Eighteen years ago, the Ravens defeated the San Diego Chargers 24-3 which pushed their season record to 10-4 and secured the first playoff berth in franchise history.
It also lifted the ban on the “P” word that had been imposed by Head Coach Brian Billick. He didn’t want any of his players even uttering the word (playoffs) until a spot had been locked up. So of course, the players found ways around it. Massive Guard Edwin Mulitalo was first to utter the term “Festivus” when talking about the post-season, which was a nod to the fictional holiday created by Frank Costanza. Since then it’s become a part of Ravens’ fan lore and I’m sure I still have one the t-shirts around the house somewhere.
So it made sense that the Ravens played the Chargers once again, this time on the road where a victory has all but assured a return to the big tournament. Only this time the Ravens still have one test left, one wrong left to right before they can return to Festivus and dare I say the prospect of a Home playoff game.
All that stands in their way are the Cleveland Browns.
Not as easy a task as it’s been for lo these many seasons. Cleveland has finally found their Quarterback and the team is on the verge of a winning season for the first time in recent memory.
The stage is set and it’s time for this team to atone for past failures and march on towards the road to glory. Let’s go!
- Flacco’s Legacy- Most likely this is the last regular season game for the Delaware graduate in Charm City. It would seem appropriate to discuss his place in Ravens history. For those that are too young or simply have a poor memory the Ravens never had a great track record with Quarterbacks. It started with Vinny Testaverde in 1996 who was known for a great arm but was often turnover prone when the game was on the line. Eric Zeier, Jim Harbaugh, Tony Banks and Trent Dilfer followed in succession and while Dilfer has a ring it was that very special defense that ran roughshod over the league for the franchise’s first Lombardi. Dilfer was so well thought of the team signed Elvis Grbac the next season. He was out of the league in one year. Randall Cunningham, Jeff Blake, Chris Redman and then the Ravens attempted to draft a signal caller in the First Round- Kyle Boller, who played only one full season in the five he was in Baltimore. Anthony Wright, Steve McNair and finally Troy Smith. That’s quite a list. But along came Flacco. The unassuming Jersey native finally put a halt to all the chaos that had developed under Center. For almost eleven seasons he was the unquestioned starter whose cool demeanor and big arm helped propel the Ravens to six playoff appearances and another Super Bowl championship. Only this championship was because of the Quarterback going on a historic run and not the defense. People have long debated, sometimes jokingly if Flacco was an elite quarterback and while I wouldn’t agree with that statement you can’t take away the fact that his play during that title run was of superior quality. Best of luck to wherever you land next season Joe Cool, you have my respect and gratitude.
- Eyes Around the League– If the Ravens win, they are not only in the playoffs but they also win the AFC North. However if by some strange reason that doesn’t happen the team still could get in if a few things go their way. The Steelers will host the Bengals tomorrow and in the unlikely event that the Stripes win on the road Baltimore would win the division anyway. The Titans and Colts matchup will decide which one of those teams will get in as a Wild Card but potential upsets of the Jets over the Patriots and the Jaguars over the Texans could possibly push the Ravens to a first-round Bye. It seems like a stretch, cause it is but just maybe.
- What to Watch- Baltimore leads the All-Time Series 29-10, however the Browns won an ugly 12-9 Overtime matchup in the last meeting. Ravens fans have felt heartbreak over the past few seasons and another loss to Cleveland would leave them on the outside for the fourth consecutive year. It would make the recovery from 4-5 feel more than a bit hollow. When Gus Edwards rushes for 80 yards the Ravens win, simple as that. While Cleveland ranks 29th against the Run they do sit with the second most takeaways in the league so the Ravens offense must protect the football at all costs. The defense must put up a similar effort as they did against Baker Mayfield in the first meeting where they sacked the youngster five times. Pressure leads to mistakes.
Legend of the Game
Years as a Raven (2013-2016)
A twelve year NFL vet Dumervil was drafted in the Fourth Round of the 2006 Draft by the Broncos. In 2009 Dumervil was moved to Outside Linebacker in the 3-4 scheme but was kept on the end on passing downs. The result was a league leading 17 sacks. He signed a six year extension with Denver but tore his pectoral muscle during 2010 which caused him to miss the whole season.
This leads to the unusual story of how he ended up in Baltimore. The Broncos were looking to free up cap space and wanted to restructure his contract. Dumervil’s agent faxed the necessary paperwork after the deadline which caused him to be released. The Ravens swooped in and quickly inked him to a five year deal worth thirty five million. In 2014 he set a new franchise record with 17 sacks. He was voted to the Pro Bowl and All-Pro First Team. His production took a steep drop while playing every game in 2015 and only registered 6 sacks. He was released on March 8, 2017 and retired in August of this past year.
Game Time Song of the Week
“I’ve waited all my life to get out of the trenches
I’m ready to fight for what I believe you can steal from me
I won’t take this
Gonna fill these trenches and stand up
Wake up, I won’t give up
‘Cause here I come, here I come”
Rise up and take what yours Ravens.
Game Time Snack of the Week
Imagine if an Italian Cold Cut exploded into a bread boule. That’s the premise of this tasty no clean up treat. I’ve made these several times and they are always a hit.
Happy Football everyone! Go Ravens!