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Ravens Roundup: Joe Flacco not worried about Sports Illustrated curse 01.18.13 at 11:07 am ET
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The Ravens have beaten the odds this posteason, but this weekend they’ll face two tough opponents at once: the Patriots and the Sports Illustrated cover jinx.

Joe Flacco is featured on a regional issue of SI this week, raising talk of the famous “curse” that the magazine itself studied in 2002. That study concluded that out of 2,456 cover subjects, 37.2 percent went on to “play poorly, lose games, injure themselves or even die” after being featured.

The significance of that study can be debated — Mark Glickman, a statistician and research professor at Boston University, told The Baltimore Sun that a baseline number on how many good athletes fail each game in general would be necessary to determine whether 37.2 was higher than usual. Still, numerous athletes have suffered mishaps after their covers, and the perception lingers.

Flacco graced the cover once before, on Sept. 19, 2011. The Ravens lost the next game after that cover ran. He and Ravens coach John Harbaugh said they’re not concerned, though.

“I’m not superstitious. I don’t believe it,” Harbaugh said.

“I sure hope not,” Flacco said when asked if he thought the curse existed. “It just depends on how we go play on Sunday.”

RAVENS DC HAS CREATIVE IDEAS ABOUT HOW TO STOP BRADY

The Ravens have the apparent advantage of having Dean Pees, their defensive coordinator and a former Patriots coach under Bill Belichick, on staff to advise them on how to stop Tom Brady. However, Pees joked to The Baltimore Sun that containing Brady by traditional on-field methods might not be enough.

“Hire Tonya Harding,” Pees said. “If they were getting off the bus, I’d spray outside the bus and hope it freezes.”

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Read More: Baltimore Ravens, Corey Graham, joe flacco, Tom Brady
Peyton Manning makes one ‘bad throw’ and he is one-and-done again 01.12.13 at 11:01 pm ET
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It’s one of the central themes we’ve heard all week from the Patriots.

One bad decision at the wrong time and your season can come to end before you knew what hit you.

Certainly, that’s what the Patriots must have been thinking to themselves as Peyton Manning made a horrendous decision at the wrong time late in overtime that ended his Super Bowl dreams and those of his Broncos teammates and fans.

Rolling to his right late in the first overtime against the Ravens, Manning decided to force a pass back to the middle of the field to Brandon Stokley on second-and-6 from his own 38. Ravens cornerback Corey Graham undercut Stokley and was in the right place at the right time as the pass hit him right in the stomach as he fell to the ground at the Denver 45.

“Bad throw, probably the decision not great either,” Manning said [watch Peyton Manning’s press conference on NFL.com]. “Thought I had him open, didn’t get enough on it. Trying to make a play and certainly a throw I’d like to have back.”

“He was trying to make a play,” Broncos coach John Fox said. “I’m not going to be critical.”

Six plays later, Justin Tucker nailed a 47-yard field-goal to give the Ravens a 38-35 win over the Broncos in double-overtime, and send Baltimore to the AFC championship for the second straight season. They will either play at Gillette Stadium against the Patriots or Reliant Stadium in Houston depending on the outcome of Sunday’s Patriots-Texans game.

So, after being named to the Associated Press All-Pro first team earlier in the day and earning praise for leading the Broncos to a 13-3 season in one of the more remarkable comeback stories in recent NFL history, Manning must now watch the rest of the playoffs again from home.

“I accomplished a lot more this year than I thought I would have,” Manning said of his return from multiple neck surgeries. “I think this team exceed expectations. It’s a hard one to swallow.”

Manning has lost his first game in the playoffs eight times, six of those times he was a prohibitive favorite, including on Saturday when he was close to a double-digit favorite. Manning falls to 9-11 in the playoffs.

Manning finished 28-of-43 passing for 290 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, including one returned by Graham in the first quarter that was returned for Baltimore’s second touchdown of the day. He also had a fumble in the second half that led to a Ray Rice touchdown that tied the game, 28-28.

Manning may well win the NFL MVP award but there’s no comfort in coming up short again when it matters the most.

Read More: Baltimore Ravens, Brandon Stokley, Corey Graham, Denver Broncos
Potential Patriots: Brian Williams 02.12.11 at 12:30 am ET
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Despite the looming labor uncertainty, as free agency approaches, WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that could be available to the Patriots in free agency this offseason.

Brian Williams
Position: Cornerback
Team: Atlanta
Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 202
Age: 31

Why the Patriots would be interested: Assuming that the Patriots get Leigh Bodden back healthy next season, the duo of Bodden and Devin McCourty could be one of the top corner tandems in the league. However, New England still needs to build depth at the position, and the possibility of a well-traveled veteran like the 31-year-old Williams providing quality snaps in relief of Bodden or McCourty or as a slot corner would make a lot of sense.

Why it would happen: There figure to be other, higher-profile corners on the market this offseason (Nnamdi Asomugha, Champ Bailey), but the Patriots are simply looking to build depth at the spot this offseason, and Williams, an unrestricted free agent, is as good a choice as any. He’€™s not a starter ‘€” age and injury have made sure of that ‘€” but he’€™s a smart veteran with a good rep. Williams has some positional versatility, as he’€™s played both corner and safety over the course of his career. It doesn’€™t appear the Falcons will franchise Williams, and he would almost certainly come at a reasonable price. He won’€™t remind anyone of Ty Law, but could provide a bridge year to younger corners or even step in in a pinch.
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Read More: Brian Williams, Carlos Rogers, Champ Bailey, Chris Carr
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