Curran: These Ravens don't travel well

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Curran: These Ravens don't travel well

The qualifiers that have dogged the Patriots throughout their 13-3 2011 season are easy to list.

They didn't beat a team that finished the season with a record over .500. Godawful pass defense. A run defense that's inconsistent. Slow starters. And we've visited and revisited those topics.

But there are indictments in the Baltimore Ravens stat pack as well from 2011. And most of them are related to how badly they tend to play away from Maryland.

The Ravens lost at Jacksonville, Tennessee, Seattle and San Diego this season. None of those teams made the playoffs. Baltimore managed just 51 points total in the four games.

And while the losses to the Jaguars and Titans are lessened by the passage of time (they happened in September and October), the loss to San Diego on December 18 is a glaring toe-stub from the tail end of the year.

Baltimore lost that one 34-14 and it wasn't even that competitive as the Chargers got up 31-7 by the end of the third. In that game, the Chargers did things similar to what Houston did last week. Pressured quarterback Joe Flacco (five sacks) and created turnovers (two picks).

Houston just didn't have the quarterback to finish Baltimore off.

There are creditable wins on the Ravens schedule. Two over Pittsburgh, one over the 49ers and two over the Bengals - all playoff teams.

But comparing the Ravens losses and the margins to the teams the Patriots lost to - Pittsburgh, the Giants and Buffalo by a total of 15 points - leaves the impression that the Ravens are extremely capable of flat performances especially away from home.

The key, as mentioned yesterday, is bothering Joe Flacco and making him less than average.

Steelers GM on Hightower: 'It didn't work'

Steelers GM on Hightower: 'It didn't work'

Speaking to reporters at the NFL owners meetings in Arizona, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert touched briefly on the team’s unsuccessful attempt to lure Dont’a Hightower away from New England in free agency. 

Hightower returned to the Patriots this month on a four-year, $43.5 million deal with $19 million guaranteed. He was also courted by the Jets and Steelers, among others, with his offer from the Jets reported to be the biggest before they reportedly pulled it due to physical concerns. 

The Steelers also reportedly offered more money than the Patriots, with Jason La Canfora reporting that Pittsburgh offered more than $9 million annually. Hightower’s deal with the Pats pays him $8.7 million per year. 

“We made an attempt [with Hightower], it didn’t work,” Colbert told reporters. “We’re fine. We move on. Vince Williams, we were very confident in Vince. That’s why we signed him to the extension last year. So that if we got to this point and Lawrence had left us, and we didn’t sign anybody from the outside, Vince was certainly capable of stepping up and being the next guy.”

Hightower is entering his sixth season with the Patriots, who selected him with the 25th overall pick in the 2012 draft. 

Tom Brady tees it up with Jordan Spieth at Augusta National

Tom Brady tees it up with Jordan Spieth at Augusta National

It's been a long time since Tom Brady's been considered a true underdog. You might have to go back to Super Bowl XXXVI for anyone to remember a time when it seemed like the quarterback with the most championships in NFL history was a long shot to win. 

Not when it comes golf, though. 

Brady's a talented golfer, no doubt. He's eagled at Pebble Beach. He once teamed up with Jim Nantz to beat up on two US presidents

But even Brady knew he faced long odds against Jordan Spieth at Augusta. According to Brady's Instagram page, it seems as though the two Under Armour pitch men made up a foursome at the famed course about two weeks before the Masters kicked off. 

Trying to beat @jordanspieth in golf is like trying to arm wrestle @therock... #DreamBig #NeverGiveUp

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

Brady has also taken on Augusta with Rory McIlroy. Still waiting on those scores to come out, but as with the recent Spieth round, probably shouldn't hold your breath.