Baltimore Ravens: Aaron Rodgers

Harbaugh defends Elam's hit on Cobb

October, 14, 2013
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh defended the hit delivered by rookie safety Matt Elam on Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb.

Elam hit Cobb on the knee to end a drive in the second quarter and knocked him out for the rest of the game. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers confronted Elam after the hit and called it a "questionable play" following the game, a comment that was met with a raised eyebrow from Harbaugh.

"I think Matt made a tackle," Harbaugh said Monday. "He was scrambling to try to catch up with that route as best as he could. To say that it could have been artistically palatable is pretty hard for me to understand."

It's difficult to criticize Elam because these are the types of hits that are going to occur when the NFL fines players thousands of dollars for hitting high. Instead of concussions, offensive players are going to be sidelined with knee injuries.

Rodgers said he felt like there was time to make a hit in the "legal hitting zone." Replays show a quick-hitting play where Elam made contact with Cobb almost as soon as the pass arrived.

"That's a fast route and they ran great route there and Aaron made a good, quick throw in there and Matt is doing the best he can to try to stop that play," Harbaugh said. "So, I have no idea what he's talking about."
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens' Joe Flacco and Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers do have a shared path when it comes to being championship quarterbacks.

Both were drafted in the bottom half of the first round. Both earned Super Bowl MVP honors after throwing three touchdowns to win the title. And both signed two of the biggest contracts in NFL history within a span of two months.

The quarterbacks have met a few times and share a mutual respect for one another.

"I think he's a great player," Rodgers said in a conference call with reporters. "I enjoy watching him throw when we're watching film of a team that we're playing and it's the Ravens' offense. He does a number of things really, really well, and he's a Super Bowl champ. So, you've got to give him the respect ... He's had my respect, but I think people in general need to give him the respect he deserves as a Super Bowl MVP."

After Rodgers had won the Super Bowl, he followed that up with his best season in the NFL. He threw for 4,643 yards with 45 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Flacco hasn't had that type of success so far as the defending Super Bowl champions have battled injuries at wide receiver and struggles on the offensive line. In five games, Flacco has thrown for 1,360 yards with five touchdowns and eight interceptions.

"He's an athletic guy, he's got a good arm," Flacco said of Rodgers. "When you couple those two -- being an accurate passer and being an athletic guy who's able to move around a little bit, not a ton -- but he creates some plays here and there. They've obviously been a top offense in the league for the past few years, and that's a big credit to him."

Flacco and Rodgers have parlayed their championship success into more national spotlight. Rodgers is pitchman for State Farm Insurance with his popular "Discount Double-Check" commercials, and Flacco is currently on television with his McDonalds spots.

"I can definitely watch his commercials; I can't watch mine," Flacco said. "So yeah, I like his better."

Home sweet home for Ravens' defense

October, 10, 2013
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Most would say the Baltimore Ravens are going to have their hands full when Aaron Rodgers and the NFL's third-highest scoring team come to town Sunday. Or, maybe it should be the other way around.

The Green Bay Packers are playing at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium, which has been a nightmare for offenses this season, as well as the past decade.

[+] EnlargeJimmy Smith
Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY SportsJimmy Smith and the Ravens are focused in on limiting the Packers' offense at M&T Bank Stadium in their Week 6 matchup Sunday.
The Ravens are the only team this season not to allow a touchdown at home, keeping the Cleveland Browns and the Houston Texans out of the end zone. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, they are the first team to do so in their first two home games since the 2008 Philadelphia Eagles.

Some will brush off this statistic because the Ravens faced two struggling quarterbacks in Brandon Weeden and Matt Schaub. But the Ravens' defense has long been dominant at home, allowing an NFL-low 15.4 points in Baltimore since 2003. The Ravens have the NFL's most sacks (228) and interceptions (116) at home during that time, too.

Why has home field been so much of an advantage for the Ravens?

"Of all of the places I've ever been, there's never been a crowd like the Baltimore crowd that gets into the defense," defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. "It's always a big advantage here. It's harder on the offense, communication-wise with the noise. But it's also hard on us because of the noise communication-wise. This crowd takes a like a pride in it and we take a lot of pride in it and love playing at home."

The Ravens can become the fourth team since 1990 to not allow a touchdown in their first three home games and the first since the 2006 Denver Broncos. It will be a major challenge trying to extend the streak against the Packers, who have averaged 29.5 points and three touchdowns per game this season.

The Baltimore defense has to figure out a way to slow down Rodgers, who ranks fifth in passer rating (105.5) and seventh in completion rate (66.4 percent). Judging by what the Ravens are saying this week, the mindset is Rodgers is going to complete his throws. Their focus is stopping the yards after the catch.

“He’s human, but at the same time, he’s still a terrific quarterback," cornerback Jimmy Smith said of Rodgers. "He’s going to make his plays. Our job is to make sure if they do catch the ball, to tackle them and limit big plays as much as possible.”

Big plays will be a major factor in the game. The Ravens have given up seven passes over 40 yards, which is tied for the most in the NFL. Baltimore had done a better job of limiting big plays until last Sunday, when the Dolphins had three of them.

The biggest one came when quarterback Ryan Tannehill escaped the pocket and threw a 46-yard pass on fourth down in the fourth quarter. Coach John Harbaugh said there is a plan to put pressure on Rodgers and keep him in the pocket as much as possible.

"He’s great on the move," Harbaugh said. "He can move to run, but he really moves to throw. Those guys do a great job of uncovering downfield. They push off -- they do all the different tricks of the trade to get open downfield, and they do a good job with it.”

The Ravens are going to do everything possible to make Rodgers feel uncomfortable in Baltimore, continuing their trend of being rude hosts. Dating back to last season's wild-card win over the Colts, the Ravens have gone three straight home games without allowing a touchdown. The last time a visiting team reached the end zone at M&T Bank Stadium was Dec. 23, 2012, when Eli Manning threw a meaningless 13-yard touchdown pass to Domenik Hixon in the fourth quarter.