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Chandler Jones thinks Joe Flacco has been ‘pretty perfect’ of late

01.08.15 at 4:35 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Chandler Jones doesn’t need to be reminded of the recent past of the quarterback Joe Flacco.

Last week, Flacco won his fifth straight playoff game, dating back to the beginning of the 2012 playoff run that ended with a Super Bowl win over the 49ers and included an AFC championship win over the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

Jones was asked what he sees on film that makes Flacco “Joe Cool” under the pressure of the playoffs.

Joe Flacco is a great quarterback,” Jones said. “A lot of people underestimate his speed; he can run the ball and he can throw the ball as well. It’€™s my job as a pass rusher to try to contain him.”

Jones has played against Flacco three times, twice in the regular season and once in the 2012 AFC championship of Jan. 2013. He has four assisted tackles, no solos and no sacks in those three games.

“I feel like every player, when it’€™s the postseason and now when it’€™s this late in the season, I feel like a lot of players have more sense of urgency,” Jones added. “Mistakes can’€™t be limited, but they have to be eliminated. At this point in the season you want to be perfect, and Joe Flacco has been pretty perfect late in the season.”

Flacco has been plain perfect in the playoffs since opening the 2012 playoffs with a win over the Colts in the last home game for Ray Lewis. That was followed by the double-overtime win in Denver over Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Next up, Flacco came into Foxboro and beat Tom Brady, 28-13, at Gillette. Then, Flacco overcame Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers in the Super Bowl, earning a $120 million contract.

The Ravens didn’t make the playoffs in 2013 but returned this season and went to Pittsburgh last week and beat the Steelers. That’s five playoff wins, one Super Bowl and just one win at home.

Why has Flacco been so successful? Well, one reason is Flacco’s ability to feel comfortable in the pocket, led by the likes of All-Pro right guard Marshal Yanda.

“They do a good job of protecting Joe,” Jones said. “They have a lot of guys in protection and they’€™ll send a few guys out on routes and they are pretty effective on it. They’€™ve got both Smiths, Torrey and Steve, and they do a good job of being efficient with that whole concept of the play-action pass.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Baltimore Ravens, chandler jones, joe flacco

Video: ‘4th & Goal’ breaks down Patriots and Ravens

01.08.15 at 4:02 pm ET
By   |   Comments Patriots writer Chris Price previews the AFC Divisional Playoff matchup between the Patriots and Ravens. Find out the keys to the game as well as Chris’ prediction.

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Ravens WR Kamar Aiken on Patriots defense: ‘You see the holes they have problems with’

01.08.15 at 2:47 pm ET
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OWINGS MILLS, MD. — If the Ravens are to beat the Patriots through the air on Saturday, it probably won’t be against Darrelle Revis or Brandon Browner.

And that makes someone like Kamar Aiken an intriguing player to watch.

Baltimore’s third receiver is hoping to fill the role that has previously gone to pass catchers like Green Bay’s Davante Adams, Buffalo tight end Scott Chandler, or Indy counterpart Coby Fleener.

With the Patriots likely to focus their efforts on stopping the Smiths –€“ Steve and Torrey — there could be an opening for someone like Aiken or tight end Owen Daniels to make a play.

“We know what the guys outside can do,” Aiken said of Revis and Browner. “We’re not going to say the inside guys are any slouches themselves, but we like our matchups better with them. Hopefully we can go in and do what we have to do.”

The other defensive backs Aiken and Co. might see include Logan Ryan, Kyle Arrington, and safety Patrick Chung.

“No disrespect to the inside guys, because they’re all pretty solid all-around,” Aiken said. “But obviously, the outside guys have the bigger names and everyone’s going to be talking about them more. As a unit, they’re a solid defense. We respect that and we’re just going to go out and do what we do.”

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Former Dolphins coach Don Shula takes shot at Bill Belichick with ‘Beli-cheat’ reference

01.08.15 at 2:32 pm ET
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Former Dolphins coach Don Shula took a shot at Bill Belichick in an interview with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, calling the Patriots coach “Beli-cheat.”

In an interview marking Shula’€™s 85th birthday, the former Miami coach referenced the 2007 videotaping scandal that cost the Patriots a draft pick and precipitated a $500,000 fine for the coach. (The team was also fined $250,000.) That year, the Patriots fell just short of a perfect season, losing to the Giants in the Super Bowl to end the year with an 18-1 record and leaving Shula’€™s 1972 Dolphins as the only team to go wire-to-wire without a loss. (Miami ended the year 17-0.)

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John Harbaugh on Bill Belichick recommendation: ‘It meant everything’

01.08.15 at 2:27 pm ET
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OWINGS MILLS, MD. –“ Bill Belichick needs to think about what he did. Without his phone call to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti during the winter of 2008, his greatest coaching nemesis might not have a job.

That coach, John Harbaugh, will once again try to end Belichick’s season on Saturday in Foxboro. On Thursday afternoon, Harbaugh paid tribute to the role Belichick’s recommendation played in his hiring.

“It meant everything, probably as far as getting the job,” Harbaugh said. “It probably didn’t hurt. You’d have to ask Steve and Ozzie [Newsome] if it made a difference or not. The fact that he was willing to do that at the time, I was stunned when I heard the story much later.”

Harbaugh spoke a bit more on his relationship with Belichick.

“I would describe the relationship as very good,” he said. “I have great admiration for coach. I’ve never worked with him specifically, but he’s, for whatever reason, always been willing to take me under his wing in a way and give me time and insight and things like that. A coach on their staff, Scott O’Brien, is a great mentor of mine. That’s probably the connection where it started. I feel great about it and I’m looking forward to playing the game.”

One final question for Harbaugh: think Belichick regrets making that phone call, considering that the Ravens have knocked him out of the playoffs twice since 2009?

Harbaugh laughed sheepishly, and declined to answer.

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Mueller report finds ‘no evidence’ NFL received or watched Ray Rice video

01.08.15 at 2:20 pm ET
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Roger Goodell is off the hook, at least for now.

The independent report overseen by former FBI director Robert Mueller III and commissioned by the NFL in the wake of the Ray Rice scandal was released has found the league, including Commissioner Roger Goodell, did not know of the infamous video of Rice striking his then-fiancee Janay Palmer in an elevator before its release on TMZ in September.

Further, the report “€œfound no evidence” that anyone in the league office had confirmed receiving the video, as The Associated Press had reported Sept. 7.

The report found, “(Despite) extensive investigation, we have found no evidence that anyone at the League received or viewed the in-elevator video prior to its public release. Likewise, we have found no evidence of a woman at the League acknowledging receipt of that video in a voicemail message left on April 9, 2014.”

So, Ray Rice isn’t playing this weekend but two days before the Ravens play the Patriots his story has reappeared.

Read More: Baltimore Ravens, Janay Palmer, Janay Rice, ray rice

Brandon LaFell declares himself ‘fine,’ says ‘it’s go-time’ for him, Patriots this Saturday

01.08.15 at 1:44 pm ET
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FOXBORO — If you’re worried about the way Brandon LaFell left the game against the Bills with an ailing shoulder on Dec. 28, the Patriots wide receiver said Thursday to save your fears for something else.

LaFell, who missed practice during the bye week, showed up this week with shoulder and toe issues on the official injury report. He was limited on Wednesday but took part all three days.

The wideout said before Thursday’s practice that he’ll be ready to go for Saturday against the Ravens.

“I’m doing great, man,” LaFell beamed. “Doing great, resting my body up a little bit and now it’s game week, I’m ready to go out there, play and make plays.”

As for the fans who consider LaFell the best deep threat for Tom Brady and fear he won’t be at 100 percent?

“No need to hold their breaths on me,” LaFell said, before giving props to the likes of Julian Edelman, Brian Tyms, Josh Boyce and Danny Amendola. “I’m fine. But also, we’ve got guys like Brian Tyms, Josh Boyce, we’ve got Ells and we’ve got D.A., guys that have played ball around here for a long time and make plays. So don’t worry about anything.”

Not even the cold?

“Man, there’s nothing you can do for this cold weather,” LaFell said. “Just go out there and hopefully, your body will warm up sooner or later and just go out there and play fast.”

For all of the receivers practicing in the bitter cold Thursday, including tight end Rob Gronkowski, LaFell said there’s been no change in attitude or approach.

“It’s definitely is [business as usual],” he said. “You’ve got to approach this week like we approached the last 16 weeks of the season and go out here and do our job like we’ve been doing all year.”

This is LaFell’s second taste of postseason action, losing to San Francisco in the NFC divisional round last year.

“Man, I’m really excited. We had the bye week last week, got a couple of guys back on the field, did a lot of good work, worked on ourselves last week but now it’s go-time now.”

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Baltimore Ravens, Brandon LaFell, New England Patriots
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