field goal with three seconds remaining. It was set up when quarterback Brian Hoyer drove the Browns 85 yards in 14 plays in the final 2:46.
The Ravens will travel this week to Cleveland, where they lost last year, 24-18.
Former Raven Paul Kruger had a big day against New Orleans, and Baltimore native Terrance West became the first rookie running back with at least 90 yards from scrimmage in his team's first two games since Chris Johnson and Matt Forte in 2008, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Clearly Hoyer makes a difference as the signal caller, as he now has a record of 4-1 as the starter.
However, rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel did make his regular-season debut … for just two plays. Want to see one? Here it is, courtesy of SB Nation (mobile users tap "View in browser" at the top of the page to watch.)
"Winning in Cleveland, where the Ravens lost last season, is not going to be easy," Brown wrote. "At least the Ravens will be well rested, having the weekend off."
Rice Plans To Appeal Suspension
Former Ravens running back Ray Rice is expected to appeal his indefinite suspension from the NFL, sources told Schefter. The appeal, by filing a grievance, could come as soon as today, reported The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson.
"Due process and the precedent for other players facing increased punishment are among the reasons for appealing the increased punishment Rice received, the sources said," wrote Wilson. "Rice is also considering potential legal action with all options remaining on the table following his increased discipline from the league, according to sources, who noted the potential 'double-jeopardy' aspect of the former NFL player being punished twice for the same offense."
The NFL Players Association received a letter from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, explaining his increased punishment from a two-game to indefinite suspension.
"This video shows a starkly different sequence of events from what you and your representatives stated when we met on June 16, and is important new information that warrants reconsideration of the discipline imposed on you in July," Goodell wrote. "Based on this new information, I have concluded that the discipline imposed upon you in July was insufficient under all the circumstances and have determined instead to impose an indefinite suspension."
RGIII Makes You Appreciate Flacco
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III suffered a gruesome ankle injury in his team's win over the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday. The Washington quarterback dislocated his ankle and will miss at least a month. It is his second major injury since he was selected in 2012 with the second-overall pick.
Watching the Redskins endure these injuries at the all-important quarterback position made WNST's Luke Jones think of the Ravens' franchise quarterback Joe Flacco. The seventh-year veteran will make his 98th consecutive regular-season start Sunday against the Browns.
"It just goes to show how difficult it can be to stay healthy, let alone play at an exceptional level on a yearly basis in the NFL," Jones wrote. "The high volume of injuries to star players on Sunday make you appreciate Flacco's durability while you immediately knock on wood and keep your fingers crossed that it continues."
Preston: Defense Showing Signs Of Revival
The Ravens consistently said this offseason that they wanted to return to being a top-5 defense.
Through two games of the regular-season, and especially after their dominant play over the Steelers Thursday, The Sun's Mike Preston says the unit is showing signs of such a revival.
The defense didn't allow a touchdown, forced three turnovers and scored off of two, and "basically pounded the Steelers into submission."
"Overall, the defense is starting to shape up," Preston wrote. "Despite interior line weaknesses, the Steelers still have some outstanding players at the skill positions. But Brown didn't dominate and Bell had no big plays. Roethlisberger was forced to stay in the pocket and the Ravens wore down the Steelers. Pittsburgh players were suggesting the Steelers were done in by their own mistakes, but those turnovers were forced. The Ravens swarmed to the ball and they simply outhit Pittsburgh.
"Maybe it's a sign of things to come."
Is Steve Smith Sr. No. 1 WR?
After leading the team in receptions and receiving yards in the first two games of the season, a fan asked ESPN's Jamison Hensley if Steve Smith Sr. is the Ravens' official top pass catcher.
"I still contend that the Ravens won't have a clear-cut No. 1 receiver on this team," Hensley wrote.
"The Ravens don't have an A.J. Green or Antonio Brown on their roster. The ball will be evenly spread among Steve Smith, Dennis Pitta and Torrey Smith. If you're asking me who will end up being Joe Flacco's top target, I'm sticking with Steve Smith. That is what I said in a mid-July post, and I'm standing by it. Even though this is Smith's first season with the Ravens, he quickly developed a rapport with Flacco this offseason and it has carried over into the regular season."
ICYMI: Goofy Pics From Team Photo Day
The Ravens had their team photo day Friday, and in case you missed it, here are some pics that should bring a smile to your face this morning.
- Rookie inside linebacker C.J. Mosley was fined $8,268 by the NFL for his unnecessary roughness penalty during the season-opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. [The Baltimore Sun]