Taylor Implied Spit Provoked Rice Slap
* *It only took five seconds of an AFC North rivalry game for things to get chippy.
After the second play from scrimmage, Browns nose tackle Phil Taylor was flagged for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct personal foul for slapping running back Ray Rice across the head. It gave the Ravens a first down instead of a third-and-long.
"I usually don't do things like that, but something happened and I still have to keep my composure," Taylor told reporters after the game.
Taylor was asked if Rice spit on him.
"Look at the film," Taylor said. "You'll see."
Looking at replays from the TV broadcast, it's inconclusive. The two are jawing back and forth, and when their facemasks touch, both have head movements as they yell.
Reading on a Cleveland fan forum, some Browns fans are, not surprisingly, convinced Rice spit, but others are not.
"He did spit, and if you watch his head movement and mouth you can see Rice spitting on him," wrote PitbullTerrier.
"I watched it over again and didn't see it," wrote steelerssuuuuuck.
"I'll be honest, initially it did look like it but later on during the game they were slapping each other on the [butt]," added orionsierra. "If someone actually spit in his face I have to think he'd still be bitter about it 45 minutes later."
After suffering a hip strain, Rice wasn't in the Ravens locker room to give his side of the story to the media.
Asked if he had any previous problems with Rice, Taylor replied: "I don't like any running back that I play against."
Running back Bernard Pierce, who filled in for Rice after he left the game, described the atmosphere on the field.
"It seemed like it was very personal, especially on the Browns' side," he said. "It seemed like they were playing like we had taken something away from them, like we owed them."
Rice Responds To Angry Fantasy Player Tweets
Fantasy players boggle my mind sometimes. I love the game too, but come on.
Rice finished yesterday's contest with 36 rushing yards and 13 carries and added three receptions for nine yards before leaving with the hip injury. It's not the type of production fantasy owners are used to from Rice, but that doesn't justify the jabs they took at Rice via Twitter.
The Pro Bowl running back called them out.
"I was a fan of fantasy football until today so many spiteful and hateful words I still love you all God Bless great win today #Ravens," Rice tweeted.
While Rice was measured in his response, bloggers around the web were tougher on mean fantasy owners.
"OK people. This fantasy stuff has to stop," wrote CBSSports.com's Will Brinson. "I love fantasy football as much as the next guy. It's how I got my start in this business and I still play in any number of leagues each year. But when an NFL player gets hurt or has a bad game, there is absolutely no reason to take to Twitter and rip them.
"Anyone who's got the time and inclination to digitally harass a player who doesn't perform at the expected level for a virtually drafted team is an insane person. … But don't go tweeting to Ray Rice that he wrecked your week because he suffered a hip injury and you didn't win as a result. That makes you the lowest form of human being."
Oher Shuts Down $40 Million Kruger
One of the big matchups to watch heading into Sunday's game was between Ravens tackle Michael Oher and former Ravens pass rusher Paul Kruger.
Oher was coming off "one of the worst sprains of my life," and Kruger was returning to Baltimore for the first time since signing a $40 million contract with the Browns in the offseason.
Kruger talked last week about the chance to hit quarterback Joe Flacco, but Oher didn't allow it.
Kruger finished with zero sacks and zero quarterback hits.
"Shut down Kruger with a bad ankle," wrote The Flock poster Ngata Chance. "Good job, Michael. Well done."
Ray Lewis Wants To See Which Leader Steps Up
Just about everybody has weighed in on the incessant Ravens leadership question – everybody except for the Ravens' previous leader of 17 years.
Ray Lewis finally weighed in on the topic during ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown," and he is wondering who will step up.
"I want to see this myself. I really want to see where it comes from," Lewis said. "Does it come from Terrell Suggs or does it come from Joe Flacco? Mr. Bisciotti gave him $100 million. Does that $100 million calculate to you now spending bonus time with your young receivers, with your young team? There's one thing about talent – talent is seen with the eye. Leadership is rarely seen because it's done most of the time after-hours. And that's where I think the biggest issue is: who's going to be the leader to invest in that team?"
He continued: "For so many years when I was there, the No. 1 thing* *that I did so much was spend times with guys off the field, when the coaches weren't around, when the film wasn't showing. That's the most crucial time when you're talking about players' development. How do you develop a man into a man? You've got to spend quality time with him. So now the question with the Ravens is: does Terrell Suggs spend that time? Does Joe Flacco spend that time with those young guys to get this ball club back where they need to be?"
Locker Room Atmosphere After Win
The Ravens rebounded after a blowout loss to the Broncos in Week 1, but ESPN's Jamison Hensley said the team wasn't hooting and hollering after their 14-6 divisional win.
Instead, he said there was a sense of relief.
"There wasn't much celebration after the Ravens' first win of the season," Hensley wrote. "It was more like the Ravens could finally exhale after trailing for most of the first three quarters."
Dickson Not Targeted Again After Drop
Ravens tight end Ed Dickson is not off to the best start in 2013.
He's trying to get on the same page with Flacco after missing most of the preseason with a slight hamstring tear. In the season opener, Dickson caught just one pass on five targets, and dropped a few. And in Week 2, things didn't get better.
"Sadly, Dickson could not right the ship," wrote Michael Hurcomb of CBSSports.com. "Dickson dropped a pass on the first play of the game Sunday and that ended his afternoon in the passing game. Dickson was not targeted the rest of the game and was held without a catch."
Major Props To Dana For Going Old SchoolAs a woman who has given birth three times in the last four years, I have to give Dana Flacco MAJOR props for delivering*her *second son without her husband present.
"That's old-school," wrote Don Banks of Sports Illustrated, likely referring to the days when hospitals wouldn't let the father into the delivery room.
Other than the doctors and nurses, I never allow anyone else in the delivery room besides my husband. The second our children entered the world have been by far best moments that we've shared together. And the second or third time is no less emotional or significant than the first. To sacrifice that for a Ravens win is much appreciated.
Head Coach John Harbaugh spoke on behalf of all Ravens Nation: "Congratulations to Dana. She's getting the job done on her own out there," Harbaugh said with a laugh after the victory.
"We appreciate that, Dana. Thank you, thank you."
@nfl: Talk to the hand. #CLEvsBAL [Twitter] * The injury to Rice isn't the Ravens' biggest concern. For Hensley, dropped passes, receivers inconsistently getting open and poor run blocking are of bigger worry. [ESPN] * Binson gave the Ravens a C grade for their performance Sunday. He wrote: "An ugly home opener for the Ravens, and one that really justified the concern with their offensive performance in the opener. Joe Flacco just doesn't have a ton of options in the passing game. [CBSSports.com] * "Now that was an old-time Baltimore Ravens defensive showing, in their 14-6 defeat of visiting Cleveland, a division rival they've beaten 11 times in a row," wrote Don Banks. "Get ready, Baltimore fans. I think there are going to be more wins like this one coming in 2013. The Ravens offense is still in the process of re-inventing itself, especially in the passing game. And that means the defense might have to carry the ball in the season's first half." [Sports Illustrated] * @BaltimoreLuke [WNST]: Am I the only one who can't help but laugh when Vonta Leach gets the football? #TruckMode #Ravens [Twitter] * Torrey Smith talks about the emergence of rookie Marlon Brown, and leading the young receiver corps in just his third year. [CSNBaltimore.com]