Ravens Offer Prayers and Support for Bills Safety Damar Hamlin
The Ravens had a vested interest in last night's showdown between the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills because the outcome would have a direct effect on their hopes of playing for the AFC North title this Sunday in Cincinnati.
However, the game immediately became trivial when Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest after making a tackle in the first quarter.
Hamlin, 24, is currently sedated and in critical condition. The Bills announced that Hamlin's heartbeat was restored on the field before he was transported in an ambulance to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for further testing and treatment.
Understandably, the game was postponed. There has been an outpouring of prayers and support for Hamlin and his family from the NFL community, including a number of Ravens players.
Is the Ravens Defense Overrated?
It was noted in yesterday’s Late for Work that the Ravens' stout defense has little margin for error given the state of the team's scoring-challenged offense. The defense is ranked third in scoring and 11th in yards, but Russell Street Report’s Tony Lombardi questioned whether the defense has been too highly touted.
The Ravens surrendered another double-digit Iead in Sunday night's 16-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, as rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett led an 11-play, 80-yard game-winning drive in the game's final minutes.
"While we're being honest, the defense is a bit overrated," Lombardi wrote. "Even though the stats suggest that the Ravens are in the upper third of the league in most defensive categories, we all need to remember that those stats were in part the byproduct of playing a last place schedule. The most important aspect of a defense, particularly in the postseason, is the ability to finish games; to make clutch plays in crucial situations.
"The Ravens defense is anything but clutch and clutch defines the postseason. Clutch isn't allowing a rookie quarterback leading the league's 23rd-ranked offense down the field in 11 plays covering 80 yards in 3:20 for the game winning score."
The Baltimore Sun’s Childs Walker expressed a similar opinion.
"How can they call their defense great when it cannot get off the field against a two-minute offense?" Walker wrote.
It should be noted that the Ravens are far from the only team that's suffered comeback losses.
Marshal Yanda Praises J.J. Watt
When NBC Sports’ Peter King reached out to former Raven Marshal Yanda for his thoughts on Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt, who has announced that he will retire after his 12th season ends, the eight-time Pro Bowl guard took time from his ice-fishing trip on a lake in South Dakota to respond.
Yanda had high praise for Watt, who, like Yanda, could be bound for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
"I never played a game-wrecker like him," Yanda said. "The thing that I respected most about him is his effort. Not even the very elite players played like him. Every play — run, pass, field goal — his drive was unmatched. You look over and he'd have his hands on his hips and he'd be breathing hard in a long series, then, then next play, he comes as hard as he did first play of the game."
Yanda recalled how dominant Watt was as a rookie when the Ravens hosted the Houston Texans in an AFC divisional playoff game in January 2012.
"We were a really good team when Houston came to Baltimore for the divisional playoff game. We had no weak links on our line," Yanda said. "The right side [center Matt Birk, Yanda, tackle Michael Oher] was pretty solid. We scouted J.J., we knew him, but that day, that game, he completely ate our lunch. That was a sign of things to come."
Watt had 2.5 sacks that day, including one directly on Yanda, and one on a stunt over Yanda and Oher.
"J.J. lined up across from me, moved toward Mike's hip, and I had to pick up the looper. J.J. used his arm-over move and his quickness on Michael and got the sack. I consider that day two sacks on me," Yanda said. "We won the game, but that's the first game he ever wrecked in the NFL, and I was just, I don't know. Defeated. I was defeated."