The Ravens have endured much controversy over the offseason and into the early start of the season. They have, for the most part, come through even better from it while spotting a 3-1 record and an offensive ranking in the top 10.
However, it looks as though the Ravens succumbed to distraction in their 20-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday. They committed 3 turnovers, 2 of them early in the first half while also burning timeouts very quickly. While the Ravens managed to force a fumble within 2 minutes left in the game & down a touchdown, they couldn’t get complete their final series for a tying TD. The one positive was that their defense forced four turnovers.
Oh, but that didn’t get really get Baltimore down. No, the Orioles had started their game when the Ravens were finishing up.
Could it be that the Orioles’ success & sweep of the Detroit Tigers is a cause of distraction for the Ravens & their fans? During last week, we have seen various Raven players & members of the organization wish good luck to the Orioles in the playoffs. Quite possibly, instead of being in a “cocoon away from distractions and solely focused on football” as Harbaugh has described, the players could have been busy watching the O’s win in amazing fashion while neglecting some preparation for last Sunday’s (10/05) game.
This is all speculation of course, and the Colts (whether or not I choose to admit) are actually a tough team to beat this year.
During the week, I was listening to a favorite radio show of mine and the talk turned to sports. One guy on the show, who is a fan of Baltimore sports, was asked about football the past weekend. He responded that he’s still in “baseball-mode” now and can’t get into football just yet. It was a simple response that didn’t garner any response or care, but it got me thinking.
Is that what is going on here? Are we all still in baseball mode to the extent that we can’t focus as much on the Ravens just yet?
Let me take you back to 2 years ago. When the Orioles got back in the playoffs (after 14 losing years), they started their American League Division Series with the Yankees on Sunday, October 7th. The Ravens beat the Chiefs (at Kansas City) earlier that day 9-6 and the Orioles had their game at 6:00pm, which was over 2 hours after the Ravens finished (the ALDS start time was actually rain delayed until about 8:47 pm).
As you remember, the Orioles lost that series in 5 games. Their last game of the year was on October 12th. The Ravens faced the Cowboys at home on the 14th and won 31-29.
So hear me out: the Ravens were 3-1 both in 2012 & in 2014. The Orioles were in the playoffs as a wild card in 2012 & the #2 seed in 2014. The 2012 Ravens beat a team that finished 2-14, the worst record that season, and there was time to kill before the ALDS to start. The 2014 Ravens just lost to a team that improved to 3-2 (who also won last night to move to 4-2) and the Orioles had their potential sweep beginning as the game was into the important 4th quarter. So clearly, there may have been some prevailing thought by many that “hey, I don’t know whether the Ravens will pull this out, but the Orioles could beat a third Cy Young winner in a row,” which shifted focus.
It should be said that while the Orioles have started their series against the KC Royals, the ALCS schedule has a day off on October 12th, which is when the Ravens face the Buccaneers down in Tampa, FL. Less conflict of interest for this game, if you take my previous paragraph to heart, will bode well for our Ravens.
The Ravens are coming off a disheartening loss to the hated Colts (then again, there was even less talk going on about the Colts leaving in 84) and look to get their act together against a flawed Tampa team. The Bucs are near the bottom of the league in defense in several categories, which have been the primary factors in their 1-4 record. That they did manage a surprising upset on the road against the Steelers may have Buccaneer fans feeling hopeful against other AFC North foes.
Although, I’d say that new head coach Lovie Smith was itching to get at least one win for his new team. Since Tampa looks to not be the “dark horse” playoff candidate many sports writers thought, the season could already be declared lost. Lovie Smith wants to keep his job and improve next season, so for this season he can say that he had taken over a losing team and it was a rebuilding year. Of course, no coach can expect to last long nowadays with a long winless record, so getting that first win takes off all the pressure for him to win now.
To be completely honest, for the first time ever I joined in on Fantasy Football. One of my (later) picks was the Tampa Bay defense. I dropped it pretty quickly this year (especially with that embarrassing game against Atlanta) as their defense has been wholly underwhelming. They have some great players on that defense in Gerald McCoy & Lavonte David, but as the average NFL fan knows: 2 superstars on a team doesn’t make the team great alone. So, the larger problem with Tampa’s defense, which is ranked 30th in yards, lies with the defense as a whole. They either need a roster shake up or better coaching to fix the problem, and this may not be addressed until the end of the season.
The Ravens look to have struck gold in the past draft with their selection of middle linebacker C.J. Mosley. He was all over the field last Sunday, and got a heads-up interception off a deflection. With the team heading to Tampa this Sunday, this brings up memories of defenders in the past:
Last time they were in Tampa, the Ravens beat the Bucs 27-0 for a season opening win. In that game, rookie Haloti Ngata did something that had me in awe all season. He, a 300lb+ defensive lineman, intercepted a ball and ran with it 60 yards! The time that they were in Tampa before that, they were beating the Giants in the Super Bowl and young Ray Lewis got the Super Bowl MVP. Could we see a big defensive showing from Mosley this Sunday as well?
Well, the game is this Sunday on CBS at 1 pm. There will be a larger time buffer in between Orioles games so you won’t have to worry about missing one for the other. The series could potentially last as long as the 18th, which would be the Saturday before the Ravens take on the Atlanta Falcons. Let’s hope distraction doesn’t get to our Ravens (or our Orioles!) and hope for the best outcomes possible.
PHOTO CREDITS: facebook.com/baltimoreravens & facebook.com/baltimoreorioles