Ravens Kicker Justin Tucker Will Redeem himself

The Baltimore Ravens missed out on a chance to put the NFL on notice when they lost to the red-hot New Orleans Saints on Sunday, October 21, 2018 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. The Ravens fell just short of tying the game when kicker Justin Tucker missed an extra point attempt late in the fourth quarter.

It was the first time that Tucker missed an extra point attempt of his seven-year NFL career. He didn’t miss any extra point attempts while kicking in college at Texas either.

Tucker vows to turn things around when he takes the field again.

“We are going to keep working on the practice field into more kicks made in games. I feel like I cost us the game. It’s a tough thing to grapple with,” Tucker said after the game.

Tucker says he wanted to stand in front of the media after the game to be held accountable for the 24 – 23 loss. His desire to face the music is admirable, especially since he wanted to use the humbling experience as a learning moment for his young son.

The Ravens now hold a 4 – 3 record after the loss to New Orleans, but all is not lost. Tucker is still the guy his teammates trust.

Wide receiver Michael Crabtree knows how Tucker feels all too well. He dropped a game-winning touchdown against the Cleveland Browns a few weeks ago but rebounded by making multiple plays in their shutout win over the Tennessee Titans the following week.

“It happens, man. Tucker, that boy is a pro. It’s the same thing I went through two weeks ago. He’s a pro. I ain’t worried about Tucker,” Crabtree said after the game.

The outcome of a game can rarely be placed on a single play. The veteran kicker has more than come through for Baltimore in the past and they know he’ll come through in the future.

“Justin’s the best in the world at what he does. He’s the most confident person that I know,” quarterback Joe Flacco said.

Michael Crabtree Working To Show He’s Ravens Top Receiver

The Baltimore Ravens signed wide receiver Michael Crabtree to be their leading pass catcher and to make things easier for quarterback Joe Flacco. Crabtree’s most recent game was somewhat of a redemption outing after failing to haul in the game-winning touchdown in a week 5-loss to the Cleveland Browns.

The Ravens 21 – 0 win over the Tennessee Titans was fueled by Crabtree’s six receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown.

“Preparation, working hard at practice and getting back to the basics. That’s my formula,” Crabtree said after the game. “Getting back to me. You know, (Joe Flacco) trusted me, you know. That’s big, making plays.”

Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg made it a point to get Crabtree involved early. Flacco went to Crabtree on the first play of the game in a drive that started from their six-yard-line. The 25-yard connection got Baltimore out of a hole early and sparked a drive that was finished with a four-yard touchdown catch by Crabtree.

Last Sunday’s game was a sign of how things can be if Flacco and Crabtree can connect in the passing game. While he isn’t the fastest wideout, Crabtree works the middle of the field very well and makes spectacular catches along the boundary.

Crabtree is becoming a reliable target for Flacco to look for in crucial situations.

“Mike’s (Crabtree) a very prideful guy. He takes a lot of pride in what he does. He wants to be a great receiver, and he wants to impact the game in a positive way for us.,” Flacco explained. “He’s a real crafty guy, and he does a really good with setting guys up, especially when you give him a chance to run double moves and things like that.”

The tenth-year wideout has caught 30 of the 55 passes that have come his way from Flacco. It’s clear that Crabtree is becoming the possession receiver for Baltimore, while speedy wideout John Brown stretches the field on the outside.

The Sunday, October 21, 2018 game game against the New Orleans Saints should afford Crabtree another chance to get plenty of targets. The Ravens will need to pass the ball more frequently to keep pace with the high-scoring Saints offense led by Drew Brees.

There is a lot of pressure that comes with being the lead receiver on an NFL team, but Crabtree wouldn’t have it any other way. Life is good for Crabtree and the Ravens when they are winning.

“Enjoy life, smile every day. That’s what I’m doing; that’s what I’m about,”

Ravens To Face Familiar Friends On Titans Team

The game on Sunday, October 14, 2018 against the Tennessee Titans gives the Baltimore Ravens an opportunity to play against some familiar friends. Former Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees is now in charge of the Titans’ defense. Linebacker Kamalei Correa was acquired by Tennessee in a trade with Baltimore just before the season started.

Then there is Kendrick Lewis, a former starting safety for the Ravens who signed with the Titans before the season started. Lewis wasn’t in the NFL last season after the Ravens released him in March. Now he is one of Tennessee’s starting safeties due to injuries to Jonathan Cyprien and Kenny Vaccaro.

Special teams ace Brynden Trawick moved on to Tennessee as well. Trawick was with the Ravens from 2013 – 2015 after signing as an undrafted free agent. He signed with the Oakland Raiders in 2016, then spent last year with the Titans and he was selected for the Pro Bowl for the first time as a special teams player.

Pees retired after a crushing 34 – 27 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals knocked the Ravens out of playoff contention last year. Cincinnati scored the game-winning touchdown with under a minute left in the game. Instead of attacking, the Ravens defense sat back in coverage as Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd found a seam in the coverage and hauled in a 49-yard pass from Andy Dalton for the touchdown. The fact that the play came on fourth-and-12 made it all the more frustrating.

Ravens fans were critical of Pees while he was in Baltimore even though the defenses that he oversaw were consistently solid units. Head coach John Harbaugh spoke about Pees on Monday.

“He did a good job here and put a lot of good defenses together here in Baltimore. I hope fans understand and believe that. We have a lot of respect for Dean,” Harbaugh said.

The Titans defense is allowing an average of 333.2 yards per game, which ranks seventh in the NFL. Pees, has effectively recreated the success that he found in Baltimore. Now he will get to face his former team on Sunday.

Pees, isn’t the only former Raven in Tennessee that was considered a disappointment. Correa was a second-round pick (No. 42 overall) by Baltimore in 2016. Under Pees, Correa was moved from an outside linebacker to an inside linebacker.

Correa played in nine games making four tackles and one pass breakup before he was placed on injured reserve in December 2016. His second NFL season was less than stellar. He started three games and registered 15 tackles for the year.

Having moved on to the Titans, Pees didn’t forget about Correa’s ability to rush the passer. Deemed expendable by the Ravens, Tennessee capitalized by sending a sixth-round pick in 2019 to Baltimore in exchange for Correa, the 24-year-old linebacker.

After sitting out the final preseason game, Correa was inserted into a rotation at outside linebacker and posted his first sack in the season opener. Correa has two sacks so far in 2018. It will be a reunion in many ways when the Titans and Ravens square off in week 6.

Ravens Look To Use Momentum From Big Win Over Steelers To Beat The Browns

The Baltimore Ravens pulled off a convincing 26 – 14 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 4. Beating their division rivals on the road was a major coup for John Harbaugh and his team. After the game, Harbaugh couldn’t deny the significance.

“It’s a big deal because the road runs through Pittsburgh the last couple of years to win the division. You have to win division games to win the division. It’s the Steelers. We haven’t beaten three games in a row, three years in a row there. To go up there and win, it means a lot to us. We needed a win and to be 3 – 1. Now, we just have to go try and get the next win. That’s the focus here as a team,” Harbaugh explained during his post-game press conference.

The win was even more significant for safety, Eric Weddle who before Sunday was yet to beat the Steelers as a member of the Ravens.

“This ain’t the same Ravens,” Weddle said. “We talk about it all of the time. You don’t become a true Raven until you win in Pittsburgh, so I have officially become a Raven!”

Quarterback Joe Flacco felt like Baltimore could have scored more than the 14 points they put up in the first half. The Ravens controlled most of the first half but turned the ball over when Alex Collins fumbled two yards shy of the end zone.

Now the Ravens turn their attention to the Cleveland Browns as they look for another win over an AFC North opponent. Although the Browns have a losing record, Harbaugh is not taking them lightly.

“We got to work to move our focus to Cleveland. There’s a lot of work to do to get ready for them and their different quarterback situation and all of the things they do schematically which is quite a bit,” Harbaugh said. “They have a good coaching staff. It will be a challenge and an opportunity to go up there and try to get a win. Their fans will be really loud so we will have to prepare for that.”

The Browns have one of the NFL’s best receivers in Jarvis Landry along with an up-and-coming rookie in 2018, fourth-round pick Antonio Callaway. Baltimore will need their secondary to be at its best when they face these two dynamic playmakers. Fortunately for the Ravens, top cornerback Jimmy Smith returns after being suspended the first four games of the regular season due to a violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy stemming from domestic violence accusations.

Harbaugh says Jimmy Smith arrived at the Ravens’ facility at 8 a.m. on Monday and got a workout in. He didn’t give a definitive answer regarding Smith’s return although it’s likely the eighth-year cornerback will be ready to make his season debut on Sunday.

“If he is in shape and practices well, we will evaluate that as we look at him in practice,” Harbaugh said. “It’s going to be great to have all of those guys that are good cover players back. It’s tough to complete balls against those guys. We can play any coverage we want— man or zone, it gives us a lot of options that we can do on defense.”

After a 3 – 1 record, the season appears to be off to a good start for the Ravens. Next week could yield another victory in the win column, as they try to keep pace with the Cincinnati Bengals atop the division.

Ravens And Steelers Add Another Chapter To The NFL’s Best Rivalry

There are few rivalries better than the one between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. The two teams genuinely dislike each other, which leads to some intense matchups regardless of their records.

Dating back to 1996, the Steelers hold the advantage with a 27 – 21 lead in 48 games. The two teams faced off three times in 2008 when they added an AFC Championship game clash to their two regularly scheduled games every season.

The Steelers pulled off the rare trifecta by beating the Ravens all three times and Pittsburgh went on to win Super Bowl XLIII against the Arizona Cardinals.

An example of how intense the rivalry can be was clearly seen when back in 2016, Ravens All-Pro pass rusher Terrell Suggs told Sports Illustrated how much he hates the Steelers.

“We’re going to talk [expletive]. We’re going to back it up,” Suggs said of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry. “We might get into a fight while we’re doing something. You know what I’m saying. It was personal. It was personal. We wanted to kill Hines Ward. I had to threaten him before every play like, ‘If you crack me, I swear to God I’m going to break your [expletive] neck.’ ”

The game on Sunday, September 30, 2018, will be the 49th time the Ravens and Steelers meet. Pittsburgh is coming off a close win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick passed for over 400 yards and three touchdowns. The Steelers were able to get three interceptions against Fitzpatrick including an interception return for a touchdown by Bud Dupree.

While Flacco isn’t likely to pass for 400 yards this week, he is equally unlikely to throw three interceptions. He’ll get plenty of opportunities to make plays against a Steelers defense that is allowing 288.8 passing yards per game— number 28 in the NFL.

Michael Crabtree is one of Flacco’s favorite targets in the passing game. Crabtree and Flacco are poised for a big game against the Steelers. The addition of the veteran free agent is the latest wideout that Raven’s general manager Ozzie Newsome added to boost the passing game.

Newsome established a trend of signing veteran receivers in 2005 when he added former Tennessee Titans wideout, Derrick Mason followed by Anquan Boldin and Steve Smith Sr. Each were already part of rivalries in the past but none as intense as the one between the AFC North rivals.

Smith described the rivalry as a “professional hatred” between the franchises.

“Our fans hate them. Their fans hate us,” Smith said. “It’s a great divorce.”

While with the San Francisco 49ers, Crabtree experienced the 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks rivalry, which was always full of fireworks. He will undoubtedly be ready for his first Ravens vs. Steelers clash.

Baltimore travels to Pittsburgh on Sunday after a 27 – 14 win over the Denver Broncos at M&T Bank Stadium. The game will be televised on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

“It’s another prime time game in Pittsburgh. We are excited about that,” Head Coach Jim Harbaugh said.

The AFC North is up for grabs this season. With do-it-all running back LeVeon Bell still holding out, the Steelers are no longer the clear-cut most talented team in the division. Both teams have 2 – 1 records and a win on the road at Heinz Field would help the Ravens set the tone early in the season.