Please forgive Brett Favre if he seems to be salavating at the prospect of facing the Baltimore Ravens.
With the exception of All-world safety Ed Reed, these aren’t the same Ravens defensive backs who used to scare teams. Cornerback Samari Rolle hasn’t played because of an injury, and Chris McAlister departed during the offseason.
The new starters, Domonique Foxworth and Fabian Washington, along with nickel back Chris Carr, are taking their fair share of criticism. Baltimore’s pass rush is part of the problem, too.
The Ravens are ranked 26th against the pass. But coach John Harbaugh comes across as not particularly concerned about his pass defense.
“We don’t put too much stock in stats,” he said during a conference call with reporters. “A couple big plays on you and your stats are screwed. At the end of the year, it all works itself out. We are just going to bring our pass defense in there and see how we match up.”
Vikings receiver Percy Harvin sees an opportunity to make plays. He noted that teammates Bernard Berrian and Sidney Rice have a size advantage at receiver.
“I don’t think there’s too many corners that can jump with Sid, so we’ll always have the advantage in that,” he said. “We feel that we have the matchups. A lot of teams don’t have as many corners as we do receivers, so we look at any opportunity we can in the passing game for it to be an advantage.”
The re-emergence of receiver Sidney Rice has been one part hard work in the off-season, one part a return to physical health and one part Brett Favre, who tends to make his receivers better by simply getting them the ball in a position so that they can make plays. Something Tavaris Jackson has been unable to do consistently.
Rice caught four passes for 61 yards, including a 47-yarder, and he drew a 34-yard pass interference call early in the fourth quarter to help set up a touchdown that gave the Vikings a 31-3 lead.
For the season, Rice is tied for the team lead in receiving yards, with 233, he’s scored two touchdowns, and he’s averaging a team-high 13.7 yards per catch.
So where is his confidence right now?
“It’s through the roof, actually,” he said.
He had his breakout game against the Green Bay Packers, when he caught five passes for 70 yards, including a touchdown.
Rice, Bernard Berrian and rookie Percy Harvin are beginning to resemble a three headed monster. Their effect has been painfully absent in recent years since the departure of Randy Moss and the retirement of Cris Carter.