Patriots Gab interviewed writers from http://baltimoresportsandlife.com/ to get an inside look at the view point of the Ravens. Our Thanks to Chris Stoner, who you can follow here > https://twitter.com/BSLChrisStoner and Michael Randall, who you can follow here > https://twitter.com/TheBohPen .
1. Patriots Gab: The Ravens offense did a great job against the Broncos, and when everyone thought it was over, the Ravens hit a huge TD bomb with 31 seconds left in the game to send it to over time. The offense was clicking, what do you think is the Ravens biggest weakness on offense?
Michael Randall: They already fired him, it was Cam Cameron. But seriously, they are firing on all cylinders now. But all of their success is predicated on the play of the O-line. When Flacco is given time to step into his throws, he’s one of the best. Bryant McKinnie has been in coach Harbaugh’s dog house all year, and of late is finally getting to start. Oher is terrible at LT, and McKinnie coming in there moves Oher to RT where he is a little better. Birk was owned by Vince WIlfork in last years title game. So if the O-Line crumbles and Caldwell doesn’t design some roll outs and screens, it could be a downfall Sunday.
2. PG: The Ravens gave up a lot of yards to the Colts but no TDs, they gave up the points against the Broncos(21 points, the other TDs were giving up by the special team) so in that aspect the defense has picked it up in the post season. What do they need to do to limit New England?
MR: Pressure Tom Brady. Make him uncomfortable. Also, play his chess game. The guy prepares like no other, and I often see that when he makes audibles, guys end up wide open. Welker and Hernandez often benefit from this. Brady simplifies the game. If no one lines up over the center, he’ll take it upon himself to step up the middle for an easy five yards. If the Ravens defense is taking their time getting set after a play, Brady will line up and run a play in the blink of an eye. He did it a half dozen times with success against Houston. So do the simple things. Get set quickly, and if Brady is changing looks, change the defensive look right back at him. No one is better at this than Ray Lewis. If you let Brady have his way and execute his gameplan, he’ll carve us up
3. PG: What concerns you the most about New England’s offense?
MR: Aside from Brady, the Pats running game is playing well. Ridley and Vereen averaged well over five yards per carry against Houston’s tough defense. As if Brady, Welker, and Hernandez aren’t enough to worry about, now you have to try to stop the run too?
4. PG: What area of the Patriots defense do you think the Ravens offense can exploit?
MR: It’s going to have to be their secondary. The Pats are ranked 29th in the league in passing yards allowed. In the Week 3 match up, Flacco completed 71.9% of his passes for 382 yards. He also spread the ball out to eight different receivers. Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones can both strech the defense deep. If the Pats cover it, they leave the middle of the field open for Boldin, Pitta, Dickson and Rice.
5. PG: Joe Flacco has a huge arm there is no doubt about that, what do you think is his best attribute as a QB?
MR: He can be inconsistent at times, but the one thing that never changes is that you can’t rattle him. He doesn’t buckle under pressure. He rises up in the biggest games. You don’t get to three title games in fiver years by accident. He has gone into Pittsburgh, which is the most violent game, the most hostile crowd the Ravens deal with, and won the last three years. Leading game winning TD drives in two of those three. If Evans doesn’t drop the ball last year then thats another high profile game winning drive. The cold, altitude, Peyton Manning on the opposite sideline, didn’t phase Flacco at all last week.
6. PG: Is Ray Rice the best offensive player for the Baltimore Ravens?
MR: Without a doubt. Indy did a good job containing him, even forced him into two fumbles. Then he takes a short five yard pass and goes for 40+ yards with it. Denver contained him as well, then in the blink of an eye, 36 yard run to the goal line. Of course there was the 4th and 29 in the Chargers game. He has the ability to take it the house on any given play. It is impearative that Rice gets the ball 25 times, between running and receiving. Cam Cameron didn’t understand this concept and it cost him his job.
7. PG: In the first meeting of the Ravens and Broncos, the Broncos won huge, but the Ravens were without Ray Lewis, with him on the field for the rematch against the Broncos, how much do you think the presence of Ray Lewis effected the team and helped them to make a few big plays to win the game?
MR: Ray Lewis prepares like no other defensive player in the league. He sees things no one else sees. Theres a story around Baltimore that Ray used to be able to tell when a run play was coming based on what direction the RB’s toes were pointing. He picks up the most subtle tendancies on film. Having him out there to recognize these tendancies in game, and pass on the information to the other 10 men, it’s huge. It makes a great impact. Teams always have to say to themselves, “ok, where is 52 lined up,” every time. When you take that away, it takes to edge away from the Ravens.
8. PG: What do you view as the key match ups in the game this Sunday?
MR: Vince Wilfork versus our offensive line. When Flacco doesnt have time, he can be suspect to throwing off his back foot and sailing his throws. He also has had trouble with pocket awareness and gets the ball stripped from the blind side. Wilfork is the best in the business. If they don’t do something to keep him from being a factor then the run game with Ray Rice won’t get going, and Flacco will be under constant duress. A poorly timed sack, fumble, or INT caused by Wilforks pressure could be the difference in what we think will be a close game
9. PG: Who do you think will win the NFC Championship Game?
MR: I picked the 49ers prior to the season start to win the NFC, so I’ll have to stick with that. Matt Ryan was once again absent in the second half of their playoff game. The Niners defense is awfully stout, and no one has been able to figure out how to stop Colin Kapernick yet.
Our thanks once again to the writers of Baltimore Sports and Life website! Enjoy the read.