Ravens Q&A with Mike Preston

November 08, 2011|By Mike Preston

Bradley M.: Mike what was the press box like when Torrey Smith caught the touchdown to win the game?

Let's see, the prime rib was pretty raw, cookies were great and the pizza hot (just joking).

Ahhh, the catch.

In all my years of covering the NFL, since 1987, I have never seen a stadium go so quiet, get so numb. It will long be remember as the day Heinz Field was unplugged. In the press box, it looked like a catch, but we kept waiting for the officials to signal a touchdown. In the meantime, you knew it was a touchdown because the Ravens officials sitting behind us were trying extremely hard not to cheer, which is forbidden in the press box. If I were a Ravens official, I would have been doing the "Bernie."

Victory aside, it was just a great night to be a sportswriter. When two teams with such great traditions play, it's just fun to watch. Whenever the Ravens play Pittsburgh, you have to take time out to look around and give thanks for what you do for a living. Ravens vs Steelers, it doesn't get much better in the world of sports.

Schisler in Westminster: A second straight game-winning drive in the final seconds in Heinz Field is quite epic. Here's the real question: does this 92-yard drive inspire this team to a Super Bowl against the Packers? And further, does this get the haters off Joe Flacco's back -- at least for a while?

This team was inspired to get back to the playoffs after losing to Pittsburgh in the post season in 2010. They knew they had the better team and should have won that game.

As for Flacco, if he wants to get haters off his back, he needs to become more consistent. Everyone knows Flacco has the pure talent, but he just doesn't play at a high level of consistency. It's unfair the way he has been judged. Fans seem to either love or hate him. I just think he is a pretty good quarterback who isn't elite, but good enough to win a Super Bowl given the right talent around him. But the key for Flacco, as for any player in the NFL, is to play at a consistently high level every week.

A year ago, some fans were saying the same thing about Flacco with the last-minute touchdown pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh in Pittsburgh. Remember? He had arrived. He had turned the corner. It's about consistency, consistency, consistency. If he struggles against Seattle on Sunday, the critics will be out again Monday morning.

Eric in Abingdon: The Steelers went to the no-huddle in the second half to neutralize the Ravens' pass rush. Although very effective, it's a double-edged sword because the Steelers' defense looked tired and out-of-sync on that last drive due to playing the majority of the second half. Flacco bailed out the Ravens and won the game, but I feel more teams will now try no-huddle earlier to give their offense the early edge. How can the Ravens' defense adjust to the no-huddle? Are our corners talented enough to hold their own if the pass rush is neutralized by the no-huddle?

I'm not sure the Steelers went to the no-huddle just to neutralize the Ravens' pass rush. They also had to jump-start their offense, and they did well against the Ravens in the second half. The Ravens have a lot of sub packages in their defensive scheme and, like most teams, couldn't always get their personnel on the field. Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano and the Ravens should be prepared for the no-huddle because they see it in practice. You do the best you can, but defenses can't always control down and distance change.

The Ravens' cornerbacks have played well since they lost to Tennessee, and they are a lot more aggressive and confident. To answer the latter part of your question, if you can't get a pass rush, it makes no difference if you have Deion Sanders and Rod Woodson on the corners. If a quarterback gets time to throw, the offense is going to succeed. The no-huddle has been around for a long time, and it will become more of a weapon. Defenses attack more than in previous decades, and offenses have to counter by not allowing them to get their sub packages on the field.

Question from a Steelers fan: How come when the Ravens scored all those points in the second half last week against Arizona it's labeled a great comeback, yet when the Steelers scored all those points in the second half of that playoff game last year or overcame that insurmountable 10-point lead in the second half Sunday night it's because the Ravens blew the lead? Signed, Confused in Pittsburgh

Mr. Confused: Don't your have your own team and hometown newspaper, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette?

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