The “Biggest Gut-Punch Loss” in Ravens History? SI Has a Recent One

New England Patriots vs Baltimore Ravens, 2015 AFC Divisional Playoffs

Sports Illustrated has put out a piece on the “Biggest gut-punch loss” for each and every franchise, the Ravens included.

The game that the author the piece, Doug Farrar, picked is a recent one – a game that stopped the Ravens from getting to the AFC Title game last season against the Colts.

Baltimore Ravens: Jan. 10, 2015, AFC divisional round—Patriots 35, Ravens 31

The Ravens had this one in hand—twice. They opened the game with a 14-point lead over the Patriots, who scratched back to tie the game before the half. Then, Baltimore extended its lead to 28–14 in the third quarter, and that’s when all hell broke loose. With 9:33 left in the third quarter, New England went with a weird formation: TE Michael Hoomanawanui at left tackle and RB Shane Vereen as an ineligible receiver in the right slot. At the snap, Hoomanawanui ran up the left seam, while Vereen backed off into the backfield. Baltimore’s defense was torn between wondering what Vereen was doing and covering Rob Gronkowski, who was on the right side of the formation, opposite Hoomanawanui. Tom Brady hit Hoomanawanui for a 16-yard gain, and Ravens coach John Harbaugh was not amused.

Harbaugh was even less amused five plays later, when Vereen was officially declared ineligible before the play, and Hoomanawanui was wide open for another big gain in a similar formation—14 yards this time. The Patriots got back in the game with a Tom Brady five-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski, and then, receiver Julian Edelman tied it again with this 51-yard pass to Danny Amendola.

Harbaugh said after the game that the ineligible player strategies weren’t fair, because his defense should have the opportunity to ID the men they need to cover. But as Brady pointed out, this kind of trickery happens on special teams all the time. In any case, it set the Ravens on their heels, and with 5:13 left in the game, Brady hit Brandon LaFell with the winning touchdown pass.

Ravens with Interest in Former Colts WR Reggie Wayne?

New England Patriots vs Indianapolis Colts, 2015 AFC Championship

The Colts elected not to bring wide receiver Reggie Wayne but Wayne said he is not retiring.

Wayne told Mike Wells of ESPN.com that teams have been calling him and he plans to play this season.

Dave Furst of RTV6 in Indianapolis reports that the Patriots, Ravens, Texans and Packers are showing interest in Wayne. The Broncos have backed off.

Rookie WR Perriman Looks to Win Starting Job Out of Camp

NFL Draft

Ravens rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman is eyeing a starting job and is hoping to make an immediate impact as a deep threat and otherwise following an offseason where he flashed playmaking skills and explosiveness along with a tendency to lose his concentration and drop passes, Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports.

“It’s a goal of mine, but at the same time, it’s not really on my mind,” Perriman said as the Ravens concluded their June minicamp. “I’m just really trying to focus on getting better every day, just going out there, take it day by day and see how it plays out.

“I just take it day by day, try to not think about the starting job or anything like that, because I feel like I’d get thrown off track. For the most part, I just try to come out and compete and work on craft, the little things I need to work on to make me become a good receiver.”

“I’m doing a good job, but I’m striving for more,” Perriman said. “I expect more from myself. I feel like I’m doing a decent job, but, at the same time just want to keep working so I can improve my craft.”

What Perriman has done to deal with his dropped passes is take an introspective approach.

“I really just talk to myself,” Perriman said. “It’s really all mental. I talk to myself, tell myself the things that I need to do to complete those passes and just try to step it up a notch more.”

Between now and the start of training camp on July 22 when rookies report, Perriman said he’ll be training in Orlando, Fla. He’s looking to refine his route running.

“For the most part, just tightening up my routes, but really, everything,” Perriman said. “I feel like I really don’t overlook anything. I feel like even the things that I’m good at, I continue to work on.”

Although Perriman is expected to endure some growing pains, the Ravens are encouraged overall about the potential of the 26th overall pick of the draft.

“We’re pleased with where he is,” receivers coach Bobby Engram said. “He still has some work to do, as a lot of rookies do, but I’m excited about what he did. He came in here, he showed the speed we thought he had, and he caught the ball consistently.

“There are a few [catches] he knows he should have had. He worked his releases, he played fast, but there are just things we’ve got to continue to progress him on and that he’s got to continue to work on to improve.”

Ravens Ink Veteran CB Cassius Vaughn

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions

The Ravens have signed veteran cornerback Cassius Vaughn according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.

Vaughn has played for the Indianapolis Colts, the Denver Broncos, and the Detroit Lions in the course of a five-year NFL career that has included 23 starts. The contract is reportedly for the veteran minimum salary.

Vaughn will try to make the Ravens’ final 53-man roster as depth behind the starting trio of Jimmy Smiith, Kyle Arrington, and Lardarius Webb.

Baltimore’s Arrest Problem

Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens

Do the Ravens have a problem when it comes to players getting arrested off the field? Check Joe Flacco’s NFL odds for this 2015 football season at Mybookie.ag.

The team has had an array of arrests since the end of the 2014 season which ended with a divisional playoff loss to the Patriots in New England.

The team has cut nose tackle Terrence Cody [animal cruelty charges], cornerback Victor Hampton [driving while impaired charge] and running back Bernard Pierce (drunken driving charge) all within a day of learning of their incidents.

The team seems to have learned the hard way from last offseasons major headlines around running back Ray Rice, who struck his now wife in an elevator at a hotel in Atlantic City.

It wasn’t until TMZ got hold and released video of the incident at the Ravens took action, finally saying ‘so long’ to Rice and cutting ties with him all together.

Now the team seems to be going right in the other direction, getting rid of players right away after they get in trouble off the field.

Pierce knew that his release was coming. He told the arresting officer while en route to the precinct following his arrest: “Do you know what happened the last time a Ravens player got a DUI? I’m getting cut tomorrow, not like you care.”

Pierce also asked if “the incident could be kept off the books.”

The reserve running back was charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol, driving while impaired by alcohol, exceeding maximum speed (55 mph in a posted 30 mph zone) and driving a vehicle in excess of reasonable and prudent speed on a highway.

While they may not have wanted to take swift action, they needed to, as they would have looked foolish leaving him on the roster after they already released Hampton and Cody after their incidents.

How bad have things gotten with the Ravens off the field?

They have had nine members of their organization arrested over the past 13 months, which began with the Rice scandal.

General manager Ozzie Newsome said last month that the team will avoid signing and drafting players with any domestic violence incidents in their past.

Baltimore Team president Dick Cass told ESPN that the Ravens don’t have a zero-tolerance policy, despite it looking seriously like they do after their three releases this offseason.

“We have to look at each case individually,” Cass told ESPN.com at the NFL owners meetings Monday. “We look at a number of factors and make a decision based on those factors. It’s not a zero-tolerance policy at all. We’re still going to be willing to take second chances on people if they deserve it. I think it’s a mischaracterization to say it’s a zero-tolerance policy.”

For now, the Ravens have to live with their decisions. They also should look as to why it’s happening and what they can do to stop their players from getting in trouble.

Ravens Keeping RB Justin Forsett With Three-Year Deal

Divisional Playoffs - Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots

The Ravens are keeping their top running back from last season, as they have come to terms with running back Justin Forsett. The back was an unrestricted free agent coming off a breakout season in which he rushed for 1,266 yards.

Kubiak Announces He’s Staying Put with the Ravens

Despite garnering interest for head-coaching vacancies, Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak has decided to stay with the Ravens, Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports.

“It is flattering and humbling to be invited to interview for a number of NFL head coaching positions, and I greatly appreciate these opportunities,” Kubiak said in a statement released on the team’s website. “But I have decided to stay with the Ravens. This is a special organization and we, like [head] coach [John] Harbaugh says, are building something great. I want to be a part of that and contribute in whatever ways I can.”

Kubiak attracted interest from the New York Jets and Chicago Bears, who are still searching for head coaches. But he will not interview for the openings, which is good news for the Ravens, who are seeking stability for quarterback Joe Flacco and an offense that ranked among the best in franchise history.

Before joining Harbaugh’s staff, Kubiak was the head coach of the Houston Texans for eight seasons, compiling a 61-64 record and leading them to two AFC South titles.

Ravens vs Patriots – A Rivalry With Respect Trickled In

For the third time in four seasons, the Ravens and Patriots will do battle in the AFC Playoffs, this time it’s first Divisional game of the biggest NFL weekend of the year, and this time instead of a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, it’s for a trip to the AFC Title game the following weekend vs either the Colts or Broncos.

The two teams have traded barbs over the years, but at the end of the day, each one this week is keeping it pretty clean as they get set to take the field yet again in New England.

“Our focus is on the game,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “We have enough to worry about with the opponent we’re going to play, how well-coached they are, how good their players are.”

The Ravens won the playoff battle the last time around, winning a trip to the Super Bowl in which they were able to win the famous “Harbaugh Bowl,” topping the San Francisco 49’ers and John’s brother Jim in the game two years back.

Now as the clubs meet yet again, the main players in the storylines are the same – Tom Brady for the Pats, and for the Ravens, players like Joe Flacco and Terrell Suggs, who still to this day won’t say Brady’s name in interviews.

When asked who the QB for the Pats was during an interview, Suggs simply responded “He’s the quarterback for the New England Patriots.”

The Ravens remain behind the eight-ball according to move lines, as The Standard has them as underdogs for Saturday, as well as 15/2 underdogs to win the AFC, and 17/1 to win the Super Bowl.

This battle could once again come down to who wins the QB battle, as the last time around, Flacco was just a bit better than Brady, and the Ravens won.

In the 2011 and 2012 AFC Championship Games combined, Flacco completed 59.8 percent of his passes (43-of-72) for 546 yards with five touchdowns and one interception (100.8 passer rating).

Brady connected on 56.6 percent of his throws (51-of-90) for 559 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions (60.3 rating).

“It’s not really me outdueling Tom or him outdueling me,” Flacco said. “We’re not playing against each other.”

True, but it appears while both teams have been are busy this week talking about how much they like one another, it’s going to come down to a simple fact on Saturday – execution.