Mark Viviano: First Place Ravens
Notes and observations from my vantage point in the press box and the locker room after the Ravens’ 31-24 win over Bengals.
-Cincinnati is a sad sack organization that is showing promise with respectable rookie QB Andy Dalton and a work horse defense. I thought Dalton was going to repeat Carson Palmer’s greatest 4th quarter ever by an opposing QB at Ravens Stadium (Dec. 5, 2004) until his last 2 desperate throw-aways. Over all he’s very impressive for a rookie. BTW- if you’re not familiar with Dec. 5, 2004, look it up. It’s still one of the most stunning sports performances I’ve ever seen in person.
– I asked Joe Flacco what it was like to watch from the sidelines while Dalton led Cincy on a potential game-tying dive in the final minutes. Flacco said he hated it because there was nothing he could do but watch. It was nerve-wracking, he said- like being a fan. Welcome to the “other” side, Joe.
– As frustrating as their games may be to some fans, the Ravens are still the most complete team in the AFC and the team I’ve said all along is most likely to win the conference and go to the Super Bowl. Are the games too close and therefore frustrating at times for some? Of course they are! That’s the NFL, people. Who’s better than the Ravens in the AFC? I maintain the only team that has a legit shot to knock off Baltimore is….Pittsburgh. Now, wouldn’t that be a match-up to see in Baltimore in January!
– The TD by Jermaine Gresham was overturned and properly ruled by the officials. But let’s all agree: that’s a stupid rule! Who cares if a receiver maintains control of the ball AFTER he crosses the goal line? It’s silly that if Gresham were a running back carrying the ball in- it wouldn’t matter. To quote Ron Burgundy in “Anchorman”: “That’s just dumb!”
– I predicted early this season that the Ravens would go unbeaten at home during the 2011 regular season. Their last real challenge is San Francisco on Thanksgiving night. Sorry Niners- you’re the victim of one of the worst scheduling injustices in league history. Traveling 3 time zones in a short week? I’m sticking with my prediction. Ravens won’t lose at home in regular season. Playoffs? We’ll see.