Sunday, January 2, 2011
Charles Johnson, 1999 Topps Stars #132
I generally like to make it to one football game a year just for the experience. Though baseball is my first passion, NFL games are a different creature. Crowd noise is such a big part of it, and it starts with the player introductions. My sister works for the company that provides the special effects for the Ravens, so we both enjoyed watching the team come charging through the tunnel with its glowing red eyes and columns of smoke and flames. A few moments later came the Star-Spangled Banner, complete with the roar of an "O!" from the hometown crowd. Here you can see me doing my best to blend into the sea of purple while still representing the Orioles, thanks to one of the purple O's-Ravens "rally caps" that were given away at Camden Yards on NFL Draft Day in April 2009.
The game itself was kind of brutal, with the 4-11 Bengals gaining twice as much yardage as the 11-4 Ravens. The Baltimore defense locked into "bend but don't break" mode, forcing five Cincinnati turnovers. Yet the game was still in doubt until only 16 seconds remained. At that moment, Bengal quarterback Carson Palmer threw an incompletion on fourth down from the Ravens' two-yard line. But two interceptions by future Hall of Famer Ed Reed (a University of Miami product, much like Mr. Charles Johnson) and three fumble recoveries gave all 71,088 of us in attendance plenty to shout about. Every time Palmer lined up under center, the crowd noise was deafening. Sometimes it's a lot of fun just to make loud noises for the sake of it, and even though I'll be hoarse for the next few days, I have no regrets. Now, Baltimore's other birds will hit the road for the playoffs. Kansas City won't know what hit it.