All talked out, Ravens ready to settle business

January 14, 2012|Kevin Cowherd

Are you ready for some football? The Ravens sure are.

In fact, after a week in which they spent way too much time yakking with the media and sharing their innermost thoughts, they probably can't wait to go out and bang heads today with the Houston Texans.

Yes, at times it was a regular "Dr. Phil" moment when you stuck a microphone in front of the Ravens the past few days.

Joe Flacco talked about how he doesn't get enough respect and questioned why everyone's so fixated on the notion of elite quarterbacks.

Ed Reed got defensive over questions about why his interception totals are down. Then he gave an answer that was almost Zen-like in its simplicity. ("They're not throwing my way. What do you want me to do?")

Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, who's probably worried about his own job, got all worked up defending Flacco, especially when someone asked whether the playoffs represent a chance for Flacco to silence his critics.

That's when Cam came back with an answer that might as well have come from Sonny Corleone in "The Godfather." ("The bottom line is, we're all shutting everyone up all the time these days.")

Then there was Ray Lewis, who somehow spent the week with a smile on his face while listening to insinuations that he's too old and dodging questions about whether he'll retire if he gets a second Super Bowl ring. ("I don't know. You kind of get greedy when you get two.")

Did I miss anyone?

Oh, before we go on, I should mention that Ray-Ray was also featured in a big piece in USA Today on Friday. In it, he said his diet is so spartan he doesn't drink soda, doesn't eat bread or sugar, hasn't eaten pork in 12 years and has eaten beef only twice in that time. Plus, he swallows about 50 pills a day, mostly vitamin supplements.

But then he revealed the awful truth: When he absolutely, positively needs a sweet fix, he's been known to eat — you probably want to be sitting for this one — Twizzlers.

And Gummi Bears.

Wow, Ray. Way to let yourself go.

Anyway, what we learned from all this unburdening is that some of the Ravens have a chip on their shoulder the size of a California redwood.

Sometimes this kind of unresolved anger can be a negative. But not when you play a sport that requires you to slam into huge men at full speed and beat them bloody, which means the Ravens should be in the perfect frame of mind for today's AFC divisional playoff against the Texans.

I can tell you this: Chips on their shoulders or not, the Ravens' locker room was as loose as you'll ever see it Friday after practice.

The cornhole tournament was finally over, a tournament that felt like it started back in the Jimmy Carter administration.

But you had hip-hop music blaring, you had players laughing and dancing, you had Ravens dunking footballs on the heads of unsuspecting media members.

(Full disclosure: I got dunked on. By safety Tom Zbikowski. But I'm like Vito Corleone. I don't forget.)

The point is, the Ravens are a team brimming with confidence going into this game. And why not?

They're playing well. They have a ton of veterans who have been to the playoffs before. They're 8-0 at M&T Bank Stadium this season. And after being banged up after that 24-16 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in the regular-season finale, they've had two weeks to rest and recover from injuries.

Does this mean the Texans shouldn't even bother showing up? Or that they might as well start making tee times for the offseason on the bus ride over to the Bank?

No, this is the NFL playoffs. You don't make it if your team is a dog.

We all know the Texans have formidable weapons: Arian Foster and Andre Johnson on offense, plus the No. 2 defense in the league.

But here's the rub: The Texans will start a rookie quarterback in T.J. Yates who was No. 3 on the depth chart until a few weeks ago, something we've harped on all week.

In fact, I was on a couple of Houston sports-radio shows last week and kept getting the same question: Why do you hate our quarterback?

Me? I said. A man of peace and love? I don't hate anyone. (Don't be lulled by this, Zbikowski.) But asking a young, inexperienced quarterback to beat the Ravens in the playoffs — in their house — is a tall order.

I don't think he can do it.

I think the Ravens win this one and move on to the AFC championship game.

With the same chips on their shoulders, too.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

Listen to Kevin Cowherd at 7:20 a.m. Tuesdays on 105.7 The Fan's "The Norris and Davis Show."

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