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Ravens players, coaches reflect on Terrell Suggs’ brilliant Ravens career

Ravens players, coaches reflect on Terrell Suggs’ brilliant Ravens career

Terrell Suggs didn’t decide to leave Baltimore until the final hour. 

A free agent at the end of last season, Suggs had the choice to return home to Arizona or stay in Baltimore.

The Arizona-native chose the former and decided to return to the desert for his 17th career season, a choice that means Sunday’s game will be a homecoming of sorts for Suggs.

When the Ravens host the Cardinals this weekend, Suggs will walk into M&T Bank Stadium in opposing colors for the first time in his career. He said he’s never been in the visitor’s locker room.

“It wasn’t circled, but when the schedule came out, I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to downplay it as just another game,’” Suggs said. “But we all know that’d be (expletive). It’s kind of a unique situation, isn’t it? It’s kind of weird.”

Suggs knew the Cardinals would play the Ravens this season, but the impact of that game didn’t immediately set in until he checked the schedule twice. 

Then, it began to register what was around the corner.

“I didn’t catch on right away,” Suggs said. “I saw it was Week two. I didn’t see if it was in Arizona or at Baltimore, and then once it hit me that it was actually your home opener, that’s when I was kind of like, ‘Wow.’ That’s when the craziness of it kind of set in.”

Suggs had 132.5 career sacks as a Raven and 854 tackles. He won Defensive Player of The Year in 2011 and was a Super Bowl champion in 2012. 

With his two sacks last week in Arizona, he’s upped his total to 134.5 career sacks. That ranks 12th all-time, just ahead of John Abraham and Lawrence Taylor.

All but a sliver of those numbers came in Baltimore, meaning if Suggs wears a gold jacket in Canton, Ohio one day, he’ll go in as a Raven. That’s what makes Sunday’s game so unique.

“I can’t wait to see him,” Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale said. “We love him. We miss him. He’s our brother. I think, really, it’s going to be harder for him than it is for us. Because of the eight years that I’ve been here with him, it’s just been a pleasure to see a Hall of Fame career just explode.”

And while Suggs leaves behind a host of memories on the field, it’s the ones off the field that sometimes leave the biggest impact. 

Marshal Yanda remembers Suggs playing “Media Dodgeball” in the locker room. Marlon Humphrey remembers how he made him earn his keep as a young player. Others joked they couldn’t say. 

But the player nicknamed “Sizzle” certainly left one in Baltimore.

“He did things the right way,” Yanda said. “Football is No. 1 for him. He played at a high level, and he continues to do so. He’s a great role model for anybody, let alone just in this organization. Like I said, he was one of our pillars.”

That’s the off the field aspect. In terms of the on-field aspect, Suggs is as dangerous as he ever was. 

He finished last week’s tie against the Lions with two sacks and five tackles. At nearly 37-years old, it doesn’t look like he’s lost a step.

“You know all of the things I’ve said about him,” Martindale said. “I couldn’t help myself, I watched him play last week on tape. And he hasn’t lost a step. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Ronnie Stanley, who had to block Suggs in practice for the first years of his NFL career, has seen up-close what Suggs meant to the Ravens organization on the field. 

Now, he’ll try and stop him when it matters.

“I went up against him in practice quite a bit, but everyone turns up to a different level in a game,” Stanley, the Ravens left tackle, said. “So I’ve got to be ready for that.”

But the thing no one can pin down is what Sunday’s game will be like from both Suggs and the Ravens perspective. 

Suggs posted a quote on Instagram late Sunday afternoon with the caption “You either die a hero,..or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Other than that, however, he said he doesn’t know what the atmosphere will be like.

There will be fan support and likely a few No. 55 jerseys in the crowd, and maybe even a video tribute to the team’s former leader.

The thing everyone can agree on, however, is the impact Suggs had the rest of the organization, and how still goes on without him.

“Once I started to make some plays, he started to call me ‘The Future,’” Humphrey said. “So, I’ve always felt like I can play into that role, and all that is is just making plays on the field and doing things right in the building. That’s what I’ve strived to do.”

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Ravens establish themselves as contenders with their biggest win of the season

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USA Today Sports Images

Ravens establish themselves as contenders with their biggest win of the season

The Ravens already have five wins this season, a total topped by just four other teams so far. At 5-2 with a two-and-a-half game lead in the AFC North, they’ve certainly enjoyed a strong start to the season.

As many fans and national pundits have been quick to point out, however, the Ravens’ first four wins didn’t come against the strongest level of competition.

You can only play the teams on your schedule, of course, but that didn’t make Baltimore’s 4-2 start any more impressive. Their first four wins came against the Dolphins (a threat to go 0-16), the Cardinals (worst record in the NFL last season), the Steelers (finished on their third-string QB) and the Bengals (also a threat to go 0-16). Two of those games even came at home.

Those teams are a combined 5-20-1. The Ravens entered Sunday having faced just one opponent with a winning record -- the Chiefs -- and they lost.

It was easy, and probably accurate, to point out the Ravens had yet to beat a good team this season. That statement may have been true before Sunday.

But not anymore.

The Seahawks entered Sunday’s game 5-1, looking like one of the NFC’s strongest contenders fresh off wins over preseason darlings Browns and Rams.

Russell Wilson has been something close to the consensus MVP in the NFL this season, throwing for 1,704 yards, 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions, all while leading the NFL in yards per attempt (9.0).

Moreover, CenturyLink Field is notoriously one of the most difficult places to play in the NFL. Every Raven at the podium after the game mentioned how loud and difficult the atmosphere was. Lamar Jackson was beside himself after a red zone delay of game penalty caused by crowd noise.

It’s easy to see why the Seahawks rarely lose at home.

On top of all that, the Ravens are dealing with major injury issues. The secondary, having to face an elite quarterback, was without preseason starters Jimmy Smith, Tavon Young, and Tony Jefferson. The defense was also without its best linebacker, Patrick Onwuasor.

The offense, playing in poor weather conditions in the most difficult environment in football, was without the field-stretching Marquise Brown.

And yet, not only did the Ravens overcome these obstacles to win, but they did it with surprising ease. A few optimistic fans may have predicted a Ravens win, but no one expected it to come by two touchdowns.

This win was especially critical, considering the slate of games Baltimore has ahead. After the bye comes New England, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Buffalo sandwiched around a trip to Cincinnati. 

Those are five of the better teams in football, with very little chance to regain their breath. But Sunday’s victory shows that the Ravens actually can play with the cream of the crop around the league. 

Stop saying the Ravens haven’t beaten a good team yet this season. Now they have. And with it, they’ve announced themselves as contenders in the top-heavy AFC.

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Earl Thomas appears to ignore former head coach in first return to Seattle

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Earl Thomas appears to ignore former head coach in first return to Seattle

It’s no secret that Earl Thomas and the Seahawks organization ended on poor terms. The image of the star safety making an obscene gesture toward his own bench while being carted off the field is one of the most indelible from the 2018 season, and Thomas was not shy about his displeasure with the franchise.

Knowing that, the Ravens were extra focused on getting Thomas a big win in Seattle on Sunday, something they accomplished with a hard-fought 30-16 victory.

During the game, there were a couple of moments in which Thomas appeared to be jawing with the Seahawks bench. Media members pointed out his antics at a few key points in the game.

After the game was won, Thomas was happy and cordial with a few of his longtime teammates. He shared a long embrace with the new face of the Seahawks defense in Bobby Wagner, and then made a beeline to swap jerseys with Russell Wilson.

What you may have noticed is who Thomas *didn’t* embrace, shake hands with or even talk to. On his way from Wagner to Wilson, Thomas notably brushes right past his former head coach, Pete Carroll.

Carroll makes no effort to stop Thomas, and Thomas makes no effort to stop Carroll. It’s possible the two just didn’t notice each other, but given their long history and the relevance of that storyline, it’s hard to imagine them completely missing each other.

It appears Thomas was happy to ignore his longtime coach, and his coach was happy to oblige.

Thomas is a highly competitive player, and a big win keyed by his new defense in his old stomping grounds had to feel good. But the postgame handshakes, and lack thereof, show that the hatchet may not be completely buried just yet.

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