This feature appears each Monday on the Baltimore Sports Blitz. It’s just like “What They’re Saying About the Ravens,” but it includes blogger Matt Vensel saying something about what those people are saying. Got it?
-- ESPN analyst and former Ravens quarterback Trent Dilfer thinks Joe Flacco is inching toward elite status.
“To get to the Brady status, the Brees status, the Rodgers status, it takes a lot of improvement and Joe Flacco is a guy that's doing it,” Dilfer said on “SportsCenter.” “He has ice water in his veins. He’s had some of the heroic end-of-the-game moments -- tonight being one of them -- where he just where he just doesn’t flinch. I think there are so many layers to quarterback play and we can talk all night about what’s the most important. Maybe the most important is self-belief and having that no-flinch mentality so no matter what the stage is you believe you are the best player on the field. Joe Flacco has that.”
Matt’s take: It looks like there will continue to be a lot of debate about Flacco’s place in the pantheon of NFL passers, but whether you think he is elite or not, most will probably agree that he is continuing to get better. Let’s not forget that the talk a year ago -- and deservedly so -- was that he couldn’t beat top quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger.
-- Don Banks of Sports Illustrated said Torrey Smith, in his moment of loss, lifted the Ravens to a victory Sunday night.
“Smith not only made the game just hours after receiving his family's horrible news,” Banks wrote, “but also almost single-handedly made it possible for Baltimore to beat its nemesis from New England, catching a pair of touchdown passes to lead the Ravens to an inspiring 31-30 comeback over the Patriots.”
Matt’s take: There’s no question the Ravens would have lost without Smith. He caught six passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns, the first of which brought life to a listless crowd that was eerily silent as the Patriots charged out to a 13-0 lead. This was the kind of performance we will still talk about years from now.
-- Former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira, now an analyst for FOX, explains why Justin Tucker’s field goal wasn’t reviewed.
“Was the game-winning field goal in the Baltimore Ravens’ 31-30 win over the New England Patriots good or no good? Don't ask me because it's impossible to tell,” he wrote. “Here is the rule: In order for a field goal that crosses over the top of the upright to be good, the entire ball must pass inside the outside edge of the upright extended. In other words, draw a line straight up extending the outside edge of the upright skyward. If the entire ball passes inside that line at the exact point that it is directly over the upright, then the field goal is good. Did it? I don't know and that is precisely why this play, this field goal, is not reviewable. There isn't any technology at this point that can show precisely when the ball is directly over the upright. That is why the NFL’s competition committee made this aspect of a field goal not reviewable.”
Matt’s take: If there was any field goal that needed to be reviewed, it was this one. But still, I have yet to see a single replay that made me second-guess the original call on the field. Tucker’s kick was scary but it split the uprights and that's all that matters.
-- Mike Florio ripped Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis for ripping the officials again after safety Ed Reed was called for a personal foul on a helmet-to-helmet hit.
“It would be easy to crack a joke right here, but Ray’s ignorance of the rules is alarming,” he wrote. “Does no one in the Ravens organization explain these rules to the players? Or does coach John Harbaugh show them a Saturday night Power Point presentation that says, ‘The rules are there ain’t no rules’? Or has Ray simply delivered and/or received too many helmet-to-helmet hits of his own?”
Matt’s take: I’ll stay out of this one, but I will say this: When was the last time you saw Reed throw his body around like he did last night? I’m not praising him for a personal foul, but all night he laid the lumber on Patriots players, including a play in the first quarter when he knocked a touchdown out of Julian Edelman’s hands.
-- Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe said the replacement officals were a nightmare during Sunday night’s game.
“The situation with the NFL’s replacement officials has moved past the tipping point. As Larry Lucchino would say, it’s time to bring back the ‘varsity.’ There is no flow to the game with these officials,” he wrote. “There seems to be a dustup after every whistle. In Sept. 2012, NFL players are like high school students taking advantage of substitute teachers. They are pushing the limits. They are pushing one another. Sometimes they even shove the officials. Sunday’s embarrassment was played in front of 71,269 witnesses and a national television audience.”
Matt’s take: I assume NFL commissioner Roger Goodell tuned into NBC’s telecast, and if he did, he surely heard the crowd at M&T Bank Stadium serenading the replacement officials with a hearty chorus of chants somewhat related to cow manure. Both teams had gripes about the officiating, and Sunday night’s game was yet another example of how the NFL needs to settle is differences with Ed Hochuli and company ASAP.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun