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The most memorable moments between Bill Belichick and the Ravens organization

The most memorable moments between Bill Belichick and the Ravens organization

Sports Uncovered is a six-part weekly podcast series that explores the stories that took the national sports world by storm. The newest episode, The Bill Belichick You Don't Know, explores the lesser-known side of the New England Patriots head coach.

Bill Belichick and the Ravens have been attached at the hip for longer, and more deeply, than people might assume. 

Perhaps the NFL’s best coach of all time, Belichick has had a great impact on Baltimore football, even when he’s not been actively on the team’s staff. 

He was an assistant coach for the Baltimore Colts and coach Ted Marchibroda in 1975, his first ever coaching job in the NFL. After a few stints as an assistant coach, he moved on to the Giants where he led one of the most successful defensive teams in NFL history to two Super Bowls. 

There’s no shortage of memorable moments between the famed coach and the Ravens, and here are a few that stand out: 

The 1996 NFL Draft

Belichick was the head coach for the Cleveland Browns from 1991-1995 before the Browns’ move to Baltimore. Even with Art Modell’s assurances that he’d be the head coach in Baltimore too, where Belichick started his career, he was fired in early 1996. 

But while the Ravens’ first draft in the NFL was one of the best drafts of any team in NFL history, it couldn’t have happened without Belichick. 

He made a trade in the 1995 season, still as the coach of the Browns, with the 49ers that gave the Ravens two first round picks in 1996. The Ravens’ first pick ever, their own pick, went to the selection of Jonathan Ogden at fourth overall. 

Later in the first round, with the pick Belichick had traded for, the Ravens selected linebacker Ray Lewis. 

 

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Ed Reed

Belichick perhaps had no greater admiration for a Ravens player than Ed Reed. That manifested itself on one play against the Colts. 

Reed had studied Peyton Manning’s tendencies and found out that a pump fake indicated where Manning wanted to throw the football. He intercepted a would-be touchdown in that week’s game. 

Reed’s play still sticks out in his mind.

“Best play I’ve ever seen a free safety make,” Belichick said.

Tom Brady was understandably worried about Reed in his career, and both he and Belichick have marveled at Reed’s ability for years. 

Brady once had “Find 20 on Every Play” written on his quarterback armband.

2007 Ravens/Patriots

The Ravens nearly ended the perfection of Belichick’s best team of all time. 

On Monday Night Football late in the 2007 season, Belichick took his unbeaten Patriots to M&T Bank Stadium to face the Ravens. There, one of the wildest finishes in the storied rivalry took place. 

The Ravens thought they had the Patriots stopped on 4th down on three separate occasions as the Patriots drove for the game-winning touchdown, but each time had to replay the down. 

Belichick’s Patriots escaped with the win as the end of the Brian Billick era in Baltimore was set in motion, which led to John Harbaugh’s hiring as coach.

2012 Justin Tucker winner

In one of the least proud moments of the rivalry, the Ravens knocked off the Patriots 31-30 on a last-second field goal by Justin Tucker early in the 2012 season. 

Late in the game, Harbaugh was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after coming onto the field, while yelling, “I was trying to call timeout!” That led to a “manure” chant by Ravens fans that Al Michaels noted on the NBC broadcast. 

The Ravens got the ball back and marched into Patriots territory, where Tucker’s game-winning kick sailed seemingly directly over top of the right upright. As Vince Wilfork ran screaming toward the officials, Belichick ran off the field and tried to grab the arm of an official who was running off the field.

At the time, the NFL’s referees were in the midst of a lockout and replacement referees were the biggest story of the season.

“Deflategate”

The Ravens were even linked to the Patriots infamous Deflategate scandal — but only tangentially. The team has consistently denied involvement since.

According to reports in August of 2015, the Ravens were the ones who let the Colts know about possible deflated footballs.

But according to the Ted Wells report on the incident, the Colts requested to use their own kicking balls for the AFC Championship Game on the basis that the Ravens had not been provided kicking balls prepared by themselves during the divisional round. It was the Ravens’ lone mention in the report.

Harbaugh denied on multiple occasions that the Ravens were involved, and that any call to the Colts took place.


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2019 Lamar

In what was the future of the rivalry, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens handed the Patriots their first loss of the 2019 season. 

Jackson threw for 163 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 61 yards as the Ravens won 37-20. It was the Ravens’ most notable win of the season to that point and the win that propelled them to a 14-2 finish.

And, as it turns out, it was Belichick’s last game against the Ravens with Brady at the helm and the turning of the page in the rivalry to the next chapter.

This story has been updated to clarify the "Deflategate" section.

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Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn tests positive for COVID-19

Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn tests positive for COVID-19

COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) -- It didn't take long for "Hard Knocks: Los Angeles" to reveal its first major surprise of the season as Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said he had coronavirus during the offseason.

Lynn's admission came less than five minutes into Tuesday's season premiere of the show on HBO and produced by NFL Films. He was answering questions about protocols put in place during a videoconference call with his players.

"I can't promise you you're not going to get infected. I got infected," said Lynn, who has recovered from the virus.

Lynn's experience set the tone for the hour-long show in which the theme was how the Chargers and Rams were taking steps to protect players. The episode also showed the testing procedure for players, which include nasal swab and blood antibody tests.

Players, coaches and some team staff members are tested daily for at least the first two weeks of training camps. It can be reduced to every other day after that depending on the rate of positive results. The league and NFL Players Association continue to discuss how long to continue daily tests.

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Lynn -- who is in his fourth season as Chargers coach -- said in a conversation with team psychologist Dr. Herb Martin that he had a slight cough and body aches. He didn't decide to get tested until watching a golf tournament when one of the competitors had to withdraw after testing positive. That golfer had symptoms similar to Lynn's.

"I never even would have known it and probably got other people infected," Lynn said.

Lynn later said that the emotional toll was worse than the physical effects.

"The first thing, you feel a little bit like an outcast. That was probably harder for me than the sickness," he said. "I was feeling like, `I can't go here or I'm going to infect this person.' When you're used to fixing the problem, now I'm the problem."

The Chargers are one of the few teams to not have any player on the covid/reserve list or have anyone opt out from playing this season.

The episode later showed Rams rookie linebacker Terrell Lewis self quarantining and talking to teammates via videoconference after testing positive.

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Ronnie Stanley, Matthew Judon among NFL’s top 25 potential free agents in 2021

Ronnie Stanley, Matthew Judon among NFL’s top 25 potential free agents in 2021

The Ravens (and most likely all 32 NFL franchises) will face some very difficult decisions next offseason, especially with the talent that potentially could be available on the free agent market.

NFL.com recently released the top 25 potential free agents for the 2021 offseason, and Baltimore features prominently on their list. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley ranks as the third-best to possibly hit the open market, behind only Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle.

“If there were a poll among general managers picking one franchise left tackle to build around for the next decade, Stanley might top the list,” Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com wrote. “Baltimore has a lot of big contracts coming up, but Stanley is the most important player on the Ravens' roster besides Lamar Jackson.”

Stanley, the 6th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, is set to play out the fifth-year option on his rookie deal this season. A huge payday no doubt awaits the All-Pro left tackle, but its not something he’s dwelling on right now.

“It’s definitely not really in the forefront of my mind,” Stanley said. “My main focus right now is just - for me, it’s always been be the best player I can be, help my team win. The money usually takes care of itself after that.”

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Further down the list at #22, Ravens linebacker Matthew Judon will play under the franchise tag this season. However, there is doubt about how long Judon’s tenure in Baltimore will ultimately last.

“A terrific player who may thrive more with effort than pure raw talent, Judon looks likely to be the latest pass rusher to leave the Ravens nest,” Rosenthal wrote.

Financial flexibility will be at a premium next offseason, with the salary cap likely headed for a historic drop due to the effects of the current pandemic. Regardless, the future of Stanley and Judon in Baltimore will be worth monitoring next offseason.

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