Hey, Jamison

HEY, JAMISON

December 26, 2008|By Jamison Hensley

Each week, Baltimore Sun reporter Jamison Hensley will answer questions about the Ravens. To submit a question, e-mail sports@baltsun.com. Give your name and phone number so we can verify the e-mail.

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HEY, JAMISON: : Why does the defense keep falling apart in the fourth quarter, as in both games against Pittsburgh, against Tennessee and even against Dallas? In each game, the defense looked great until near the end. Are the Ravens playing more of a "prevent defense"? Are they getting tired? Is it because, at least in the last two games, Frank Walker was playing at the end, with Fabian Washington out against Pittsburgh and Samari Rolle out against Dallas?

Pastor Brian Adams, Hyattsville

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HEY, PASTOR BRIAN: : I wouldn't say the Ravens were in a prevent defense either game, but they didn't seem as aggressive - and for good reason. Against Pittsburgh, the Ravens lost Washington to a hamstring injury. At Dallas, they lost Rolle to a sprained foot. You can't fault Rex Ryan for not blitzing heavily, because that would have left the secondary vulnerable.

Also, you have to give credit to the quarterbacks. Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger recorded the 17th fourth-quarter comeback of his five-year career when he rallied the Steelers against the Ravens. So, it's not as if the Ravens were the first team that Roethlisberger has beaten late. The same goes for Tony Romo. He entered Saturday's game with the NFL's best passer rating in the fourth quarter. :

HEY, JAMISON: : If the Ravens make the playoffs as the No. 6 seed, is there a chance for a home game?

Dick Yost, Keedysville

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HEY, DICK: : Sorry, no chance. If the Ravens make the playoffs, their road to the Super Bowl will be on the road.

Although that is definitely a challenge, it's not an impossible route. Two of the past three Super Bowl champions - the New York Giants last season and the Pittsburgh Steelers two seasons earlier - won three playoff games on the road to reach the NFL title game.

Besides, unlike in some seasons, the Ravens have shown no fear when playing on the road. When they played the final game at Texas Stadium, the players seemed to feed off the emotion of the crowd. The Ravens finished with five wins on the road this season, tied for second most in the NFL. One possible route is at Miami in the first round, at Tennessee in the second and at Pittsburgh in the conference championship game. The Ravens wouldn't mind that, because they have already won at the Dolphins and have lost to the Titans and Steelers on late (and controversial) drives.

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HEY, JAMISON: : On a punt that sails out of bounds, an official moves up the sideline to "spot" the point where the ball went out. I find it hard to believe that he can, with any accuracy, determine the yard line over which the ball passed. Is there another official who makes that call and relays the yardage to the side judge? There never seems to be any complaint from the kicking team.

Ed Lohmeyer, Ellicott City

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HEY, ED: : Count me as skeptical, too, about the accuracy of spotting the ball. It would make more sense to me for an official in the press box - or someone with a broader scope - to make the judgment. He could communicate with officials on the field where to place the ball.

But this has a minimal impact on games. Only 27 of Ravens punter Sam Koch's 244 career kicks have gone out of bounds. That's 11 percent of the time that officials have needed to spot his punts.

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