Derrick Mason catches a 10-yard touchdown pass in the second… (Baltimore Sun photo by Kenneth…)
OK, apparently I was wrong about that Derrick Mason-Joe Flacco dustup last week.
Apparently it was a good thing for this Ravens team.
Memo to the Ravens' wide receivers: Want a lot of balls thrown your way?
Try this: Grab Flacco's face mask during a game and start barking at him about some perceived slight or another.
Then sit back, baby, and watch the passes come your way the following week.
Hey, look how well it worked for Mason in the Ravens' 17-10 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
One week after their celebrated sideline dispute in the Carolina Panthers game, Flacco ended up throwing 13 passes Mason's way, with the veteran wideout catching eight of them for 87 yards and a touchdown.
OK, we kid about any of the other Ravens receivers jumping in Flacco's grill. They'd better not try it. That shouting match between Flacco and Mason last week was a little more serious than the Ravens let on -- at least publicly.
As I wrote last week in this space, you can't have players grabbing your quarterback's face mask.
Mason was wrong to do that, and he knows he was wrong.
He showed up his young quarterback big-time.
Think any of the Indianapolis Colts receivers would try that stunt with Peyton Manning?
Think anyone on the New England Patriots would dare yank Tom Brady's face mask and bark about the way he's throwing the ball?
Give me a break.
The poor fool would be knocked on his butt by some 350-pound offensive lineman. And he'd be packing his bags five minutes later after Jim Caldwell or Bill Belichick got through blistering his ears.
But whatever problem Mason had with his quarterback last week, it was definitely a thing of the past against the Buccaneers.
In the first half alone, Mason was targeted 11 times, catching seven passes for 74 yards.
"They were playing a lot of soft coverage," Mason said of the Buccaneers' secondary. "They very seldom came up and pressed. And Joe got the ball out of his hands very quickly."
"Did Joe say anything to you during the game like 'I still love you?'" Mason was asked.
He smiled that 50,000-watt smile and looked around at the knot of reporters in front of his locker.
"No, man, things happen," he said. "You move on. That's my guy. He'll always be my guy. We won. That's all that matters. You might have a dispute one week. The next week, you gotta come out and get back to business as usual."
In his post-game interview, someone asked Ravens coach John Harbaugh whether the game plan was designed to get Mason a lot of looks.
Translation: Hey, Coach, did you guys throw to Mason so much because he threw a hissy fit last week?"
"That's by coincidence," Harbaugh said. "It's just the way [the Buccaneers] covered and the way they covered him. The way the progression read takes you to a certain receiver -- that's what it was.
"It wasn't anything else," Harbaugh said. "You guys can have fun with some stories, I guess. But I didn't think about that until you mentioned it. It's just the way it worked out."
The truth is, it's a good thing the Ravens were able to get the ball to Mason so often, because their offense definitely needed help in this less-than-inspiring win over the Buccaneers.
Sure, the Ravens seemed in control of the game throughout, even when Tampa Bay pulled to within a touchdown after quarterback Josh Freeman hit tight end Kellen Winslow with a 5-yard touchdown pass with 3:11 remaining.
But everyone knew the Buccaneers' 7-3 record going in was due in large part to their soft schedule, and that not one of those victories had come against a team with a winning record.
Sure, a win is a win. And the Ravens are now 8-3 and poised for a deep run into the playoffs. But no one in the Ravens locker room was doing cartwheels about the way they moved the ball Sunday.
Or didn't move the ball, to be more precise.
Maybe that's why Flacco was asked -- facetiously -- if he expected Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh to have a little sideline "chat" with him soon, seeing how well Mason's "chat" worked out for his own individual stats.
"That was not really a chat," Flacco said with a smile of his jawing with Mason. "It was more yelling at me: 'What were you doing, Joe? I was wide-open.'
"I don't know if they want that," he added, launching into a little good-natured trash talk about what would happen if Boldin and Houshmandzadeh did get in his face on the sidelines. "I don't know if that's a good matchup for them. Me versus them?"
Probably not a good idea, no matter how it worked out Sunday.
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