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Five final thoughts as Ravens host the Bengals


Five final thoughts as Ravens host the Bengals

Five final thoughts on Bengals (2-0) at Ravens (0-2), today at 1 p.m.: 

1. This is the biggest September game of John Harbaugh’s tenure.

What’s the difference between being 1-2 and 0-3? Since 1990, only 2.4% of teams starting 0-3 have made the playoffs, while 24.8% of teams starting 1-2 have made it.

The Ravens have never been 0-3 in Harbaugh’s seven previous seasons. Losing this game would put the Ravens in desperation mode, with a Thursday night game at Pittsburgh just days away.

RELATED: Can the Ravens' pass rush get to Dalton on Sunday?

2.  In a big game, the Ravens need their stars to play like stars.

That means linebacker Elvis Dumervil, who does not have a sack. That means quarterback Joe Flacco, who has more interceptions (three) than touchdown passes (two). That means inside linebacker C. J. Mosley, who is being counted on for more leadership with Terrell Suggs (Achilles injury) done for the season. That means right guard Marshal Yanda, who leads an offensive line that has not played up to expectations yet. If those four have stellar games, the Ravens will be difficult to beat.

3.  The Ravens should activate pass-rusher Jason Babin for this game.

They have nothing to lose. Babin only had three practices before the Raiders’ game. But after another week of practice, the Ravens should turn Babin loose for 15 or 20 snaps and see if he can energize their pass rush. 

4.  It’s a bad omen for the Ravens if Flacco reaches 40 pass attempts. 

The Ravens have lost six straight when Flacco throws it 40 times or more. They’ll need a running game to move the ball consistently against this Bengals defense. The Ravens have never won a game (0-13 all-time) when rushing 1 times or less.

5.  Flacco must avoid throwing picks against a Bengals’ defense that has befuddled him. 

Flacco has thrown more interceptions against the Bengals (18) than any other team. And it’s not even close. The Browns have intercepted Flacco the second-most often - just seven times. Flacco must stay away from the big mistakes that his defense can't overcome.

MORE RAVENS: Canty, Monroe, Perriman out for Sunday vs. Bengals

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

The Baltimore Ravens have signed WR Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal on Friday according to general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome.

The deal is apparently worth $21 million, according to Adam Shefter.

After being released by the Raiders Thursday following the signing of Jordy Nelson, Crabtree heads to the Ravens less than 24 hours later.


The 31-year-old is coming off a 2017 season when he recorded 58 receptions for 618 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2016 he posted 89 receptions for 1,003 yards and eight touchdowns.

Since 2015, the Texas Tech product has scored 25 receiving touchdowns, the fifth-most in the NFL. Crabtree and Steelers WR Antonio Brown are the only NFL players to post at least eight touchdown catches in each of the past three seasons.


In all, Crabtree has played nine NFL seasons – six of them with San Francisco (2009-14) and three with Oakland (2015-17). The former first-round draft pick (10th overall, Texas Tech) has registered 579 receptions for 6,870 yards (11.9 avg.) and 51 touchdowns in 125 career games (122 starts).

“Michael has played very well against the Ravens, so we know firsthand the attributes he brings to the game,” Newsome said in a team statement. “He is a smart, tough, physical receiver who battles for the ball. We like his temperament and believe he is a good fit for our football team, on and off the field.”

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Crabtree’s 51 receiving scores rank 10th among active wide receivers, while his receptions (579) are seventh, and his receiving yards (6,870) are 12th.

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

The most obvious move in the NFL this offseason was the Ravens signing a new wide receiver (or three). It was less obvious why the team decided to commit so much money to former Redskins receiver Ryan Grant.

Grant has long been beloved by his coaches and teammates, but the results have never been there on game day. He has some potential to improve if given a larger role in a team's offense, which he likely would have had in Baltimore, but it never made much sense to offer him a 4-year contract worth nearly 30 million, with $14.5 million guaranteed.

Thankfully for fans who were uninspired by the reported agreement, Grant was unable to pass his physical and will not be joining the team.


At a press conference Friday morning, GM Ozzie Newsome called the void a "medical decision" that Newsome had no control over. 

NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported that Grant is recovering from a Grade 2 sprained ankle that would need two months rest.

You have to feel for Grant, who by all accounts has worked his tail off for many years just waiting for his chance. It's never easy missing out on nearly $15 million dollars guaranteed, but Grant should be able to find work with another team.

The timing of this news, coming so soon after former Raider Michael Crabtree became available, seemed fishy to some.

At Friday's press conference, Newsome also said the team would have still pursued Crabtree if they signed Grant. 

It's probably not fair to suggest that an NFL franchise would actually so publicly back out of a deal just because another option came along, as any team with that reputation would struggle to attract future free agents. That said, it could end up working out splendidly for the team.

Besides, if all else is equal, shouldn't a team located in Baltimore be going after a guy named CRABtree?