Ravens

Return of Browner puts Seattle at full strength

Return of Browner puts Seattle at full strength

RENTON, Wash. (AP) Brandon Browner was back in the Seattle Seahawks' locker room Wednesday, shaking hands and sitting just a few feet from fellow cornerback Richard Sherman.

For a time last month, no one was sure whether Browner and Sherman would be around at this point of the year with each facing four-game suspensions for using a banned substance. Browner eventually dropped his appeal and sat out the last four games of the regular season, while Sherman won his appeal and had his suspension overturned.

The result is that the Seahawks will go to Washington on Sunday for the opening round of the playoffs at nearly full strength.

``Getting Brandon Browner back is a big deal to us. He's been a big part of what we've done here and a significant factor in the style that we play,'' Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ``He comes back and (we'll) see how he does. It's been a month; we'll see how rusty he is. But we're very fortunate right now.''

There are a few key players whose seasons ended early due to injuries. Offensive lineman James Carpenter, defensive tackle Jason Jones and cornerback Walter Thurmond are all players Seattle would like to have available when its faces the Redskins.

For the most part, what Seattle's starting lineup looked like for most of the season will be on the field against the Redskins. The only player listed on Seattle's injury report Wednesday was Marshawn Lynch, who continued with his trend of having a light practice early in the week to rest his back.

``Our confidence is sky high and we feel like we can match and scheme with anybody,'' Seattle linebacker Leroy Hill said.

The return of Browner is significant because of how the rest of Seattle's defense plays off the skills of its cornerbacks. Browner's size at 6-foot-4, combined with adequate speed has made it possible for the Seahawks to play press coverage with its cornerbacks and allow safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas to roam around and make plays in run support and the pass game.

Combined with Sherman on the other side, Seattle's pass defense ranked sixth in the league, allowing 203.1 yards per game. The Seahawks were ranked as high as No. 3 in the league against the pass during the regular season.

According to STATS, Inc., Browner and Sherman were among the best in the league at not getting burned. Browner was targeted 65 times and allowed 30 receptions with six passes defensed. Sherman was targeted 94 times and allowed 43 receptions, and led the NFL with 24 passes defensed according to STATS.

``It just adds along to all the ballers we have back there,'' Thomas said. ``(I) don't want to take any credit away from the young guys that have been playing back there, but that's a Pro Bowl player and it's hard to replace that type of player. He's a physical guy, can cause fumbles and interceptions. We're just glad to have him back.''

If there was a benefit to Seattle losing Browner for the final four games it was that some inexperienced players got an opportunity to play. Seattle initially went to Thurmond to take Browner's role until he was sidelined by a hamstring injury that landed him on injured reserve earlier this week. Thurmond going down required the Seahawks to give rookie Jeremy Lane and second-year defensive back Byron Maxwell their shots at filling the role and both played well. Lane was tested deep on the first play of the game against both Buffalo and San Francisco and each time was stride for stride in coverage. Maxwell regularly entered and played on the outside in passing situations with Lane moving inside to play against slot receivers.

Overall, the results give the Seahawks flexibility on how they run their schemes and playing time for their youngsters.

``That's just the outside perspective. We already knew how strong he was, we already knew how good he was,'' Sherman said about Lane. ``It wasn't news for us, it was just him getting to show the world how talented he was and we knew the whole time. That's why he's on this team.''

Along with the return of Browner, Hill practiced Wednesday after missing last Sunday's regular-season finale because of a hamstring injury. Malcolm Smith started last week against St. Louis and Carroll said he did not know who would start if Hill made it through the week. Hill has the second-most postseason experience of anyone on Seattle's roster with seven games.

``Like I said, we'll be ready,'' Hill said. ``We've got our full confidence up and we have reliable backups. We know Malcolm can play. We know (Lane) and Byron can play.''

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Did you know Bill Belichick has deep ties to Navy football?

Did you know Bill Belichick has deep ties to Navy football?

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.

On the outside, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick seems pretty easy to read. A man of few words -- at least to the media -- Belichick has made it clear that he has two things he cares about above all else: football and winning.

However, there is another side to the six-time Super Bowl-winning head coach that most may not be aware of. On the latest Sports Uncovered podcast by NBC Sports, 'The Bill Belichick You Don’t Know’ takes a look at some lesser-known stories, facts and passions that Belichick has.

Among them all, one thing many may not know about the Patriots head coach is that he has deep ties -- and a strong love -- for Navy football. Yes, despite his longtime rivalry with the Baltimore Ravens, Belichick does indeed have a soft spot for some football in the state of Maryland.

Belichick's connection to the Naval Academy football team stems from his father's history of coaching at the program. Steve Belichick, who passed away in 2005, spent 30 years as an assistant coach while also teaching classes at Navy.

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During that time, Bill Belichick became embedded in his father's world of football. Spending time so close to the team, he carried a close personal connection to the team and school. Being the football genius that he is, the head coach can still recall specific moments, players and uniforms from games that took place over 40 years ago.

Though Belichick now resides in New England, his relationship with Navy Football is as strong as ever. As NBC Sports' Peter King showed in 2019, Belichick and his father's legacy will remain in Annapolis forever as the school has a special archive named the "Belichick Collection."

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There, football books dating back 100 years can be found, and read. For a family dedicated to football, it's the perfect touch.

For as long as he is the head coach of the Patriots -- and even after -- Belichick may not be the most popular person in the state of Maryland. However, his lesser-known side shows that he does have at least one positive connection to football in the state. 

To never miss an episode, subscribe to Sports Uncovered and get every episode automatically downloaded to your phone. Sports Uncovered is also available on the MyTeams app, as well as on every major podcasting platform: AppleGoogle PodcastiHeartStitcherSpotify, and TuneIn

Stay connected with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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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, at least publicly, denied any involvement in their role in the “Deflategate” controversy. But according to documents released in August of 2015, the Ravens were the ones who let the Colts know about deflated footballs. 

After a 35-31 loss in the divisional round, Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg called Chuck Pagano, then the coach of the Colts, to warn him about the condition of the footballs in New England.

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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.

To never miss an episode, subscribe to Sports Uncovered and get every episode automatically downloaded to your phone. Sports Uncovered is also available on the MyTeams app, as well as on every major podcasting platform: AppleGoogle PodcastiHeartStitcherSpotify, and TuneIn

Stay connected with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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