“Within the NFL, even as much as Ray Lewis, the historic Baltimore Ravens' defense is known for the play of safety Ed Reed. Across 11 seasons there's been 61 interceptions, 110 pass deflections, nine Pro Bowls and an AP defensive player of the year honor,” Wetzel wrote. “He's considered one of the great ball hawks of all time, a brilliant return man and the smart, savvy leader that forces game plans to be built around him. There may not be a defensive player more revered in NFL film rooms over the last decade. And yet, until the Ravens vanquished New England on Sunday, 28-13, on the strength of a second half that featured two Tom Brady interceptions and zero Patriots points, the great Ed Reed had never made the Super Bowl.”
“Super Bowl hype is always exhausting and overdone, but I must admit, I was astounded at how quickly people started complaining about the HarBowl storyline,” Rosenberg wrote. “John Harbaugh's Baltimore Ravens had not even finished beating the Patriots, to set up a matchup with Jim's San Francisco 49ers, when I saw tweets and Facebook posts complaining about the Harbaugh hype. Do you realize how amazing this is? These guys shared a room together as kids, competed against each other in everything, and now they are coaching against each other in the Super Bowl. That's one of the most incredible sports stories I've ever seen. Are we so in love with our own snark that we can't appreciate it?”
--- Clark Judge of CBS Sports writes that the Ravens defense is back.
“The Baltimore Ravens picked the right time to start playing defense again. For most of this season, they stumbled along, hemorrhaging points and yards as critics questioned what happened to a unit that was once the backbone of the team. Well, key players were hurt, that's what, and now that they're back so is the Baltimore defense,” Judge wrote. “OK, so these aren't your 2000 Ravens. Few teams are. But they're good enough, sound enough and physical enough on defense to make critical stops, force key turnovers and become the force they were not a couple of months ago -- and if you're skeptical I suggest you roll the videotape of that blow Bernard Pollard put on Stevan Ridley in the second half of the Ravens' 28-13 defeat of New England Sunday.”
--- Vince Verhei of Football Outsiders lists Bernard Pollard as one of a handful of Ravens defenders who are underappreciated.
“Bernard Pollard is best known for putting New England Patriots on the injury list,” he wrote. “And that's unfortunate, because he deserves credit for being one of the league's more active safeties. He was in the top 10 in his position in plays, and top 20 in successes and defeats, the three statistics we use to analyze defenders at Football Outsiders (more info here). Don't focus on the half-dozen or so plays in his career that have sent Patriots to the sidelines; focus on the half-dozen plays he makes each week that help Baltimore win games.”
--- Eric Branch of The San Francisco Chronicle spoke with former NFL special teams coach Gary Zauner, who was with the Ravens at one point during Brian Billick’s tenure, about the struggles of 49ers kicker David Akers.
“As a longtime NFL special-teams coach and kicking consultant, Gary Zauner learned the path of a kicker's missed field-goal tries can offer a window to his psyche. The 49ers' David Akers is a left-footed kicker who keeps pushing field-goal attempts to the left. Zauner's analysis: Akers' problem could have more to do with his head than his leg,” he wrote about Akers, who won a competition with Billy Cundiff to remain their kicker.