Monday, January 19, 2009
The Ravens have the Steelers right where they want them
I'll tell you what, guys...I was really impressed with Joe Flacco's performance last night against the tough Pittsburgh Steeler defense. Sure, he only completed about 35% of his passes and threw three picks, but I don't think you can call it "shaky". And sure, the Ravens loss yesterday means that they lost to Pittsburgh three times on the season, including a tough one here in the AFC Championship Game. But...think about it.
The Ravens have the Steelers right where they want them.
That's just Raven football, playing it coy, keeping it close, waiting to pounce on any mistakes and completely change the complexion of the game. That's Raven football. They are like an acne medication on a 14 year old boy. And Ed Reed is that special ingredient that makes the Noxema work. The guy just changes the complexion of games singlehandedly. And what have the Ravens gone and done here? Well, they've convinced the Steelers that they can beat them three times in one year. And that's going to be huge next season.
Hear me out.
If the Steelers are able to beat the Ravens twice again in the regular season, setting up a playoff showdown in Heinz Field in the 2010 NFL playoffs....do you think the Steelers are going to come out with the same passion that they came out with last night? Do you really think Hines Ward will come out in that game next year with the same Asian fire that he displayed at the beginning of last night's matchup? I surely doubt it. The Steelers are going to come out on that field thinking that a win is a foregone conclusion, setting themselves up for a letdown game against the Ravens' NFL-best defense. I know that the Ravens are the NFL's best defense because I spoke to Ray Lewis before the game and he told me just that. He said "Phil, we are the NFL's best defense". And I said "do you really believe that, Ray?", and he gave me a strange type of reflective, yet preachy, yet unnecessarily dragged out, yet emphatic "yes" and began a dance and I could just see it in his jazz fingers that he knew what he was saying was truth. Plus, they have Ed Reed.
Ed Reed cuts the field in two and although he was directly responsible for Hines Ward getting an extra 35 yards in his big catch yesterday, you just can't throw the ball at Ed Reed. You have to find Ed Reed on the field and then throw where he's not at. Because he's a game-changer. And the Ravens have the Steelers believing that Ed Reed is not a game-changer.
And that's just the thing. Ed Reed is a game-changer.
So things may not have gone the Ravens' way last night. Well, that happens in the NFL. On any given Sunday, anything can happen. And the Ravens know this. The Ravens played it just about perfectly last night and are looking to strike the Steelers when they least expect it.
The Ravens have the Steelers just where they want them.