Ravens’ Harbaugh: Chiefs are ‘hottest team in football’

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What do the 2015 Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs have in common? They both started 1-5 … and that’s it.

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Since both clubs’ paltry six-game starts, the Chiefs, sans Jamaal Charles, have turned it around, rattling off seven straight to pull into playoff contention. Going into this weekend’s matchup with Kansas City, Ravens coach John Harbaugh didn’t act like he hasn’t noticed.

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We’re playing the hottest team in football coming in here,” Harbaugh said. “They’re doing what we hoped to do nfl jerseys cheap after a slow start. But you know what? We have to find a way to win this football game.”

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Injuries in Baltimore have spread like the plague specifically targeted at essential veterans. Joe Flacco Jerseys, Justin Forsett, Dennis Pitta Jerseys, Steve Smith Sr. and Jeremy Zuttah Jerseys have all been lost to season-ending injuries — and that’s just on the offense; Terrell Suggs tore his Achilles in the first game of the season. The effect on Baltimore has of course been devastating — the 4-9 Ravens have resorted to Jimmy Clausen to salvage a season in which the team’s one shining moment was a last-second win over the lowlier Browns.

All this must make Harbaugh and the Ravens’ roster hot and bothered as they stare across the sidelines Sunday at the Chiefs. Kansas City sufferred a similar poor start, albeit not exclusively due to injury, and lost their best offensive player five weeks in to an ACL tear. However, Andy Reid’s squad adapted, rebounded and took advantage of an easy schedule behind a stiff defense and smart play.

“I don’t think they ever turn the ball over,” Harbaugh mused to reporters.

You’re right, John! Between Weeks 4 and 13, Alex Smith didn’t throw an interception; in that same time span, the Ravens’ quarterbacks threw 12. Also, Baltimore has just four defensive interceptions on the season, compared to 18 for the Chiefs.

“They have a few more turnovers — way more than we do — so that’s what really propelled their season,” cornerback Jimmy Smith Jerseys said. “That has been the story that has not helped us and helped other teams. If I can pinpoint something, I would say defensively it’s turnovers and big plays.”

Long story short, it’s been a lost season in Baltimore, but a salvaged one in K.C., all of which makes Sunday’s game in Charm City a melancholy affair.

“We definitely wish our (season) went the same way, too, but you can’t really be mad at them or envy them,” linebacker C.J. Mosley Jerseys added. “They’re finding ways to win, and we didn’t.”

Kickers missed most extra points since 1977

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So, how did kickers do this season with the new, longer extra point?

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According to The MMQB, NFL placekickers missed 71 PATs this season, compared to 37 of their last 6,153 kicks between 2010 and 2014. Per NFL research, the 71 missed PATs this season was the highest number of missed extra points in a year since 1977 (72) and the lowest conversion percentage since 1982.

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In all, it’s hard to say that the shift to the 15-yard line didn’t at least make the game slightly more interesting. Amid some intense kicking struggles, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin momentarily adopted a philosophy of going for the 2-point conversion. Bills placekicker Dan Carpenter Jerseys gave us one of the more memorable extra point moments in recent NFL history Sunday against the Jets after missing a kick and spiking his helmet off the aluminum bench into his own face.

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Some kickers reported that the longer extra point effected their ability to hit field goals at a more consistent level, and others experienced a vicious signing-and-cutting cycle in the wake of those mistakes.

But the most fascinating aspect from a game planning perspective is the need to make up for a missed extra point, or, from the Steelers’ point of view, the ability to force a team to make up for it. This caused more coordinators and coaches to focus on effective 2-yard plays than ever. Trying to score from the 2-yard line is one of the more difficult propositions in the NFL in a do-or-die situation unless, like Tomlin, you have an excellent offensive line and goal line back. cheap nfl jerseys

Though it did not cause the massive chaos scenario that some predicted — a situation where kickers would command a larger portion of the salary cap due to reliability issues — it is making us think twice about something that was once inevitable.