Dan Shaughnessy

Lightening up before the serious business

By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / January 5, 2010

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Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.’’

Quoth Bill Belichick, “We’re just doing what’s best for our football team.’’ Patriots-Ravens Sunday at 1 p.m.? Give me the Patriots by a razor at the Razor.

The X’s and O’s will be dissected and analyzed all week. Deep thinkers of football will make rational predictions based on the strengths and weaknesses of both teams.

Not me. No blocking scheme talk here. I go with the gut. I explore the intangibles. The winner of this game will be the team with the excess duende, the good karma, the mojo risin’.

Talking points:

■ Franchise Roots. The Patriots were invented by Billy Sullivan in 1960, part of the upstart AFL. The Ravens were stolen from Cleveland by folks who were still smarting from having the Colts stolen by Indianapolis. The Ravens are actually the old Cleveland Browns. The Patriots are the original Patriots. Edge: New England.

■ Edgar Allen Poe. The Ravens are named after Poe’s famous work, “The Raven,’’ penned while he lived in Baltimore. John Lennon referenced Poe in “I Am The Walrus’’ when he wrote, “Man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allen Poe.’’ Today this might read as an apt description of Baltimore’s oft-flagged defense. Poe is buried in Baltimore, but he was born in Boston. Edge: New England.

■ Major Motion Picture/Football. Baltimore rookie tackle Michael Oher is the subject of “The Blind Side,’’ the blockbuster film starring Sandra Bullock. It’s impossible to come out of that movie not rooting for Michael Oher. The Patriots have no equivalent story and Tom Brady’s cameo in “Stuck On You’’ doesn’t count. Making this even more lopsided, Oher was drafted by the Ravens with a pick acquired from the Patriots. Baltimore traded the No. 26 pick and a fifth-round selection to New England (which the Patriots traded to Green Bay) for the No. 23 overall pick, which became Oher. Edge: Baltimore.

■ Major Motion Picture/Football II. “Diner’’ one of the greatest movies of all time (introducing Mickey Rourke) included a subplot involving the Baltimore Colts and the Greatest Game Ever Played. Ernie Accorsi, the man who built the Giants team that beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, supplied info for the film’s famous football quiz. Edge: Baltimore.

■ Former Super Bowl Winner-Turned-Network Commentator. Trent Dilfer was the backup-turned-starting QB who won Super Bowl XXXV with the Ravens in the 2000 season. He continues to annoy today as an analyst for ESPN. Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi this year made seamless transitions from the field to the booth. Edge: New England.

■ Ghastly Flashbacks. Sorry if you’re still smarting from Bernard Pollard’s one-man destruction of the Patriots Sunday, but it’s only going to get worse Sunday because David Tyree plays for the Ravens. Tyree is the guy who made the velcro catch to beat the Patriots two years ago in Glendale, Ariz. You can make a case for Tyree’s catch as the greatest play in Super Bowl history. Edge: Baltimore.

■ Baseball Parks. The Ravens played their first two seasons at Memorial Stadium, the old Orioles ballpark on 33d street in Baltimore. The Patriots played at Fenway Park for six seasons from 1963-68. Edge: New England.

■ Rex Ryan. Now in the playoffs as HC of the NYJ, Ryan is the doofus who called the timeout that enabled the Patriots to stay perfect in a Monday night victory in 2007. He was an assistant coach with the Ravens for 10 years. He is also the man who said he did not plan to kiss Belichick’s rings when he took the job with the Jets. Edge: New England.

■ The King. The Patriots have had Flying Elvis on their helmets since the early 1990s. Elvis Grbac played for the Ravens in 2001. Edge: New England.

■ Future Hall of Famers Who Have Been Arrested: The Ravens have Ray Lewis, the Patriots have Randy Moss. Lewis always plays hard. Edge: Baltimore.

■ Mascots in the Slammer. One of the guys who wears the Pat Patriot costume was busted in a prostitution ring before Christmas. To the best of our knowledge, Baltimore’s Poe has spent no time in a cage. Edge: Baltimore.

■ Spawning Ground of Football Masterminds. Bill Belichick grew up in Maryland and was a rabid fan of the Baltimore Colts. His first NFL job was in Baltimore under Ted Marchibroda, who later served as the first coach of the Ravens. Amos Alonzo Kraft grew up in Brookline and played Lightweight Football at Columbia. Edge: Baltimore.

■ Streaking. The Patriots went 8-0 at home this season and are 11-1 at home in their playoff history. They have never lost (5-0) to the Baltimore Ravens. Edge: New England.

Overall, the nod goes to New England.

The Patriots losing a playoff game at home?


Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at

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