Yeah, I have a feeling the team will be a tad chippy at home versus Seattle.
Hard to believe they were so woefully unprepared for a rivalry game until you consider that Goodell's staff sent the schedule to the FO with 9/11/11 listed as a fifth preseason game. So blame Goodell. "Is this a typo, Rog? Five preseason games and only 15 regular season games?" "No typo, go read the fine print of the CBA I gave you, special terms and conditions..."
Also, it wasn't fair that the Ravens picked up Ray Rice, who apparently is talented as both a runner and receiver. When did this happen, anyway? The coaching staff was scrambling to figure out how to stop him, since they apparently had no film on the man whatsoever. Another play by Ray Rice? Inconceivable! Seriously, teams should not be able to acquire players on the sly like that.
And you can't blame the coaches for some of the things that happened. Sometimes bad shit just happens. Like that Haloti Ngata guy, and Terrell Suggs? Sure, the last bazillion fucking times we've played them they just blitzed and overloaded and punched through the weak spots in the line, but I don't think anyone thought that's what they were going to do this time around. It's unseemly of them to act that way. This is a gentlemen's sport, after all, and if they intended to have Ngata blow up Legursky and send timing blitzes right up the gut when Kemo was chasing butterflies, don't you think they should have sent the Steelers a memo notifying them beforehand? And it's not like the offensive coordinator can really do anything to counter pressure like that. It just can't be done.
At least the guys were all in game-ready shape, and not panting and sweating like a herd of crosseyed cupstackers. See, that’s the advantage of having a veteran team that knows what to do and comes into camp and just gets right back into a rhythm. One story line the local beats didn’t pick up on was how our own Jerome Bettis was hired as a dietary consultant, putting the boys on a Hebrew National diet, resulting in the wily vets coming to camp in the best shape of their careers.
Speaking of wily, **** LeBeau was not about to let opportunity slip through his fingers. He came up with a game plan that was deceptively clever. Now, the Ravens expect that our front seven would try to exploit a bunch of new faces on the offensive line, and the fact that the line coach is serving a suspension, so they would come prepared for LeBeau’s shenanigans. When a team expects the linebackers to be dancing and the big boys shifting before the snap, your best possible plan is to do the exact opposite and play an utterly vanilla defense. Genius. Pure genius.
Again, though, the Ravens failed to submit a memo beforehand that they intended to throw to their receivers. See, their receiving corps is sort of ramshackle, so there was no good reason to expect they would throw the ball at all. For them to do so was devious and deceptive and should result in the loss of draft picks, pending the Commissioner’s decision. Especially egregious was the fact that Flacco threw to the tight end. This is not allowed in the NFL, and I’m surprised the refs didn’t call it. Also, throwing over the middle is something I have never seen before. Is this some new wrinkle Cam Cameron just invented? Fascinating!
It was good to see the run defense tightened up after being gashed early and often. And when I say “tightened up,” basically I mean their sphincters, because they still allowed giant chunks of yardage late into the game, but at least they didn’t literally shit themselves after the initial bowel evacuations.
Ben played his usual mixture of madness and genius as well. He found ways to improvise on some of the interceptions that no other quarterback in the league could. The nice part about the turnovers was that they were either in red zone scoring opportunities, or deep in our own territory, or sometimes in between the two. It’s hard to remember all of them clearly, and sadly there was a malfunction with my remote control that resulted in the TiVoed fourth quarter to play entirely on fast forward (every time Mrs. F. asked me to go back to watching in real time, they turned the ball over again, literally every… single… time), but the handoff to Ngata was especially pleasurable. Mendenhall played fullback (and critics say Arians doesn’t use a fullback!), but sadly Ngata was down by contact before he could scoop and score. Ben showed that all that work with Antonio Brown really paid off, as they were apparently in different time zones on every pass going Brown’s way.
Mike Wallace didn’t suck, and Manny Sanders scored (yay). Sepulveda had a busy day. The best part of the game is that it’s over, and that I learned never to say Well, they can’t be any worse in the second half!