After criticizing the New England Patriots on social media one day earlier, Ravens reserve linebacker and special-teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo quickly backpedaled Monday morning by issuing an apology.
As the Patriots were putting the finishing touches on their victory Sunday night over the Houston Texans in the AFC divisional round, Ayanbadejo took aim at the defending AFC champions.
"New England does some suspect stuff on offense," Ayanbadejo wrote on his Twitter account. "Can't really respect it. Comparable to a cheap shot b4 a fight. Are you watching the game pats vs texans? If so you see the hurry snap offense catch em b4 they set up. It's a gimmick.
"Their offense is good enough to be successful without that. … In a sport that is predicated on mano y mano, lets hurry up n snap it = [expletive]."
Ayanbadejo didn't stop with his critique of the Patriots' offense, also referencing the infamous Spygate episode as well as the team cutting wide receiver Tiquan Underwood the day before the Super Bowl last year.
After providing so much bulletin-board material for the Patriots, Ayanbadejo was contrite enough that it led many to wonder if the team had asked him to back off his remarks.
"I made selfish comments on twitter last night that reflected poorly upon myself, my teammates, and the organization," Ayanbadejo wrote. "For that I apologize."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh declined to say much when asked if he had spoken to Ayanbadejo about his comments, which triggered a lot of negative reaction in Baltimore and New England on Twitter, message boards and sports talk radio.
"That's all stuff that just really isn't relevant," he said. "That's all stuff that's not, I don't think, worthy of the conversation right now, at this time."
Following the stir created by Ayanbadejo, his teammates downplayed the effects of his remarks.
"They are irrelevant," said Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith when asked generally about the impact of trash talking. "It doesn't really matter. People say things.
"You can say whatever, whether we are trash talking or they are trash talking. You have to play football for 60 minutes, so words don't mean a thing."
Payday awaits Flacco
With his rookie contract set to expire after this season, quarterback Joe Flacco could be getting more expensive after two impressive playoff performances.
Negotiations between the fifth-year quarterback and the Ravens were put on hold until the offseason after hitting an impasse in August.
The towering 2008 first-round draft pick from Delaware has completed 30 of 57 passes for 613 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions for a 120.0 passer rating in victories over the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts.
"I've been the one putting him on a pedestal saying, 'Joe's a top-five, elite quarterback, and he's proving it,' " agent Joe Linta said. "He's in the rarified air of having already won seven playoff games in his short career. He's really demonstrating that he's one of the top guys out there."
The New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees received the most recent blockbuster deal for a quarterback when he signed a five-year, $100 million contract that included a $37 million signing bonus and $60.5 million in total guaranteed money last July.
The value of a potential deal for Flacco remains unclear, but it would greatly help the Ravens' salary-cap situation to avoid having to use the franchise tag on him next season.
Linta said Flacco isn't concerned about his unresolved contract status, maintaining a laser focus on his business on the field, which resumes Sunday night at Gillette Stadium.
"Joe's not worried about the contact right now," Linta said. "The focus is on the next two games, to get the team to where he's always wanted to take it. That's far more important to Joe than a money situation."
Pulling to his left during the third quarter of the Ravens' 38-35 double-overtime victory over the Broncos, offensive guard Marshal Yanda quickly gained momentum before crashing into linebacker Wesley Woodyard with his left shoulder.
The textbook block created a big hole up the middle for Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice on his 32-yard run that set up his 1-yard touchdown run three plays later.
"It was a heck of a block," Harbaugh said. "That's just how Marshal does it."
Named to the Pro Bowl for the second consecutive year, Yanda is known for his hard-nosed approach to the game.
"It was a one-back power play," Yanda said. "It was a great double-team by [left offensive guard Kelechi Osemele] and [left offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie]. When they have a good double-team, there's really no place for the linebacker to go to fill that hole, and it makes it easy for me to run around there and pull tight and kick him out and Ray hits it."
Text from Bisciotti
With the Ravens trailing by a touchdown late in the fourth quarter in Denver, majority owner Steve Bisciotti sent a text message to Harbaugh.
Dealing with the flu, Bisciotti wasn't able to attend the game.
"I've never texted you during a game," said Harbaugh in the locker room afterward as he read the message to the players. "We are down, 35-28. And I think it's the best game I've ever seen us in the playoffs since 2000. Win or lose, I am so proud of the team and proud of you."
Following Jacoby Jones' 70-yard game-tying touchdown catch in the final minute of regulation, the Ravens won the game on Justin Tucker's 47-yard field goal in the second overtime.
"I'm not going to say on his deathbed, but he was really sick," Harbaugh said. "He couldn't get up and move around at all. … It was just something I thought the team needed to hear coming from him. He's a great leader. Our players love him.
"They love when he's around. He's an inspiration to all our guys. This organization, he sets the tone here. It's a great organization because of his vision. The guys needed to hear that in that moment. I think they appreciated hearing it."
No injury update
Since the Ravens are not required to file an injury report until Wednesday, Harbaugh didn't offer an update on the status of rookie running back Bernard Pierce.
Pierce has been bothered by a knee injury, aggravating it against the Broncos and not finishing the game. He rushed for only 14 yards on five carries.
"He seems like he is feeling good," Harbaugh said with a smile. "He was in good spirits. He had a big smile on his face. He had a nice big lunch. He seemed like he was happy. I think his son slept the whole night last night, so he was happy."
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