Worst Pre-game News: Granted, it’s no news to you Addicts as it has basically been discussed to the maximum here, but it’s hard to go into a game with happy feelings knowing that your prized new 1st round pick just injured himself in a fight with one of the team’s most respected veterans. I mean, teach this guy how to fight! Just kidding, but seriously, short of hearing that Charles, Cassel and Hali had all been injured in a freak grenade-juggling accident, it’s hard to think of a bigger pre-game bummer.
Best Circus Performer: Dwayne Bowe. Speaking of juggling, I now confidently believe Bowe could juggle chainsaws as a side job and we would not have to worry in the slightest. His catch in the early 1st quarter was one of those great catches that make you simultaneous ecstatic and terrified. On one hand, great catch! On the other hand, what the hell were you thinking throwing that ball with him covered like that, Cassel?
Best Tenacity: Andy Studebaker and Justin Houston (until the 4th quarter). Studie was flying around the ball like a madman and Houston showed some of his raw skills. Unfortunately it appeared that Houston’s poor conditioning caught up to him as he whiffed bad on some potential sacks and tackles for losses late in the game.
Worst Special Teams: All of it. The only positive about this new kickoff rule is that instead being able to just get a refill and grab some more dip during the post-score commercial breaks, you can now baste and cook a whole turkey, because it’ll be a while before you’ll see any meaningful football after one side scores. Plus, a huge portion of the punts were muffed – a common pre-season tradition, but still eye-rolling sloppiness.
More after the jump …
Worst Flashback: There were times during the first half of this game where it felt like a timewarp to January 9. Late in the first quarter, Cassel led a 3-and-out capped off by a sack that looked exactly like the pitiful manner in which the Chiefs exited the playoffs last season. What does it mean? The Ravens are pretty much as good as they were back then, and we haven’t gotten sufficiently better.
Best Agility: Jerrel Powe got off blocks and to the ball a few times, showing he’s got some real wheels, impressive for a guy who looks like The Blob.
Worst Agility: TJax is apparently totally unable to change direction when closing in on a QB, and looked like a slow motion oaf chasing down Flacco on numerous occasions. ESPN fantasy is projecting six sacks for him in 2011. Ha!
Best Bounce-Back from 2010: It’s got to be Dexter McCluster. He made a number of plays out of the backfield and receiving passes. It looks like he is getting more aware about how to move in space, and was making defenders look like statues, stomping around and grabbing at air as he jetted on through.
Worst Contrast: Their free agent acquisitions to ours. Arguably, the Ravens’ best performers were new to the team. WR Lee Evans led the team in receptions and had a key 43-yard catch after having arrived in camp just days earlier. In the backfield, FB Vonta Leach delivered one of the more memorable hits after catching a screen for a first down, and he was giving key blocks for Ray Rice all first half as he marched down field, eventually into the Chiefs’ endzone. What did we get out of our guys? — A forgettable 5-yard reception from Breaston, no show for Gaither, three tackles from Kelly Gregg, and a nice, but ultimately meaningless 15-yard catch-and-run from La’Ron McClain.
Best Block: Undoubtedly wanting some payback after having been obliterated by Leach, Brandon Siler lit up Cary Williams on punt coverage. It was the kind of beautiful never-saw-it-coming hit that left Williams collecting himself on the ground several yards away from the point of impact. I’m particularly glad Williams was the recipient too, as he was aggressively hounding KC wide-outs all day.
Worst Wake-up Call: Ravens 1st round pick CB Jimmy Smith looked positively dumbfounded on back-to-back plays he was all over Bowe and thought he had him covered, but Cassel was able to thread it to him anyway. Welcome to the NFL, son.
Best Jinx: I was watching the action online, and was thus getting local Baltimore TV coverage. Shortly after Stanzi got on the field, having tossed a few nice throws, the B-more commentators began a conversation about how all three KC QB’s had done pretty well against them. In the middle of saying this Ricki nearly threw what would have been an ugly interception had the Ravens CB been able to catch the ball thrown right at his chest. It was all down hill from there.
Worst Depth: This was nearly a tie, but I have to say I was most disappointed in our back-up DB’s. Rookie Jalil Brown was playing dirty – and getting penalized – on seemingly every snap, the rest of them were just old-fashioned bad. They – especially Langford, who finished without any stats – had horrible tackling, giving up a TD due to limp arm tackles, their run contain discipline was awful, just a generally pathetic performance. The backup O-linemen get an honorary mention though. As impotent as Stanzi was, he was never able to get comfortable. Usually an O-line is considered bad when the QB is “running for his life.” In this case, he didn’t have a chance to run, being hit multiple times right as the ball got to his hands. At least they provided one of the better comedic moments of the preseason …
Best Moment of Inglorious Stupidity: With less than two minutes to play, a curious series of events transpired. The offense was setting up at the line with the clock clicking down. This was probably their last chance to put a TD on the board. Suddenly, undrafted free agent Mike Ingersoll got out of his stance on the line and started jogging awkwardly towards the Chiefs sideline. Everyone stood around confused, just watching him. About halfway there, after shouting and waving, it was clear he had something in his hand — it was his shoe. He then threw his shoe at his bewildered teammates on the sideline and turned back towards the play. He then waffled for a few seconds, not knowing which way to go. Eventually, with everyone still staring at him in complete dumbfoundedness, he sat down on the field and made a tapping motion on the grass, as if tapping out. The conundrum of “what to do if you shoe falls off in a game” was too much for him to process. He surrendered, Haley called a timeout, and we all hoped this guy would be off the team before the end of the game. Personally I think the best thing to do is to trade him to San Diego, packaging him with a 7th round pick — just for them to take him – in the hopes that his stupidity will wear off on them.
Best Non-Controversy: Baltimore running up the score. It’s the preseason. They had just fielded a fresh QB who hadn’t gotten a look yet. They wanted to see what he could do. Sure, it kind of demeaned us, but Ingersoll’s one-man comedy routine had pretty much already covered that.
Best way to watch football from overseas: As you Addicts may or may not know, I currently reside the beautiful, cheap and generally unstable Republic of Georgia, a former Soviet Republic at the gnarly geo-political no man’s land between Turkey, Russia and Iran. And, while the place is gorgeous and fascinating, it’s not exactly the best place to catch a Chiefs game, least of all because I’m 9 hours ahead of U.S. central time.
Enter NFL Game Pass. Not to make this into too much of an endorsement, but all of our overseas Addicts should know about this. Basically, NFL Game Pass gives you access to all 2011 games in HD online with DVR controls, which you can either watch live with up to four games simultaneously playing split screen, or you can watch any past games auto-recorded, commercial free. Plus, because it’s online it means that with your username and password you can essentially take your DVR and satellite plan with you anywhere you go, as long as that place has internet and a screen of some kind. But enough about that — just take my word for it, I’ve only had it for a day and it’s already changed my life.