Third and Long: Expect More, Never Less

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“These ain’t the same old Ravens!”

Eric Weddle’s joyful proclamation during the post-game presser late Sunday night could serve as this season’s rallying cry. I don’t blame the All-Pro for being in such a good mood. Baltimore had just polished off the Steelers in Heinz Field 26-14 and tied the Bengals at 3-1 for the top spot in the AFC North. The defense continued its domination of opponents in the second half as they completely shut out Roethlisberger’s unit. All things considered it’s hard to disagree with Weddle’s assessment. The Ravens boast an exciting, unpredictable offense, a hard nosed defense that adjusts to the opposition and the best Special Teams in the league.

I’m getting chills just typing it. This team has a chance to make a run – a playoff run. Let’s not print the Festivus tickets yet, I need to go to work.

  1. Complete Team – Right now the Ravens are clicking in all three phases. They are the only team to rank in the top ten in offense, defense, and special teams efficiency. Joe Flacco is on pace to have the best season of his career. He has multiple legitimate receivers and he’s built enough trust with this group to spread the ball around. Don Martindale is only real change from last season’s defense so it seems logical to give credit to him for helping get the most out of this group. Currently they rank #2 in the NFL and have shut out teams in 10 of 16 quarters this season. Justin Tucker continues to make field goals from everywhere and the only way teams can stop him is to cheat. Things are looking good right now and the Ravens expect to get even better with Jimmy Smith and Hayden Hurst both returning in Cleveland. Now before I present Steve Bisciotti with another Lombardi trophy let’s heed to the words of a respected veteran. “The pieces are in place where we can be really good,” Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda said. “But that doesn’t mean anything right now. You still have to go out and produce.” Of course he’s right. We have a long way to go on the road to glory. But so far, so good.
  2. Just Win Baby – Ok, now that I’ve calmed down let me get excited all over again. This Sunday is a big game. (aren’t they all?) It’s against a divisional opponent. It also completes the road portion of the AFC North schedule which is both strange and exciting. But if the Ravens win to push to 4-1 it would be the sixth time in franchise history. The five other times they accomplished this feat it lead to some very special seasons. Two Super Bowls and three division titles. They’ve also never missed the playoffs after achieving that record. If history means anything to you then a win in Cleveland could mean big things are in store.
  3. Players to Watch – Last week (Flacco 28/42, 363, 2 TDs , Humphrey 4 tackles, limited Brown to 55 yds.) On offense this week I like Mark Andrews. Yes much of the focus from fans will be on Hayden Hurst but in his absence Andrews has filled in very nicely with sure hands as a dependable target in the middle of the field. On defense I’ll be very interested to see how Jimmy Smith will be used and he isn’t expected to start so Brandon Carr’s streak remains intact another week.

 

Legend of the Game

Derrick Alexander

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Wide Receiver

Played for the Ravens (1996-1997)

Alexander was drafted by the Browns in 1994 at the end of the first round. He had an immediate impact and led Cleveland in receiving on way to the playoffs. When the team moved to Baltimore he paired with Michael Jackson and created quite a productive tandem. Alexander had consecutive 1,000 yards seasons with 9 touchdown each year with the Ravens. The first real deep threat in Ravens history he still holds the record in yards per reception (16.6), as well as most 100 yard games, and longest reception (92 yds.) He retired in 2002 after stints with Kansas City and Minnesota.

There is a great story involving Alexander and his involvement in the first Ravens victory over Pittsburgh. I’ll leave it here. Wish he would have stayed longer.

Game Day Playlist – Song of the Week

“Red solo cup
I fill you up
Let’s have a party, Let’s have a party
I love you, red solo cup
I lift you up
Proceed to party”

I’m not a country music fan. I’m just not. No offense to those who enjoy the twangy lyrics and down home style. It’s not for me. Still this quasi country ode to the life of any party seems like a natural for any tailgate.

Cousin Justin’s Betting Parlor

Four weeks – Four winners.

Let’s see what week five has in store for us.

The no brainer selection would be the Patriots who are a plus ten over the Colts. They just came off a dismantling of the formerly 3-0 Dolphins and get Julian Edelman back from suspension. However the Pats will have a lot of future value in the coming weeks so I feel as if I should hold on to them and wait until the time is right.

So who did I pick?

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Carolina is at home coming off an early Bye week. The G-Men have a lackluster offensive attack and simply aren’t as good as the Panthers.

Game-Time Snack of the Week

Cleveland Polish Boy Sandwich

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I’m a big fan of regional cuisine and considering this week’s opponent I decided to look up what the area is known for. While the recipe sounds suspiciously Pittsburgian I have no doubt it will attack your tastebuds and assault your arteries with greasy goodness. I plan to make this with a Baltimore spin using Polock Johnny’s for the meat.

RECIPE

Happy Football everyone! Go Ravens!

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