Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Ravens: They're real, and they're spectacular!

I don't often compare professional football teams to women's bodies, but weren't we all rubbing our eyes in disbelief as the Baltimore Ravens mauled the Cleveland Browns 34-3 on Sunday? After scoring an historic 69 points in the first two weeks of the season, Baltimore went out and did it again, and this time the defense joined the offense in totally dominating an opponent.

A few moments from the game stood out as to how completely the Ravens controlled the game from start to finish. Leading 27-3, Baltimore's first possession of the fourth quarter began at their own 30 yard line. In this situation, conventional wisdom calls for a time-consuming, run-oriented scoring drive, but the Ravens ran six straight pass plays and drove to the Cleveland 13. When they finally changed tactics and ran the ball, Willis McGahee fumbled, but it speaks volumes about John Harbaugh's confidence in his defense and Joe Flacco's ability that he went with the passing game at this point in the game.

Also of note, on the Ravens' three rushing touchdowns, McGahee and Ray Rice reached the endzone standing, nearly unimpeded by the Browns' defense, which crumpled under Baltimore's O-line and failed to pursue, leaving wide lanes to the outside.

Going into this game, the Ravens were already ranked number one in Sports Illustrated's Power Ratings, and this morning Bob Ryan picked them to face the Giants in the Super Bowl. Now, I am as excited as anyone about this team's potential, but let's take a look at the other side of the coin, just for fun.

First of all, the Browns are terrible. Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson were so awful, they might as well have had Brady Anderson playing quarterback on Sunday. Cleveland crossed midfield just one time in the first half and only got as far as the 44-yard line, and the second half featured three interceptions. To be fair, all three of the Browns' losses have come at the hands of undefeated teams; to be unfair, none of them have been close.

Now, back to the Ravens. They now have a dominant win over a vastly inferior team, a close win on the road against a playoff caliber team (San Diego), and a closer than the final score (38-24) win against a mediocre-at-best winless team (Kansas City). The defense looked very good last time out, but there would have been much hand-wringing if it had continued in the vein it as heading after the first two weeks.

So the true test comes now in the three weeks leading up to the bye in Week 7. The Ravens play at New England and Minnesota, with a home game against the resurgent Bengals. If they drop two or more of those games, suddenly they are just another team in the playoff hunt, with abundant question marks. Two wins keeps them in solid position atop the division, especially if they beat the Bengals. Three wins and we'll get two weeks of stories about the '72 Dolphins, the 2007 Patriots, and the great Colts teams of Baltimore.

Finally, about today's post title and accompanying photo. In 1993, Teri Hatcher was a modestly successful working actress whose career was highlighted by a recurring role as "Penny Parker" on the TV show "MacGyver." But after being cast as Sidra, Jerry Seinfeld's naturally and generously endowed girlfriend, she secured the role of Superman's girlfriend in the hit series, "Lois and Clark," and was catapulted to stardom as Susan Mayer in "Desperate Housewives." Now, you could argue that her success came as a result of talent and hard work, and I can't dispute that, but in just about any job search, you have to be able to get the attention of a prospective employer, and in a place like Hollywood, being known as the woman who embodied, "they're real and they're spectacular" probably counts for something. Taking nothing away from Teri Hatcher, some small percentage of her earnings should probably be directed toward Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, or Peter Mehlman, all of whom received writing credit for that episode.

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