The Baltimore Ravens are back at home, leaving the mess they made in Seattle last week where they lost 22-17 to the Seahawks.
Undefeated at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium where they are 4-0, the Ravens will be looking to return to their winning ways and into a first-place tie with Pittsburgh when they play host to the 6-3 Cincinnati Bengals.
One area in which the Ravens will be looking to improve this week is in getting to the opposition quarterback. In that key defensive category the Ravens have slowed down of late.
Through their opening seven games, the Ravens had collected 25 sacks but in their last two games they have managed just two.
And it won’t get any easier for the Ravens in attempting to put Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton on the ground. Through their first nine games the Bengals O-line has allowed Dalton to be sacked just 13 times.
Taking the rap for Baltimore’s low sack output the past two games is their defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, who said he has to let his dogs loose.
“I’ve got to send them more,” Pagano said during his weekly briefing. “I’ve got to call more. That’s not on them. That falls on my shoulders. I’ve got to be more aggressive and get after them.
“(Opponents are) keeping more guys in to protect, they’re running the ball a little bit more. So we’ve got to do a great job on first and second down and get them into throwing situations, and no matter what the situation is, if they want to keep six or if they want to keep seven in, we’ve got to design and I’ve got to do a better job of putting our guys in position to get after the quarterback.”
CAN’T HOLD GORE BACK
Frank Gore may be beat up but the San Francisco 49ers’ featured running back says he is ready to rumble.
“Yeah I’ll play. I’ll play good,” Gore said the other day of being able to start Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.
In last week’s important 27-20 victory over the New York Giants, Gore was a non-factor due to a knee injury that sidelined him for the second half of the game.
“I hyper-extended my leg, and it kind of shut down my leg, and I couldn’t really push off like I wanted to,” Gore said. “I wanted to be smart, and (running backs coach Tom) Rathman wanted me to be smart, knowing we’ve got a long season ahead and we can be successful, and I want to be there.”
Prior to banging up his knee, Gore had accomplished little in the game as he had six carries for ZERO yards.
It was obvious that the Giants game plan was to stop Gore and in that regard, they succeeded.
“It was 10 men in the box. They were coming to stop the run,” Gore said of the Giants’ defensive strategy.
On the season, Gore, who is also bothered by a left ankle injury, has gained 782 yards rushing, has a 4.7-yard average and rushed for five touchdowns.
To make sure that Gore doesn’t get worn down, the 49ers will probably share the running load with rookie Kendall Hunter, who gained 40 yards on six carries last week.
Whatever the coaches want to do, I’ll be fine with it,” Gore said. “But I want to be out there. I want to be out there bad.”
THIS EAGLE WON’T FLY
The Philadelphia Eagles season has fallen apart and it looks like a certainty that when they line up to face the New York Giants on Sunday they will be without the services of Michael Vick.
The banged up Eagles quarterback hasn’t practised this week due to two broken ribs, an injury he sustained in last week’s loss to Arizona.
The Eagles are expected to wait until game time before making it official but it doesn’t look good for Vick.
This week, backup Vince Young has taken all of the practice reps with the first-team offence and he’ll need that work as he has appeared in just one game this season, attempted one pass and it was intercepted.
The Eagles, who are 3-6 and all but officially eliminated from post-season play, still are holding out hope that Vick can somehow make the start.
That list includes offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.
“Yeah, he’s a tough man, and I’m always optimistic with him,” Mornhinweg told reporters. “He’s doing everything possible to get ready for the next game — both in the training room as well as in the classroom.
“He’s a tough guy and wants to play. He’s tough both mentally and physically. We’ll see.”
Even if he does play, Vick has not come close to the level of play he exhibited last season.
Against Arizona, Vick was 16-for-34 with two interceptions and no touchdowns. In his past five games he has thrown five touchdown passes but also eight interceptions. On the season he has thrown 11 interceptions and has lost three fumbles.
AT LEAST HE’S HONEST
New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck isn’t having the type of season he is accustomed to but you have to admire his honesty.
Last year Tuck counted 11 1/2 sacks on the season but this season after nine games he has registered just two.
“I do suck,” Tuck told the New York Daily News of his play this season. “I’m a very honest person. I’m not a very good player now. I do look at myself on film, and I don’t like what I see.”
This season, Tuck has been hobbled by neck and groin injuries and has played in just five games. However, he isn’t using that as an excuse.
“I feel like I’m putting forth the effort,” he said. “But there’s just some things not allowing me to play my style of football.”
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said he isn’t worried, that it will take time for him to regain his full health.
“He wants to return to form,” Fewell said. “It’s just taking him a little bit more time than both he and we expected.”
On Sunday, Tuck hopes to break out against the Eagles.