...on both sides of the issues from Monday night's great game between the Ravens and Patriots. How boring would it have been if New England had come into M&T Bank Stadium and blown out the Ravens as they've done to so many other teams, including the NFC best Dallas Cowboys? How many fans and other viewers would have turned the game off at halftime if it had turned out as expected? So the Ravens lost - big deal, it's now six in a row. Can you believe they once were 4-2 and looking forward to this game to determine playoff seeding!?
Unfortunatley, the Pats game was just one where we originally hoped the Ravens wouldn't embarrass themselves. When it began to look like the Ravens were playing the way we thought they should have all season long, all of a sudden respectability was no longer the goal. Winning was a definite possibility and the Ravens were playing defense just like they did throughout the 2006 season. The minutes ticked down in the fourth quarter, in which the Ravens failed to convert a first down after blowing the Patriots 3-4 defense off the ball to lead Willis McGahee to 138 rushing yards. All of a sudden, the offense returned to 2007 form in the fourth quarter, and a critical third down play failed due to the typical pass into the flat well short of the first down marker. After a short punt, the Pats rolled down the field in classic Tom Brady fashion. A flurry of penalties, an ill-timed timeout and clutch plays by Brady put the Pats deep inside the Red Zone, where a sweet TD pass gave New England a last minute victory.
The scene that followed was embarrassing yet understandable. New England calmly just took care of business while the Ravens dropped to their knees, yanked off their helmets, threw the officials flag into the stands and whined to the reporters from the locker room. All of which I totally understand even if it doesn't look good to the nation that watched on the prime time stage and everywhere else on ESPN. While the Patriots have been in this type of situation before and is a big reason why they've consistently been one of the best teams in the league since 1999, the Ravens have had absolutely nothing to cheer about the entire 2007 season. Finally, they were starring in a prime time slugfest, with a chance to intercept history in the making and they came, oh so close, only to fail one more time. Unless you have put on a helmet and found yourself in a similar situation (and something tells me you probably haven't), you just cannot relate and therefore should not judge.
The incredible intensity and emotion flowing through their bodies is at such a high level that helps them react without thinking all game, flying around the field, punishing themselves with brutal hits given and received, is the same thing that causes them to yell, scream, and otherwise react to official's calls and reporters questions. They just can't always turn it off as easily as you may think they should.
Personally, I will always admire the physical and emotional sacrifices these players make for their team, teammates and fans, ones they will most certainly pay for the rest of their non-playing lives. Therefore, before you whine yourselves about how they lost their composure,...like they say, walk a mile in their shoes first. Or better yet, try getting ten short yards!