Connect with us


Make it 11 straight Wins for Cardinals



Make it 11 straight Wins for Cardinals

Miles Mikolas pitched seven strong innings, Tyler O’Neill and Paul Goldschmidt homered and the Cardinals beat the Brewers 10-2 for their 11th straight win!

O’Neill’s first inning two run homer got Mikolas off to a good start. In the second inning. Tommy Edman hit a sacrifice fly that scored two runners, Edmundo Sosa and a hustling Harrison Bader from second base to make it a 4-0 lead. O’Neill and Nolan Arenado added run scoring doubles in that second inning and it was 6-0 early on.

In the Brewers half of the second, Arenado turned in the defensive play of the game, catching a foul ball down the third base line while landing on top of the stadium tarp. Goldschmidt’s 27th home run of the season traveled 433 feet in the eighth inning to give the Cards a 10-2 cushion.

Mikolas pitched seven strong innings to get the win (2-2). He allowed just two runs on four hits while walking none and striking out three.

The Cardinals go for the four game sweep in Milwaukee on Thursday afternoon with Adam Wainwright on the mound. The Cards current lead in the NL wild card race is four and a half games over both the Reds and Phillies with 11 games to go in the regular season.

google news


Mike Preston: With blowout of Ravens, Bengals now the hunted in AFC North race | COMMENTARY



50 Colo. Time dealers, Wells are auto fame inductees

A year ago, defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale was critical of the Cincinnati Bengals after they kicked a late field goal to ruin the Ravens’ shutout in a 27-3 victory.

On Sunday, the Ravens’ coaching staff was saluting the Bengals after a 24-point win that put Cincinnati (5-2) in first place in the AFC North after seven weeks.

There was much discussion about whether there was a shift in power brewing in the division before the season started, but the Bengals made it official Sunday. They crushed the Ravens, 41-17, and made Baltimore (5-2) appear as lifeless as the Los Angeles Chargers, who the Ravens whipped, 34-6, last week.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh has always been reluctant to wave the white flag. He has traditionally played his starting quarterbacks to the bitter end in almost every game, regardless of the score. But once Cincinnati went ahead 41-17 with about seven minutes remaining, Harbaugh pulled starter Lamar Jackson.

It was no más.

“They came into a division game on the road and played great, and they won and beat us,” Harbaugh said. “We were beaten soundly, and that’s what happened.”

It was a statement game. For the Ravens, this could be a preview of what happens when they play a defensive team with an athletic front four and Jackson can’t control the pace of the game. Without Jackson’s dominance, the Ravens’ weak running game and poor pass coverage are exposed.

As for Cincinnati, it was a coming-out party. They have one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in second-year player Joe Burrow and a great complement on the outside in rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who toasted the Ravens’ top cornerback, Marlon Humphrey, on the way to 201 yards. Not only do the Bengals have Burrow and Chase, but they have some other highly skilled offensive players in running back Joe Mixon and tight end C.J. Uzomah.

If you’re waiting for the Bengals to fall apart like they have in previous years, you might be waiting a while. Cincinnati had only one penalty for 5 yards on Sunday. The Bengals converted one of two fourth-down situations, which doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is when you’re the Bengals. With Cincinnati up 27-17 with 11:43 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Bengals actually made a stop on a fourth-and-7 at the Ravens’ 38-yard line.

They would have folded in previous years. These Bengals are for real.

“It’s a different team,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. “We’re allowed to build and improve, and we just have a different mentality right now. We’ve done a lot of different things to get to this position, and I’ve given out a lot of tough speeches over time about great things to come and [to] keep working. And you hope and pray that the team believes in that. That’s the foundation of what we’re building, and this is the result. This is their moment.

“Everything we’ve talked about, we’ve earned. We’re starting to earn respect, but we still have a long way to go. Just winning one road game against a divisional opponent, that’s what you have to do if you want to compete in this league. We have a long way to go, but I’m really proud of the collective team effort. This was a complete game today by all three phases, and that’s what we need to come on the road to Baltimore with and beat them.”

Like Cincinnati, the Cleveland Browns have an athletic front four, and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ can be just as active. It’s not as if any of these division rivals have developed a special formula to stop Jackson, but they get off blocks and run to the ball. The Ravens’ offensive line is effective when they can make quick contact and Baltimore’s running backs get through the hole in a hurry.

But starting halfback J.K. Dobbins and top backup Gus Edwards are both out for the season with knee injuries. With the backs the Ravens have on their roster, they can still win 10 to 12 games, but it’s going to be tough to win in the postseason.

It’s not the Ravens’ fault. They were forced to sign aging players such as Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman and Le’Veon Bell, who don’t have the speed to be a threat off tackle or the consistent acceleration to pop a big run up the middle. With this running game, Jackson has to be the top threat outside the tackles.

With this offensive line, Jackson has to improvise and make plays in the pocket, which is why he often held onto the ball too long Sunday. Jackson rushed 12 times for 88 yards and completed 15 of 31 passes for 257 yards, but this wasn’t the Jackson we’d all come to expect in 2021.

Jackson never found his phone booth to become Superman. The Bengals, with five sacks, didn’t let him. Neither did the Ravens’ running game.

“We always have to have two guys on him, one inside shoulder [and] one outside shoulder,” said Bengals defensive end Sam Hubbard, who had 2 ½ sacks. “So, you always have to have two people on the ball.”

Harbaugh doesn’t have many options with the running game. The Ravens are caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. But it’s the defense that has been so puzzling.

The Ravens allowed 520 yards of total offense as Burrow completed 23 of 38 passes for a career-high 416 yards and three touchdowns and finished with a passer rating of 113.5. He threw touchdown passes of 55, 32 and 82 yards, and the Bengals had touchdowns runs of 21 and 46 yards.

The Ravens again had the tackling blues. They spent a lot of time tackling air or laying on the ground appearing to look for gophers.

“I guess I’ll look at the film and kind of figure it out,” Humphrey said of the poor play. “I think things just didn’t go our way early. So, as ‘Wink’ says, it’s not as bad as it seems; but right now, it seems pretty bad.”

Oh, it was bad. Ugly.

Instead of looking at the video, maybe the Ravens want to burn the film and move on. They’ve already proven they can play at a high level in last week’s rout of the Chargers. After Sunday’s game, Harbaugh tried to find the words to sum up the loss.

He said the NFL is a week-to-week and game-to-game league. Basically, it comes down to which team is hot at the end of the regular season and can carry that momentum into the playoffs.

“There never is any running narrative, it just doesn’t exist,” Harbaugh said.

But we do know that the AFC North race is going to be hard-fought. If Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield ever steps up his game, the Browns have as much talent as any team in the league. Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has seen his best days and his arm will tire before the end of the season, but you can never count out Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

As for the Ravens, they have issues with their running game. The defense seems to have a personality disorder. One week they play like the 1985 Bears, and the next week they play like the Bad News Bears.

Regardless, the Ravens can’t be as bad as they played Sunday. In fact, they looked like the Chargers last week, who were also headed into their bye week.

The Ravens just waved bye-bye and took a break a week early.

©2021 Baltimore Sun. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

google news
Continue Reading


Five things we learned from the Ravens’ 41-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals



50 Colo. Time dealers, Wells are auto fame inductees

The Ravens had their worst performance of the season in a lopsided 41-17 home loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Here are five things we learned Sunday afternoon:

The Ravens cannot dwell on a humiliating defeat any more than they did on a proud victory.

The Ravens entered with a 5-1 record built on one-score victories and a single blowout. They exited as victims of a pummeling that sent them into their bye week facing serious questions about their status as an AFC contender.

We’re talking about what happened Sunday, right? Well, yes, but we could also be describing the events of Oct. 21, 2012, when the Ravens fell, 43-13, to the Houston Texans. That story ended 3 ½ months later in New Orleans, with Joe Flacco clutching a Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award.

This is not to say the Ravens are destined to win the Super Bowl because they ate a blowout in Week 7. It’s just to say that one week is one week in the NFL. It’s not unusual for an eventual champion to be embarrassed on a given Sunday. Need more recent evidence? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell, 38-3, to the New Orleans Saints in Week 9 last season.

This was not a disqualifying loss for the Ravens any more than their 34-6 blowout of the Los Angeles Chargers, just seven days earlier, was a certification of their AFC preeminence.

“It’s always week to week; it’s always game to game,” coach John Harbaugh said. “There never is any running narrative, it just doesn’t exist.”

Please don’t read this as an excuse for the Ravens’ performance. They tackled and covered poorly against a talented, hungry opponent that was eager to pounce on every mistake. They did not run the ball with any consistency against a defense that yielded 404 rushing yards to them in Week 17 of last season. Quarterback Lamar Jackson waited too long for plays to develop and took five sacks as a result. They were much the lesser team on their home field in an early battle for AFC North supremacy.

“This one’s going to burn a little bit,” defensive end Calais Campbell said, and you could hear from his humbled tone that he meant it.

There’s only so much use in self-flagellation, however. The Ravens, under Harbaugh, have always done a good job of treating each week as a discrete problem. Seasons rarely get away from them, and there is no reason to think this one will.

“We can’t really treat a bad loss any different than a win,” said cornerback Marlon Humphrey after one of the worst individual performances of his career. “This bye week helps us because we can kind of study into it a little bit more than usual. But you look at it, you fix your problems. You’ll probably take this one [for] two or three days, and then you kind of flush it, and you move on.”

Fans won’t take comfort from such answers, which border on cliché. But there’s a reason successful players and teams learn to think this way. What else is there but next week?

All of the Ravens’ flaws resurfaced.

The completeness of their triumph over the Chargers wiped our memories of the first five weeks a little too quickly. Yes, they found ways to win those earlier games, but they did so in spite of shoddy tackling, a declining ground game and flimsy pass defense.

All of these old enemies showed up at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday.

The Ravens actually started well on defense, pressuring Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow into an inaccurate first quarter and keeping rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase off the stat sheet. Then, Cincinnati tight end C.J. Uzomah left Humphrey sucking dust on a 55-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter, and the troubles followed.

This was the rare game in which Humphrey was not the best Ravens cornerback on the field. In the two-minute drill before halftime, he let Chase get away from him on a crossing route; Chase not only picked up 26 yards, he made it all the way to the sideline to stop the clock. Cincinnati capitalized with a field goal to go up 13-10.

Uzomah scored again on the Bengals’ first drive of the second half after Ravens safety Chuck Clark abandoned him in hopes of jumping a sideline route. To make matters worse, DeShon Elliott missed a tackle on the 32-yard catch and run.

The afternoon reached its nadir a few minutes later when Chase beat Humphrey on a quick third-down route and wiggled out of the cornerback’s grasp on his way to an 82-yard touchdown that put the Bengals up 27-17. Humphrey briefly reopened the window for his team with an interception in the end zone at the start of the fourth quarter, but the Ravens went just 18 yards on their ensuing drive, and that was that.

“I lost that matchup, so a lot of it … is on me,” Humphrey said of his showdown with Chase.

Outside linebacker Tyus Bowser offered a broader and simpler epitaph: “We would have been OK if we had just tackled.”

Burrow finished with 416 passing yards, Chase with 201 receiving yards. Their gaudy statistical lines echoed those surrendered by the Ravens in earlier games against the Raiders, Chiefs and Colts.

“Up and down,” Campbell said of the defense. “Hot and cold. Not very consistent yet.”

The Ravens could have made life easier for their defense if they had seized the initiative on offense like they did the week before. But they are no longer capable of playing bully ball against quality resistance. It’s telling that their best running performances of the season have come against defensive horror shows such as the Chiefs and the Chargers. Jackson (12 carries, 88 yards) was their only effective runner against the Bengals, and he took significant punishment as he tried to scramble his team out of trouble. The Ravens got 29 yards on 11 carries from their running backs; it’s hard to imagine such totals if they were working with J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards instead of faded stars Devonta Freeman and Le’Veon Bell.

Jackson made some terrific downfield throws, but he also held the ball too long as he waited for chunk plays to develop, perhaps lacking faith that the Ravens could mount long drives built on more modest bites. They managed just one scoring drive longer than four minutes, meaning they never played the game on their terms.

The Bengals announced themselves as a legitimate threat to take the AFC North.

We can list the Ravens’ flaws on a never-ending crawl for the next two weeks, but the fact is they might have gotten away with their subpar performance against the 2020 Bengals. This was a more formidable foe that spent the week uttering confident words and backed them up with confident play.

Burrow knew he would face pressure, and he missed on eight of his first 13 attempts as Ravens outside linebacker Justin Houston lived in the Cincinnati backfield. The former No. 1 overall pick did not shrink from the difficulty, however. He made correct reads and accurate throws with defenders in his face, and his receivers turned quick strikes into touchdowns of 55, 32 and 82 yards (49.4% of his passing yards came after the catch, according to Pro Football Focus). The Ravens opened the door with missed tackles and poor communications. Burrow and the Bengals sprinted through it.

“This might have been his best game as a pro,” Campbell said of Burrow. “We made it hard on him early, and he made some adjustments and did what he had to do. You have to tip your hat off to him. His playmakers made plays for him, too. That team is talented.”

On the other side, the Bengals made it clear their 26th ranked defense from 2020 is a relic of the past. They covered well enough downfield to give their pass rushers, Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson, time to reach Jackson, and they ate the Ravens alive at the line of scrimmage. They have stars at all three layers.

Based on seven weeks of evidence, nothing about the Bengals screams fluke. Their defense is the best in the AFC North (yes, they have outplayed the Steelers). Burrow and Chase are gifted enough to punish any opponent. Their self-belief is growing. Remember, Jackson and the Ravens took off faster than anyone expected in 2019. Could this blowout be tinder for the Bengals?

“I think it was a big statement,” Burrow said.

The Ravens cannot afford to lose Patrick Mekari.

Harbaugh offered no postgame update on his right tackle, who left the game with an ankle injury before halftime.

The Ravens had spent the first six weeks playing catch-up on the offensive line after Ronnie Stanley went down with an ankle injury that turned out to be season-ending. Mekari’s play on the right side was a legitimate bright spot in that effort. He came in with the second-best pass-blocking grade among the team’s starting linemen, according to Pro Football Focus, and Harbaugh has praised him unreservedly.

The Ravens love Mekari for his willingness to step into any breach. With him excelling at right tackle and Alejandro Villanueva looking more comfortable at his familiar spot on the left, the loss of Stanley felt less catastrophic than it probably should have.

Mekari’s injury might turn out to be minor, and it came at the right time, with the Ravens going into their bye week. But it reminded us how thin they really are at tackle. Tyre Phillips, who has rarely excelled as a pass blocker on the outside, stepped in for Mekari, and Cincinnati’s best pass rushers, Hubbard and Hendrickson, rolled up pressures against him and Villanueva. Practice-squad call-up David Sharpe was one more turned ankle from playing significant snaps.

Do not be surprised if Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta tries to pick up a tackle before the Nov. 2 trade deadline, though the leaguewide supply is thin.

Even in a bad loss, we saw evidence the Ravens have found the right formula at inside linebacker.

It was just Patrick Queen’s luck that he played one of the better games of his career in an ugly performance for the defense.

The Ravens stuck to their plan from the Chargers game, using the second-year linebacker as a complement to veteran Josh Bynes. Queen played 27 defensive snaps and earned the highest grade of any Ravens defender, according to Pro Football Focus. Early in the game, he moved decisively to fill a gap and dropped Bengals running back Joe Mixon for a loss. The 2020 first-round pick avoided the glaring mistakes that haunted many of his teammates.

Bynes also played well, contributing six tackles as the Ravens held Mixon (12 carries, 59 yards) in check for most of the game.

The Ravens trust Bynes to bring order to the middle of their defense, and they hope Queen will rebuild his confidence and run free to the ball playing the WILL spot. This wasn’t the scenario they envisioned heading into Week 1, but it’s a logical attempt at trying to make the best of a disappointing start to Queen’s career.

Week 9

[email protected]

Nov. 7, 1 p.m.

TV: Chs. 45, 5

Radio: 97.9 FM, 1090 AM

©2021 Baltimore Sun. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

google news
Continue Reading


Ravens coach John Harbaugh on defense’s ‘biggest problem,’ Patrick Mekari’s ankle injury and more | NOTES



50 Colo. Time dealers, Wells are auto fame inductees

The Ravens’ biggest problem on defense this season hasn’t changed. If they can’t tackle, they can’t succeed.

Tackling woes again plagued the Ravens in their 41-17 loss Sunday to the Bengals, with Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow amassing nearly half of his career-high 416 passing yards after the catch, according to Pro Football Focus. Running backs Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine also ripped off fourth-quarter touchdowns against a defense that couldn’t bring them down.

As the Ravens enter their bye week on a low note, their defensive fundamentals are under the microscope. That has been the case seemingly all season, even after spirited wins.

“The biggest problem we have on defense right now, in terms of big plays, is not getting guys on the ground, whether it’s been underneath slant routes or screen routes or, in one case, we got the screen-and-go,” coach John Harbaugh said Monday, referring to Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah’s 32-yard catch-and-run touchdown in the third quarter Sunday when he slipped past safety DeShon Elliott in the open field.

When the Ravens return in Week 9 for their home game against the Minnesota Vikings, there will be little letup for the defense. Running back Dalvin Cook averaged a broken tackle every 9.5 carries last season, according to Pro Football Reference, though his elusiveness has slipped this season. Wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who starred alongside Bengals rookie Ja’Marr Chase at LSU, is ninth in the NFL with 542 receiving yards.

“Until we get [tackling] fixed, we’ll be a very mediocre defense, generally speaking,” Harbaugh said. “Our guys understand that. … When we play really good defense, we’re tackling. And that’s got to get done. And there’s a lot of reasons for that. Sometimes they’re not pushing to the right zone, so there’s more space in there than there should be. Other times, we take a bad angle. Sometimes a guy’s not covered.

“There’s different reasons for it, but the results are uniformly not good. And you’re a consistent, good defense when you consistently do all the little things well. And when we start doing all the little things well, then we’re going to be a better defense.”

Mekari hurting

Harbaugh declined to comment on right tackle Patrick Mekari’s condition, saying only that he has an ankle injury. The NFL Network reported Monday that Mekari, who was hurt in the second quarter, suffered a high-ankle sprain and is “seeking more feedback.” High-ankle sprains generally take at least a month to recover from.

Mekari is the Ravens’ highest-rated tackle, according to PFF, and played every offensive snap from Week 2, when he took over after Alejandro Villanueva moved to left tackle, to Week 6. Harbaugh said last week that he “couldn’t ask for a better player there [at right tackle] right now.”

With Ronnie Stanley (ankle) sidelined for the season, the team will likely turn once more to Tyre Phillips, who started at left guard in Week 1 before suffering a minor knee injury. He replaced Mekari on Sunday and struggled against Cincinnati’s pass rush.

“We’ll just see where it goes,” Harbaugh said of Mekari’s injury.

Extra points

  • Harbaugh called the Ravens’ performance Sunday “our worst game of the season, worst game in a long time.” But he stressed that the team is not even at the midpoint of a long season. “We’ve got 10 games left,” he said. “We need to keep growing as a football team and building on what we’ve done and what we haven’t done and make the strongest run we can for the next 10 weeks, and that’s what we’re planning on doing.”
  • After Ravens running backs combined for 29 rushing yards on 11 carries Sunday, Harbaugh was asked about the position’s struggles on the ground. “We just have to block better, scheme better, run better,” he said. “There are specifics in there in terms of schemes, and every play stands on its own. But we can’t go through all — how many run plays have we had this year that haven’t been successful? You can go through every one of them and you get the specific answer.”
  • Defensive lineman Derek Wolfe (hip/back) is “very close” to returning to practice, Harbaugh said. Wolfe has yet to play this season after suffering an injury in training camp. “This week, next week, hopefully, and we’ll see,” he said.

©2021 Baltimore Sun. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

google news
Continue Reading