Can’t blame the defense but it was another double-digit lead lost against Steelers

Screen Shot 2023 01 01 at 11.24.47 PM
Screen Shot 2023 01 01 at 11.24.47 PM
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Luke Jones and Nestor discuss the thud of Ravens losing to Steelers at home to start the year and the realities ahead in Cincinnati and beyond.


ravens, game, week, run, play, steelers, team, lamar jackson, playoffs, cincinnati, season, point, quarterback, defense, offense, lost, pittsburgh, huntley, jacksonville, lamar

Nestor Aparicio  00:01

wn s t test Baltimore and Baltimore positive. This is our first piece of the new year and what a piece is going to be Louis Jones joins us now. We’re going to Maryland crabcakes we’re back out on the road people been asking me when I’m going to chi and a Coney Island hot dog and the answer is next Thursday. So we’re gonna have all that together in conjunction with our friends at the Maryland lottery slob, a handful scratch offs left to give away as well as our friends at Goodwill and window nation. I did have crabcake get to Costas last week during the holidays. Look, I guess for Sunday night football and for the bright lights and the blackout and the Steelers in town and the tickets in demand because the Steelers fans. I don’t know how many Steelers fans that were but there are plenty mewed he and or pit. We didn’t do that one, but up or goose look is here and he was there. And now we will wait for the outcome to figure out all of this including game times next week. Boy the league loves when it comes down like this to the end of the week to say week 17 Now it’s week 18. They’ve extended this thing out. The league always entertains and even on a weekend where you’re like, well, that team’s got everything to play for and that team’s got nothing to play for. All of a sudden, the leaks a little bit disarray this week.

Luke Jones  01:21

No question. I mean, it’s always been this way. But when you add that third wildcard team in the way that the league did a couple years ago it it leaves more teams in it like the seventh and eighth Pittsburgh Steelers going into Sunday night football team that let’s face it a very low percent chance of making playoffs and still is the case after Sunday night’s outcome but no it leads leads to more drama now. I think we call a spade a spade and say Okay, is it great that 500 teams have a chance to make the playoffs going in or even sub 500 teams when you look at how the NFC South has shaped up over the course of the season. It is what it is right people will watch we know that we saw that with the Christmas Day ratings with the NFL compared to the NBA and the NFL with not exactly attractive games people watch regardless. And when you have a situation where you have games, that means something and even a game like ravens Steelers where the Ravens had already locked up a playoff spot. Pittsburgh again, their playoff hopes were on life support, let’s say you know, I think it was most sites I saw maybe 1% One and a half percent 2% Something like

Nestor Aparicio  02:31

is my choke right now. I thought they were eliminated like week seven, week eight, then we eliminate them a long time ago.

Luke Jones  02:36

Well, the Ravens didn’t I think everyone else, everyone else other than the NFL eliminated them. And again, a reminder of Mike Tomlin a reminder of this Steelers team. And I think to bring it back to what happened on Sunday night. This was a case of the Ravens being beaten by their own style their own game, right. I mean, strong running game defense doing what what the Pittsburgh defense was able to do against the ravens and they just did it better than the Ravens. They were the tougher football team. Dare I say on Sunday night, it really feels like it came down to to that when you look at what the stuff like

Nestor Aparicio  03:12

that running back was tough. You know, Nagi airs, it feels like dad, like losing it. You know, I mean, obviously, I have not seen a running back run that hard. And we should be they all tried to run hearts National Football League, but then that guy had a little extra pep in his step on Sunday night. He really did. Yeah,

Luke Jones  03:28

well, and Jalen Warren as well, you know, he had the big 31 yard run and made some plays as as a receiver as well. So I mean, it really was a case of the Steelers did what the Ravens tried to do and they just did it better over the course of 60 minutes. close game. 1613 very Baltimore, Pittsburgh, like, in that score. It was very, it was like That way it was that way throughout. So you just look at it. And again, as I’m writing at Baltimore It really comes down to ravens got beat their own style, you know, the Steelers beat them at their own game, really. And I think it is surprising. Not because Coleus Campbell was out. Certainly that was a huge factor. But let’s face it, I mean, they got run on for about 200 yards just under 200 yards most that an opponent had rushed for against them since Derrick Henry and the titans in that 2019 playoff loss. And you have to go back to 2017 for a regular season game in which a team ran like that against the Ravens. So as you said it Nagi Harris give him a lot of credit, also made a heck of a catch on a great throw by Kenny Pickett for the game winner. But I mean it was it was really a case of the Steelers beating the Ravens at their own game. And you know, it’s it shouldn’t be shocking in the grand scheme of things as far as what ravens Steelers has been for two decades now. But it is disappointing for the Ravens because you weren’t they were in a position where you win your last two, regardless of Lamar being out, and all the issues they’ve had on offense and all the blown leads earlier in the season, they had a chance to control their path to the AFC north. And instead, they’re watching the bills play the Bengals and hoping for help on Monday night to keep that dream alive. So I got some bills. Zubaz pants are back in the gym, Kelly era, that

Nestor Aparicio  05:22

receipt gave me I’ll loan them out to you if you need them.

Luke Jones  05:26

I remember you telling that story at one point, but it’s just it’s disappointing, because it was clearly a game that the Ravens led much of the way. And, boy, they had opportunities. I mean, you think back to the Justice Hill kick return to the Pittsburgh 40. And and where the Ravens were at that point in time, just I mean, any points, forget points, how about some first downs, just be able to chew the clock and be able to run the ball effectively. And they were an absolute zero on offense for their what final four possessions when you really think about they came out kick the field goal to start the second half. And on their ensuing drive. JK Dobbins ran for what 22 yards I think it was. And then they didn’t get another first down until the mark Andrews give him give himself up play on the final drive. So I mean, their offense was a total zero after that fuel goal to start the second half and the defense. Boy, they did a lot of bending, they’ve really got out that out physical so to speak with their inability to stop the run. But they tried to hold up and they did what they do inside the redzone until it finally broke at the end. So very disappointing. And I think it’s one of those losses looking in the locker room. I mean, that was as defeated as it felt like observing these guys after the game that was about as defeated, as I’ve seen them look. I mean, at least since the Giants game after week six, but the difference there was you still have the whole season in front of you. This is a case of they know they’re in the playoffs. They know their seasons not over. But it hurts to lose that one. And again, as I said the Steelers to beat them at their own game. I think that’s very disheartening going into whatever week 18 means and then knowing you know what, what lies ahead in the postseason after that.

Nestor Aparicio  07:20

I don’t want to be the Chicken Little guy here. You know, after 25 years of having this radio station on Monday mornings, after losses and holidays after losses in January, Monday mornings after losses, and season ending losses. The amazing part for me is that they had played well enough with Lamar to qualify for the playoffs, right, like and seven out of 16. I mean, we’re doing the math on this now. I mean, almost 50% of the teams are making the playoffs. So we shouldn’t be shocked at seven and eight. If eight Nate keeps you alive in the week 18. Right, we sort of knew that going in this odd game where the 17th game is going to make it. So eight nine is going to win a division before it’s all over with and it might next week might win two divisions next week. Right? So the notion that you’re going to be the three seed as opposed to the five seed as opposed to go into Jacksonville, as opposed to hosting. I don’t know one of the one of the teams that’s getting hotter the Chargers I am making that up. Whoever’s coming in. This team doesn’t have some distinct home field advantage in the way that they play in my mind. And the way that Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs and every did 15 years ago, were people gobbled up the tickets, they had playoff tickets on sale for two weeks, and nobody’s bought them. Because nobody believes they’re going to use them probably believe it even less after you lose to the Steelers at home on Sunday night. But the belief in the team and the pathway for the team was always going to be if you’re going to win a Super Bowl, you’re going to have to go to Kansas City and Buffalo and or Cincinnati, you’re gonna have to win two of those games probably on the road because you’re not good enough to host it right. So they sort of knew that going in all of this angst about getting the home game two weeks from now, as opposed to going to Jacksonville. Can’t wait in Jacksonville in January, you know, Super Bowl team, you know, I don’t know that playing at one game at home and all that they’re going through here. And that’s probably one of the reasons not rushing Lamar on to the field. And I don’t know what’s going on out there. I don’t know who’s practicing. I don’t know who’s working out. I don’t you know any of that stuff. They bring you guys out and then they DQ they lie to you. They decoy guys onto the field. They know you’re watching. I mean, all of that. All of the paranoia that goes on in Owings Mills. The bottom line is you got to win three games later this month. And I don’t care if you play them on the moon. I would say you don’t want to go to Buffalo on a nine degree night. You don’t want to be in Kansas City when it’s 21 degrees, especially with your quarterback who doesn’t like the cold. But that’s the real reality of this that I don’t feel like they lost that much losing to the Steelers. I never felt like they were going to win the division. I never felt like they were good enough to go to Cincinnati next week and win with a gimpy Lamar with the first back Lamar or with Lamar being Lamar. I’ve seen Cincinnati play we’ll have a chance to do that late into the night, as well see out affects our feet. But I’m not a Chicken Little guy about any of this because I understand the task. The task is probably go to Jacksonville and when I think they can do that, as Lamar Jackson standing, I think they can go to Jacksonville, and they get Peters and Calais is back. And that’s a big F right. That if they are comprised and mainly composed, they can win the first week. I’ve never thought they had anything more than a puncher’s chance against buffalo or Kansas City, or Cincinnati wants their grooving, you know, if they’re playing the way they’re playing right now. And they’re playing like they were playing last year right now that winning these games, they’re not the better team, they’re going to need two takeaways, a 60 yard field goal, and JK Dobbins to break two plays and like they’re gonna need miracles, Jacoby Jones, to to win these kinds of games in the playoffs anyway, I don’t know why it’s so important that there’s no buy involved, you know, so that’s why I’m not. I wouldn’t feel that way about the clubhouse. And I lost the game to the Steelers on Sunday night because I think the season’s far from over for them. But I do feel like they’re overmatch they’re not it. They’re the fourth or fifth best team in the AFC and that’s a hard thing to navigate week after week in January, if you got to go on the road, that they’ve done it a couple times they’ve done it as wildcards. Right. So they’ve they’ve, they’ve done this as an organization, and we’ve seen it in the past. I’m not blown away that they lost the the Steelers, I never believed they were winning the division to begin with. And I never really believed there will be all that much of a benefit. And that’s I haven’t done a lot of radio the last two weeks, but that’s really all I feel. Fair enough.

Luke Jones  12:04

You made some fair points there. I mean, full disclosure, I thought they’d win the division. And it’s not so much because of the Ravens. I thought it would be the Bengals navigating the second half schedule that they had that they’ve navigated. So admirably. So. I mean, remarkably, really. I mean, look at Think about this. The Ravens have not played a team that currently has a winning record, since they went up to the Meadowlands in week six. They’ve had they’ve played the JV the second half of the season for the most part, no, no disrespect to Mike Tomlin and the Steelers. But Nestor they’re eight and eight right I mean, this is not a great Pittsburgh Steelers team. This is a better Pittsburgh Steelers team that it was back in week five, but it’s still far from an impressive Pittsburgh team. So you just look down the list and this even goes back to before Lamar Jackson gets hurt and I mean who they played since the bye week I mean, you know they they beat Tampa Bay in New Orleans back to back on the road before the by kudos to them. That was really the last time that it felt like this team was getting close to clicking and firing as well as they possibly could. And that was even in the absence of the Rashad Bateman injury. So since then, they played a Carolina Panthers team that since that game, released Baker Mayfield, right. And that was a game they only won 13 to three, they went to Jacksonville and lost Trevor Lawrence really the one kind of top tier quarterback that they’ve played over the last couple months. And we saw what he did against this defense. In the fourth quarter. We’ve seen what he’s done since then. the Jacksonville Jaguars deserve a lot of credit. And the problem is Nestor, you’re suggesting the Ravens going to Jacksonville? Well, as it stands right now they wouldn’t they would go to Cincinnati or whoever is going to be in the number three spot because the Chargers currently have a tiebreaker over the Ravens with conference records. So it’s not even going to Jacksonville. It’s going to one of the big three in the AFC as it stands right now, depending on what happens and what we gate teen what it means for the Ravens. So but you go down the list, Denver, I mean, they fired their head coach since then, Russell Wilson, there’s talk about whether the Broncos should move on from him this offseason, despite the contractual restrictions. And the ramifications of that, you know, they want at Pittsburgh. Great, good. You know, that was the one win that they’ve had over the last month or so where you felt good about it. And then they lost at Cleveland, they beat the Falcons. Okay. And then they lose to Pittsburgh in the rematch. So my question is, and this really ties in appropriately with what you were just saying. What are you really hanging your hat on that you feel great about with this football team right now? Okay, they run the ball really well, what we’ve seen it that doesn’t equate to scoring points, you know, this team can’t score 17 points on a consistent basis. And this defense, as good as it is, and I think it’s a good defense. I continue to lack belief that it’s a special defense, the kind of defense that can catapult you to a deep run because, well, again, look at the quarterbacks look at the offensive they’ve played over the second half of the season. And you can’t I understand you can’t control your schedule. But at the same time when you know the one quarterback that’s really kind of elevated his play down the stretch, Trevor Lawrence? Well, that’s the that’s the team that roasted this defense in the fourth quarter down in Jacksonville. So you kind of look at this. And I know players are trying to say the right things. And Mark Andrew said after the game again, that he still thinks this is a dangerous team. It’s like, well, at some point, you got to start showing it again. And I understand. Believe me, I understand Lamar Jackson hasn’t been out there, and the Ravens aren’t going to be at their best without their best player. Now imagine that big shock, however, look, no further than what happened in Las Vegas on Sunday. The Raiders who have been a dumpster fire at different points this year, they’ve lost all kinds of games in which they’ve led in a way not terribly different from the ravens, although the certainly the ravens, much better overall body of work because they’re going to the playoffs. But they started someone the stadium against the best defense in the NFL in the 40. Niners and look how many points they scored. Now I get it they lost. But why is it that another team that’s playing a inexperienced unaccomplished quarterback, you know, their backup, who taken over for Derek Carr and we know Derek Carr is gonna move on, or at least it appears that way. And they were able to put up all these points against the best defense in the NFL, yet, we’re looking at the Ravens with Tyler Huntley. And they barely function in a way that, you know, they run the ball, and they can score a few times one touchdown. And that’s that, and that’s been consistent. And it’s not as though they’re going up against the 85 Bears defense every week. So that’s disheartening right there. And again, that comes back on Greg Roman that comes back on the players not executing that comes back on the utter lack of talent at the wide receiver position. So I mean, you just look at all those things. And yes, if a healthy Lamar Jackson shows up, whether it’s week 18, or wildcard weekend, that the Ravens absolutely have better chances than what we’re talking about now. But at the same time, some of so many of these flaws we’ve talked about with this team, offensively, we were talking about that long before Lamar Jackson got hurt. It’s just it’s been that much more magnified. And you remember just how special of a talent he is, even when he’s not playing at his best that this offense was still finding a way to at least score 20 plus points for the most part. So it really is difficult when I’m with you. It’s not as though it’s stunning. I thought this was a coin flip, I picked 1613 ravens that ended up being 1613 Steelers, that’s been the kiss of death for me all year. And these close games I picked, go with the opposite of what Luke says that’s how bad it’s been. For

Nestor Aparicio  17:54

me, it’s always 13 to nine as Michael is my Kiriko point and it’s always 13 to nine, it’s always 16 to 13. It’s always 17 to 13. It’s always a four point game, it’s never three, it always needs to be a touchdown at the end, right?

Luke Jones  18:06

No question, no question. But I just keep coming back to when you look at how the second half of the season has played out. And look, they’ve won more than they’ve lost. I don’t want to make this out to be that they’re a terrible football team. They’re far from that. But what are you really hanging your hat on at this point? That tells you that that’s impressive from a standpoint of making a compelling argument for January. Okay, they beat the Bengals back in what was that week five. I mean, that was an eternity ago. Lamar Jackson threw 10 touchdown passes the first three weeks of the season. That was semis woman five years ago at this point. I mean, that was a feels like it was a different season such

Nestor Aparicio  18:43

as she didn’t walk on the field the month of December,

Luke Jones  18:45

did he right? Sure. Sure. I mean, yeah, I mean, availability is important. I saw you make them make that mention, it’s important that especially at the quarterback position, it’s important anywhere, but especially important, important there. So you just look at this and know it’s with Sunday being the latest example. It’s just tough, envisioning this team, magically getting on the kind of role that it’s going to need to get onto and, you know, this goes back to what you said, if you have a home game at the start of that, and you’re playing a wildcard team, does that make things more reasonable? I mean, I guess under the scenario, where if you would avoid Cincinnati in that scenario, sure. But otherwise, it’s just uh, you know, if you’re going on the road, and if you end up not being the number five seed and you’re the sixth seed, then you know, you’re facing one of the big three in the first round, and then guess what chances are, you’re facing one of the big three in the next round. And then after that, who knows, you know, if you find a way to somehow get past that, so we’ve said it for a long time, and it comes back to some of the same principles we’ve talked about with the passing game or other elements of this team, that it’s really difficult envisioning them being able to do that 234 times in a row to get to the promised land and it’s just yeah, they just haven’t profiled as that kind of team. And that’s where I’ll kind of come back to what you said and I don’t disagree really that wasn’t stunning to lose Sunday night’s game. It doesn’t. It doesn’t change anything from the standpoint.

Nestor Aparicio  20:17

With Tyler Huntley, no offense to Tyler Huntley, you know what I mean? Because I’ve seen them all going back to, you know, all the backups in the history of backups here. He’s not very good. He’s an undrafted, free agent. He’s running this this high school offense is Joe Flacco may or may have called it at some point or gimmick offense or or Academy offense, which is what Mike Tomlin called it you know, all of a sudden you have to stop Navy on Sunday night and and that’s how they play. I’ve, I’ve just, I’ve watched it now for two seasons. I’m not all that impressed by Lamar, you know, this, right? Like this. We don’t throw really well, but we run really good. And like, I’ve never been all that impressed to think oh my god, they’re gonna win a Super Bowl, maybe back in 19. When Marshall Jana and Ronnie Stanley’s not pulling down cam Hayward onto him to get a penalty that really changed the game, right? I mean, if it weren’t for Ronnie Stanley pulling cam Hayward down onto the pile, they might have never school, right, they might still be looking for a touchdown against the Steelers. So I I would just say I’ve been unimpressed with them this year all the way around. And that’s why they enter the game 10 And five and you’re like, Wow. You know, like 10 and fives Edie in any season. But I have. I have not been in love with this football team all year. And certainly, if you’re telling me Tyler on, he’s gonna play for a month in December. I’m gonna say you’re gonna lose football games. I mean, they were winning games with him a couple of weeks ago against bad teams. Sure.

Luke Jones  21:49

Right, right. Yeah, I was just gonna say I mean, it’s against bad teams and

Nestor Aparicio  21:53

bad team with him. If he had to play 17 games with Tyler Huntley. They go for 13 Maybe, maybe because they only played the Browns a couple. I mean, they would not win a lot of games with tolerantly as comprised right as they were on Sunday night. No Campbell. I mean, Ro Quan Smith’s a dream, right? He wasn’t even on a team eight weeks even not supposed to be your buddy is right. So if they had to go out there and play with what they played with on Sunday night, start the season over again in Cincinnati on on Sunday play 17 games, they would be a horrible team. They wouldn’t be eight, nine, they would be horrible if Tyler only was their quarterback for 17 games.

Luke Jones  22:29

Yeah, I mean, unless you have a very forgiving schedule. I mean, it’s tough to disagree with that. And you know, again, it’s not so much a knock on Tyler Huntley as much as it’s a complement to the special talents of Lamar Jackson and yeah, we can talk about Lamar is deficiencies or this offense is deficiencies that we saw over the course of the season. You know, really from the moment Rashad Bateman got hurt, you know, I mean, I’ve talked about it over and over what their passing game looked like the first three weeks of the season when Lamar throws 10 touchdown passes, and what it’s looked like since then,

Nestor Aparicio  22:59

one of the Bengals totally different without chase the rest of the year too. And I’m not comparing chase to paid shortly me right?

Luke Jones  23:04

Well, but the problem is the Bengals still have T Higgins and they still have Tyler. I mean, they have what’s called depth. The Ravens had no

Nestor Aparicio  23:11

depth at why you have Sammy Watkins into Sean Jackson and I’m telling you 2015 That would have been good.

Luke Jones  23:18

They also gave Andy Isabella touch so there you go. Another failed draft pick for another team that they

Nestor Aparicio  23:24

wanted more James Brochet you got more James Brochet. So for Josh Oliver, you get more Josh Oliver. Right.

Luke Jones  23:33

But But I just you know I go back to the example that I used and that’s where there is some frustration and that’s where there doesn’t need to be some heat on Greg Roman in this coaching staff that the the Raiders bench their franchise quarterback and I get it Derek Carr says though he wasn’t having a good season and McDaniel wants his own guy, presumably and we’ll see what the Raiders end up doing a quarterback. But why is it that Jarrett Stidham could come in and make a start and a score 34 points against a defense that’s better than the Ravens a 40 Niners have had a better defense in the Ravens all year and you see that yet the Ravens can’t manage a score more than one touchdown at every week. Now, you know, as as it pertains to this last month with Tyler Huntley a quarterback, so is Jared still on that much better than Tyler on like, I mean, maybe he is but he hasn’t played to this point in the in the league, and he’s been around for a few years. So you see something like that. That’s where it’s frustrating to say really, you can’t even crack the 20 point barrier. I mean, really, and that’s where we go back to the Ravens. They want to run the ball. They want to try to play this style and well, the Steelers did a better job of playing this style on Sunday night and don’t give Kenny Pickett credit he was money when he needed to be at the end he didn’t do a whole lot over the course of the night but you know he did a he did a pretty at times he did a decent early Ben Roethlisberger impersonation in the sense that He was good moving around and throwing on the run. You know, Ben became much of a much more of a pocket passer as his career progressed, but you know what we saw from Pickett. I don’t want to say he, he’s exactly like Ben Roethlisberger. He’s a hall of Roethlisberger is going to be a Hall of Famer. But he did some of those things that reminded you have what a young, Roethlisberger did. And he was really good in crunch time made a couple great throws on that final drive. And the Ravens defense that got beat up on the ground over the course of the entire night. They gave up some big plays and broke at the very end. So still put much more of it on the offense, though. I mean, the end of the day, you give up 16 points in 2022. That should be enough. Well, your offense does nothing over its final four possessions, meaning not even getting first downs really. It really it’s disappointing, and it’s why they were talking about the Ravens needing help to even determine if week 18 is going to mean anything whether Lamar Jackson is ready to play or not. He’s Luke Jones.

Nestor Aparicio  26:00

He is a Baltimore Luke it is 2023 I have to get used to saying that. Welcome into the new year the Ravens will be in Cincinnati this week, Luke and I’ll be monitoring all things Owings Mills, as they have qualified for the playoffs and there will be plenty of football going on next weekend as well as some scheduling. Luke and I are trying to set the record straight here. As as we await Buffalo and Cincinnati as well. I am Nestor we are wn st Towson, Baltimore, and Baltimore positive and we never stop talking Baltimore

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