Monday
December 10
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#1569


can't just give 'em away like that


Because the Steelers stink, yesterday's Ravens loss in Kansas City doesn't quite leave the mark it might have had the Raiders not blessed John Harbaugh's team with an early Christmas gift.

But let's call it like it is: When you have a game like that in your hands and you squander it, those have a way of coming back to haunt you down the road.

Let's hope the Ravens don't look back on that loss to the Chiefs with regret in a few weeks.

Every loss counts and they all matter, but there are games you lose along the way that weren't there for the taking (Bengals, Panthers, Steelers) in the final quarter. And then there are games you coulda, shoulda, woulda won...and didn't.

The ones you cough up are the ones you regret the most.

Make no mistake about it: The Ravens gagged it yesterday. It wasn't anyone's fault in particular, and there are reasons to subscribe to the moral victory opinion if you like, but the reality is the Ravens gave the game away to the Chiefs on Sunday.

Let's start with the obvious spotlight-soaker -- the quarterback. I say this week after week, it seems, but I haven't seen or felt anything different about Lamar Jackson from his start against the Bengals to yesterday's performance in Kansas City.

It took four weeks, but Lamar Jackson finally suffered a loss in the NFL. And Joe Flacco watched from the sidelines...again.

I think this is precisely what we're going to get from Jackson week in and week out. Yes, even next year. And the year after that, too. He's an athlete, pure and simple. He's elusive as all get out. And when given time to set his feet and read the field, he can throw a NFL quality ball, for sure. The TD throw to John Brown was one of the rare occasions when Jackson had plenty of time to analyze the defense and make a big boy throw.

That said, Jackson's prone to turning the ball over. His last minute fumble yesterday would have been the story of the game, sadly, had K.C.'s coaching staff not thrown up on themselves in that final series.

All in all, I liked a lot of what we saw from Lamar on Sunday, except for the data (most teams aren't going to win in the NFL with 147 yards of passing) and the outcome. He moved the offense decently for most of the afternoon, the overtime period notwithstanding.

A lot of people were blaming Jackson after the game. I get it. It's a quarterback's league and he was the losing signal caller on Sunday. His numbers weren't very good: 147 yards of passing is Cody Kessler'esque. But he delivered a clutch game-winning TD throw with four minutes left in the game and then watched in horror as the Baltimore defense failed to come up with the game-ending play on not one, but two 4th down throws by Patrick Mahomes.

What's Jackson supposed to do, play quarterback AND cornerback? C'mon man.

The quarterback saga in Baltimore is far from over. With Joe Flacco "cleared" to play on Sunday, John Harbaugh stuck with his guns and went with the Jackson-Griffin duo for the fourth straight week. There's more to that than meets the eye, by the way. I'm hearing some things and doing a little investigating on my own, but there's more to Flacco's inactive status on Sunday than we're being told.

But that's not to say that Number 5's time in Baltimore is over. Harbaugh might very well go back to Flacco next Sunday when the Buccaneers come to town and with the Ravens in an almost must-win situation against Tampa Bay.

If Harbaugh does go back to Joe, he better hope his 11-year veteran delivers a win. Anything less could cost John his gig in Charm City at season's end.

When you break down what happened on Sunday in Kansas City, it's pretty simple. Their quarterback outplayed our quarterback. And their defense, when presented with an opportunity in overtime, got the stop that Baltimore's defense couldn't manufacture.

Game, set, match.

That Mahomes kid is pretty daggone good. Sure, he's got a little bit of Brett Favre in him -- not a bad guy to resemble, of course -- and there will be a game or two in his career where he throws it up for grabs at the wrong time and the Chiefs will lose because of it. But I'd take on him my team any day.

The Chiefs are clearly not the same offensive unit they were before losing Kareem Hunt. And with Tyreek Hill hobbling around throughout the day on Sunday, Kansas City was ripe for the picking.

But the Ravens just aren't quite good enough to pluck that sort of game out of thin air. Not yet, anyway.

A rookie quarterback, not nearly seasoned enough. An offensive line that's barely above "satisfactory" in pass protection. A middle linebacking group that's terrific against the run but equally lousy playing the throw. And a secondary with a strange propensity for giving up critical late game big plays.

It all adds up to a decent team. But not much more than that. The good news, though, is the NFL has about 12 "decent" teams. Almost half the league fits that bill.

I'm hoping things settle favorably for Harbaugh and Company. With Pittsburgh collapsing, the Ravens are now just as likely to win the AFC North as they are to claim one of the wild card spots. A home game to start the January playoff run would be pretty cool, even if it winds up bringing Philip Rivers and the Chargers to Baltimore.

But this is far from over. Tampa Bay will not be a walk in the park next Sunday.

The Chargers will be a tough team to beat in L.A. on December 22nd.

And don't look now, but the Browns are actually almost resembling a real team these days. December 30th is not a guaranteed win. Not even close.

No matter who quarterbacks the Ravens, this thing's going down to the wire.

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disappointment edition


Who?

Patrick Mahomes

Call me disappointed, but Patrick Mahomes is a little bit like Steph Curry, and not just because he’s also the son of a former professional athlete.

While there have been, and are, many better overall basketball players than Curry, including one on his own team right now, there’s never been a player in the NBA who can play in quite the way he does. Sure, it’s about shooting, but it’s more than that.

Patrick Mahomes reminds #DMD's David Rosenfeld of Steph Curry, the MVP and future Hall of Famer of the Golden State Warriors.

Mahomes has that quality, the same one that gives you the confidence and belief that a 30-footer off the fast break is a good shot. He was one step from being out of bounds on that long fourth-down desperation heave in the fourth quarter, but it almost seemed like that was of no concern to him. I was wondering what he was thinking, but he had it the whole way.

The numbers will say that Mahomes finished 35-for-53 for 377 yards and two touchdowns, stats that are a little inflated by a long possession in overtime. Still, I was more impressed by the fact that he never seemed fazed by the relentless pressure from the Baltimore defense.

Mahomes is a guy, like Curry, who maybe wouldn’t have been such an All-Star a generation ago. He’s not a classic dropback quarterback, nor is he the greatest athlete who ever played the position. He just seems to understand what to do in every situation, and he’s not afraid to play a certain way even if it seems unorthodox.


What?

Fumbling

Call me disappointed, but Lamar Jackson’s propensity for fumbling has been the most surprising thing about him after four weeks as the Ravens’ starting quarterback.

This isn’t about Joe Flacco at all — in 11 years in the NFL, it’s not like he hasn’t fumbled. Still, it was instructive to see Flacco on the sidelines talking to Jackson after the late-game fumble that might have cost his team the game.

Try to tuck it in if you feel the pressure, or even if you feel some contact. Easier said than done, of course. The Ravens, led by a guy named Suggs, have been awful good over the years at stripping quarterbacks of the ball right before they throw it.

Jackson has fumbled eight times, and they’ve been in different situations.

His propensity to not want to fall down for a sack under pressure is fun to watch, and every once in a while he breaks free and makes a play, even if it’s only a three-yard gain. That same need to extend the play, however, seemingly makes his security with the ball a bit lax even when he isn’t hit.

When he throws the ball overhand, in good rhythm and in stride, Jackson throws the ball well most of the time. He keeps making good decisions in the running game, even though he knows that teams are well aware of his running ability. His looseness with the ball so far may just be a little bad luck as opposed to a chronic problem for his career.


Where?

Miami

Call me disappointed, because a Patriots’ win would have better for the Ravens, but the final play of the Dolphins’ 34-33 victory over New England was spectacular.

It brought to mind another miracle pass-and-lateral play in Miami, from Don Strock to Duriel Harris to Tony Nathan in a famous January 1982 playoff game against the San Diego Chargers, except that one was in the second quarter.

This one was better; there were two laterals, not one. Oh, and this one won the game as time expired, against the current Evil Empire and its famous coach who never gets beat on a play like that, right?

Even better, Rob Gronkowski had the final chance to catch Kenyan Drake before he got to the end zone, but he tripped himself up a little bit and couldn’t make the play. Gronk was in the game because he’s tall with good hands, so he could break up a potential Hail Mary pass.

If Bill Belichick would have known that Gronk would have to chase a speedy running back, he’d never have put the tight end in the game.

Meanwhile, before that, Kenny Stills made a great play by not immediately throwing a lateral to DeVante Parker, instead drawing two defenders before he did so. Then Drake made a great play by sprinting ahead of a defender, breaking a tackle and then hesitating for just an instant, throwing the timing off for a Patriot defense that wasn’t designed for that play to begin with.


When?

The postseason

Call me disappointed, but the Ravens are still in a good position for the postseason despite the difficult loss in Kansas City and the surprising wins by Indianapolis and Miami on Sunday.

First, there’s the whole Steelers thing. Fact is…Mike Tomlin’s team has New England and New Orleans the next two weeks.

Mike Tomlin and the Steelers are losing steam at just right the time.

Denver somehow stunk it up against a horrible 49ers team, meaning that the Ravens wouldn’t lose that tiebreaker if the two teams ended up in a two-way tie a 9-7. The same goes for the Ravens, of course, in a similar situation with the Titans.

Meanwhile, the performance by John Harbaugh’s team in Kansas City gives a certain amount of hope when it comes to the trip to suburban Los Angeles in two weeks.

As a reminder, right now the Ravens still hold the last playoff spot in the AFC despite having the same 7-6 record as the Colts, Dolphins and Titans.

Understandably, Ravens fans are a bit antsy about the whole thing, as they should be. Being a game ahead of a few other teams, which seemed like a real possibility late in the Kansas City game, is better than being tied. Plus, the last two Decembers have seen excellent playoff opportunities slip out of the Ravens’ hands.

Tampa heads into M&T Bank Stadium next weekend. Cleveland heads to Baltimore on the season’s final day. The trip to play the Chargers is an important one, but the Ravens might make the playoffs with nine wins if results break the right way.


Why?

When the wrong team wins

Call me disappointed, but the Ravens’ overtime loss to the Chiefs was a case where the wrong team won the game.

Before you say anything else, there have been many times when the team for which I’d been cheering won the game where the same was true. I’ve seen many games when I’ve had no rooting interest at all where the same was true.

The Ravens went into Kansas City and, through a combination of typically good defense, the recent ball-control offense and another great special teams play by Cyrus Jones, were one play away from potentially holding the Chiefs to 17 points, and none in the second half, in their own building.

The play I mentioned above, where Mahomes never seem fazed on fourth-and-long? That may have been true, but it was also a lucky play. The Kansas City quarterback is a terrific freelancer, the best we’ve seen in a while at the position, but even he doesn’t make a play like that very often.

For a while, Wink Martindale’s defensive strategies were overwhelming the Chiefs, who weren’t sure what to do despite the fact that they’ve been doing an awful lot so far this season.

And then the game went to overtime, which of course it never should have to begin with, whether that’s because the Ravens stopped that fourth-and-nine or Kansas City had made the field goal at the end of regulation. When you get to overtime, it no longer matters who really deserved to win the game.

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from the desk of
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BRIEN JACKSON's work at #DMD promises to provide some of Baltimore's best sports insight and commentary, brought to you by SECU, the official credit-union of Drew's Morning Dish. Brien has done sports-media work with ESPN, CBS, and NPR. His contributions to #DMD will focus on the Orioles, the Ravens, and national sports stories.



It's funny how the NFL can effortlessly exploit the gap between your heart and your head.

In our heads, we knew the Ravens were long shots to win in Kansas City, and have known that for weeks. The Ravens are, at best, a good team that has a good chance to emerge as the 6th seed in the AFC and just might scratch their way to a 10 win division title (thanks to the Steelers losing to the Raiders ahead of games against the Patriots and Saints).

Kansas City is one of the three or four best teams in the entire league, and the Ravens were taking them on in their house. That's not a recipe for victory, and losing a game like that doesn't really tell you much about your team.

And yet, it still manages to hurt.

The truth of the matter is that the Ravens had this one more than in hand. A 24-17 lead, a 4th and 9. A well defended play all the way around.

And then Pat Mahomes did what only a player like Pat Mahomes can do.

That's the important thing to remember about this game. The Ravens played an excellent game throughout. They had the game closed out. They forced Mahomes out of the pocket with quick pressure and blanketed that side of the field in coverage.

The list of quarterbacks with both the speed to outrun Za'Darius Smith to avoid being sacked and the arm strength to sling the ball across the field, across his body, downfield to Tyreek Hill is absurdly short. Aaron Rodgers can do it, and has does it a bunch of times. Deshaun Watson might be able to do it. And unfortunately for the Ravens, Pat Mahomes can do it.

That was ultimately the difference on Sunday.

Despite being pressured and hassled all day, Patrick Mahomes came up with several big throws in crucial situations as the Chiefs beat the Ravens in OT on December 9, 27-24.

Pat Mahomes is the most physically gifted quarterback on the planet right now, he's probably the league MVP for this season, and in crucial spots in this game he simply made exactly the sort of fantastic plays that only the very best players in the game can make.

It's simply hard to beat good teams with great players when those guys are having good days, and yet the Ravens came darn close to doing just that, and on the road with a very green rookie at quarterback as well.

The Ravens weren't perfect by any means. There were too many penalties, especially on the offensive line. Some of them were questionable at best, but then there were other penalties they got away with.

They ran for 5.1 yards per carry and came up just shy of 200 yards in total rushing for the game, but there were also too many ill advised passing plays called by Marty Mornhinweg, particularly on second down.

On the other hand, a few things that weren't on the script went right for them. Lamar Jackson made some nice throws, both from the pocket and when improvising in space. The defense did a nice job of adjusting to Travis Kelce after a hot start for the Chiefs' tight end.

They held a Kansas City team that came into the game averaging 37 points per game to only 24 points in regulation, and just 17 before Mahomes' improbable 4th and 9 conversion.

It's inevitable that an NFL game will be overanalyzed.

We have a week to build up to the game, a week to break it down afterwards, and especially at this time of the year, every game and every play seems to take on an outsized importance to the team's ultimate fate.

But sometimes things are really, really simple, and this game was one of those times.

Two teams, one good and one very good, played a very close, dramatic game, and ultimately one of the very best football players in the world made an almost impossible play to turn the course of the game.

Maybe on a different day that turns out differently.

Maybe Mahomes' throw is just a little bit off, and he fires the ball at Hill's feet or gets it to him just a second too late for the receiver to reel it in. Maybe his footing slips just a little bit as he's throwing and Smith gets to him to make contact as he throws.

Maybe any number of imperceptible factors that go into a football play change, and Mahomes and Hill don't make that play and the Ravens clinch the game on that play.

On Sunday the Chiefs made the play. It's really no more complicated than that.

So what did we learn from this game? First of all we learned, I think, that the Lamar Jackson era has begun in earnest.

This time last week I wasn't so sure about that, but at this point I'm very confident that John Harbaugh is going to hitch his wagon to the rookie. He was confident enough in Jackson to leave Flacco inactive despite the veteran being cleared to play this week, and I don't see what Jackson could have done in Kansas City to lose the job.

He made some nice throws, didn't turn the ball over save for a late sack fumble that happens to every quarterback periodically (and wasn't anywhere near as egregious as the fumble Mahomes nearly lost to Terrell Suggs in the red zone), and the Ravens again ran for 200 yards while taking the AFC's best team to the very limit on the road.

Unless Harbaugh has been committed to turning things back over to Flacco no matter what all along, this is Jackson's team now.

We also learned that the style of play the team has been utilizing for the past month really can work against anyone.

The past two weeks against high powered passing based offenses were always going to be the real test, not so much of whether the Ravens could run the ball, but whether or not their defense could keep things close enough to let them do what they wanted to do rather than being forced into a pass heavy game by the scoreboard.

There's no question about that anymore.

The Lamar Jackson era is officially underway says #DMD's Brien Jackson.

Indeed, it now seems even clearer that the left hand is feeding the right hand these days, and the offense's new style of play certainly seems to be helping the defense directly. For most of the past two weeks, in particular, the defense has looked very fast especially on plays where they've rushed the opposing quarterback, and they've been able to frustrate even a couple of top ten passing offenses as a result.

The biggest exception? The end of this game, when the Chiefs were first able to force them to play at a faster tempo after the Mahomes-to-Hill 48 yard prayer, and then in overtime when they had to come right back onto the field after the coin toss.

There might be an element of confirmation bias to this observation, but it's hard to escape the conclusion that the old axiom that ball control keeps your defense fresh and rested is being proven true, at least for this team.

Oh, and we learned that Lamar Jackson unequivocally can throw the ball from the pocket. He's not going to be confused for Drew Brees anytime soon, but at this point his biggest flaws in the pocket are issues that every rookie struggles with as a part of the NFL learning curve.

You can't put him back there and ask him to go through a progression of quick reads against a blitz, which is why it's important to keep the offense out of 3rd-and-7 or longer, but he's not unusually bad in that regard either, he can make good throws when his reads are there, and in the short run he's obviously able to offset those deficiencies with the value he brings to the running game and his own ability to turn a bad passing play into a good running one.

Finally we learned that there's plenty of reasonable hope in Baltimore for the rest of this year. Are the Ravens one of the top five teams in the league? Nope. Are they "real" Superbowl contenders? Probably not.

But right now they sure look like they can give just about anyone a tough fight, and go into any game with a puncher's chance. Right now the Ravens remind me of the 2008 version of the team, and that group rode a punishing rushing attack and a rookie quarterback to the AFC's final playoff berth and a spot in the conference championship game.

They didn't get over that hump, obviously, but it sure was a lot of fun anyway. And after the malaise of a 4-5 record and another seemingly mundane season just a month ago, I'm suddenly excited for the last three weeks of the season and the potential for another surprise run in January.

And that's a feeling that I don't think we should take for granted. Possibly because the Ravens have been somewhere in the hunt for an entire decade now, Baltimore sports fans often seem to lose sight of the entertainment value of these games, and the fun and excitement they're going to bring. We get obsessed with winning it all, sometimes to the point of not appreciating having some really good teams because they don't manage to win it all in the end (a lot of Orioles fans are going to realize they've done this pretty soon, methinks).

For 7 or 8 years now we've actually been debating when the team will finally get around to firing a head coach who literally has as many Superbowl championships as sub-.500 seasons!

There's certainly an understandable aspect to that reality, but there's also something that gets missed along the way I think. The Ravens didn't win every home game of Ray Lewis' career by any stretch, but looking back there was still something special about each time he came out of the tunnel, and even six years after his retirement the fact that there are no more squirrel dances or amped up pregame speeches on the jumbotron leaves me with a distinct feeling that there's a hole in the M&T Bank Stadium experience.

At some point those memories became a lot stronger than the ones of disappointing losses, and that certain je ne sais quoi is what I miss from those seasons, even moreso than the playoff runs and double digit win seasons.

Sunday's game was, for one week, a throwback to that prior era. The game was a thrilling, nerve racking, stomach turning, emotional rollercoaster of momentum swings, mistakes, and big improbable plays.

Ultimately the result was heart breaking and spirit deflating. And a few hours later, tasked with analyzing and reviewing and breaking down the whole affair, there's simply one undeniable fact that sums up my feelings about the entire afternoon.

It was fun as hell.

Best of Vegas Generic

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#dmd comments


Jonathan     December 10
Not understanding this Weddle vs. Media angle. Can someone explain?

just a fan     December 10
Count me among the few who were entertained by yesterday’s game, as opposed to being miserable because they failed to pull off the upset. Who knows where it will all end, but I’m just glad to have some meaningful football to watch in Dec. Beats the heck out of being a Bills or Jags fan! Wonder if that guy in NE is getting beat up for having Gronk on the field playing D on that last play? He looked like Weddle on that play lol.

While I am not one to normally join the haters, I do have to admit to being puzzled why Mr Weddle gets so many atta boys in the media. Have to agree, it seems more often than not, he shrinks in key moments, and frankly, even on simple basic plays in the middle of a game. He sure seems like Exhibit A to the Little Fella Corollary that says come to one of my self-serving swabbing events, and I will never speak bad about you….ever! Do a phone interview, we’ll be “lifelong pals”, ala Mike Flynn. On D, it's usually not the guy closest to the guy making the play who blew his assignment...in the Ravens case, it's usually Weddle lol!


Marv     December 10
Tippy & Radio Guy He gets it. To change would indicate you are right and he is wrong, an act of which he is incapable.

Jason M     December 10
@ChrisinBelair - 4th and game seems to be our Achilles. I thought the whole team played very well in a tough environment against one of the leagues elite. We cvoulda, woulda and shoulda - but I think if we bring it that way this week and for the rest of the season, then the last chapter has not been written yet on this team.



No one has mentioned the refs yet...and I appreciate that because there's not much to be gained. But on the final play from scrimmage, there was a mugging on Willie Snead and it was ealry and effected his ability to catch the ball. We didn't draw a single PI all game. We had PI called on us, deservedly in the end zone, but the Snead contact was heavier.




Tippy     December 10
@RadioGuy: Someone mentioned it (Superbowl) last week as well. He doesn't get it.

Radio Guy     December 10
Will someone PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE tell @Brien Jackson that Superbowl is NOT ONE WORD. I've seen him do this numerous times. The word is SUPER (first word) BOWL (second word). It has never been spelled as one word scrunched together like that. It's amateur looking if you don't know how to spell the biggest sporting event in our country.



THANKYOU. (see what I did there?)

John L.     December 10
So Drew, what are you hearing about Flacco behind the scenes? You can't throw that out there and then leave us hanging like this!!!

such     December 10
Amen, Madness, amen. My household has been calling for his release for several seasons now. Remember when we all thought it was a coup that we got him instead of Pittsburgh? If only he were a Steeler! He's been the culprit in every critical defensive breakdown the last 3 years. Thank you for the reminder.

No more wiggle room or shoulda woulda coulda the rest of the way now. That's the price paid by yesterday's collapse.

Idiot Caller     December 10
@Madness: Amen, brother! Amen!

BJ     December 10
If Lamar starts the last three games, the Ravens go 1-2.



You heard it here first.

Davey     December 10
I think this summarizes the whole thing, IMHO.



"Make no mistake about it: The Ravens gagged it yesterday. It wasn't anyone's fault in particular, and there are reasons to subscribe to the moral victory opinion if you like, but the reality is the Ravens gave the game away to the Chiefs on Sunday."

Madness     December 10
Very tough loss and I blame ONE guy who always seems to LOSE the game of inches. A guy who is loved by the media because he is quotable and always gives his time to them. He is loved by the fans because he has a "look at me" outrageous look. He promotes himself as a team leader. He is ALWAYS the guy......who misses the play by INCHES. He is an out and out JINX.

He hesitates ever so slightly on his safety blitz on the tying TD....he is the centerfielder on the FOURTH and 9 and gets turned around looking and guarding a guy who is under control of Tayvon Young. Is it "selfish or stupid" that he stays on the wrong side of Hill? That he moves away from Hill on the crucial play is just a testament of his modus operandi. CJ Mosley is a FOUR down linebacker, end of story. "Jinx McBeard" has to be the guy to knock it down on that play. He was out of position......like the Ray Rice Fourth and Twenty NINE, like the Immaculate Extension, Like the Tyler Boyd FOURTH and TWELVE, like the Jordan Howard OT run against the Bears last year......and on and on.



A menace, a season destroyer........a JINX.



But isn't that beard cool? And isn't it cute that he eats ice cream after a win....and isn't he easy for the lazy ass media to talk to....and he is great at slapping guys on the ass.



About 5 inches different in his career and he is close to Ed Reed.

Macki     December 10
I think @Drew hit this one right on the head. Ravens had it in the palm of their hand and couldn't make the big play when they needed it. This is another in a long line of defensive collapses on the last series of the game or overtime. Remember Chicago last year in Baltimore? How about Pittsburgh when Brown stretched out to win the game and end our season? Or last year when the Bengals carved us up on the last play of the game. Same old song and dance.

Mark     December 10
I often wonder if Brien watches the games. I'm thinking he didn't watch yesterdays game in KC.

amused observer     December 10
What happened to the other team tries to? Or they have varsity lettermen as well? Nope, today we get Steelers stink and KC throwing up on themselves. And of course, the overwhelming theme of the comments so far, the Ravens just giving the game away cause their D is “horrible”, with the sub theme of “they’ve never been any good since Ray and Ed left”.

It’s exhausting man, how do you people keep chewing that same bone, like Mike Preston and his alpha male/playmaker syndrome??

And love the “why is Mosely covering Hill”…yea, that was the play call there. Sheesh. Pressure forces Mahomes to scramble, Hill runs around in circles, Mahomes heaves it and, wait for it, Hill makes a play! Nope, can’t say 2 guys made a play, no, no, no, the Ravens failed to execute, and that’s on Wink! And yes, more than likely, back when you had two HoFamers back there, they make the play, not the other team.

To paraphrase the guy who said “just dial up a sack there”, they need to go “get some HoFame players”!

Everyone wrote down KC as a loss in every “get to the playoffs” scenario I heard, everyone. Now that they did lose, after a valiant effort, but an effort not good enough for our local experts, all the sudden, beating Tampa is “almost must win”?? Pretty sure losing to TB was never on anyone’s “how to get to the playoffs” plan, right?

Ravens almost beat the #1 seed in a place that is very difficult on road teams, but now we’re sticking with they can’t go to LA and play a team with no home crowd at all and win there? Which BTW I believe DEN won there, and even the Bengirls just gave them fits.

Guess the good news is since no one goes to games any more, or cares about this team, there are not really all that many of you upset by the hot mess the Ravens have become. The good news is the Harbs and Flacco haters will get their wish soon, so you got that going for ya


Neutral Observer     December 10
Here's how Brien's mind works. When Mahomes makes a great play, it's not the Ravens defense's fault. The QB just made a game saving/changing play.



When Flacco makes a game saving/changing play in the Denver playoff game, the other team's defense failed to make a play.


HERMAN     December 10
They line up on the 25 with two minutes and change, we are up 7, we need that big defensive stop that has eluded us the last 3 years in a row in critical late season games.

I can hear Harbaugh on Monday morning, knowing that Pittsburgh is going to tank in Oakland, "we control our own destiny, that's all you can ask for with three games left".

I can hear him in the press conference, I actually feel good for the guy, this four game win streak has resurrected his career here. The games are exciting, fun, they amaze. We have some stability going into next year, maybe they'll draft a game-changer or two for Harbaugh, instead of a rebuild, we just continue to be in contention late into the season.

And just like that, a 4th and 9. And on, and on, and on.

On any other week I'd be gleeful, giddy, ecstatic over the Squealers kicker ass-planting away the game, reading the PPG to see the comments section where Yinzers bemoan the Ravens taking over first.

But the D has crushed me again, just like 4th and 22, or the year before, or the year before.

And Harbaugh is back on the hot seat, and stability is looking for an exit, and.....


Chris in Bel Air     December 10
Ravens played well yesterday. It's just hard to see them burned by another backyard play on 4th down. As good as Ravens were, the Chiefs were better in the final minutes when it counted. I'm also curious about the Ravens last possessions and why they had Lamar standing in the pocket like a traditional passer. That's not his strength and gave the KC D nothing to think about. They needed to give him a couple roll-outs and options to present the threat of running. Despite the loss I'm still encouraged with their play and believe they can make the playoffs.

Ed     December 10
The Ravens still do not have the QB of the future on their roster. No WR is going to want to play here.

unitastoberry     December 10
I remember Dan Fouts commenting during a game about Mosley a few seasons back. Hes says.....If I'm quarterbacking I'm throwing to whoever he has coverage on.

davehughes123     December 10
@Herman I'm glad you mentioned Mosley because he is abysmal defending the pass. Mosley was also "covering" Williams on the game tying TD. He might accumulate a ton of tackles but he's the team's biggest liability in pass coverage.

Brien Jackson     December 10
"Watching C.J.Mosely chase Tyreek Hill, 5 yards behind, on the big fourth down play is the vision that haunts through Wednesday and into Thursday.



How do we end up with a guy who can't cover anyone in pass coverage at all on their top receiver on the most critical play of the game? Mosely is awful in pass coverage. Why, why, why...."



Because Hill was completely out of the play for any quarterback other than Mahomes or Rodgers. Seriously, that play was the equivalent of Steph Curry burying a 27 foot jumper with two hands in his face. Sometimes you play things well but great players make great plays anyway.

Idiot Caller     December 10
... that CAN'T make a stop...

Idiot Caller     December 10
We can slice and dice the loss to the Chiefs anyway you want, but to me it all comes down to the highly paid defense. By my count, this marks the 3rd year in a row that the defense has blown a late 4th quarter lead in a crucial December game.

That is UNACCEPTABLE. Period.

The Ravens have to stop paying (wasting?) so much cap room on a defense that make a stop when they clearly need to.

HERMAN     December 10
Being a Ravens fan means putting up with soul-crushing losses. Losses that stay with you through Wednesday, and into Thursday. How many third and long, and fourth down conversions can a team give up in a game? For the "league leading" D they sure give up a ton of 19 yard third down plays to keep drives alive.

Watching C.J.Mosely chase Tyreek Hill, 5 yards behind, on the big fourth down play is the vision that haunts through Wednesday and into Thursday.

How do we end up with a guy who can't cover anyone in pass coverage at all on their top receiver on the most critical play of the game? Mosely is awful in pass coverage. Why, why, why....

I couldn't even enjoy the Squealers loss, or the fluke play that beat the evil empire, even though we were supposed to be rooting against Miami.

Delray Rick     December 10
How many games have the RAVENS LOST with 2 minutes left the last 4 years? I count 7-8. Our DB break down at the wrong time


James - Dundalk     December 10
I misses the OT coin toss ,but if The ravens won it why not go on offense run the ball ,eat clock, Score,give D a rest. The D was just out there at the end of regulation. Oh & before the TD to Brown why did Lamar scamper for 2 yards & go out of bounds. Let the clock run. Gave KC too much time to come back.

Unitastoberry     December 10
Most important aspect of a defense is to protect a lead. We still can't do that. If Lamar can't stop fumbling his career in the NFL is going to be very short. Give KC credit their coaching staff adjusted well to stop Lamar on the edge. Mahomes is very good he's the MVP as of today.

Captain Oblivious     December 09
To Briens point, if the Ravens win out and the Steelers don't the Ravens win the division unless the Steelers tie the game they don't win.

J.J.     December 09
@Brien with the hard hitting analysis of the final three weeks of the season. That's good stuff!

Brien Jackson     December 09
The big development of the day is that, if the Steelers lose to New Orleans and New England, the Ravens just have to beat the Bucs and Browns at home to win the division.

Alan     December 09
Crickets.

Tom     December 09
@H,



Lamar should start. But Flacco is going to start. Wait and see.

H     December 09
1 turnover

Clutch plays

Zero delay of game penalties

Zero wasted timeouts

Zero false starts

Zero broken plays

Now tell me who should start at QB next week?

Bill P.     December 09
@Alan: Why, why why would you do that?

Just a guy     December 09
Really enjoyed the game today, lots of drama, excitement, almost beat the likely #1 seed in their house, with a QB not ready for prime time. From where I sit, coaching staff did a helluva job. Really feel bad for all the miserable haters in town who feel the need to vent like 2 year olds who didn't get their way. Its a bad look, at least if you're an adult.

Alan     December 09
I'm going to ask Brien Jackson to do something. I suspect he won't be able to complete this mission but I'm going to pose the question to him anyway.



I'd like for you to break down the game today and list your five "important points" related to how the Ravens lost.

John In Westminster     December 09
In the immortal words of the Fonz, I was "wrrrreeerrrong". Tough not to finish the job against a top opponent. Great game all around...until the last few minutes and OT. Will note the inconsistent officiating had influence. It appears Flacco will be Wally Pipped, unless Lamar's ankle injury is serious.

Brien Jackson     December 09
@That Guy



I am wowed by your tremendous insight into the sport. Make him throw an incompletion. It's amazing that NFL teams pay so much money to coaches to not see that genius.

RJ     December 09
Yea, just sack the QB or make him throw an incompletion, problem solved - Wink is just so, so terrbile

Frank     December 09
I'll have what "That Guy" is having.

RJ     December 09
You people pissed off at Ravens D are the ones who are drunk/high. No doubt you were the ones prior to this game saying KC would light them up for 50+. Yup, the D "blew the lead", "couldn't hold them" and 'just let them drive down the field", yup, that's all that happened on that field today. Good thing the KC offense self-imploded so much, against that kind of defensive effort, no reason they should not have scored at least 60 today, right? You make Ken Weiman so proud

That Guy     December 09
I'll break it down for you Brien you dimwit. It was 4th and 9. If the Ravens sack the quarterback there the game is over. If they force him to throw an incompletion the game is over. If they knock the pass down the game is over. They could have done any of five different things there to win the game and didn't. Please stop acting like you're a football expert. I've read your stuff here for years. You're nowhere near an expert on the X's and O's of football.

Brien Jackson     December 09
Everyone is welcome to show off their immense football knowledge by breaking down the defenses's mistake on that play.



I'll wait.

Jonathan     December 09
That's Brien's way of not blaming the Ravens defense for blowing a late lead and also not blaming Lamar Jackson for only throwing for 150 yards.



You'll notice a trend if you stay here long enough.



It's always Flacco's fault.

Brien Jackson     December 09
Some things are just so predictable. The Ravens play 4th and 9 almost perfectly only to get beaten by a truly unbelievable play that literally no more than 3 guys in the entire NFL are even capable of making. Ipso facto the defense is terrible,\.



I guess I have to at least concede that said dumb criticism at least isn't being used solely to make excuses for Flacco, so there's that.

That Guy     December 09
RJ must have watched a different game than the rest of us.



The Ravens had a 7-point lead with four minutes left and couldn't hold it.



The Chiefs drove down the field in overtime and kicked a field goal to beat us.



I swear some of the people that come here must be drunk by halftime.

Jimmy the Greek     December 09
The question is, how many times has #DMD put 5K down on his own picks lol

StevenShea     December 09
I’m sorry to all the Harbaugh haters, but the obvious reality is that we have an incredible coaching staff with make shift talent. The fact that is we put up 24 points with a single wing offense and defense that holds the Chiefs to 27 in OT. All the experts say we have to make a change if we fail to go deep in the playoffs. Meanwhile the architect of our last ten drafts is getting a promotion. Hayden Hurst has solidified his spot as 4th tight end and Lamar Jackson is the Raven’s version of Tim Teebo. One more busted draft and a future with no legitimate QB, an unknown coaching staff a supporting cast devoid of playmakers.

Geno     December 09
@RJ, Are you serious man? The defense had a lead with four minutes left and couldn't hold it. KC went right down the field in OT and won the game. Are you on drugs dude?

#DMD GAME DAY
Week 14


Sunday — December 9, 2018
Issue #1568

Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs

1:00 PM EDT

Arrowhead Stadium
Kansas City, MO

Spread: Chiefs -6.5


feels like a playoff game


Granted, the Ravens painted themselves into this corner with some shoddy play through the first two months of the season.

But it feels like a playoff game today, as John Harbaugh's team faces a red-hot Chiefs team in Kansas City.

It's certainly not a must-win situation for the Ravens. A loss today merely means they have to win their final three to have a chance at making the post-season. But a victory today would go a long, long way towards extending the football season into January here in Baltimore.

Heck, a win today and the Ravens might wind up winning the AFC North and hosting a home playoff game.

There's a lot on the line this afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium.

And unless Harbaugh does something totally unexpected, Lamar Jackson will be the starting quarterback today in Kansas City.

We still don't know for sure if Joe Flacco has been cleared by the doctors to play. He was a full participant in practice on Friday and media reports indicated the 11-year veteran moved around well in the portion of practice they were allowed to watch.

So Harbaugh's moment of truth might be on the horizon. If Flacco is pronounced "fit to play" by team docs, does the coach stick with the rookie for today's supremely important game with the Chiefs or does he give Flacco his starting job back?

Can the Ravens keep NFL MVP candidate Pat Mahomes from lighting them up today in Kansas City?

No matter how he phrases it after the game, if Jackson starts over a healthy-and-available-to-play Flacco, the 11-year veteran will have been "benched" for the first round pick from Louisville.

Harbaugh never had to worry about this moment when Flacco was injured. He was given a slight reprieve last Sunday in Atlanta when Flacco was inactive for the win over the Falcons. But today could be a different story. Today, for the first time since 2008, Harbaugh might have to tell Flacco he's a backup quarterback.

And then it's up to Jackson to beat the Chiefs.

The gameplan with Lamar at quarterback seems fairly simple.

Just keep doing what you've been doing, Lamar.

Minus the five fumbles in the last three weeks, that is.

The Ravens just need Jackson to continue the style of play they've received from him since he took over on November 18 vs. Cincinnati. If he can do that, Baltimore stands a puncher's chance of pulling off the upset today. Hold the ball, chew up the clock, keep K.C.'s prolific offense off the field, and maintain a fresh, invigorated defense. That's how the Ravens can win this afternoon.

Of course, the Chiefs get paid too. They know the drill and, I suspect, they assume the Ravens aren't going to change much of what they've done over the last three weeks.

If I'm Kansas City, I don't do anything differently myself. It's the Ravens who have to maintain a certain style of play, one that only remains effective for them as long as the game is close or they're in the lead.

This game today doesn't hinge completely on Jackson, but it does mostly fall on the shoulders of the Baltimore offense. If they can score and keep pace with the Chiefs, Marty Mornhinweg's game plan can be carried out for four quarters.

But if Baltimore falls behind by a couple of scores, the ground-and-pound, ball control offense might not be the way to go.

And we know this: Mornhinweg is always one series away from changing his offensive strategy and going to the air on almost every play.

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how drew sees today's game


I was right about last Sunday's game in Atlanta.

I sure don't hope I'm right about today's battle with the Chiefs.

Forgive me, please. I don't see this one going well for Baltimore.

The Ravens do manage an early 3-0 lead as Jackson takes the team down to the red zone before the first drive stalls and Justin Tucker converts on a 34-yard field goal.

Kansas City steams right down the field on their first possession and goes up 7-3 on a Mahomes to Kelce TD throw.

The Chiefs make it 14-3 in the second quarter on another Mahomes to Kelce connection, but Jackson and the Baltimore offense put together a nice 12-play drive to trim the deficit to 14-10 after Gus Edwards scores from four yards out.

Kansas City gets the ball deep into Baltimore territory as the second quarter comes to a close, but they settle for a 25-yard chip shot field goal at the buzzer to go up 17-10 at the intermission.

Mahomes connects with Tyreek Hill on a 38 yard TD throw midway through the third quarter to put the Chiefs up, 24-10. On the ensuing series, Jackson throws an interception and the Chiefs take over at the Baltimore 25 yard line.

Moments later, Hill again collects a TD throw from Mahomes and it's now 31-10, Chiefs.

Harbaugh sticks with Jackson on the next series and he guides the Ravens down the field for a touchdown to close out the third quarter. Lamar hits Michael Crabtree for a TD to make it 31-17.

The two teams trade punts in the fourth quarter before the Chiefs put the icing on the cake with a 44 yard field goal with six minutes remaining in the game.

Jackson hits Mark Andrews for a touchdown with just under one minute left in the game, but it's too little, too late.

The Ravens fall to 7-6 on the season with a 34-24 loss in Kansas City.

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show me the money


Last Sunday's 3-2 record snapped a small two-week losing streak for me.

I can't say I was worried or anything, but it's always nice to collect rather than pay out, right?

Through 13 weeks of the 2018 season, I'm now at 37-25-3. For those Flyers fans out there who don't have a calculator on their phone, that's 12 (TWELVE!) games to the good this season. If you would have wagered, say, $5,000 on all 65 of my picks thus far, you'd be ahead -- again, I'll do the math for the Philadelphia hockey fans -- by $60,000 right now.

I know there's someone reading this who roots for the Flyers and doesn't understand how I got to that conclusion. You take 12 and you multiply it by 5,000. 12 x 5 is also an easy way to do it. Either way, it's 60.

Now, on we go to today's five selections.

JETS AT BILLS (-4) -- I have no idea who plays quarterback for the Bills anymore. It seems to change every week. But I assume it's Josh Allen, which is good enough for me. The Jets almost beat the Titans last week in Nashville. Maybe they're turning the corner. Probably not, I say. Let's go with Buffalo to win this one, and cover, as the Bills beat up on New York, 27-17.

SAINTS AT BUCCANEERS (+9.5) -- I had to look at the spread three times to make sure my eyes weren't deceiving me. The Saints are giving Tampa Bay 9.5 points? In Tampa Bay? I don't get this one. Not at all. I mean, I know the Saints are good and all, but they have to win in Tampa Bay by ten points to cover? And I don't think Tampa Bay's offense is all that bad, even though they've been nicked up with injuries recently. I know Vegas is dying for me to take the Bucs here. So conventional wisdom says don't do it. But when you're ahead by $60,000 on the season, you can flick a booger at conventional wisdom. I'm taking Tampa Bay and the 9.5 points in this one, as the Saints win a nailbiter, 34-32.

Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers face a critical showdown in Oakland today.

PATRIOTS AT DOLPHINS (+7.5) -- Boy, I don't know about this one. Miami is an intriguing play here, given that their season is pretty much on the line today with a 6-6 record. New England is still in the mix for the #1 seed in the AFC, so they're not going down to South Florida for a weekend play-cation. I don't think the Patriots are losing, but I suspect Miami keeps this one close. And if you were looking for a very profitable moneyline wager today, taking the Dolphins here (+347) might not be a bad gamble. We're going with the Dolphins and the 7.5 points, as New England wins the game but loses on the hook. Patriots win this one 27-20.

BRONCOS AT 49'ERS (+3.5) -- Denver, like four other teams in the AFC, can not afford a "bad loss" down the stretch. A defeat to the 2-10 49'ers today would certainly qualify as a "bad loss". I don't see it happening. In fact, I think the Broncos win this one fairly comfortably, as Denver covers the 3.5 points and improves to 7-6 with a 27-16 win in San Francisco. Note: This is also our "Best Bet of the Day" selection.

STEELERS AT RAIDERS (+10.0) -- I've been yapping about this game all week. And will continue to do so until the winner emerges around 7:15 pm tonight. I love, love, love Oakland in this one. And not just to cover the ten, but to win the game outright. Yes, I'm talking new in-ground pool, a family trip to the Bahamas, etc. Go big or go home. Oakland puts a major dent in Pittsburgh's division title hopes with an upset victory over 'dem Stillers, as Derek Carr and the Raiders cover AND win, 30-26.


RECORD TO DATE: 37-25-3

RAVENS AGAINST THE SPREAD: 7-5

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 7-6

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back on monday to talk about...


We have lots of interesting tidbits from the weekend to chat about this week.

Namely...

Just six days after half the stadium in Atlanta was filled for a NFL game, 75,000 people jammed their way into Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday night to watch.....soccer. Yep, soccer. And hopefully the NFL was paying attention.

Will Grier's bush league move of leaving his West Virginia team without its starting quarterback for their upcoming college football bowl game. I never fancied that kid a quitter.

Maryland basketball's appearance in Baltimore on Saturday, where a whopping crowd of 3,700 saw the Terps turn back Loyola-Chicago. In the opener, less than 3,700 saw Morgan State edge Towson.

The Nationals essentially parting ways with Bryce Harper after one contract offer. Baseball's winter meetings take place this coming week in Las Vegas, where Harper and other free agents will be in the spotlight.

And speaking of baseball, there's intense discussions about changing the rules surrounding "the shift". We have an opinion on that, too.

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#dmd comments


Jonathan     December 10
Not understanding this Weddle vs. Media angle. Can someone explain?

just a fan     December 10
Count me among the few who were entertained by yesterday’s game, as opposed to being miserable because they failed to pull off the upset. Who knows where it will all end, but I’m just glad to have some meaningful football to watch in Dec. Beats the heck out of being a Bills or Jags fan! Wonder if that guy in NE is getting beat up for having Gronk on the field playing D on that last play? He looked like Weddle on that play lol.

While I am not one to normally join the haters, I do have to admit to being puzzled why Mr Weddle gets so many atta boys in the media. Have to agree, it seems more often than not, he shrinks in key moments, and frankly, even on simple basic plays in the middle of a game. He sure seems like Exhibit A to the Little Fella Corollary that says come to one of my self-serving swabbing events, and I will never speak bad about you….ever! Do a phone interview, we’ll be “lifelong pals”, ala Mike Flynn. On D, it's usually not the guy closest to the guy making the play who blew his assignment...in the Ravens case, it's usually Weddle lol!


Marv     December 10
Tippy & Radio Guy He gets it. To change would indicate you are right and he is wrong, an act of which he is incapable.

Jason M     December 10
@ChrisinBelair - 4th and game seems to be our Achilles. I thought the whole team played very well in a tough environment against one of the leagues elite. We cvoulda, woulda and shoulda - but I think if we bring it that way this week and for the rest of the season, then the last chapter has not been written yet on this team.



No one has mentioned the refs yet...and I appreciate that because there's not much to be gained. But on the final play from scrimmage, there was a mugging on Willie Snead and it was ealry and effected his ability to catch the ball. We didn't draw a single PI all game. We had PI called on us, deservedly in the end zone, but the Snead contact was heavier.




Tippy     December 10
@RadioGuy: Someone mentioned it (Superbowl) last week as well. He doesn't get it.

Radio Guy     December 10
Will someone PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE tell @Brien Jackson that Superbowl is NOT ONE WORD. I've seen him do this numerous times. The word is SUPER (first word) BOWL (second word). It has never been spelled as one word scrunched together like that. It's amateur looking if you don't know how to spell the biggest sporting event in our country.



THANKYOU. (see what I did there?)

John L.     December 10
So Drew, what are you hearing about Flacco behind the scenes? You can't throw that out there and then leave us hanging like this!!!

such     December 10
Amen, Madness, amen. My household has been calling for his release for several seasons now. Remember when we all thought it was a coup that we got him instead of Pittsburgh? If only he were a Steeler! He's been the culprit in every critical defensive breakdown the last 3 years. Thank you for the reminder.

No more wiggle room or shoulda woulda coulda the rest of the way now. That's the price paid by yesterday's collapse.

Idiot Caller     December 10
@Madness: Amen, brother! Amen!

BJ     December 10
If Lamar starts the last three games, the Ravens go 1-2.



You heard it here first.

Davey     December 10
I think this summarizes the whole thing, IMHO.



"Make no mistake about it: The Ravens gagged it yesterday. It wasn't anyone's fault in particular, and there are reasons to subscribe to the moral victory opinion if you like, but the reality is the Ravens gave the game away to the Chiefs on Sunday."

Madness     December 10
Very tough loss and I blame ONE guy who always seems to LOSE the game of inches. A guy who is loved by the media because he is quotable and always gives his time to them. He is loved by the fans because he has a "look at me" outrageous look. He promotes himself as a team leader. He is ALWAYS the guy......who misses the play by INCHES. He is an out and out JINX.

He hesitates ever so slightly on his safety blitz on the tying TD....he is the centerfielder on the FOURTH and 9 and gets turned around looking and guarding a guy who is under control of Tayvon Young. Is it "selfish or stupid" that he stays on the wrong side of Hill? That he moves away from Hill on the crucial play is just a testament of his modus operandi. CJ Mosley is a FOUR down linebacker, end of story. "Jinx McBeard" has to be the guy to knock it down on that play. He was out of position......like the Ray Rice Fourth and Twenty NINE, like the Immaculate Extension, Like the Tyler Boyd FOURTH and TWELVE, like the Jordan Howard OT run against the Bears last year......and on and on.



A menace, a season destroyer........a JINX.



But isn't that beard cool? And isn't it cute that he eats ice cream after a win....and isn't he easy for the lazy ass media to talk to....and he is great at slapping guys on the ass.



About 5 inches different in his career and he is close to Ed Reed.

Macki     December 10
I think @Drew hit this one right on the head. Ravens had it in the palm of their hand and couldn't make the big play when they needed it. This is another in a long line of defensive collapses on the last series of the game or overtime. Remember Chicago last year in Baltimore? How about Pittsburgh when Brown stretched out to win the game and end our season? Or last year when the Bengals carved us up on the last play of the game. Same old song and dance.

Mark     December 10
I often wonder if Brien watches the games. I'm thinking he didn't watch yesterdays game in KC.

amused observer     December 10
What happened to the other team tries to? Or they have varsity lettermen as well? Nope, today we get Steelers stink and KC throwing up on themselves. And of course, the overwhelming theme of the comments so far, the Ravens just giving the game away cause their D is “horrible”, with the sub theme of “they’ve never been any good since Ray and Ed left”.

It’s exhausting man, how do you people keep chewing that same bone, like Mike Preston and his alpha male/playmaker syndrome??

And love the “why is Mosely covering Hill”…yea, that was the play call there. Sheesh. Pressure forces Mahomes to scramble, Hill runs around in circles, Mahomes heaves it and, wait for it, Hill makes a play! Nope, can’t say 2 guys made a play, no, no, no, the Ravens failed to execute, and that’s on Wink! And yes, more than likely, back when you had two HoFamers back there, they make the play, not the other team.

To paraphrase the guy who said “just dial up a sack there”, they need to go “get some HoFame players”!

Everyone wrote down KC as a loss in every “get to the playoffs” scenario I heard, everyone. Now that they did lose, after a valiant effort, but an effort not good enough for our local experts, all the sudden, beating Tampa is “almost must win”?? Pretty sure losing to TB was never on anyone’s “how to get to the playoffs” plan, right?

Ravens almost beat the #1 seed in a place that is very difficult on road teams, but now we’re sticking with they can’t go to LA and play a team with no home crowd at all and win there? Which BTW I believe DEN won there, and even the Bengirls just gave them fits.

Guess the good news is since no one goes to games any more, or cares about this team, there are not really all that many of you upset by the hot mess the Ravens have become. The good news is the Harbs and Flacco haters will get their wish soon, so you got that going for ya


Neutral Observer     December 10
Here's how Brien's mind works. When Mahomes makes a great play, it's not the Ravens defense's fault. The QB just made a game saving/changing play.



When Flacco makes a game saving/changing play in the Denver playoff game, the other team's defense failed to make a play.


HERMAN     December 10
They line up on the 25 with two minutes and change, we are up 7, we need that big defensive stop that has eluded us the last 3 years in a row in critical late season games.

I can hear Harbaugh on Monday morning, knowing that Pittsburgh is going to tank in Oakland, "we control our own destiny, that's all you can ask for with three games left".

I can hear him in the press conference, I actually feel good for the guy, this four game win streak has resurrected his career here. The games are exciting, fun, they amaze. We have some stability going into next year, maybe they'll draft a game-changer or two for Harbaugh, instead of a rebuild, we just continue to be in contention late into the season.

And just like that, a 4th and 9. And on, and on, and on.

On any other week I'd be gleeful, giddy, ecstatic over the Squealers kicker ass-planting away the game, reading the PPG to see the comments section where Yinzers bemoan the Ravens taking over first.

But the D has crushed me again, just like 4th and 22, or the year before, or the year before.

And Harbaugh is back on the hot seat, and stability is looking for an exit, and.....


Chris in Bel Air     December 10
Ravens played well yesterday. It's just hard to see them burned by another backyard play on 4th down. As good as Ravens were, the Chiefs were better in the final minutes when it counted. I'm also curious about the Ravens last possessions and why they had Lamar standing in the pocket like a traditional passer. That's not his strength and gave the KC D nothing to think about. They needed to give him a couple roll-outs and options to present the threat of running. Despite the loss I'm still encouraged with their play and believe they can make the playoffs.

Ed     December 10
The Ravens still do not have the QB of the future on their roster. No WR is going to want to play here.

unitastoberry     December 10
I remember Dan Fouts commenting during a game about Mosley a few seasons back. Hes says.....If I'm quarterbacking I'm throwing to whoever he has coverage on.

davehughes123     December 10
@Herman I'm glad you mentioned Mosley because he is abysmal defending the pass. Mosley was also "covering" Williams on the game tying TD. He might accumulate a ton of tackles but he's the team's biggest liability in pass coverage.

Brien Jackson     December 10
"Watching C.J.Mosely chase Tyreek Hill, 5 yards behind, on the big fourth down play is the vision that haunts through Wednesday and into Thursday.



How do we end up with a guy who can't cover anyone in pass coverage at all on their top receiver on the most critical play of the game? Mosely is awful in pass coverage. Why, why, why...."



Because Hill was completely out of the play for any quarterback other than Mahomes or Rodgers. Seriously, that play was the equivalent of Steph Curry burying a 27 foot jumper with two hands in his face. Sometimes you play things well but great players make great plays anyway.

Idiot Caller     December 10
... that CAN'T make a stop...

Idiot Caller     December 10
We can slice and dice the loss to the Chiefs anyway you want, but to me it all comes down to the highly paid defense. By my count, this marks the 3rd year in a row that the defense has blown a late 4th quarter lead in a crucial December game.

That is UNACCEPTABLE. Period.

The Ravens have to stop paying (wasting?) so much cap room on a defense that make a stop when they clearly need to.

HERMAN     December 10
Being a Ravens fan means putting up with soul-crushing losses. Losses that stay with you through Wednesday, and into Thursday. How many third and long, and fourth down conversions can a team give up in a game? For the "league leading" D they sure give up a ton of 19 yard third down plays to keep drives alive.

Watching C.J.Mosely chase Tyreek Hill, 5 yards behind, on the big fourth down play is the vision that haunts through Wednesday and into Thursday.

How do we end up with a guy who can't cover anyone in pass coverage at all on their top receiver on the most critical play of the game? Mosely is awful in pass coverage. Why, why, why....

I couldn't even enjoy the Squealers loss, or the fluke play that beat the evil empire, even though we were supposed to be rooting against Miami.

Delray Rick     December 10
How many games have the RAVENS LOST with 2 minutes left the last 4 years? I count 7-8. Our DB break down at the wrong time


James - Dundalk     December 10
I misses the OT coin toss ,but if The ravens won it why not go on offense run the ball ,eat clock, Score,give D a rest. The D was just out there at the end of regulation. Oh & before the TD to Brown why did Lamar scamper for 2 yards & go out of bounds. Let the clock run. Gave KC too much time to come back.

Unitastoberry     December 10
Most important aspect of a defense is to protect a lead. We still can't do that. If Lamar can't stop fumbling his career in the NFL is going to be very short. Give KC credit their coaching staff adjusted well to stop Lamar on the edge. Mahomes is very good he's the MVP as of today.

Captain Oblivious     December 09
To Briens point, if the Ravens win out and the Steelers don't the Ravens win the division unless the Steelers tie the game they don't win.

J.J.     December 09
@Brien with the hard hitting analysis of the final three weeks of the season. That's good stuff!

Brien Jackson     December 09
The big development of the day is that, if the Steelers lose to New Orleans and New England, the Ravens just have to beat the Bucs and Browns at home to win the division.

Alan     December 09
Crickets.

Tom     December 09
@H,



Lamar should start. But Flacco is going to start. Wait and see.

H     December 09
1 turnover

Clutch plays

Zero delay of game penalties

Zero wasted timeouts

Zero false starts

Zero broken plays

Now tell me who should start at QB next week?

Bill P.     December 09
@Alan: Why, why why would you do that?

Just a guy     December 09
Really enjoyed the game today, lots of drama, excitement, almost beat the likely #1 seed in their house, with a QB not ready for prime time. From where I sit, coaching staff did a helluva job. Really feel bad for all the miserable haters in town who feel the need to vent like 2 year olds who didn't get their way. Its a bad look, at least if you're an adult.

Alan     December 09
I'm going to ask Brien Jackson to do something. I suspect he won't be able to complete this mission but I'm going to pose the question to him anyway.



I'd like for you to break down the game today and list your five "important points" related to how the Ravens lost.

John In Westminster     December 09
In the immortal words of the Fonz, I was "wrrrreeerrrong". Tough not to finish the job against a top opponent. Great game all around...until the last few minutes and OT. Will note the inconsistent officiating had influence. It appears Flacco will be Wally Pipped, unless Lamar's ankle injury is serious.

Brien Jackson     December 09
@That Guy



I am wowed by your tremendous insight into the sport. Make him throw an incompletion. It's amazing that NFL teams pay so much money to coaches to not see that genius.

RJ     December 09
Yea, just sack the QB or make him throw an incompletion, problem solved - Wink is just so, so terrbile

Frank     December 09
I'll have what "That Guy" is having.

RJ     December 09
You people pissed off at Ravens D are the ones who are drunk/high. No doubt you were the ones prior to this game saying KC would light them up for 50+. Yup, the D "blew the lead", "couldn't hold them" and 'just let them drive down the field", yup, that's all that happened on that field today. Good thing the KC offense self-imploded so much, against that kind of defensive effort, no reason they should not have scored at least 60 today, right? You make Ken Weiman so proud

That Guy     December 09
I'll break it down for you Brien you dimwit. It was 4th and 9. If the Ravens sack the quarterback there the game is over. If they force him to throw an incompletion the game is over. If they knock the pass down the game is over. They could have done any of five different things there to win the game and didn't. Please stop acting like you're a football expert. I've read your stuff here for years. You're nowhere near an expert on the X's and O's of football.

Brien Jackson     December 09
Everyone is welcome to show off their immense football knowledge by breaking down the defenses's mistake on that play.



I'll wait.

Jonathan     December 09
That's Brien's way of not blaming the Ravens defense for blowing a late lead and also not blaming Lamar Jackson for only throwing for 150 yards.



You'll notice a trend if you stay here long enough.



It's always Flacco's fault.

Brien Jackson     December 09
Some things are just so predictable. The Ravens play 4th and 9 almost perfectly only to get beaten by a truly unbelievable play that literally no more than 3 guys in the entire NFL are even capable of making. Ipso facto the defense is terrible,\.



I guess I have to at least concede that said dumb criticism at least isn't being used solely to make excuses for Flacco, so there's that.

That Guy     December 09
RJ must have watched a different game than the rest of us.



The Ravens had a 7-point lead with four minutes left and couldn't hold it.



The Chiefs drove down the field in overtime and kicked a field goal to beat us.



I swear some of the people that come here must be drunk by halftime.

Jimmy the Greek     December 09
The question is, how many times has #DMD put 5K down on his own picks lol

StevenShea     December 09
I’m sorry to all the Harbaugh haters, but the obvious reality is that we have an incredible coaching staff with make shift talent. The fact that is we put up 24 points with a single wing offense and defense that holds the Chiefs to 27 in OT. All the experts say we have to make a change if we fail to go deep in the playoffs. Meanwhile the architect of our last ten drafts is getting a promotion. Hayden Hurst has solidified his spot as 4th tight end and Lamar Jackson is the Raven’s version of Tim Teebo. One more busted draft and a future with no legitimate QB, an unknown coaching staff a supporting cast devoid of playmakers.

Geno     December 09
@RJ, Are you serious man? The defense had a lead with four minutes left and couldn't hold it. KC went right down the field in OT and won the game. Are you on drugs dude?


Saturday
December 8
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1567


happy birthday to the great one!


Somewhere today, he's celebrating his 75th birthday.

Or not.

My sources are like your sources on this one. They're not really sure what to believe.

But "Happy Birthday!" nonetheless to the great James Douglas Morrison, the former lead singer of The Doors, who was born on this day in 1943.

Jim Morrison died on July 3, 1971, although there's been lots of speculation over the years that he faked his own death to avoid the ongoing life of scrutiny he would lead as the front man for one of the world's top rock-n-roll bands.

Not being much for conspiracy theories, I'm part of the camp that says Morrison is dead and buried in Paris, France. But it's always interesting to think about the possibility that he pulled off the stunt and is living somewhere under a new identity, enjoying the back nine of life and musing at what today's music world looks and sounds like.

Jim Morrison, born December 8, 1943 in Melbourne, Florida.

I started liking The Doors in high school. They were always my favorite band and Morrison was my favorite singer. There wasn't a word to a song in their catalog that I didn't know.

My best friend in high school, Pete McQuaid, went to Susquehanna University up in Selinsgrove, PA. It would become a monthly ritual of mine on a Friday afternoon during the school year. I'd hop in my car, head up I-83, find my way to Route 11/15, and make the two hour drive to see my friend and hang out with his fraternity brothers.

I remember walking in there one cold November day and hearing someone blasting The Doors' Roadhouse Blues from their room. Up the steps and down the hall, music from another room spilled out. This time it was "Touch Me", one of the band's most popular songs ever from an underrated album called The Soft Parade.

"Now I know why you picked this fraternity," I said to Pete as I threw my bags down in his room.

Morrison was long gone (*ahem*) by the time I was in my teenage years, so I never got the chance to see them in concert. His on-stage act was, let's just say, a little weird, and I never quite understood why a guy with such a great voice would act like a fool up there. Then along came acts like Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson -- and Morrison actually seemed kind of tame on stage.

But the man could definitely sing.

I'll celebrate his birthday today by calling my friend Pete, who lives in New Jersey, and reminding him of today's date. That is, if he doesn't call me first.

I'll throw a Doors CD on in the car and play a game with my two young children, asking them to give me a thumbs up or thumbs down as I jump from song to song. They'll probably give a lot of thumbs down signals.

For those keeping score at home, my favorite Doors song of all time is L.A. Woman.

My favorite Doors album is Morrison Hotel, which showcased Morrison's awesome range and vocal skills better than anything they did.

He wasn't around long, but Jim Morrison was the real deal. Happy Birthday to the great one!

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it's lamar's team at this point


I'm just guessing here, but Lamar Jackson is one win away from securing the starting quarterback job for the rest of the 2018 season.

But he'll have to beat the Kansas City Chiefs, on the road, to pull it off.

Unless John Harbaugh pulls a fast one tomorrow, Jackson's going to get the starting nod against the Chiefs. Maybe they'll sprinkle Flacco in there a few plays just to throw off the K.C. defense and give their 11-year quarterback some game activity, but I can't imagine Joe will take to that scenario very well.

Lamar Jackson is expected to make his 4th straight start tomorrow, with Joe Flacco waiting in the wings in Kansas City.

Unlike Jackson, who got a sniff of it earlier in the season when Marty Mornhinweg would throw into the mix for 8-10 plays a game, Joe doesn't see himself as a novelty act. That's my guess, anyway.

But as long as Lamar and the Ravens keep winning, how on earth does Harbaugh fiddle around with the chemistry that's been established -- on both sides of the ball -- since November 18?

Not now, John. Not now. Things are going far too well to upset the apple cart.

It goes without saying that tomorrow's game in Kansas City presents a difficult challenge for the Ravens, no matter who lines up behind center. The Chiefs are 10-2 and haven't lost at home this season. They will not, in just about any way, resemble the last three bums the Ravens beat.

And if it doesn't go well tomorrow, that's Harbaugh's entree to bringing Flacco back as the team's starting quarterback next Sunday when Tampa Bay comes to town.

But what if the Ravens pull off the stunner tomorrow and beat the Chiefs? What if Lamar Jackson engineers the team to a win on the road in Kansas City?

It's Lamar's job at that point.

Pretty simple stuff, really. Win and you're the starter again next week. Lose and it's back to the bench.

I'd say that's a pretty good way to keep a team motivated, particularly if they like the man currently occupying the starter's role.

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33% of you are looking to sell


Our #DMD Reader's Poll from Friday asked why you own PSLs and Ravens season tickets in the first place.

The results were not at all surprising.

33% of you said, in fact, you'd prefer to NOT own them any longer, but you can't find anyone to buy them off of you.

You're probably out there reading this right now and shaking your head in the affirmative. There's little demand at all for Ravens tickets these days, so it stands to reason that selling your PSL and the accompanying tickets is very difficult to do.

26% of those who answered say the reason they own Ravens season tickets is because of "friendships with others near me."

That certainly makes sense. You build a bond with the folks seated around you.

21% said they own season tickets because of the seat location itself. Lots of people in Baltimore have sat in the same seat(s) since 1996.

17% of the respondents say it's "general support of the team" that keeps them engaged as PSL holders. If there's a football team with "BALTIMORE" in their name, you want to support their efforts. I get it.

And just 3% of you indicated the reason you buy is for business/entertainment purposes.

None of those numbers/results surprise me. That 33% of you (who responded) would like to sell your season tickets isn't a shock at all, but it's still disconcerting nonetheless. My guess is a formal poll conducted by the Ravens with all of their season ticket accounts (roughly 20,000) would probably likely yield a similar kind of number.

That's scary. It's hard enough to replace 500 season ticket accounts. Replacing 6,000 or so? Nailbiting time.

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the christmas spirit


I know it's kind of early still.

After all, we have 18 days until Christmas.

But I thought it would be appropriate to submit this message to all of you now, rather than waiting until, say, December 20th or something like that.

This gives you almost three weeks to practice what you'll see in the two-minute video below.

I enjoy the Christmas season, for sure. With two young children, it's especially frantic at this time of the year for my wife and I. We need a reminder that it's not always about gifts and toys and trinkets.

The video below was played at this past Thursday's FCA Huddle at Calvert Hall. It presented a fantastic message to the student-athletes who watched it. It's so good, I'm passing it on to all of you today.

Have a great weekend, all.



#DMD HD-TV


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ticket discontent


The Ravens have two home games remaining.

And for the first time in a long, long time, they're actively selling individual tickets in the weeks leading up to the game(s).

But they're doing it in a new way. In fairness, they're doing it the way you should be doing it in 2018. But it's still not going over very well.

Yesterday, the Ravens started running social media ads (I saw it on Twitter, personally) promoting a "two-pack" of tickets to the December 16 and December 30 home games. The seats -- upper deck only -- are $44.00 each, a steep discount over what season ticket holders pay on a per-game basis.

You have to buy the advertised option, which is a ticket to both games, not just one of the two remaining at Ravens Stadium. That's a smart way of filling the same seat twice.

But there are a lot of people not happy, namely the team's PSL holders.

I don't own season tickets, so I'm definitely on the outside-looking-in on this one. But I did sell tickets and market a professional team for a long time when I was in the soccer business, so I do feel like I have some knowledge on what goes into the decision making process the Ravens are facing these days.

For starters, here's the truth about owning a PSL and a season ticket in the NFL. The team would never say this to you, but I guess I can.

You own the tickets in good times and in bad times.

The Ravens have been advertising individual home game ticket sales since the Bengals came to town on November 18. They're currently offering fans the opportunity to buy tickets to the team's final two home games for $88.

They have an increased value in the good times and a decreased value in the bad times. That's just the way it goes.

In 2013 or 2014, your Ravens vs. Steelers tickets were probably worth 200% above face value. Other games against premium opponents might have brought you a 150% "upcharge" over what you paid for them.

But in the down times, they're not worth as much.

So, yes, it sucks to own a $115 ticket (or whatever it is you pay for an upper deck seat) and see the Ravens peddling two of them for $88 (total). But that's where they're at these days.

And as a gentle reminder, these $44 per-game seats are probably in the last six rows of the stadium. Yep, they're $44. But they're also garbage seats, truth be told. Laremy Tunsil would be afraid to be that high up, and that's saying something.

Here's the other factor in this on-going saga. And the Ravens certainly don't want to admit this.

The season ticket model is a dying entity in the NFL.

In fact, it's a dying entity in all sports, except maybe for Duke basketball.

Once you've put up your money to be a season ticket holder, the only on-going benefit you reap every year is the right to sit in that same seat game-after-game. Sure, there's the added treat of having first dibs on home playoff game tickets, but that's an "option", not a guarantee.

Sitting in the same seat is a comfort that some folks prefer. You might like the sightline or proximity to the field/court, you might enjoy sitting with the people around you or the tickets might have resale value. Being a season ticket holder is more a badge of honor than anything else, unless the arena/stadium is sold out every single time the home team plays and that's the only way you're guaranteed entry to see the games live and in person.

These days, you can watch any NFL game on any given Sunday and you'll see scores of empty seats. Sure, some cities are seemingly going through a rougher patch than others, but every team is experiencing a shortage of game attendance.

The only reason people buy a PSL in the first place is because the community knows it's the only way to guarantee yourself a team. If San Antonio wanted a NFL team in two years and they had an 80,000 stadium there, they'd either pre-sell 80,000 tickets via the PSL model or they wouldn't get a team. Simple enough.

Let's face it, that was the main source of motivation for anyone to buy a PSL back in 1996. We got a team out of it. It took roughly 20 years for the luster of "owning" a seat to wear off in Baltimore. That's pretty good, I'd say.

But now that the Ravens are out there hawking individual game tickets, PSL holders are foaming at the mouth. And that's understandable given your "pre-payment" and ownership cost-to-benefit.

However, you're smart enough, as an invested supporter of the team, to see what's been going on with the attendance over the last couple of seasons. What do you want the team to do? Just leave the seats empty and unsold for the last two home games of the 2018 season?

A wise guy cracked to me on Twitter last night: "Maybe if all those PSL people would go to the games and fill the seats instead of leaving them empty the Ravens wouldn't have to resort to this."

I'm not sure I completely agree with that, but I do get the basic point of the statement. What's hurting resale prices these days is the fact that PSL holders are willing to take next to nothing for their current seats. I saw two upper level tickets on sale for $21 each yesterday on the secondary market.

When a PSL holder tries to dump his/her tickets for $21, that opens the flood gates.

Heck, the Ravens might have trouble selling their two-pack for $88, truth be told.

It's interesting to note that everything the Ravens are doing now -- sales wise -- is tied into your cell phone. The marketing is all being done via social media and the tickets, when you purchase them, will be sent directly to your phone. Nothing gets mailed to you. You don't download or print anything. The tickets are sent to your phone and that's it.

So, I give the Ravens credit for trying. That's what they're doing, by the way. They're trying.

I have no idea if they're trying to sell 2,000 seats or 8,000 seats for the last two home games, but it's clear they have available inventory and they're trying to figure out a way to sell them and fill the stands for the last two home games.

It's a slippery slope, for sure. What they're hoping to do is sell you these two seats for $88 and then convert you into a full-plan holder for the 2019 season. They're not saying that out loud, but you know that's their plan.

And I think they also know they'll get pushback from this, but mostly from the "older crowd" who are already somewhat unhappy with things anyway. With all due respect to old(er) fans -- like me, frankly -- the Ravens are eagerly trying to figure out how to move us on and go "younger" with respect to ticket sales and filling the seats. They're not going to be mean about it, but they have to be realistic and look at the empty seats and say, "People just aren't as interested as they used to be..."

So, out with the old and in with the new.

It stings a little, but it's the way of the world. If you own a PSL and season tickets and you'd rather stay home and watch the games from the comfort of your living room, the Ravens would prefer to replace you with someone younger who will appreciate the value of the NFL product and the hometown team.

There's only one issue.

Those candidates are becoming harder and harder to find.


 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: What's the main reason you own Ravens season tickets?
Good seat location
Friendships with others near me
General support of the team
Business use/entertaining
Would sell my PSL, but no buyers
Name
Email address
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the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fourth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2018-19 season.


terps falter late, lose at purdue


In a rough and tumble Big Ten matchup between the Maryland Terrapins and the Boilermakers of Purdue, the home team used some tough defense, a nice scoring effort from their star, and some very unexpected bench scoring to take down the Terps 62-60.

Carsen Edwards lead all scorers with 20 points (9 from the foul line) but Aaron Wheeler’s career day, off the bench, was a real dagger to the Terps upset bid.

Wheeler’s 15 point effort included making 3 of 4 three point attempts and 6 of 7 shots overall. This performance came from a guy who only was making 36% of his shots from the field coming into the game. Both teams committed a bunch of turnovers, each made 20 field goals, and Purdue made 13 foul shots to Maryland’s 11.

After re-watching the game, two things really stuck out to me. The first was how effective Purdue was with their double teams down low. There were able to neutralize the Terp bigs with strong double teams on Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith. The second thing that jumped out to me is, once again, how poorly Anthony Cowan is playing.

Cowan finished with 18 points, but 8 of those were from the foul line. From the floor, Cowan was a dismal 4-17, and several of those were desperation 3’s with the shot clock near zero.

I felt he dribbled far too much, especially during the last 3 minutes, instead of running sets or attacking the basket.

#DMD's Dale Williams says Maryland didn't get enough leadership or scoring from Anthony Cowan in Thursday night's 62-60 loss at Purdue.

Some credit needs to go to Purdue. They played spirited defense all night, made great switches, and double teamed extremely well. That being said, I expected Cowan to be a steadying influence for his younger teammates. Instead, he looks tentative, confused, and physically overmatched. Maryland won’t go far with Cowan paying at his current level.

Maryland used strong 3 point shooting to jump out to an early lead. They held an 18-10 advantage with 11:03 left in the first half. But a few Terp turnovers and some missed three-point shots allowed Purdue to close the gap.

The Boilermakers finally tied the game at 21 all after Cowan fouled Edwards while the Purdue guard was shooting a three. Edwards made all three shots to gain the tie. The Terps looked to take a 7 point lead into the half until Eric Ayala and Joshua Tomaic misplayed a ball screen, leaving Wheeler open for a three. That shot finished the scoring for the half with the Terps leading 34-30.

The second half saw the Terps maintain a small lead until a Carsen Edwards three with 6:55 left gave Purdue a 55-54 lead. It was a lead Purdue would never relinquish. Despite scoring only 7 points over the last 6:55 of the game, Purdue was able to secure the win with pressure defense and some really bad offensive sets by Maryland.

With under 3 minutes left in the game, and Purdue clinging to a three point lead, there were three offensive possessions for Maryland that ended with desperation long range bombs, all taken by Cowan. One hit the rim; the other two hit nothing and ended with shot clock violations.

Those empty possessions were hard to watch because the Terps never were able to run their sets. There was way too much dribbling by Cowan, allowing the shot clock to run down and forcing Maryland to take shots that had little or no chance of going in.

You would hope that your most experienced player could settle the team down and direct his players to a high percentage shot. The fact that never happened I put squarely on Maryland’s playmaker.

The game ended when Cowan intentionally missed a foul shot with Purdue leading 62-60. The ball was knocked out of bounds by Purdue, giving Maryland one last chance with 3 seconds left.

Needing only a two point shot to tie the game, Maryland inbounded the ball from under their basket. Maryland ran numerous cuts and picks trying get the ball inside, but Purdue defended them perfectly. The ball eventually went to Cowan on the left wing. He took the pass, hesitated, and then attempted a three that was blocked. Needing only two points to tie the game, and having ample time to make a move, I thought the best option for Cowan was a ball fake and a move towards the basket. But it was not to be.

Maryland outrebounded Purdue by a wide margin, 39-29. However, their inability to score inside doomed them. Both Smith and Fernando were 1-4 from the field in the second half. Cowan was 3 for 10, and the team collectively shot 28% from the field and the three point line.

Mark Turgeon's team was 4-14 from inside the three point arc and beyond it. They won’t win many Big Ten games, especially road games, when 50% of their shots are three pointers.

Give Purdue credit, their defensive effort was outstanding. Their double teams were effective and they pressured Maryland throughout the game. But the Terps need to get much better play from the point guard position. Right now, Cowan is struggling, and Ayala (2 points, 3 turnovers, 0 assists) didn’t offer much last night either.

Turgeon has plenty to work on while the Terps take on four consecutive non-conference foes before tangling with a vastly improved Nebraska team on January 2 at the XFINITY Center.

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Thursday
December 6
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#1565


it's a process


After reading David Rosenfeld's submission yesterday, which you'll see below, I changed course on the piece I was putting together for today's edition of #DMD.

By complete accident, we both sort of had the same general idea rattling through our brain as it relates to the Ravens and their current state of affairs.

A quarter of the way through what I was writing, I stopped.

"David has this handled," I said to myself. "I'll just say "he's right" and carry on with another project.

Go ahead and read David's piece below. I think it sums up very nicely what the Ravens are going through as they prepare to play in Kansas City with a rookie quarterback and a recongfigured offensive formula that was either, a) part of the grand plan all along or, b) so new and unique that no one else in the league knows how to defend it yet.

All I'm going to do this morning is tell a couple of stories. They'll interface nicely with David's piece, I think.

If you're an Orioles fan these days, you can't help but be excited about the recent news that 36-year old Mike Elias is taking over the reins of the organization. He's a baseball whiz kid who comes to the Birds after stints in both Houston and St. Louis. To say he's "highly regarded" around Major League Baseball would be an understatement.

New Orioles general manager Mike Elias talks about "the process" of rebuilding the Orioles whenever he's asked how the team is going to win again.

Elias brought along with him another highly regarded baseball man, Sig Mejdal, who will head up the organization's analytics department. Others are coming, too, all part of the handpicked group that Elias will knit together to hopefully make the Orioles a winner.

I heard Elias speak on the radio flagship station ten days ago and one word kept finding its way into almost every answer he gave: process.

"It's part of the process," he said.

"We have a process we're going through to find the right manager."

"There's definitely a process to building a team from the ground up."

"I've been through this exact process in Houston, so I know what it takes."

"Minor leaguers have to understand the process of what it takes to get to the majors."

Process...process...process.

A couple of years ago, my Calvert Hall golf team lost a number of players to graduation and we were entering the next season with a relatively inexperienced group.

Several of my returning players were decent enough to compete in the MIAA, but weren't quite ready to play high level tournament golf. They needed more experience. They needed to learn some of golf's finer points.

It starts, I told them, with a "process".

I broke out my laptop and went to every coach's favorite teaching site these days, YouTube.

There, I showed my team the swing of Karrie Webb, a once great player on the LPGA Tour who had a long period of dominance as one of the world's best female golfers.

On one website, there were 10 clips of Karrie making a golf swing in an actual tournament setting. The clips were taken from TV broadcasts over a three or four year period.

"Watch her golf swing and see what stands out to you," I said to my team.

Huddled around the computer, they watched with anticipation.

When the video clip ended, I asked them what they saw.

I got lots of answers, many of them technical in nature ("She kept her head still" or "she always kept her left arm straight"), but not the one I was looking for.

"Watch it again," I said.

They watched the whole video again.

I got the same group of answers, basically.

I took out my cell phone and went to the clock app.

"Someone get out a sheet of paper and write down these numbers," I said.

I then timed all ten of Webb's pre-shot routines, using the stopwatch on my phone.

From the moment she stood even with the ball until the very second she struck the ball, I timed her.

"16.52 seconds", I said. "Write that down, please."

"16.21 seconds."

"16.97 seconds."

"17.12 seconds."

"16.65 seconds."

16.28 seconds."

"17.24 seconds."

"16.55 seconds."

"17.19 seconds."

"16.44 seconds."

Once the numbers were written down and I had time to review them, the concept was very clear to my players.

Her pre-shot routine -- her process -- for hitting the ball was almost exactly the same, every time. Every. Single. Time.

She came within one second of duplicating her routine every time she hit the ball.

And seven of her pre-shot routines were all pretty much within a half-second of one another.

Webb did the same thing every time. She waggled once. Brought her left foot up and into position, slightly open to the target line. She looked up at the target area she was hitting to. Waggled again. Took a breath. Put the club behind the ball. Waggled again. Took a breath. Pulled the club back and made her golf swing.

She did that in roughly 16 seconds and she did the same thing every single time.

It was her process.

She did overburden herself in advance of what might happen on that particular shot. She wasn't fretting over the shot. Her first concern was her pre-shot routine. That's how her process of playing great golf started.

Great golf doesn't start with a phenomenal swing or putting stroke.

Great golf ENDS with a phenomenal swing or putting stroke.

The process starts with the player's pre-shot routine. That process-is-part-of-the-process.

I made that my first teaching moment of the season for my inexperienced group of players. You can't shoot even par for 18 holes unless you first get your pre-shot routine ingrained in your brain. That's where it all starts.

David will handle the Ravens' "process" in his piece below.

I don't need to piggyback on his work. It's more than solid on its own ground.

But trust me, he's right. What the Ravens are doing these days is just part of the process.

All the great ones in sports do it. They've figured it out. It's never about the result. It's always about the process. The result will be there at the end.

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"The Keen Eye" of David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.


There are differences between people who watch NFL games on TV and those who are playing and coaching in those games, besides the obvious.

Sure, those guys run 4.5 40s at 250 lbs. and catch 50-yard bombs with one hand while falling out of bounds and have studied more football in the past week than you have your entire life. Even the drunk guy up in Section 513, Row J, knows about those.

The biggest difference, however, is that we are intensely focused on results. They, on the other hand, are intensely focused on process.

It’s a deep divide, and it’s a problematic one, because what matters more in professional sports than results? The process is usually lauded or criticized--and people fired, released or benched--based solely on the end results.

Tell me if you didn’t do the same thing I did Monday, whether you did it with the exact same tools or not.

I headed to the NFL’s information system website, where they post comprehensive standings featuring extra categories that may be important for tiebreakers. I clicked over to the schedules for Pittsburgh, Miami, Indianapolis, Denver and Tennessee. I immediately started thinking about results.

I chalked up future wins against Tampa and Cleveland at M&T Bank Stadium. That’s nine. I thought to myself that nine might be ok for the playoffs, but not necessarily. I also thought to myself that 10 would not only make the playoffs a near certainty, but would even give the Ravens a legitimate chance to win the AFC North.

It’s simple, really. The Ravens must defeat either the Chiefs or Chargers on the road in order to get to 10. In doing so, they’d get also get eight AFC wins. That’s what needs to happen. Lots of good things could come from there. Laptop closed.

John Harbaugh might get the last laugh in 2018 if "the process" with Lamar Jackson continues to yield wins.

Meanwhile, the Ravens were back from Atlanta and ready to go to work this week. Besides Kevin Byrne and the public relations staff, nobody was opening their laptops to anything besides game film and maybe emails from their families. The only thing that needed to happen is for them to prepare for their next game, in Kansas City on Sunday.

They chalked up nothing — no wins and certainly no losses. They paid no attention to any schedules besides their own. They didn’t walk around the building wondering how many points they’ll have to score in order to outgun Patrick Mahomes.

They went to the training room to deal with the injuries that every player has after 12 games of a 16-game season. They went to meeting rooms and began installing a game plan for Sunday. They talked about mistakes and missed chances, positive plays and chances that worked in their favor.

Talking about the process, as much as we can know about it, always matters. But it matters even more now for the Ravens for two reasons.

One is that the Ravens, on a dime, had to completely change their entire team without the advantage of being able to change any of the players on their team.

On offense, the Ravens haven’t done what most teams do when a backup quarterback is forced into action. That usually involves knocking down the number of plays on the game plan, or at the very least finding plays within the playbook that the backup likes better than the starter. Sometimes it means nothing at all besides one person taking the practice reps instead of another. When Colt McCoy replaced Alex Smith for the Redskins, or Nick Foles was playing for Carson Wentz in Philadelphia, that’s what was happening.

In Baltimore, the Ravens have done something that seems obvious…tailoring their offense to the best skills of Lamar Jackson. But it’s not that simple. Lamar isn’t the only guy out there. The other 10 players had to change.

Ronnie Stanley has gone from being an NFL left tackle to a guy who accidentally kicked his quarterback in the head 10 yards downfield. Alex Collins, a guy who makes sense in a “West Coast” running game, was sneakily put on injured reserve and replaced by Gus Edwards, who isn’t looking for anything besides the one hole directly in front of him.

Many NFL wide receivers are fine blockers, but think about how much and in how many ways these Ravens receivers are being asked to block now. Those same receivers are having to freelance a lot more and are never sure where or when to expect the ball.

The Ravens have been amazingly seamless in making this transition. Lamar Jackson has been about what was expected, with the possible exception of some shaky ball security. The other 10 guys on the field with him have been mostly spectacular, in ways that have nothing to do with statistics.

It’s been a triumph for process over results, even for a much-maligned coach like Marty Mornhinweg. As sometimes happens when the process takes over, when it could just as easily break down, wins have been the result.

Then there’s the second thing. Everyone on the outside has spent every waking minute of the day this week thinking about the Ravens’ quarterback conundrum, and that will continue unless they get word that Joe Flacco isn’t cleared to play.

Everyone on the outside will be discussing how the Chiefs, Bucs and Browns are particularly bad at defending the run. Some will wonder if a starting quarterback, if able to play, should ever lose his job because of an injury.

My guess is that, even on the inside, people will have differing thoughts on the matter if the situation presents itself. That’s only fair; it’s happens on every team, every year, and at positions other than quarterback too.

What we’ve seen over the past few weeks, however, is that there won’t be any outward signs of controversy.

The Ravens basically told their entire offensive unit to forget about everything they thought they knew beginning in minicamp. Overnight, the staff forced proud veterans and cocky rookies to take on new roles. Talk about controversial.

Yet, there seems like a tremendous amount of calm surrounding the whole thing.

The Ravens seem extremely confident in what they’re doing. Whether you think it’s just simpler for them now, or just because they had no choice but to change, the offense seemed like they’d been playing this way for years from the first play of the Cincinnati game.

The only way that happens is with good choices, including the choice to select Jackson, one of the fastest players we’ve ever seen with a football in his hands.

It also happens because the Ravens have done a tremendous job of believing in what they’re doing. They’ve taken this transition extremely seriously, and it shows on the field. Despite what Jackson might be doing on any one play, this group isn’t winging it.

That’s professionalism, and that’s process. The Ravens have proven how important those are to the eventual results, even if this season doesn’t end with a playoff appearance.

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dale williams aims
the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fourth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2018-19 season.


Back on November 18th, the Boilermakers of Purdue played Virginia Tech in the final game of the Charleston Classic Basketball Tournament.

In the pre-game analysis between play-by play man, Doug Sherman, and the color man, Sean Farnham, they talked glowingly about Purdue. Later in the broadcast they dropped the “Final Four” phrase. Maybe they know something I don’t know, but I just don’t see Purdue as a dominant team this season.

In fact, this team is not even a top 25 squad (having dropped out this week), and if they make the NCAA tournament it will be on the back of one guy, Carsen Edwards.

Edwards is the only starting five hold-over from last year’s solid Boilermaker team. Isaac Hass, Vince Edwards, Dakota Mathias, and P.J. Thompson have all moved on. That’s a ton of minutes for head coach Matt Painter to replace, and from what I’ve seen early in the season, the replacements don’t match up to the replaced.

However, Carsen Edwards is back and might be the best point guard in the country. And he can carry a team.

Averaging 24.4 points-per-game, Edwards can score from anywhere and he’ll shoot from anywhere, too. He’s real fast and explosive when going to the rim, and knocks down 38% of his three point tries. He does get lazy at times, jacking up a quick 3 or making an ill-advised pass. He turns it over at the same rate that he accumulates assists.

The talented junior will need 30 or more points, and some help, if Purdue hopes to defend their home court against Maryland tonight beginning at 7 pm.

Purdue’s other four starters have some size, but are not an overly athletic group.

The Terps need a big night from their big man tonight, as Bruno Fernando and Maryland visit Purdue with their 1-0 Big 10 record on the line.

Grady Eifert is a 6’6” former walk-on who has seen his minutes per game rise from 8 last year to over 23 so far in this campaign. His 1 point-per-game average last year is up to 4 this year.

Junior forward Evan Boudreaux (6’8” 220) is a heady player who posts just over 10 points per game. But Boudreaux (a Dartmouth transfer) doesn’t play “long”, and if forced to guard Maryland’s Jalen Smith will be absolutely overmatched and overwhelmed.

If Maryland is to have success against Purdue, they must closely defend Purdue’s Ryan Cline. Edwards is going to get his points -- he’s that good -- but Cline can be stopped and I expect Darryl Morsell to do just that.

Edwards and Cline are ranked 1 and 2 in the Big Ten in three-point shots made per game. While you have to respect Edwards’ ability to get to the rim, with Cline that’s not an issue.

Cline is exclusively a long range threat. At 46% accuracy, he must be guarded on the perimeter and by that I mean chest to chest. Don’t even let him get his shot off. His inability to put the ball on the floor and create his own shot is reflected by the lack of fouls he draws. Cline has only been to the foul line 3 times this year and doesn’t like to mix it up in the paint. Shut him down, and Purdue will struggle.

The Boilermaker center, Matt Haarms, offers tremendous height at 7’3”, but he isn’t particularly nimble around the basket. I’ll give Maryland a slight edge here in his battle against Terp big man Bruno Fernando. Fernando is much quicker, and if Haarms doesn’t bother Fernando with his size, then Bruno can have another big night.

The remaining Purdue starter, Nojel Eastern, is making the leap from a reserve getting 12 minutes and not even 3 points per game, to being a starter who plays over 26 minutes a contest. He is currently averaging 5.6 points per game. Solid but unspectacular is how I would describe him.

Eifert and Boudreaux are the leading rebounders for Purdue with 5.6 and 5.9 per game, respectively. These are fundamentally sound players, but they don’t possess unusual physicality and they don’t play long. I expect the Terps to out-rebound Purdue, offensively and defensively, and for that to play a major role in the game.

Edwards could go for 30 points tonight, and it still may not be enough for Purdue. Staying in front of him is difficult for either Anthony Cowan or Eric Ayala. But sometimes staying in from of him is all you need to force him to throw up an occasional low percentage shot.

The keys tonight, as I see it, are stopping Cline, staying in front of Edwards and making him work hard for his points, and taking advantage of Maryland's superior size on the boards. It will also help to regularly feed Jalen Smith, who should have a major mismatch inside.

We’ll see a heavy dose of Edwards, some sets trying to get Cline open for the three-ball, and some isolations for Haarms down low.

With the line being Maryland +8, the bookies are practically begging you to take the Terps. That scares me a bit.

Perhaps the general public doesn’t believe in this Maryland team, or doesn’t realize that the 2018-19 Purdue team is nowhere near as good as the 2017-18 was. Either way, the books must feel that they need to give Maryland 8 points to get equal action on the game.

With Maryland being an 8 point road dog, and using the standard 8 point swing between home and away lines , this number is asking me to believe that the Terps would be a “pick ‘em” at home. NO WAY.

These young Terps are playing their first Big 10 road game of the season. That can be intimidating, but Maryland has a talent edge here that can offset the home court advantage.

I look for that talent to be the difference tonight.

Maryland will cut down on their turnovers tonight, against a team that doesn’t get their hands into passing lanes like Penn State did. They’ll rebound well and score inside.

I’m grabbing those eight points and going with the road dog.

Despite a 30 point effort from Carsen Edwards, the Terrapins hold off Purdue to get a 70-67 win behind Jalen Smith’s first 20 point game, and a dominating performance on the boards by Fernando and the rest of the Terps.

our season of giving is coming up


For the ninth straight year, I'll be teaming up with Glenn Clark for our annual "Holiday Clothing Drive" to help the men -- and women -- of Helping Up Mission. Yes, the soon-to-be finished women's facility at Helping Up will need help too! And we're going to lean on all of you again this year to help make someone's holiday special in 2018.

Glenn and I first started this effort back in 2010 when we were on the air together at a Baltimore radio station. He and I joke about this all the time: That first year, we collected 440 coats and pieces of winter clothing! We strolled into Helping Up Mission like we were a big deal that day, lugging in about 20 bags of clothing.

Last year, we took over 4,000 pieces of clothing to Helping Up Mission!

We loaded over 100 bags of clothing into the back of my buddy Brad Foxwell's truck.

We're ready to top that number this year. But we need YOUR help.

Helping Up Mission has come a long way since this photo was taken in the 1950's and so, has our annual holiday apparel drive.

Take a minute this week or next to clean out your closet or go through your clothing racks and pick out some things you no longer wear or no longer fit. Just yesterday, I dug about 25 items in my closet. And I know I can find more!

We're going to have several drop-off events in December where you can bring your clothes and donate them to Helping Up Mission. We need men's coats, jackets, sweatshirts and any other piece of new or gently worn apparel you can donate. We'll also take any kind of women's clothing. And, yes, we'll even take children's clothes. A lot of the men (and women, eventually) at Helping Up Mission use the donated items as holiday gifts for loved ones they're not able to support and provide for while they're in the facility getting their life back together.

We have two dates lined up thus far, with a third (at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square) likely to be announced early next week.

On Sunday, December 16 at UMBC's new indoor arena, we'll be collecting donations for Helping Up Mission prior to and during the UMBC men's basketball game vs. Florida Gulf Coast at 7 pm.

Glenn is working on a special ticket offer for those of you who will visit us over at UMBC on December 16. Just please be sure and put the clothing in bags for the drop off.

Gates open at 6 pm on Sunday the 16th and Glenn and I will be stationed at the front entrance to greet you and collect your donated items.

The next night, Monday, December 17, Glenn and I will be at Glory Days in Towson from 5 to 8 pm to collect clothing. It's $5.99 burger night, for starters, which is always a great reason to visit Glory Days, and Glenn and I will have some more "treats" for anyone dropping off items that night.

We'll be taking everything to Helping Up Mission on Wednesday, December 19, with a full video of the day's events published here at #DMD so everyone can see the happy faces as the clothes are displayed and the men come in the room to choose their jacket, shirt, etc.

Please help us make this a successful event. Without you donating the items, we can't make it happen!


Wednesday
December 5
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1564


luck might be aiding ravens


This is why it's hard to look at the schedule in August and say, "We'll win that one, lose that one, win those two, lose that one" and so on.

It's hard enough to pick the winner of a NFL game ten minutes before it starts, let alone ten weeks before it's played.

You just never know how things are going to play out.

The Ravens are a perfect example. Given his sturdy track record, one would have expected Joe Flacco to be behind center throughout the 2018 regular season. Thankfully, the three games he missed thus far came against some of the league's poorest teams.

But as the season winds down and the December games are labeled "critical" for teams still in the playoff hunt, some little things -- important things -- are starting to benefit John Harbaugh's team.

People typically don't like it when someone says, "You were lucky." Everyone except a lottery or powerball winner, that is.

When you win or perform well in sports and an observer says "You were lucky", that tends to mean your performance wasn't worthy of victory, but good fortune intervened.

The Ravens will face the Chiefs in K.C. this Sunday and the hosts won't have one of the game's most dangerous running backs at their disposal after Kareem Hunt was released on November 30.

I'm in the minority who always loves being lucky.

A putt is racing at the hole, obviously struck too hard. It hits the back of the cup, squarely, pops up in the air and settles in the bottom of the cup.

"You sure were lucky there," a playing competitor notes with a shake of the head. "That ball was going ten feet by if it didn't hit the hole."

I put my hand up to my ear like I can't hear them. "What's that? Sorry, I'm not able to hear you very well while I bend down to get my ball out of the cup."

I've always enjoyed being lucky. Good luck sure as heck beats bad lucky. Every time.

The Ravens are on a good luck "heater" these days and it might very well lead them into the post-season. Heck, they're so lucky, they might win the AFC North and host a freakin' playoff game in January.

To wit:

Flacco goes down with a hip injury on November 4. The Ravens, though, are on their bye week, and the coaching staff and newcomer Lamar Jackson basically have two full weeks instead of one to get ready for his starting debut. Lucky.

When Jackson does make his starting debut, the Ravens aren't facing the Steelers, Titans or Bronocos...they get three below-five-hundred patsies in the Bengals, Raiders and Falcons, with the first two of those games coming at home. Lucky.

As November comes to a close and the AFC playoff picture starts taking shape, some other fortunate nuances could potentially aid the Ravens.

Just as the Ravens begin an easy portion of their schedule, the Steelers start playing the toughest part of theirs. Oh, and on December 2nd, a week before they're set to face an Oakland team that's terrible against the run, Pittsburgh loses their top running back, James Conner, to a foot injury.

Speaking of injuries, the Chargers raced out to a terrific 8-3 start thanks in large part to running back Melvin Gordon. But he injured his knee on November 25 in a blowout win over Arizona and is expected to be out 3-4 weeks. He might very well miss the key match-up against the Ravens on December 22 in Los Angeles.

Scheduling quirks with other teams help as well. Take the Saints for instance. They play Pittsburgh on December 23rd in New Orleans. The Saints would love to nail down the #1 seed in the NFC, but a recent upset loss at Dallas now leaves them a full game behind Los Angeles with four games remaining. It's likely they'll need to win that December 23rd tilt against the Steelers. Drew Brees and Company will still be playing hard that afternoon, a fact that might very well benefit the Ravens.

The Colts just went to Jacksonville and laid a colossal egg, losing 6-0 to a Jaguars team that long ago packed it in for the 2018 season.

Oh, and let's not forget the biggest white elephant in the room: Kareem Hunt. The Ravens will hopefully benefit greatly from his absence this Sunday in Kansas City. How about that stroke of good fortune? Play K.C. in week 10 and you get run out of the gym, 45-17. Now, with Hunt out of the lineup, a team's chances of beating K.C. definitely increase. They might not increase dramatically, but the Chiefs-without-Hunt surely aren't as formidable as the Chiefs-with-Hunt.

It's all coming together quite nicely for the Ravens, I'd say.

They're rounding into form at just the right time and teams around them are dropping off.

Call it luck if you want. Or perhaps it's just the inevitable up-and-down nature of the four-month NFL schedule.

Whatever it is, the Ravens should just smile and take it.

No one ever won anything of substance without having some good fortune attached to the chase.

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for amatucci, it was always "no limits"


I had the great pleasure to sit down with Calvert Hall basketball legend Mark Amatucci on Tuesday and spend an hour or so talking with him about his new book, "No Limits".

Anyone who has been in Baltimore for the last 40 years or so knows all about "Tooch" and his memorable Calvert Hall teams.

Please enjoy the 35-minute podcast you'll find below. We delve into his arrival at "The Hall" as a student in 1966, his initial foray into coaching, and his decision to move up and take the head coaching job at (then) Loyola College over on Charles Street.

We also get around to discussing three of Calvert Hall's greats, Duane Ferrell, Juan Dixon and Gary Neal, plus many others.

I leave enough topics on the table, hopefully, to whet your appetite for the book. It's a great read, trust me.

If you have a Baltimore high school basketball enthusiast in your midst, it will make for one great holiday gift! Just go to www.toochnolimits.com.

Enjoy the podcast.




Drew's podcast with Mark Amatucci, Calvert Hall basketball legend

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

our season of giving is coming up


For the ninth straight year, I'll be teaming up with Glenn Clark for our annual "Holiday Clothing Drive" to help the men -- and women -- of Helping Up Mission. Yes, the soon-to-be finished women's facility at Helping Up will need help too! And we're going to lean on all of you again this year to help make someone's holiday special in 2018.

Glenn and I first started this effort back in 2010 when we were on the air together at a Baltimore radio station. He and I joke about this all the time: That first year, we collected 440 coats and pieces of winter clothing! We strolled into Helping Up Mission like we were a big deal that day, lugging in about 20 bags of clothing.

Last year, we took over 4,000 pieces of clothing to Helping Up Mission!

We loaded over 100 bags of clothing into the back of my buddy Brad Foxwell's truck.

We're ready to top that number this year. But we need YOUR help.

Helping Up Mission has come a long way since this photo was taken in the 1950's and so, has our annual holiday apparel drive.

Take a minute this week or next to clean out your closet or go through your clothing racks and pick out some things you no longer wear or no longer fit. Just yesterday, I dug about 25 items in my closet. And I know I can find more!

We're going to have several drop-off events in December where you can bring your clothes and donate them to Helping Up Mission. We need men's coats, jackets, sweatshirts and any other piece of new or gently worn apparel you can donate. We'll also take any kind of women's clothing. And, yes, we'll even take children's clothes. A lot of the men (and women, eventually) at Helping Up Mission use the donated items as holiday gifts for loved ones they're not able to support and provide for while they're in the facility getting their life back together.

We have two dates lined up thus far, with a third (at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square) likely to be announced early next week.

On Sunday, December 16 at UMBC's new indoor arena, we'll be collecting donations for Helping Up Mission prior to and during the UMBC men's basketball game vs. Florida Gulf Coast at 7 pm.

Glenn is working on a special ticket offer for those of you who will visit us over at UMBC on December 16. Just please be sure and put the clothing in bags for the drop off.

Gates open at 6 pm on Sunday the 16th and Glenn and I will be stationed at the front entrance to greet you and collect your donated items.

The next night, Monday, December 17, Glenn and I will be at Glory Days in Towson from 5 to 8 pm to collect clothing. It's $5.99 burger night, for starters, which is always a great reason to visit Glory Days, and Glenn and I will have some more "treats" for anyone dropping off items that night.

We'll be taking everything to Helping Up Mission on Wednesday, December 19, with a full video of the day's events published here at #DMD so everyone can see the happy faces as the clothes are displayed and the men come in the room to choose their jacket, shirt, etc.

Please help us make this a successful event. Without you donating the items, we can't make it happen!


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Tuesday
December 4
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1563


the morning after the morning after


Twitter being the quirky place it is, you never know how the masses are going to react when something hits their phone.

I throw a lot of lines in the water. Sunday I caught a big one. Maybe by accident. But I caught one.

@itsahooded4iron -- It's remarkable what's happening in Baltimore. People who supposedly like the team spend more time arguing with other people about being "right" about the QB than they do just celebrating the team's 3 game winning streak. It's funny AND sad.

Over 200 people "liked" that tweet, I assume because they agree with it in principle.

People in Baltimore would rather be right and have the Ravens lose than be wrong and have them win.

It's true, you know.

The football community in Baltimore is mostly fractured. Not everyone fits this profile, so there's no need to fire back at me and say, "That ain't me!" or something of that nature. I get it. There are some sane people left in town. But not many.

Much like our country these days, where you're either blue or red and the other side hasn't a clue, the football community in Baltimore either believes in Joe Flacco or they believe in Lamar Jackson. There's very little wiggle room.

And on the surface, that's perfectly fine. It's completely normal -- and expected -- for people to choose sides when it comes to players, coaches, etc. There's a saying in the NFL that goes like this: The most popular player in town is the back-up quarterback.

How true, right? What until Lamar Jackson is in his third year. 30% of the people in Baltimore will think the other guy should be playing over him.

But now, today, we have a different problem than just choosing sides.

The city is forgetting what matters most: Winning.

One of my favorite sayings in golf is this one -- "The scorecard never asks you to write down "how", it only asks you to write down "how many".

The exact same thing applies in sports. In the NFL, it's simple. Each conference invites six teams to the playoffs every January. When they're trying to figure out who gets those six invitations, they don't ask "how" you won your nine or ten or eleven games. They just verify that you did, in fact, win nine or ten or eleven games.

"How many?"

The Ravens have won three straight games to claw their way back into the playoff and divisional title race.

But all 90% of the folks in town want to do is complain, fight, bicker, boast, applaud, denigrate or bellyache about the two quarterbacks, one of which hasn't even played since November 4 because he's been injured.

It's fine to have an opinion on Joe Flacco or Lamar Jackson.

But when you can no longer actually root or cheer for the team for fear of being "wrong" about your player evaluation, you've lost your way. You're no longer a good fan.

The first time in a game that Lamar Jackson misses an open receiver or fumbles the ball, he's on blast from the Flacco supporters who just know, for whatever reason, that Flacco would never, ever make that mistake.

And the first time in a game that Joe Flacco does something wrong, the Jackson fan club laments at how awful it is for an 11-year veteran to make such a bad mistake.

No one's allowed to make a mistake anymore. Every throw or play by Jackson has to be perfectly executed. Every throw or play by Flacco has to be perfectly executed.

You people are nuts.

But worst of all, you've become bad fans. You'd rather be right that Jackson turns the ball over too much than wrong about the fact that the team can win games with him at the helm.

And if Flacco ever gets back in there and plays a prominent role, he better win every game from here until early February or it will 100% be his fault and his fault only.

It's the ultimate game of "Gotcha!"

You're just laying in the weeds, waiting for that moment when you can hop out -- after Jackson does something wrong or Flacco makes a mistake -- and say, "Told you I was right! Gotcha!"

Meanwhile, the team's winning. They're 7-5. But most of you are too busy puffing out your chest or throwing a temper tantrum to enjoy it.

Gather in real close and let me whisper this for everyone: "The team is.........winning. That's all that matters."

And no, they're not winning only because of Lamar Jackson. I think Marshal Yanda, Michael Pierce, C.J. Mosley and Marlon Humphrey would take exception to that. So would lots of others.

Jackson's helping, most certainly. But lots of things are going right for the Ravens right now.

Remember this: They might not win next week with Lamar under center in Kansas City. That's possible. It's also quite possible -- because it's sports and despite the fact you think you know it all, you don't -- that Flacco could start next Sunday in K.C. and the Ravens could win.

There's also a chance Lamar could engineer them to a win or, like we saw last Sunday in Atlanta, RGIII could be pressed into duty and he might be the difference in the game. I thought he handled himself fairly well against the Falcons.

But you being right about it all -- either way -- isn't nearly as important as the Ravens going to K.C. and winning next Sunday.

I don't care if Lamar, Joe or RGIII plays as long as the Ravens win.

Heck, I'm not so sure Sam Koch couldn't navigate a 5-play, 54 yard drive if completely necessary. His arm looked pretty good to me on Sunday in Atlanta.

It doesn't matter who plays at quarterback to me. I just want the team to win.

"John, you're not reading the internet these days are you? I would suggest you stay away. Stay far, far away."

Oh, and because some of you might wonder what my actual opinion is on the quarterback situation, I'll give that to you real quick. It hasn't changed one iota from this time last week.

Of the three quarterbacks on the roster, the one with the best overall quarterbacking skill set is Joe Flacco.

There's no debate about that right now.

Of the three quarterbacks on the roster, the one with the athletic skillset that best fits the profile of the entire team -- on both sides of the ball -- is Lamar Jackson.

There's also no debate about that right now.

Unfortunately, it isn't that simple.

Marty Mornhinweg will always play a role in how things go on offense. I'd love to see the Ravens control the clock this Sunday like they did two days ago in Atlanta. But what happens if the Chiefs jump out to a quick 14-0 lead?

Does Marty keep using Lamar the same way he did in Atlanta? Or, like he's prone to do, does the offensive coordinator lose his faculties and start having the quarterback throw the ball nine times out of ten plays?

The name of the game is winning. Period.

If Flacco starts on Sunday and the Ravens win, I'm thrilled. Likewise, if Jackson plays, I'm also thrilled.

If either of those guys wind up as the "losing quarterback", I'll be disappointed. But I'm most certainly not going to blowhard-my-way-around-town and tell everyone that Flacco stinks or Jackson stinks and that the other guy would have rescued the team from defeat in Kansas City.

You can have an opinion on anything. Have at it, as Coach Billick used to say.

But when you start secretly choosing "being right" over "the team winning", you need to get your walking papers. You're no good to the team anymore, my friend.

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silly season or not, tiger should have...


It was just an 18-man cash grab in the Bahamas last weekend and even then, Tiger Woods couldn't avoid the spotlight.

No, he didn't win. He actually finished next to last. You don't want to know how much he made for finishing 17th in an 18-player field. Trust me.

But Tiger found his way into the opening paragaph of the Friday evening internet sports world when he was involved in a rules controversy on the 18th hole of the second round.

Follow along, because this is pretty confusing.

Woods hit his ball into a bush along the right side of the fairway. He played his second shot sideways. Tiger would wind up making a double bogey on the hole.

Afterwards, a PGA Tour official asked Woods about the second shot.

"Did you make contact with the ball twice?" the Tour official asked Woods.

"No, why?" said Tiger.

"On the instant replay, it looks like you might have," the official countered.

And so into the tent they went. Woods, after watching the replay on super-slow-motion, agreed he inadvertently made contact with the ball two times as he was hitting it from underneath the bush.

The video below is presumably what Tiger saw.



#DMD HD-TV


Now, it gets confusing.

A new rule adopted in 2018 says the TOUR can no longer use instant replay to penalize a player.

So, no penalty. No rules violation. The double bogey counted, Woods signed his card, and that was that.

Or was it?

Lots of folks opined that Woods should have called a 2-shot penalty on himself for hitting a moving ball. (Starting on January 1, it's only a one-shot penalty, by the way).

Woods saw no reason to call a penalty on himself since the TOUR deemed no rules violation had occurred.

Fellow players certainly didn't want Woods to circumvent the rules and call a penalty on himself (which is allowed - you can ALWAYS call a penalty on yourself if you think you've broken a rule) since that might have created a bad precedent ("I know the rules say there's no penalty here, but Tiger called one on himself in the Bahamas...so now we all should do it.")

Woods said while he was hitting the shot, it felt "normal". Only after looking at the super-slow-motion replay could he see the ball connect twice with the clubface.

Here's what I don't get.

Why did the TOUR official ask Woods to look at the instant replay in the first place? Since you can no longer use hi-def video, instant replay, slow motion, etc. to ascertain if a rules violation occurred, why call a player in to look at the evidence?

I'm missing something.

When Tiger took the bad drop in the 2013 Masters, I went on the air that Monday and blasted him for not withdrawing from the golf tournament on Sunday morning. Back then, the rules being what they were, people could call in rules infractions, which is exactly what happened to Tiger.

He took an improper drop on the 15th hole, which wasn't discovered until 9:30 pm that night (via someone watching the replay at his home), and the penalty wasn't applied until the next morning.

To me, and a lot of people, Tiger signed an incorrect scorecard on Saturday at the 2013 Masters.

I thought Tiger should have withdrawn from that tournament.

They've since changed the rule -- smartly, I'd say -- to be more clear about a situation like that. If you don't know you violated a rule, you can't be booted from the tournament for turning in a wrong scorecard.

That's today. Back then, with the rule being what it was, I thought Tiger should have WD'd from the event.

But this situation from the Bahamas is even more strange.

Why would the TOUR have Woods look at the instant replay in the first place?

They knew there was nothing they could enforce even if Woods agreed with the video evidence.

What Tiger probably should have done is this: Announce that he was going to officially withdraw from the event and NOT collect the 18th place money. But, because people were there to watch him play and it's HIS event, after all, he'd play the final two rounds as a marker, essentially, and continue to be on the premises as if he were still in the field.

Easy peasy.

He doesn't need the last place money. Woods didn't really do anything wrong on Friday afternoon, but the ambiguity of the new rule muddied things up enough that dropping out would have probably made the most sense.

Or maybe not.

That's why they need to clarify and improve the rule, if possible.

Everyone's confused.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

it's christmas gift time!


If you're like me during the holiday season, you're always struggling for a gift idea that's "new" and "different". So, let me help you.

Granted, your gift recipient has to be a Billy Joel fan, but I have the perfect gift for you.

Thursday, January 24 at Madison Square Garden, one of our generation's greatest entertainers starts another year of "residency" in New York City. Yes, Billy Joel will be playing once a month at the Garden in 2019...and we're heading up there for the show on the 24th of January.

If you've never seen him play in New York, I don't know what to say except: YOU MUST SEE HIM THERE!

There's magic in his Garden shows that you won't find anywhere else. Don't ask me why. There just is.

January 24th in New York City. It's the great Billy Joel! And #DMD is going!

He plays all the hits. It's like sitting through a 2.5 hour "Greatest Hits Live" album, only you're watching him perform and hearing the music live.

Our bus leaves Towson at 1:00 pm, which should put us in Times Square around 4:30 pm or thereabouts. You'll have plenty of time to grab dinner somewhere close to the Garden and make the 8:00 pm show.

It's over around 10:30 pm, we're back on the bus, you lay back and relax, and we pull into Towson at 1:30 am or so.

We supply lunch and drinks on the bus ride to New York, plus a lower concourse ticket on the side of the stage, which offers an up close and personal view of Billy Joel and the band.

Our tickets come to us in groups of four, generally, so if you want to bring a friend or two along, everyone can sit together.

It's $325 for everything, including the ticket, bus ride, food, drinks and a special Billy Joel trivia contest on the ride up with a $50 cash prize.

If you're looking for that great holiday gift, this is it!

We'll even provide a special gift card -- You're going to see Billy Joel! -- that you can include in a card or stocking.

Oh, and in the event you're buying this "solo" and only the recipient is going to attend, don't worry. He/she will be sitting in the Garden with others on our bus trip. No one sits alone.

Ready to buy? Just click the "Billy Joel" link at the top of #DMD and you'll be all set!

SAFFER banner
Monday
December 3
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1562


the nfl is like a saturday night live skit now


I got in late last night from Atlanta, where I spent the weekend frolicking around town with my son and some friends and #DMD clients. We had a great, great time.

I'll let Brien Jackson and David Rosenfeld do the heavy lifting on the Ravens today, then I'll be back tomorrow with both barrels as I dissect the Ravens, their QB "issue" and this late season run to the playoffs and, perhaps, the AFC North title.

Today, I think I'll just poke at the bear a little bit.

I couldn't help but notice the stands in Atlanta were roughly 70% filled yesterday. It was easy to tell. I was in the stadium. And in addition to having 20,000 or more empty seats, Ravens fans were seen everywhere in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

My guess? There were at least 5,000 Ravens fans -- maybe upwards of 10,000 -- in Atlanta on Sunday.

One thing I don't have to guess at is this: People in Atlanta that support the Falcons didn't really care all that much about yesterday's game.

Now, there was a bit of a built-in excuse. And a credible one. The SEC Championship game was played in Atlant the night before and a large number of Georgia supporters who attended that game are -- according to local folks I talked with -- also Falcons season ticket holders. It might have been too much to do the Georgia-Alabama game at 4 pm on Saturday and be back in the stands for Ravens-Falcons at 1 pm on Sunday.

Oh, and it was 70 degrees in Atlanta yesterday. If ever there was a day to get in a December round of golf or put the Christmas lights up, Sunday was it.

So, like we tend to do in Baltimore whenever we see scores of empty seats, I'll make up an excuse or two for the folks in Atlanta.

The biggest story of the NFL weekend? Another botched "investigation" by the league, only this time it didn't cost $22 million.

I forgot to mention -- their team stinks, too. I'm not sure I could sit through many of those games myself.

But there were apparently also gobs of empty seats in Tampa Bay on Sunday. And Miami. And New York. And I also saw chunks of yellow seats in the upper deck in Pittsburgh last night as I caught the fourth quarter of the Steelers' loss to the Chargers.

It bears repeating, again. The NFL has a significant problem on their hands.

People don't want to go to the games.

Sure, folks are watching on TV. Fantasy football still reigns supreme. Interest in the NFL remains high.

But it has lost its way as a spectator sport.

Two pieces of pizza, a popcorn and a soft drink were -- ready for this? -- $10.00 yesterday. Those are the kind of prices they charge for food and drinks at Augusta National.

The Falcons were, remember, the first team in the NFL to radically reduce their concession prices a couple of years back in an effort to make the whole game day experience more affordable. Those four items would have cost $25 or more a few years ago.

The generosity of the team didn't seem to matter yesterday when 25,000 people weren't there.

I'm sure you know what the biggest story in the league is these days. No, it's not the Ravens, Lamar Jackson, and the suddenly revived Baltimore defense. It's Kareem Hunt, the now-unemployed former running back of the K.C. Chiefs who was cut on Friday after a videotape surfaced of Hunt striking a woman last February.

Four years after the NFL completely botched the Ray Rice investigation, they rebounded quite nicely and did the exact same thing with the Kareem Hunt case.

A website known more for taking pictures of celebrities in swim wear beat the NFL to a domestic violence video not once, but twice in the last four years. And here's the real kicker (no pun intended): In their investgation of the alleged incident involving Hunt, guess who the NFL security team failed to question? Hunt and the woman he struck.

OK, so I'm just a golf coach from Baltimore, but I'm pretty sure even I know when you have an incident involving two people, and you're trying to get to the bottom of what happened and why, it makes a lot of sense to interview the two people involved.

The NFL didn't do that.

In fact, Hunt played the entire 2018 campaign as if nothing happened. Right up until TMZ.com published the video on Friday. Then all heck broke loose.

How much do you think the National Football League spent on their investigation of "Deflategate" back in 2015 and 2016?

I hope you don't already know, because I can't wait to hear your expression when you find out.

But first, how much do you think they spent investigating Kareem Hunt over the last eight months or so?

That would be -- wait for it -- zero. Yes, zero dollars were spent on a domestic violence case that was left open ended by the people in Cleveland, where the incident took place.

OK, now back to Deflategate.

The stands have not been filled in lots of NFL cities this season, including Baltimore.

The league spent $22 million to determine the extent of Tom Brady and the Patriots taking the air out of footballs.

You see what's wrong with the league now? Or a big part of it at least?

No one knows what's going on.

And no one is in touch with reality, either.

$22 million to investigate something that a dummy from Glen Burnie could have deciphered for you in three minutes. "Every quarterback in the league plays around with the air pressure of footballs. Some keep their preference within the established guidelines while others change it enough that it goes outside the accepted guidelines for air pressure. They've been doing it for years, based on their hand size, throwing motion, etc."

There you go. Just give me $2 million and we'll call it even.

A player in the league is involved in a potentially embarrassing and damaging incident and not only does the NFL not really "investigate" the whole thing, they don't even hire a real investigator to do the investigating.

Tom Brady orders a couple of equipment lackeys to take some air out of the footballs and the league spends $22 million to get to the bottom of it.

And they wonder why people around the country aren't as excited about the NFL as they were, say, a decade ago.

The same folks who spent the $22 million are the same ones who thought the RedZone Channel was a good idea.

"Hey, this seems smart. Every time a team gets in a scoring situation, we'll show that game live for two minutes. After all, the only thing people really care about anymore is scoring, because that's what fantasy football is built on. So let's give the people what they want."

That seems like a good way of getting people off their couch and into the stadium. Not.

They also got in bed with StubHub, the secondary ticketing giant, and took their marketing money in exchange for looking the other way when folks try to make a few bucks on an upcharged NFL ticket.

And while that's helped a lot of people recoup some of their season ticket expense, it's also done the opposite to the overall value of a NFL ticket in cities where the team's performance decreases the importance of owning said ticket(s).

Yesterday in Atlanta at 11:45 am, a lower deck seat was available for $77 on the internet. And there were lots and lots of them.

As we continue to do our deep dive into Ravens attendance later this week, we're going to find the same things we found last week, I believe. People are disenchanted with the NFL "product", whether that's the character of the players, the referees, the in-game protests or the general quality of play.

There are still people going and watching, yes.

But there are also a lot of people not going anymore and watching far less as well.

And worst of all?

In no way, shape or form can the NFL be trusted to fix it.

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"The Keen Eye" of David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.


see ya later edition


Who?

Tim Beckham

The Orioles still had a chance to make the playoffs at the trading deadline in 2017 when they acquired shortstop Tim Beckham, a former No. 1 overall draft pick, from the Rays.

For a month, he looked like the greatest deadline acquisition in modern MLB history. Beckham hit nearly .400 in his first 29 games in Baltimore, with an OPS above 1.000 and 18 extra-base hits. Sure, his fielding was…um…below average, but maybe Beckham was finally showing those skills that made him the highest of draft picks.

Unfortunately, Beckham’s fall would mirror that of his team in the last month of 2017 and in 2018. This past Friday, the arbitration-eligible 28-year-old was “non-tendered” by the Orioles and new GM Mike Elias, making him a free agent.

On a terrible Orioles team in 2018, Beckham missed nearly 70 games with a groin injury that required surgery. Even when he was healthy, he couldn’t really grab the full-time starting job anywhere on the left side of the infield.

He hit .230 with a .661 OPS in the 96 games he did play for the Orioles last season. As a free agent, the Orioles could negotiate with him just like any other team. But why would they?

On a side note, the club also did not tender catcher Caleb Joseph. That’s no great thing when you’re talking about a backup-quality catcher, but Joseph is yet another connection to that oh-so-long-ago (2016) Orioles playoff team that’s now headed out of town for one reason or another.


What?

Option football

While Georgia was coming awful close to beating the unbeatable Alabama Crimson Tide, the other big-time football program in that state also made news.

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson announced his retirement last week after 11 seasons with the Ramblin’ Wreck. In doing so, he is likely taking option football away from the “Power 5” forever.

Sure, it seems like every team in college football runs the “read” option, or some kind of “spread” option, but Johnson, the former Navy coach, is old school. His “Flexbone,” which you still see at Navy under his protégé Ken Niumatololo, actually worked in the Atlantic Coast Conference too. His record in Atlanta was 82-59, including an ACC title in 2009.

With the Army-Navy game coming up this weekend, a coaching matchup between Niumatololo and another Johnson protégé, Army’s Jeff Monken, it’s worth remembering Johnson’s time at Navy. In particular, there was one drive in an otherwise forgettable game, the Emerald Bowl, in 2004.

Navy used 14 minutes and 26 seconds on the game clock, nearly the entire fourth quarter. The Midshipmen started on their own one-yard line and, almost 32 actual minutes later, kicked a field goal from New Mexico’s four-yard line. The drive was 27 plays long, 28 if you count the field goal that put Navy ahead 34-19 with 2:15 left in the game.

Georgia Tech, as is typical in these situations, will likely hire the exact OPPOSITE coach now that they need one. It’ll probably take him a while to recruit players who weren’t chosen because of Johnson’s system.


Where?

Cincinnati

Ok…for real. This has to be the end for Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati, right?

Is it finally over for Marvin in Cincinnati?

The Bengals have lost six of their last seven games, which makes their 5-7 record seem worse. In two consecutive weeks against division rivals, the defense (now coached by Lewis) couldn’t figure out Lamar Jackson and then got dominated by Baker Mayfield and the Browns, all with Mayfield’s former head coach Hue Jackson standing on the Cincinnati sideline.

Then came the news this past week that quarterback Andy Dalton has torn ligaments in his right hand, which means his season is over. If the Bengals are going to make a late playoff run, they’ll need to do it behind Jeff Driskel, a former sixth-round pick by the 49ers.

Tom Brady was a sixth-round pick, so I guess that’s possible. Anyway…

I’d have to imagine that a spectacular Brady-ish run by Driskel would be on the only thing that would keep Lewis on the sidelines in Cincinnati after this season.

This past week, Lewis gave some more fodder to the media in his support of Dalton, who like Joe Flacco might easily be cut by his team after this year. He basically said that a lot of teams would love to have Dalton, and that every team is trying to find an Andy Dalton.

In other words, Lewis seems satisfied with what he has. And that’s been the case for owner Mike Brown as well…he’s seemed satisfied with Lewis even when it doesn’t seem like it should be that way.


When?

The 2017 season

The Ravens played running back Alex Collins on injured reserve during the week, ending his 2018 season.

For what it’s worth, Collins is leading the team in rushing yards this season with 411, though he’ll soon be surpassed by Lamar Jackson and Gus Edwards. He also scored eight touchdowns in 10 games.

Collins was activated off the Ravens’ practice squad last September. He went on to rush for nearly 1,000 yards and 4.6 yards per carry in 15 games. He was a godsend for a team that needed a No. 1 option in the backfield.

Now, he’s good as gone. Collins is a restricted free agent, which doesn’t necessarily mean he can’t return to Baltimore. But that won’t happen.

The team seems to have found a spark in Edwards, who fits better as a running companion to Jackson. Kenneth Dixon, activated to replace Collins, may have a chance to cement his role in the backfield in the last four games. Maybe the team is interested in keeping Ty Montgomery around too after grabbing him from Green Bay.

Collins, when he was fully healthy, could certainly be a playmaker. His run against the Bengals last New Year’s Eve, where he reversed field and turned nothing into a touchdown, showed how capable and exciting he could be as a runner.

Assuming Jackson takes the starting quarterback role for good in 2019, it will be interesting to see how the Ravens create a backfield to work with him. Collins won’t be part of that group.


Why?

The four-team CFP

Someday soon, the four-team College Football Playoff will be history, right? It’ll be replaced by one more weekend of games, an eight-team playoff that’ll make everyone a bit happier, right?

Not if you remember that the current CFP, with four teams, is only in Year 5 of a 12-year contract. Or if you listen to the guy in charge of the thing, Bill Hancock, who says there’s been pretty much no discussion of expansion.

I get it...there hasn’t been as much controversy with the CFP as there was with the earlier Bowl Championship Series. Just having a selection committee, and a “bracket,” has done wonders for perception, even if Condoleeza Rice doesn’t know anything about football.

Here’s a question, though. Doesn’t everyone want to make more money?

Here’s another question. The college presidents and conference commissioners and all other interested parties don’t actually believe that having four more games beginning a weekend earlier is some kind of anathema to all that is sacred about college sports, do they?

Obviously this year was an interesting one. Besides the four teams that were selected, Ohio State, Georgia and even UCF had relatively legitimate claims to be included. If Michigan had lost in a different way to Ohio State, that might even be another one.

But it’s sort of silly to get caught up in the specifics of this season. Instead, there has to be something to happen that’ll push the right stakeholders to consider a playoff expansion sooner rather than later.

Perhaps that something is money?


JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

from the desk of
brien jackson

BRIEN JACKSON's work at #DMD promises to provide some of Baltimore's best sports insight and commentary, brought to you by SECU, the official credit-union of Drew's Morning Dish. Brien has done sports-media work with ESPN, CBS, and NPR. His contributions to #DMD will focus on the Orioles, the Ravens, and national sports stories.



There is no debate.

I mean, there will be a debate of course, but only because there will always be Joe Flacco-deadenders who will never give up hope that he'll turn into a great quarterback at some point. Eventually. Any day now. This is the year. Etc. But take those people away, and there's no actual question as to who the Ravens should name as their starting quarterback now.

And the truth of the matter is, I think even the Flacco apologists know that Lamar Jackson is the better option for the Ravens going forward, even if they'll cling to Flacco no matter what.

This isn't even that complicated: A month ago the Ravens were 4-5 and looked like the same listless, mediocre, completely undistinguished bunch we've seen for years now. They'd dropped 3 straight games and 4 out of 5, including losing to the Browns.

There was no sign they were going to turn things around, and nothing about the way they were playing that made anyone confident they could rally to get into the playoffs.

The Flacco apologists were already back to complaining that every other facet of the team wasn't good enough, not two months after they'd been crowing about how the team's hot start proved that all Flacco had needed all along was great receivers like the Ravens had gone and gotten this offseason. As always, the talking points change on a whim based on what needs to be said to defend Flacco, and at this point everyone seems to be so used to it that we barely even notice it.

But the fact is, the great irony of the situation is that if we actually take the excuses that Flacco's defenders have been making for him for a decade now seriously, they actually make a pretty compelling case for Jackson to start.

Most obviously, we're always told that despite the fact that Flacco is one of the highest paid throwers in the game, he can't win games if he has to throw the ball 40+ times and absolutely has to have an effective running game.

Well, the Ravens are certainly running the ball well now! They're outstanding at it in fact, consistently picking up positive yardage and converting first downs even when the defense loads up against it. Atlanta made some nice plays this week and had a very solid gameplan for defending the read option, the Ravens still ended the game with 207 rushing yards on 49 carries.

#DMD's Brien jackson says the debate is over. Lamar Jackson should be the Ravens starting quarterback now.

Need to control the clock and keep the defense rested and opposing offenses off the field? They've done that for three weeks now, and against the Falcons they had the ball for 39:39 in total.

In the second half, Atlanta didn't even have six full minutes of possession!

The difference in the defense was notable: A group that often looks like they're wearing out late in games looked fresh and fast this week, winning matchups up front in the pass rush and forcing Matt Ryan to get the ball out. This was easily the best defensive game of the season, and while the Falcons aren't a very good team they entered the week with a top 8 offense all the same.

Oh, and remember, all that matters when evaluating a quarterback is their win-loss record, right? Well Joe Flacco is 4-5 as a starter this year and .500 since Superbowl 47 while Lamar Jackson is 3-0. That should settle the matter!

Now to be fair, I'm not going to resort to silly arguments like that, as fun though it might be to taunt the Flacco fanboys with their own gibberish.

I don't think the defense is likely to repeat that performance again this season, as they weren't all that impressive against the Bengals or Raiders at home. I'm not going to attribute their great outing entirely, or even predominantly, to the time of possession, but at the same time limiting the plays the opposing offense gets to run by keeping the ball away from them certainly helps.

And I don't think that Jackson is going to come in and dramatically improve the team, suddenly making them a good bet to beat Kansas City or Los Angeles on the road, or any of the division winners come playoff time for that matter.

But here's a serious question: If Flacco starts in Kansas City, how would you go about building a gameplan for the contest? Well, you'd want to run the ball well, keeping the high powered Chiefs' offense off the field, and avoiding turning the game into a shootout. You'd want to stick with a deliberate pace, hoping that slowing things down would make Pat Mahomes impatient, maybe getting the risk-taking gunslinger to make a critical mistake that swings the contest in your favor.

In other words: You'd want to do exactly what the Ravens have been doing for the past three weeks, so why wouldn't you stick with the quarterback from the last three weeks?

Here's the simple truth of the matter: The Ravens aren't a great team either way. They're the same mediocre team they were a month ago, and they don't stand out that much from a jumble of mediocre teams in the AFC race.

I still don't think I'd even bet on them to make the playoffs over Indy, honestly. But there has been a big and noticeable difference over the last three weeks.

For the first nine games, the Ravens didn't do anything particularly well. They couldn't run the ball consistently, they didn't have a dizzying passing attack or a dominant defense. No one other than the diehards would watch Joe Flacco take the ball in a crucial moment and just assume that he was going to pull some kind of rabbit out of his hat like Brady or Brees or Roethlisberger have so many times.

With Jackson they at least run the ball really well, and that makes a difference. That fact gives them a puncher's chance in every game, against every opponent. Run the ball well, and consistently well, and play good defense and you'll always be in the game.

But let's not mealy-mouth the situation either. In addition to giving the Ravens the better chance to win, Jackson is simply a better quarterback than Flacco is right now.

I know there aren't many people in town who are willing to say that yet but, well, there's a lot of people who have never been willing to admit the truth about Flacco's shortcomings.

Lamar Jackson badly overthrew a wide open John Brown? Ok, we've seen Flacco make dozens of throws that bad...or worse. We're not really going to pretend that Joe freaking Flacco is some sort of dart thrower from the pocket, are we? We've all actually watched the guy play, right?

Oh, and here's something else we should admit: So far Jackson is making a lot fewer poor decisions than Flacco does in a typical game.

We don't see chuck-and-pray sideline heaves against man coverage anymore, and offhand I can't think of a play where Jackson inexplicably heaved a pass into triple coverage. He makes rookie mistakes to be sure, like not recognizing how well linebackers can cover underneath on his interception against Cincinnati, but there's a real difference between those mistakes that every rookie makes as they adjust to the speed and ability of the pro game and the absolutely inexplicable throws Flacco still makes after a decade in the league.

And I will bet you money that Jackson won't throw a single pass as bad as Flacco's goal line interception in Cleveland that may yet end up costing the team a playoff spot (for as much as everyone now blames Michael Crabtree for losing that game, all Flacco needed to do was not throw that pick and a FG would have been the difference in the game).

And truth be told, I think Jackson's running ability is a big part of the difference.

I would imagine that it's just a lot easier to avoid the temptation to force a low percentage attempt into coverage when you know that you can extend plays with your legs or, at the very least, take off and run for a positive gain. It also gives Jackson the ability to bail himself out of some of those rookie mistakes.

At one point in Sunday's game, Tony Romo pointed out how Jackson made a typical rookie mistake by being late on his read on an outside throw and missing a window to hit his receiver with a timing throw. But where a traditional pocket passer may have thrown a pick or been forced to waste the play as a result of such a mishap, Jackson ended up running for a positive play.

That's not ideal, I suppose, but it's not bad either. It's certainly better than having to throw the ball away because you can't run that well, or worse.

I have no particular insight into what John Harbaugh is going to do.

He's a very loyal guy to be sure, which is why I think most of us will guess he'd turn things back over to Joe Flacco. On the other hand, he's also the guy who fired his offensive coordinator and good friend in December just before the team went on a Superbowl run so sticking with Jackson after three straight wins wouldn't be that out of character.

We also know that he's got no closer adviser in the coaching world than his own brother, who just so happens to be the guy who benched Alex Smith for Colin Kaepernick midseason and rode that decision to the brink of taking that same Superbowl instead.

And I've also gotten the sense all season long that Harbaugh was very much on board with the decision to draft Jackson and has been a big believer in his ability. At this point I won't be surprised at all no matter which quarterback Harbaugh decides to run with.

My official guess is that they'll try to split time between the two quarterbacks in Kansas City, but that largely uninspiring results with Flacco in will eventually lead into Jackson taking over for good. Which is what should happen now. It frankly should have happened three weeks ago even if Flacco hadn't been hurt in the Steelers game.

This team wasn't going anywhere with Flacco at quarterback after 9 games, they haven't been going anywhere with Flacco at quarterback since 2014 ended, and they aren't going anywhere if Flacco returns as the quarterback this week. I don't know if Lamar Jackson can carry them into the playoffs this year, but I know that he gives them a better chance than Flacco does.

The Great Pumpkin still isn't coming.

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#DMD GAME DAY
Week 13


Sunday — December 2, 2018
Issue #1561

Baltimore Ravens at Atlanta Falcons

1:00 PM EDT

Mercedes Benz Stadium
Atlanta, Georgia

Spread: Falcons -1


postcard from atlanta


You'll have to excuse me a little bit if I root extra hard for the Ravens today.

But first, a background story.

A couple of years back, I took a group of 18 people to Boston for a 3-game Orioles series in mid-June. The trip was largely made up of #DMD clients and readers, several of which were a father-son combination. Nearly everyone on the trip had never been to Fenway Park, so the visit to Beantown was filled with a special level of anticipation.

I figured one of the highlights of the trip might be a mid afternoon visit to the O's hotel in Boston so the boys could meet a player or two.

A week before we were to head up there, I reached out to a friend associated with the team and inquired where they were staying. My text went unreturned, which I found odd.

A couple of days later, I sent another text. No reply. Frustrated, I contacted an old radio friend who previously worked with the Orioles and he was able to get me the information on the team hotel.

On Wednesday, we hopped on the subway and made the 10 minute trip from our hotel (Buckminster) to where the Birds were staying. The boys were excited. The dads were excited-to-see-their-sons-excited.

The O's hotel had a large escalator from the street up to the lobby. We took two steps off the escalator when someone from the hotel stopped us.

"Are you all staying with us?" he asked.

"No," I explained. "We're from Baltim --"

He didn't even let me finish the word "Baltimore", put his hand up, and motioned to the "down" escalator.

"You all can't come in," he said.

"But the boys just wanted to meet a player or two and get a picture," I replied.

"The team doesn't want anyone here bothering the players," he said as he again motioned to the exit escalator.

"We don't have a pen on us," I reasoned. "We're not getting things signed and selling them on eBay. We're here to just let the boys meet a player."

We got the pointed finger again. "Please leave the hotel," he said as he gestured to the escalator again.

Two young Ravens fans meet Jimmy Smith at the Ravens' hotel in Atlanta.

And that was that. On a side note, I'll mention, Adam Jones was terrific to the kids at Fenway Park later that night, signing stuff for 20 or 30 kids near the O's dugout 45 minutes before the game (Mark Trumbo...not so much).

But the hotel experience was really off putting. It's one thing if you're strolling around the lobby with eight felt pennants and 100 baseball cards. It's another -- to me, anyway -- if you're a father and son trying to get a picture with your boy's favorite player.

Now...we get to last night in Atlanta.

I reached out to a longtime friend in the Ravens organization on Thursday and told him I was bringing a small group to Atlanta for the game, including my son, Ethan.

He not only told me where the team was staying, he asked that we stop out and say hi.

So yesterday around 3:30 pm, my friend Brian Hubbard and his son Jacob joined my son and I and we made the 20-minute train trip from downtown Atlanta out to Buckhead where the Ravens were housed for the weekend.

We stayed until 7:00 pm.

Players greeted kids in the lobby (not just our kids, but any kids) with a smile and a handshake.

They posed for pictures.

While we specifically didn't have our children ask for autographs, I saw several players signing things.

I ran into numerous Ravens staffers that I've known since my days on the radio and they all gave me a warm greeting.

I even managed to bump into Jim Nantz in the hotel lobby. Nantz was there for the CBS pre-game production meeting. I interviewed Jim 10 or 15 times over my years on the air and we seemed to connect well for whatever reason.

"Let's get Ethan in here for a picture," Nantz said.

He's a sports broadcaster so I get it -- he's supposed to have a photographic memory. But he remembered my son's name. I haven't mentioned Ethan to him since the 2014 Super Bowl, which was the last time I had the opportunity to talk with him.

Jimmy Smith, Michael Pierce, C.J. Mosley -- all three were kind and gracious with their time, meeting our boys and spending a minute or two with them.

I'm not a "star struck" kind of guy. I've been in locker rooms, post-game press conferences and the like. It doesn't take long for you, as an adult, to realize these players are "just guys".

But your 11-year old son hasn't figured that out yet.

And in some cases, like, say, with Adam Jones, you want your son to see how an athlete treats the common man...you know, the one who helps pay his salary.

I'll never forget how Jones treated those kids at the dugout in Fenway Park that day.

"What's your name?" he said to my son as he rolled a baseball over to the O's centerfielder.

"I'm Ethan," my son replied.

"Where are you from?" Jones asked.

"Parkville," Ethan said.

"I've been to Parkville before," Jones claimed. "That's a great place to live!"

He rolled the ball back to Ethan on the top of the visitor's dugout and moved on to the next kid. It was a 20-secod encounter, maybe, that told me a lot about Jones.

Last night's visit with the Ravens told me a lot about them.

Or, I should say, it reminded me of why I was in Atlanta in the first place.

We're here to cheer for them.

We'll do our part today.

They did their part, for two dads at least, last night.

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today could be flacco's "wally pipp" moment


The rumor floating around Atlanta is if Lamar Jackson guides the Ravens to a win today, he'll assume the starting role for the rest of the season.

I'm not sure I believe that, frankly.

If Flacco is 100% healthy for next Sunday's game in Kansas City, I suspect he starts, no matter what happens today against the Falcons.

But the rumor mill says differently...

How will Lamar Jackson handle his first-ever NFL road start today in Atlanta?

Flacco is likely not going to be active today. That's my guess as I write this at 6:05 on Sunday morning. If he can't start, that likely means he's not completely ready to go. So John Harbaugh and company aren't going to activate him until he's completely healthy.

That means the Ravens are turning things over to Lamar Jackson again today.

Oh, and in case you don't know, this is a pretty big game in Atlanta.

I'm not sure what to expect with Jackson and the offense, but that's mainly because I don't know what we'll see from the Baltimore defense.

I realize the general game plan for the Ravens will be to run the ball, eat the clock, shorten the game and, most importantly, keep the Atlanta offense off the field.

That's easier said than done, but I sure do like the thought.

If Jackson and Gus Edwards can keep the clock moving, score a touchdown or three, and the Baltimore defense stands up to the challenge presented by Matt Ryan and his arsenal of pass catchers, the Ravens are in good position to move to 7-5.

But the Falcons watch game film too.

They'll likely stack the box with 7 or 8 players and challenge Jackson to throw.

How Marty Mornhinweg handles that is anyone's guess.

A loss today wouldn't completely crush the Ravens, as it would come against a NFC team. If you're going to lose one of the last five, losing to a NFC team is the way to go, tiebreaker wise.

But the Ravens still have an outside shot at winning the division. It stands to reason that 10-6 is the minimum the Ravens can be if they fancy themselves AFC North champions. A loss today would drop them to 6-6 and mandate a 4-game winning streak to close out the season.

So, a win today helps in a big way.

A loss isn't a season ender, by any means.

Well, unless you're Joe Flacco, that is.

In Joe's case, it might work the opposite way. A win might end his season. A loss will likely continue it.

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how drew sees today's game


I think Lamar Jackson will do his job today.

I'm just not sure the Baltimore defense can follow suit.

Jackson and the offense take a little while to get chugging, but an impressive drive on the third series gives Baltimore a 3-0 lead early in the second quarter when Justin Tucker connects from 44 yards out.

The Falcons then go up 7-3 on a Matt Ryan to Julio Jones TD throw, and the hosts extend that to 10-3 after a Jackson fumble.

It's 10-6 late in the second quarter when Tucker hits a 39-yarder, but the Falcons rebound nicely with a 2-minute drill that results in another Ryan to Jones TD throw. Atlanta leads 17-6 at the half.

Jackson hits Hayden Hurst with a 14-yard TD throw midway through the 3rd quarter and the Ravens are back in it at 17-13.

But Ryan remains hot, finding Calvin Ridley in the end zone for his third TD of the day. It's a 24-13 Falcons lead heading to the fourth quarter.

Tucker's field goal on the first drive of the 4th quarter gets Baltimore to within one score at 24-16.

A Marlon Humphrey interception on the ensuing drive gives the Ravens prime field position and Jackson cashes in with a 27-yard TD toss to John Brown.

But the Ravens fail on the two-point conversion and it's 24-22 with six minutes left in the game.

Atlanta moves down the field and kicks a field goal with 1:40 remaining to go up 27-22.

Jackson and the offense go to work, with the QB running for 31 yards on the final series. With 24 seconds left in the game, he finds Nick Boyle in the end zone for a 28-27 lead. The Ravens connect on the two point try this time around and go up 30-27.

And that's how it ends. The Ravens pull off a dramatic 30-27 win over Atlanta to improve to 7-5 on the season.

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show me the money


Well, that's two losing weeks in a row.

After ten straight weeks without a losing record, I went 2-3 in week #11 and week #12.

It's time to get this thing back on track. I know you're counting on me to help you build that nice in-ground pool. And we're almost there...

My 2018 record now stands at 34-23-3 through the 60 games I've selected this season -- all against the spread, of course.

Just think, you'd be $45,000 to the good had you bet $5,000 a game on my selections. But you didn't. So you aren't.

Here's who I like today.

BRONCOS AT BENGALS (+4.5) -- OK, I'm not a big believer in these "no brainer" selections. I mean, it's the NFL. Weird stuff happens every Sunday. Weird stuff's supposed to happen every Sunday. I just can't see any way at all that Cincinnati stays in this game. Their offense is terrible, their defense is terrible and their coaches are -- well, you get the picture. I'm not sure Denver's all that great either, but the Broncos are good enough to win and cover in this one, 23-10.

RAMS AT LIONS (+10.0) -- Detroit is a really weird team. They are typically either surprisingly good or surprisingly bad. At home, they tend to lean more towards the "good". I think the Rams win today, but I could see Matt Stafford and the Detroit offense putting up some points as L.A. welcomes an offensive shootout. We're going with the Lions to hang tough and cover the ten points, with L.A. winning 33-27.

BILLS AT DOLPHINS (-3.5) -- This is it for Miami. A loss and their season is basically over. They would have been in great shape had they hung on to beat the Colts last Sunday. As it is, they have to run the table to make the post-season. We're going with the Dolphins and laying the 3.5 points in this one, as Miami wins 26-16. Note: This is also our "Best Bet of the Day".

BROWNS AT TEXANS (-4.5) -- I guess the guys in Vegas are really buying into the Browns. This time last year, this would have been an 8.5 point game. Heck, four weeks ago it might have been an 8.5 point game. But Cleveland suddenly looks like they're on to something now that Hue Jackson is gone and Baker Mayfield has the bit between his teeth. Unfortunately, the Browns will come back to earth a bit today, as the Texans cover the 4.5 points and put a beatin' on Cleveland to the tune of 30-19.

PANTHERS AT BUCCANEERS (-3.0) -- Tampa Bay reminds me a lot of Detroit. They're either really good or really bad. They have a quarterback issue every week. The Panthers are coming off a big loss at home to Seattle. This is a tough game to call. I'm going with the Panthers in a tight one, as they keep their playoff hopes alive with a 27-24 OT win.

RECORD TO DATE: 34-23-3

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 6-6

RAVENS AGAINST THE SPREAD: 6-5


dale williams aims
the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fourth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2018-19 season.


terps scratch their way past penn state


It took the Maryland Terrapins 39 minutes and 30 seconds to put away the pesky Penn State Nittany Lions, but they were able to do just enough to secure a 66-59 win in front of a boisterous but less than packed home crowd on Saturday night.

Penn State shot a lowly 40% from the floor and hit only 24% of their three-point attempts, but stayed in the game by forcing 17 Terp turnovers (12 of those were steals).

Jalen Smith led the Terps with 16 points, Bruno Fernando had another double/double (12 points, 13 rebounds) and Anthony Cowan added 15 points (11 in the second half) which included two key, late, threes.

The first half saw Maryland jump out to a 12-3 lead with 13:19 left. The differential was more reflective of Penn State’s poor shooting than outstanding play by the Terrapins. Early whistles gave the Terps a quick 4-1 advantage in team fouls, a factor that would play a major role later in the half.

PSU missed 7 of their first 8 shots, while the Terps hit 5 of their first 8 attempts.

Ahead 12-9, the Terps managed just one field goal in the last 8:54 seconds of the first half as their possessions alternated between ending in turnovers or missed shots.

Despite a lackluster first half vs. Penn State, Anthony Cowan emerged as the hero on Saturday with a late three-pointer.

However, those early foul calls would help Maryland get into the bonus with 10:29 left in the half. 13 of Maryland’s final 15 first half points would come from the charity stripe.

While the Terps struggled on offense, the Penn State leading scorer, Lamar Stevens, began to finally find his stroke. After missing a slew of jumpers early, he finished the half with 10 points. Josh Reaves tallied 17 in the half, hitting 7 of 12 attempts. Together those two combined for 27 of State’s 31 first half points. Rasir Bolton had the other four points, as only 3 players scored for Penn State.

Maryland’s dry spell, combined with the spurt provided by Stephens, found the Terps trailing by 8 points with 3:18 remaining in the half. A late 9-2 run by Maryland (seven foul shots and a Cowan layup) allowed the Terps to close the gap to one, 31-30, at the intermission.

Mark Turgeon’s Terps turned the ball over 10 times in the half, an incredible seven of those coming from Penn State steals.

In between halves, I jokingly asked the two ushers that check floor passes if they would kindly go the Maryland bench and wake up Anthony Cowan. I mentioned that he had been “sleeping for a game and a half.”

While we had a nice chuckle at the thought, someone must have said something to Cowan, or perhaps it was Turgeon’s change from having Cowan play mostly off the ball to being the primary ball handler on offense that sparked his play.

Regardless of the source of Cowan’s turn-around, he came out on fire, accumulating 3 assists, a steal, and a layup, all in about 2 spirited minutes. He would be subbed out at the 13:28 of the second half with the Terps ahead by 4, 43-39.

Penn State kept applying defensive pressure and battled back. They took their last lead, 50-49, with 9:24 left.

A quick Cowan score in the paint, where he was fouled by Mike Watkins, gave the Terp guard a conventional three-point play and Maryland owned a two-point lead.

The Terps would hold a lead, though not a very comfortable one, until Cowan hit the first of two three-pointers. His first one gave the Terps a nice cushion (6 points) with 2:14 left. Against many teams a six-point lead with 2 minutes left would be considered shaky at best, but Penn State has such issues scoring, that 6 points seemed safe.

It wasn’t safe.

A Cowan turnover (his 6th and final one) followed by a foul from Ayala gave Penn State the chance to cut the lead to two points with 1:01 left. Rasir Bolton made both free throws and Penn State pressed Maryland. The next sequence won’t show in any box score, and could easily be de-emphasized in post-game write-ups, but could have been the story of the game.

After Bolton makes the second foul shot, Penn State subs and the defense gets set into position a 1-2-1-1 zone press. This allows the easy in-bound pass, but looks to trap on the second pass.

Cowan gets an uncontested entry pass from Smith just below the foul line and near the Penn State bench. He crosses over to his left and dribbles to a spot inside of the top of the key. This is where he made a HUGE mistake.

Without really being contested, he throws a pass to Aaron Wiggins, who is standing along the left sideline two steps past half court. As soon as Wiggins gets the ball, he is double teamed with nowhere to go. Wiggins waits for Cowan to pass half court so that a backcourt violation does not occur, and in doing so allows Penn State to set up the perfect trap while defending the nearest outlets.

Textbook defensive stuff from the Nittany Lions, and a bad mistake by a seasoned Cowan.

Wiggins tried to get the ball back to Cowan but it was deflected out of bounds by Reaves. If Reaves picks off that pass, and he was in position to do so, this game is tied. It was a poor decision by Cowan, and the Terps were lucky to survive it.

As it stood, Maryland had to inbound the ball around half court with 55 seconds left to play and 23 seconds left on the shot clock. Penn State elected to not contest the inbound pass and instead dropped back to their standard man-to man defense. Cowan received the in-bound pass in his backcourt and dribbled first to his right and then to the left. Maryland never attempted to run a play or penetrate the ball.

A little flip pass to Wiggins on the left wing, followed by an immediate return to Cowan, left a scant few seconds on the shot clock. Cowan, who was a good 5 feet behind the three-point line, had no choice but to launch a deep three overtop of the Penn State center, John Harrar from the “G” in Gary Williams’s name on the left side.

It was a horrible shot in an equally awful possession. And it hit nothing but net. Game over.

After the game, Cowan was interviewed about hitting the “big shots”. His answers focused more on his need to get better. He admitted to playing more like a freshman instead of an upperclassman. He was absolutely right about that.

Cowan is the one piece of the Terp lineup that I expected to be consistent. Instead, he has been erratic at best.

This year Cowan is drawing his opponent’s top backcourt defender. He needs to figure out how to be effective even when faced with defenders of the same quality as Reaves on Saturday night.

It’s becoming evident that Maryland can’t possibly reach their own goals and their fans expectations without solid contributions from Cowan.

His late game scoring had Maryland close against Virginia and greatly helped secure the win tonight, but the Terps need his “A” game more consistently. With the Terp bigs emerging as dominant forces inside, it may be Cowan’s play that decides just how successful this team becomes in 2019.



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December 1
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ravens catch break, but nfl doesn't


I think we all would have preferred that Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt just pull his hamstring or something like that.

The Ravens are trying to make the playoffs, after all.

But yesterday's shocking NFL news involving Hunt comes at a price for everyone involved.

It's another HUGE black mark for the league and their crack security/investigating team. Encycopedia Brown called and offered to host a weekend seminar in New York.

It's a significant blow to the Chiefs, who were on the fast track to owning home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. Now, they're still good, of course, but a chunk of their arsenal has just been removed.

And it certainly helps teams like the Ravens and Chargers, both of whom face Kansas City later this month. You can't blame the Colts and Titans for being a tad bit displeased with the timing of yesterday's news given that they were counting on that near-automatic-loss for Baltimore and Los Angeles when they travel to Kansas City.

Kareem Hunt: video gets released, fired four hours later.

We here in Baltimore know the Hunt story all too well.

This is precisely why Ray Rice never again worked in the NFL and Reuben Foster likely will.

It's all comes down to one thing: video evidence.

Hunt is seen slapping, shoving and kicking a woman in a Cleveland hotel last February. I saw lots of social media pontificating on Friday night about how what Rice did was "worse", but I can't possibly imagine that's something worth debating. The only difference -- and this could eventually matter in terms of his league punishment -- is that "technically" Hunt wasn't guilty of domestic violence. He was guilty of assault. Unlike Ray Rice, Hunt wasn't romantically involved with the woman he struck.

But there should be no debate at all about the level of "terrible" when it comes to what Kareem Hunt did. It was as awful as the Rice incident, for sure.

That said, and here's the always slippery slope that I'm sure will get even more slick in the coming days as everyone around the country rushes to judge Hunt for his behavior.

Should Kareem Hunt lose his NFL job forever?

Ray Rice did.

Greg Hardy didn't.

Hardy was arrested for his domestic violence incident, yet he played again.

Countless others in the league have also been arrested for DV and played again.

Two words: video evidence.

Should Hunt never be allowed to work again?

The NFL has consistently botched their stance on domestic violence. Some guys come back and play, a few "unlucky" ones don't.

Heck, the Redskins waited all of three days before they gave Reuben Foster a call.

But therein lies the rub, and again we have to wonder if the NFL truly knows what they're doing.

They're suspending guys -- and teams are cutting them as well -- without the player going through the legal process afforded him in our country.

By no means do I in any way condone domestic violence. But I do condone someone's right to a fair trial, no matter the person, no matter the crime or incident.

And I get it...the video evidence on Hunt looks terrible. I see him as "guilty" right away. You probably do, too. But in order for him to be expurgated from the league (which, we know is likely to happen) shouldn't he first have to be arrested, formally charged and found guilty?

This all comes down to that video tape.

We know it.

In Baltimore, we're sure of it.

What Ray Rice did was awful.

But should it have cost him his entire career?

Reuben Foster: no video evidence, gets re-hired within one week.

One moment. One mistake. One horrendous lack of character.

Done forever?

Yet others have done the same -- or worse, even -- and they're back in the league six games later, rolling along as if nothing happened.

I don't know the answer.

One of the answers would be for NFL players to stop hitting women. I think that's pretty obvious.

But in an employment field of 1,600 people, folks are going to be human and do regrettable things. It's just the law of averages. When you have 1,600 folks working for you, someone's likely going to foul up in a major way once a month, whether that's a DUI, a drug charge or domestic violence.

I'm not excusing it.

I'm just acknowledging that's it's bound to happen. And then, the onus is on the employer to figure out how to handle it -- fairly.

The onus is also on the employer to do their own investigating of sorts, which is another colossal toe-stub by the NFL.

They never got their hands on the Ray Rice video, nor did they ever see the Kareem Hunt video. That's what they say, anyway.

And the Chiefs, like the Ravens, claim they weren't able to see the video when the incident first occurred. It wasn't until yesterday, in fact, when TMZ.com posted the Hunt incident that Chiefs management saw it all for the first time.

They reacted quickly, too. Hunt was cut within hours. Here's their carefully worded press release. I found it interesting.

“Earlier this year, we were made aware of an incident involving running back Kareem Hunt. At that time, the National Football League and law enforcement initiated investigations into the issue. As part of our internal discussions with Kareem, several members of our management team spoke directly to him. Kareem was not truthful in those discussions. The video released today confirms that fact. We are releasing Kareem immediately."

Notice anything missing?

The Chiefs never once actually mentioned how disappointed they were that Hunt struck a woman.

Granted, he had already sorta-kinda admitted that he was "involved" in an incident back in February and now, as we piece things together, we can figure out he fibbed to the Chiefs -- like Rice initially did to the Ravens -- about the severity of it.

That, according to the Chiefs, is why they terminated Hunt yesterday.

They didn't fire him because he slapped, shoved and kicked a woman. They fired him because he lied to them about it.

Their press release...not mine.

And, again, that's precisely what's wrong with the NFL.

Player protection is line item #1 whenever something goes down that could lead to a criminal/legal investigation.

Eventually, everyone's left holding the bag. The NFL looks hilariously inept, the Chiefs look devious and Hunt is seen as a nefarious character who probably needs to learn a significant lesson.

All three: guilty as charged.

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dale williams aims
the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fourth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2018-19 season.


terps host penn state in big 10 opener


Can your first conference game of the year, played only one day into December, really be labeled a “must win” game? That answer may not be a resounding “YES”, but perhaps it’s a whispered, “Pretty much” for this young Terp team, and their head coach Mark Turgeon.

The recently ranked (#24 this week) Maryland Terrapins take on the Nittany Lions of Penn State today at 5pm in College Park, as Maryland looks to rebound from Wednesday's hard fought loss to Virginia.

A defeat at the hands of Penn State today would surely be labeled as a “bad loss” by the selection committee in March, as not much is expected from the Nittany Lions this year.

Coming off of their NIT Championship last April, Penn State’s hoop future was looking bright and expectations were high for the 2018-2019 campaign. In a flash that all changed.

After a disappointing home loss to Virginia, Mark Turgeon and the Terps can open the Big 10 campaign in style with a home win today.

First, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, Penn State sophomore guard Tony Carr, decided to forego his junior season and test the NBA waters. He signed with an agent (eliminating the possibility of returning to State College) and headed to the NBA combine where he posted epic numbers – all bad. His pro career started in Italy, leaving a major hole in the Nittany Lions' offense this season.

Penn State would receive another shocking, but temporary, blow to the program when star forward Mike Watkins had some personal, mental health issues that caused him to miss all of Penn State’s first five games.

He was finally cleared to play in Penn State’s recent win against Virginia Tech, and Watkins responded nicely with 7 rebounds in just 21 minutes of action. Although he didn’t appear to be in game shape, he was still impactful around the basket. This is the same player who last season in College Park tore through the Terrapin defense while posting 17 points (8 for 11 shooting) and 17 rebounds.

The trio of Carr, Watkins, and returning NIT MVP, Lamar Stephens, would have been a solid base for coach Pat Chambers. As it stands, only Stephens has been a contributor thus far.

With the departure of Carr, and the graduation of senior Shep Garner, the Nittany Lions lost 70% of their three point scoring and 55% of their overall point production.

Stephens has done his fair share by increasing his points-per-game average to 23 from last year’s 15.5, but the rest of the team has struggled to fill the scoring gap. The 23 PPG leads the team, as does his rebounding average of almost 9 per game, all accomplished in a team leading 37 minutes per contest.

While not an effective scorer from beyond the three point arc (just 22%), Stephens and his 6’8” 235 pound frame are efficient from anywhere inside that three point stripe.

Rounding out Penn State’s top 5 scorers are guards Josh Reeves (10.8ppg), Rasir Bolton (10.5ppg), Myles Dread (9.8ppg), and Myreon Jones (5.3ppg).

Reaves may have the more complete offensive arsenal, but all four should struggle against the Terps unless one, or more, catches fire from long range. The team only shoots 32% from the three-point line and 42% from the field overall. With that kind of shooting, and an assist to turnover ratio of just under one, I can’t see Penn State putting up enough points to make this game a contest.

That is, unless Watkins returns to form. He has been a difference maker in the past but I’m not sure he’s quite ready to assume that kind of load.

Any Pat Chambers coached team will give you 40 minutes of tough ball. It’s his signature.

But aside from Maryland matching, or exceeding that intensity level, I don’t see any magic formula or clever in-game strategy that’s needed to beat this Penn State team. If Maryland simply does the things we have seen them do, there is little that Penn State can do to counter.

There is no special defensive needed to shut down any particular player and no go-to offensive set. A Maryland win will be had if they play smart, energetic basketball, and execute the fundamentals.

I look for a big return by Anthony Cowan. Yes, I know he lead all Terp scores against Virginia, but he rolled out a very lackluster performance against the Cavaliers.

I look for a strong bounce-back game that includes a bunch of assists from the junior guard. Bruno Fernando could have a monster game against the suspect Penn State back line, and if Watkins doesn’t get big minutes, then it wouldn’t surprise me to see Jalen Smith approach a double/double.

The early line has Penn State as a 5.5 point underdog. I like the Terps here to win by 10. I’ll call for a 74-64 victory for the superior Maryland talent as they understand the importance of this “sort of” must win.

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breakfast bytes

Sunday Night NFL: Bears (9-4) stifle Goff, Rams (11-2) with 15-6 win in Chicago.

Dolphins (7-6) shock Patriots (9-4) with last play 70-yard-lateral-a-thon, win 34-33.

Baseball Hall of Fame adds ex-Orioles Harold Baines and Lee Smith.

College soccer: Maryland nips Akron, 1-0, to win NCAA men's soccer title.


SCOREBOARD
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 8
CAPITALS
4
COLUMBUS
0
CAPS GOALS: Ovechkin (22), Boyd (1), Connolly (5), Jaskin (1)

GOALTENDER: Holtby

RECORD/PLACE: 17-9-3 (1st, Metropolitan)

NEXT GAME: December 11 vs. Detroit



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