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Tag:Baltimore Ravens
Posted on: January 22, 2012 6:40 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2012 7:18 pm
 

Patriots find way to win despite bad Brady effort

Brady owes his teammates a big hug after the AFC Championship Game. (AP)
By Will Brinson

In the weirdest twist of events imaginable, Joe Flacco was great against the Patriots, Tom Brady was terrible against the Ravens, and New England still found a way to win the AFC Championship Game 23-20 on Sunday.

Brady's final statline -- 22 of 36 for 239 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions -- is the opposite of what you'd expect in a Pats victory, and that New England still won despite Brady should be terrifying for the Ravens.

"Well, I sucked pretty bad today but our defense saved us," Brady told CBS Sports Jim Nantz after the game. "I'm going to try and go out and do a better job in a couple weeks."

Both the Giants and the 49ers represent a similar issue for the Patriots as the Ravens: talented, pass-rushing defenses that can stymie any offense.

But Brady's got two weeks to prepare, Rob Gronkowski's got two weeks to heal, and Bill Belichick's got two weeks to gameplan. That's why New England will be the favorite regardless of who comes to Indianapolis from the NFC end of things.


It's also a testament to what the Patriots do best, which is -- somehow -- find unlikely, creative ways to win. Sterling Moore, who was cut from the Raiders practice squad in September, made two of the biggest plays of the game, knocking a would-be, go-ahead touchdown pass from Lee Evans hands and swatting a pass on the next play that forced the missed Billy Cundiff field goal with 15 seconds left.

Vince Wilfork was a monster all day and Brandon Spikes, rounding into form after dealing with injuries all season, made a critical interception of Joe Flacco just when the Ravens were starting to roll.

No, the Patriots defense wasn't "great" or even "good," but they found a way to limit the Ravens rushing attack (Ray Rice had just 67 yards on 21 carries) and make plays when they needed to.

Sixty more minutes of that, and they could find themselves holding another Lombardi Trophy. And the next time around, there's a pretty good chance that they don't end up having to save bad Brady's bacon.

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Posted on: January 22, 2012 2:55 pm
 

Video: Tom Brady on possible return to Super Bowl


Patriots' Quarterback Tom Brady is a win away from a return to the big game. The NFL Today's Dan Marino has a chat with Brady as Tom gets set to face the Baltimore Ravens with the AFC Championship and a trip to Super Bowl XLVI on the line. 

By Ryan Wilson

CBS Sports' Dan Marino begins his conversation with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady by looking back before glimpsing ahead: "Can you believe it's been 10 years (since the "tuck-rule" game)?"

"I can't," Brady responded with a smile on his face. "Because the memories feel so fresh" (Former Raiders' coaches and players would agree).

"That's when it all got started," Brady continued. "It's pretty unreal to think that it's been that long."

The two quarterbacks -- one in the Hall of Fame the other destined to be -- also talked about Brady's preparation, his on-field emotions, his six-touchdown performance against the Broncos last week, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, Ed Reed and Ray Lewis' impact for the Ravens, and whether he'd like another shot at the Giants in the Super Bowl.

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Posted on: January 22, 2012 2:02 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2012 2:05 pm
 

WR Chad Ochocinco inactive for Patriots Sunday


After a win over the Texans last week, Joe Flacco and the Ravens will take on Tom Brady and the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship. Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan preview this game. Watch the game on CBS at 3 PM ET. 

By Ryan Wilson

Chad Ochocinco missed practice Friday and wasn't with the team Saturday because, according to various reports, he had flown home to Fort Lauderdale to attend his father's funeral. Ochocinco, who was traded to the Patriots just before training camp but managed just 15 receptions and one touchdown all season, rejoined his team in time for Sunday's AFC Championship matchup against the Raven but he will not be active.

The former Bengals wide receiver and Pro Bowler, considered a healthy scratch, struggled to learn the nuances of the Patriots' offense, which explained why Ochocinco was often on the sidelines when the team went no-huddle during the season. Missing valuable practice time this week likely played a part in coach Bill Belichick's decision to deactivate him.

This won't affect the Patriots' offensive game plan, however. Tom Brady's favorite targets -- Wes Welker (122 receptions, 9 TDs), Rob Gronkowski (90, 17), Aaron Hernandez (79, 7) and Deion Branch (51, 5) -- will all play.

Running back Stevan Ridley is also inactive, possibly due to fumbling twice in the previous two games.

Other Patriots inactives: OL Sebastian Vollmer, OL Donald Thomas, LB Gary Guyton, RB Shane Vereen and QB Ryan Mallett.

Ravens inactives: WR Tandon Doss, CB Chykie Brown, RB Anthony Allen, LBs Josh Bynes andSergio Kindle, OL Justin Boren, NT Brandon McKinney.

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Posted on: January 22, 2012 1:41 pm
 

Report: Cam Cameron, Ravens could part ways

Flacco has been scrutinized this season but some of the blame is on Cameron. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

On Friday, we wrote that the Ravens' offensive struggles, and Joe Flacco's in particular, might have less to do with the quarterback and more to do with the guy responsible for setting the formations and calling the plays. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has been a favorite target of unhappy fans and media critics pretty much since Baltimore drafted Flacco in 2008, and now, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, the Ravens might choose to let Cameron walk after the season.

Cameron's contract is set to expire and, as Mortensen tweeted Sunday, "Tension with Flacco [is] no secret in [the] building." 

Some of that tension almost certainly has to do with Cameron's vision of what the Ravens' offense should be. NFL Films' Greg Cosell told Yahoo.com recently that "The Ravens' receiving corps could be the absolute worst in the NFL when it comes to getting open versus man coverage. They don't do an awful lot to get them open versus man — you don't see a lot of the stack release concepts, or all the 'man-beater' concepts. No bunch, no stack release. No rub elements.

"They don't do a lot to help their receivers win versus man," Cosell continued. "I'm not going to defend Flacco, but I think it's very difficult to … it seemed that last week [against the Houston Texans] the route tree was a go route and a screen. I said this to one of my guys [while I was watching the Baltimore] tape — 'I feel like I'm watching a 1960s offense.' Every play, there was one receiver to the right, and one receiver to the left, often two backs or two tight ends, and that was every play, it seemed."

ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski echoed Cosell's sentiments during Sunday's NFL Matchup show.

"Cameron must be creative in this matchup [against the Patriots]," he said. "He can not line up in static formations and expect his talent to win. That's not going to happen. What I want to see -- I think we should look for in this game -- clusters, bunch formations, formation variation, motions, picks, rubs -- all those plays designed by Cam to manufacture big plays."

Sounds reasonable until you see this mind-numbing statistic from Football Outsiders: "In this era of multiple receivers and shotgun spreads, the Ravens actually run a fairly conventional, old-fashioned offense. Our charting lists the Ravens using two wide receivers on 56 percent of plays, the highest rate in the league."

PFT.com calls Brad Childress an "obvious candidate" to replace Cameron should he not return. Childress spent several years on the Eagles' staff with current Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.


After a win over the Texans last week, Joe Flacco and the Ravens will take on Tom Brady and the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship. Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan preview this game. Watch the game on CBS at 3 PM ET. 

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Posted on: January 22, 2012 1:17 pm
 

Report: Ted Ginn not expected to play vs. Giants

Ginn is an integral cog in San Francisco's No. 2 special-teams unit. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

The 49ers could be without one of their most explosive players when they face the Giants in Sunday's NFC Championship game. Return specialist Ted Ginn Jr. isn't expected to play, sources tell ProFootballTalk.com.  He is officially listed as a game-time decision after suffering a knee injury in last week's win over the Saints.

Ginn is the former ninth-overall selection of the Dolphins, drafted in 2007 when many Miami fans were hoping for quarterback Brady Quinn. Ginn didn't pan out as a big-play wide receiver and was eventually traded to San Francisco for a 2010 fifth-rounder (145th overall). The Dolphins selected cornerback Nolan Carroll with that pick, who has four starts in two seasons but is best known as "that guy tripped by former Jets assistant coach Sal Alosi."

Like Carroll, Ginn started just three games in 2011 but his most valuable contributions have come on special teams. In Week 1 against the Seahawks, Ginn returned a kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown, and 51 seconds later, he returned a punt 55 yards for another score. In 2009, he scored on kickoff returns of 101 and 102 yards in the same quarter against the Jets, the first player in NFL history to do so.

According to Football Outsiders, the 49ers have the league's No. 2 special teams unit thanks in part to Ginn, kicker David Akers and punter Andy Lee.


After dominating the Green Bay Packers last week, the New York Giants will travel to Candlestick Park to square off against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship. Join NFL.com's Pat Kirwan and Jason Horowitz as they break down this matchup.

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 9:47 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2012 9:49 pm
 

NFL Analyst: Ravens look like 1960s offense

Is Cameron responsible for Flacco's lack of consistency? (AP)

By Ryan Wilson

Fair or not, quarterback Joe Flacco has been the Ravens' most scrutinized player this season. But that's part of the deal; as an NFL quarterback, he's the face of the franchise and in many respects, the most important cog in a machine built to win Super Bowls. Instead, 2011 has been marked by inconsistency. The results, predictably: fans have lost patience and the organization has yet to offer him a contract extension.

It doesn't help that he has thin skin and rabbit ears, even if he tries to joke that he doesn't pay attention to the criticism. But maybe this isn't all on Flacco.

That should be obvious but sometimes it's easier for fans and media to just wave their arms, lament the quarterback's ineffectiveness and not give it much thought beyond that. But NFL Films' Greg Cosell, who Yahoo.com's Doug Farrar describes as watching "more all-22 film than anyone not currently part of an NFL coaching staff," has a theory for why Flacco has struggled at points this season.

"The Ravens' receiving corps could be the absolute worst in the NFL when it comes to getting open versus man coverage," Cosell told Farrar. "They don't do an awful lot to get them open versus man — you don't see a lot of the stack release concepts, or all the "man-beater" concepts. No bunch, no stack release. No rub elements.


After a win over the Texans last week, Joe Flacco and the Ravens will take on Tom Brady and the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship. Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan preview this game. Watch the game on CBS at 3 PM ET. 

"They don't do a lot to help their receivers win versus man," Cosell continued. "I'm not going to defend Flacco, but I think it's very difficult to … it seemed that last week [against the Houston Texans] the route tree was a go route and a screen. I said this to one of my guys [while I was watching the Baltimore] tape — 'I feel like I'm watching a 1960s offense.' Every play, there was one receiver to the right, and one receiver to the left, often two backs or two tight ends, and that was every play, it seemed."

The other culprit is one familiar to Ravens fans: offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. From Football Outsiders' AFC preview:

"In this era of multiple receivers and shotgun spreads, the Ravens actually run a fairly conventional, old-fashioned offense. Our charting lists the Ravens using two wide receivers on 56 percent of plays, the highest rate in the league."

That doesn't exactly scream innovation. And it's fair to assume that this lack of innovation may have something to do with Flacco's stunted development.

One receiver who appeared frustrated with the Texans' man coverage concepts: rookie deep threat Torrey Smith. Instead of waiting for Cameron to devise a scheme to help him get open, Smith took matters into his own hands. He's intimately familiar with the Patriots. Partly from watching film, but also from -- wait for it -- facing them so often in Madden.

"The biggest thing about New England is my brother always picks them in Madden," Smith said according to The Carroll County Times' Aaron Wilson. "They pretty much always have the best offense for some years in that game. I play with the Ravens all the time now."

Smith also talked about last spring's draft process, one that saw the Patriots very interested in the former Maryland product.

"I pretty much did everything you could do with New England as far as the draft process goes," he said. "I met with them at the combine, did a private workout, and I saw them around a lot. They have a great coaching staff, and you can see with the way their track record has been they know how to win."

Of course, Smith already knew that. You know, from Madden.

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 6:04 pm
 

Rex Ryan: 'Ravens are going to win this game'

Ryan likes Baltimore and Suggs. Welker's response: 'That's Rex for you.' (US PRESSWIRE/Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Las Vegas and CBSSports.com's NFL experts may not give the Ravens much of a chance against the Patriots in the AFC Championship game but not everyone is sold on New England. Take unbiased observer, former Ravens defensive coordinator, and current Jets head coach Rex Ryan, who appeared on WFAN Friday to make his bold prediction.


“First off, the Ravens are going to win this game,” he told Mike Francesa. "But the truth is this. The only way you’re going to beat New England is if you have a great defense. And when you look at the teams that won – obviously Buffalo was the one exception – the Giants had a great game defensively, they were able to get pressure on the quarterback, make plays in the back end. The Ravens had beaten New England before with a dominant defense."

Seems reasonable enough, especially Ryan's implication that the Jets, who finished the season 8-8 and missed the playoffs, didn't have a great defense (they went 0-2 against the Patriots in 2011). And he alluded to that during his conversation with Francesa.

"We beat New England three times but we did it creatively … a different type of defense, (Tom Brady) wasn’t comfortable," Ryan said. "There are only a few teams…Pittsburgh, was more physical than New England. That’s why they won. So the Ravens, in my opinion, are going to take a similar approach to how the Giants played them. Meaning, they’re going to rush four guys on them, I truly think they’re going to rush four. I think Terrell Suggs might be the difference in this game. I don’t know how many guys can block Terrell Suggs. I’ve got the answer: none of them. So I think Suggs is going to be huge but they’ve got to be physical. And the Ravens’ offense does have to show up. They have to protect the football."

It's no surprise that Ryan likes Baltimore this weekend; he has ties to the organization and he's bound by rivalry to loathe New England. But he also lays out a game plan (if not wholly convincing then certainly credible) for stopping Tom Brady's high-powered offense. Ryan, after all, was the Ravens' defensive coordinator in 2007 when a not-very-good Baltimore team almost upended the undefeated Patriots. (Of course, Ryan's decision to call a timeout late in that game, when it appeared that Baltimore had stopped Brady on 4th and 1, played a non-trivial part in the outcome.)

Wide receiver Wes Welker, one of Brady's favorite targets, was asked Friday about Ryan's prognostication. "That’s Rex for you," he said according to CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Greg Bedard. "Hopefully we can prove him wrong."

As for slowing that tenacious Ravens' defense, guard Logan Mankins suggested more no-huddle.

"I think it helps," Mankins said via Bedard. "(The Ravens) do a lot of different things, so maybe (the no-huddle) will make them not do so many different things."


After a win over the Texans last week, Joe Flacco and the Ravens will take on Tom Brady and the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship. Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan preview this game. Watch the game on CBS at 3 PM ET. 

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 9:41 am
 

Pick-6 Podcast: Do Ravens, 49ers Have a Chance?

So, who ya got? (Getty Images/US PRESSWIRE)

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

It's the conference championships and everybody seems to be firmly on two bandwagons: the Patriots and Giants. The former isn't completely surprising -- New England has Tom Brady and Baltimore's Joe Flacco has yet to prove himself -- the latter is unexpected for two reasons.

No. 1: New York was 9-7 in the regular season. Yes, they've had convincing wins against the Falcons and the Packers in back-to-back weeks ... but this leads us to No. 2: San Francisco just stopped the thought-to-be-unstoppable force: Drew Brees and the Saints' offense.

So what gives? Do Baltimore and San Francisco have a shot to get to Indy for the Super Bowl? We talk about that, Steve Spagnuolo joining the Saints, Rob Lowe breaking NFL news and perhaps most importantly: why Joe Flacco is riding a skateboard days before the AFC Championship game.

Talking starts promptly.

(Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes? And if you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.)


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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com