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Five observations after Ravens stop skid by beating Steelers

Five observations after Ravens stop skid by beating Steelers

BALTIMORE – Five observations after watching the Ravens snap a four-game losing streak while beating the Steelers, 21-14:

1.Throw shade at the AFC North if you want, but the Ravens lead the division.

Both the Ravens and Steelers are 4-4, but obviously the Ravens won the head-to-head matchup, and the Bengals (3-4-1) had a bye. Do we even need to mention the Browns (0-9)? They should be in their own division called the AFC Winless. The Ravens can move to 5-4 on Thursday night if they beat the Browns at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens’ schedule gets much tougher after that, but clearly the AFC North is up for grabs.

2. Blocking kicks has been a saving grace for the Ravens.

In this game, it was a blocked punt by Buck Allen that was scooped and returned 14 yards by Chris Moore for a touchdown. That play gave the Ravens a 21-0 lead, creating a hole that the Steelers couldn’t climb out of. Allen and Moore have barely gotten to play on offense this season, by giving 100 percen on special teams, their effort produced a key touchdown. 

3. The Ravens won in spite of their running game, not because of it.

Terrance West (15 carries, 21 yards) was bottled up, and even with their starting offensive line intact, the Ravens’ running game sputtered. Rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley had his worst NFL game with four penalties. The Ravens can celebrate this victory, but their offense still needs plenty of work.

4. Defensively, the Ravens were outstanding.

The contained Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (13 carries, 19 yards), they limited wide receiver Antonio Brown (seven catches, 85 yards, one TD) until the fourth quarter, and they put constant pressure on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the fourth quarter when he tried to rally the Steelers. Jimmy Smith continued to play at a high level at cornerback, and the Ravens also got strong play from rookie corner Tavon Young and veteran corner Jerraud Powers. The big plays that had been hurting the Ravens badly in recent games were eliminated.  

5. Wide receiver Mike Wallace has been the best new addition to the Ravens’ offense.

Wallace (four catches, 124 yards, one TD) set a positive tone for the Ravens with his scintillating 95-yard catch and run in the first quarter The Ravens only have six touchdown catches this season, and Wallace has four of them. Nobody is asking anymore if Wallace is washed up. Whatever problems the Ravens have on offense, Wallace isn’t one of them.

MORE RAVENS: Mike Wallace sets Ravens record on long TD

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Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

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USA Today Sports

Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

On Wednesday, February 14, a horrific school shooting claimed the lives of 17 innocent people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. 

The tragic event impacted people far and wide, and hit especially close to home for Ravens running back Alex Collins.

The former Arkansas star was born in Plantation, Fla., a suburb of Fort Lauderdale and went to high school just 15 miles south of Douglas High School. 

In the offseason, Collins took Irish dancing lessons to improve his footwork, and following the act of terror, the Ravens' tailback learned that one of his dance partners had been killed in the mass shooting.

17-year-old Cara Loughran attended The Drake school of Irish Dance with Collins in addition to two other Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and was fatally shot by the gunman on Wednesday afternoon. 

Collins took to his Twitter account to issue this heartfelt message.

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“The school shooting yesterday hit home,” Collins wrote.

“We received confirmation a few hours ago we lost one of the girls, Cara Loughran. Two other girls saw and experienced unspeakable tragedy. My heart goes out to these girls, all their families and their teacher Chrissy.”

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Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

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USA Today Sports

Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears will launch the NFL's 99th season by playing in the annual Hall of Fame game on Aug. 2.

The Ravens' first appearance in the Hall of Fame game, which launches the league's 2018 Enshrinement Week. Former Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis is among the inductees, along with former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

Lewis, who played 17 seasons with the Ravens, and Urlacher, who played all of his 13 seasons with Chicago, both were elected on the first ballot.

Lewis joins Jonathan Ogden as the only Ravens in the Hall of Fame. Both were selected by Baltimore in the first round of the 1996 draft.

The other members of the Class of 2018 include Bobby Beathard, Robert Brazile, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. All will be inducted on Saturday, Aug. 4.

This will be the record-tying fifth time that the Bears will play in the Hall of Fame game. They won the previous four, most recently 27-24 over Miami in 2005.

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