Summer party themes that sizzle

first_imgLighten up your summer with these fun ideasPatriotic celebrations, neighborhood block parties, graduations, bridal showers and family reunions – whatever your summer soiree, a creative theme can elevate any gathering from fun to fantastic. If you’ve done the usual – luau, ethnic and red-white-and-blue – and are looking for motifs that will really make a splash, here are six unique themes and some ideas for implementing them with style this season:1. Star-spangled movie nightSummer patriotic celebrations can be pretty formulaic if you just serve burgers and hot dogs while watching fireworks on TV. But merge patriotism with film, and you can create a memorable, magical party. Break out the red-white-and-blue bunting, rent some velvet ropes and stanchions like you see in a theater, pick up a projector, screen and popcorn machine from your local rental store, and spend the day reveling in patriotic-themed movies.Your local rental store has everything you need to create a star-spangled movie night. Find a rental store at Not sure what to show? “Captain America” and “Independence Day” are thrill rides that both kids and adults will love. Or, tug at the heart strings with sports-themed, all-American movies like “Miracle” and “Field of Dreams.”2. A day at the carnivalWhether you’re looking for an inspired block party idea or a kid’s birthday party theme that will leave parents and children talking about it until winter break, you can’t beat a carnival theme for summer fun! Serve up traditional carnival fare – rented hot dog and popcorn machines will come in handy – and break out the carnival games. From favorites like the ring toss, dart/balloon board and duck ponds, to inflatable bounce houses and dunk tanks, you can rent carnival games to create a one-of-a-kind backyard event.3. Summer snacking soireeBeach time, vacation, warm weather and sunshine are all lovely aspects of summer, but let’s face it – summer snacks are the highlight of the season. Adults and kids alike will love a menu that highlights some of their favorite warm-weather snacks. Set up a s’mores station with graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate bars and a camp fire (under adult supervision, of course). Place popcorn, hot dog, frozen drink and ice cream machines around the backyard. Celebrate summer fruits like watermelon and avocado with creative recipes like watermelon fruit pops, fruit bruschetta, fruit skewers and hummus/guacamole dip.4. Whacky water worldWhen the temperatures soar, everyone loves some water fun. Invite guests to bring their bathing attire and visit your backyard for some whacky water fun. Fill balloons with water and hang them from a tree branch to create a wet, wild pinata. Rent an inflatable water slide, a misting fan, dunk tank and bubble machine. As guests arrive, equip each with a water gun. Have plenty of water barrels around the yard for quick refills and don’t forget to have plenty of towels on hand.5. Karaoke dance-offDance party or karaoke – which musical theme should you choose? Why not combine the themes and give your guests a chance to belt out their favorites while their friends shake it on the dance floor? Your local rental store can provide the karaoke machine, juke box and dance floor – your guests bring their creativity. Escalate the fun and add a touch of competition by inviting guests to dress and perform in the musical style that was in fashion when they graduated high school (or kindergarten or grade school for younger attendees).6. Stadium dayWatching the big game together is a great party theme any time of year. Add a singularly summery element to your game day celebration by staging it outdoors in a homemade stadium setting. You can rent bleachers and a big screen to make guests feel like they’re right there in the stadium as they’re watching the game together. Add in food machines to make traditional stadium fare like hot dogs, nachos, popcorn and burgers. Decorate with banners, pennants and flags. Set up a portable bar beside the bleachers and you’re all set for a stadium-style experience in your own backyard.Creative themes can add fresh excitement to virtually any summer gathering. To find a rental store with everything you need to execute a unique theme, visit brandpointcontent.comlast_img read more

CARICOM developing qualifications framework

first_img Share EducationLocalNewsPrimaryRegionalSecondaryTertiary CARICOM developing qualifications framework by: – November 29, 2013 Share Dr Ruby Alleyne, the new president of the Caribbean Area Net for Quality Assurance in Tertiary EducationA Caribbean Qualifications Framework, with a view to creating a seamless education and training system for CARICOM member states is being developed.That’s according to Dr Ruby Alleyne, the new president of the Caribbean Area Net for Quality Assurance in Tertiary Education and lecturer at the University of Trinidad & Tobago Dr Ruby Alleyne who was on island this week facilitating an evaluator’s workshop hosted by the National Accreditation Board.“This CARICOM Qualifications Framework it’s being called is going to be a ten level framework,” Dr Alleyne indicated earlier this week.This ten level framework, she explained, spans from the basic entry level to the education system which is primary, right through secondary, including technical, vocational, education and training and going straight up to the doctoral level.“It creates a seamless education and training system so that we can plan for and monitor the progression of any CARICOM citizen, from the entry into education right to the highest level that he or she wants to achieve”. This Caribbean Qualifications Framework will therefore standardize the requirements for different qualifications within a country and across the region. This is necessary because at the moment, “we have a situation where a certificate in Dominica by one institution may not be the same as a certificate offered by another institution in Dominica, or one offered in Trinidad & Tobago, or St Lucia”.Thus, the CARICOM qualification’s framework “will ensure that when something called a certificate is offered in one territory, it is going to be comparable to a certificate offered in another territory”.It will also ensure that the person who holds that certificate has the same kind of skills and competencies and is able to do the same thing.“So that workers who are certified at each level can move freely throughout the region with the confidence that the skills that they carry have the same kind of value,” is the overall goal of the framework, Dr Alleyne noted.Dominica Vibes News 157 Views   no discussionscenter_img Sharing is caring! Share Tweetlast_img read more

StratEdge Exhibiting High-performance Semiconductor Packages at IMS2019

first_imgAt IMS 2019, StratEdge Corporation is exhibiting its thermally-efficient line of post-fired and molded ceramic semiconductor packages. StratEdge packages operate from DC to 63+ GHz and dissipate heat from compound semiconductor devices such as gallium nitride (GaN), gallium arsenide (GaAs), and silicon carbide (SiC). These packages enable compound semiconductor devices to meet the critical requirements of markets such as telecom, mixed signal, VSAT, broadband wireless, satellite, military, test and measurement, automotive, down-hole, and MEMS.StratEdge packages are developed to accommodate the extreme demands of compound semiconductor devices. The company manufactures its packages to exacting specifications, using hardened or post-fired ceramics that don’t shrink, substrates that dissipate heat, and electrical transition designs for exceptionally low electrical losses. To further ensure optimized performance, StratEdge Assembly Services can package devices in its new clean room, which is equipped with the latest precision wire bonding and die attach systems.Click here to know more about StratEdge’s package solutions.Click here to see what other companies are showcasing at IMS 2019.last_img read more

Sonics too loud for Clippers

first_img IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5 A contest that began looking like the first day of training camp, instead of the first day of the regular season, turned into an entertaining and fast-paced game that thrilled the crowd of 19,323 in attendance.The Clippers, led by first-year coach Mike Dunleavy, refused to quit after falling behind by as many as 18 points in the third quarter. They battled back and made a run in the final minute of the game, pulling within four points before running out of gas.Reserve guard Eddie House paced the Clippers with 22 points, while starting forwards Elton Brand and Corey Maggette scored 21 apiece.Leading by 14 points, Seattle had a chance to again break the game wide open early in the fourth quarter, but guard Ansu Sesay missed a dunk and the momentum swung back to the Clippers, who proceeded to trim the deficit to six on a 3-pointer by Maggette with just over three minutes remaining in the game.Lewis then appeared to put the game away when he missed a 3-pointer, had the rebound bounce directly back to him, then made his second try near the baseline to give Seattle a 100-91 lead with 2:45 left.Murray followed with two key jumpers down the stretch for the Sonics, but then Maggette roared in for a dunk to make it 104-100 with just under a minute to go as the Clippers refused to quit.Seattle played without both its leading scorer from a year ago, Ray Allen, who is on the injured list and facing surgery on his ankle, and first-round pick Nick Collison of Kansas, who is out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery for an injury aggravated early in training camp.Sonics coach Nate McMillan said, “We talked about the loss of Ray. We didn’t want anyone to try to come out and be Ray Allen. I told the guys to go out and play their game. They did and it was excellent.”The Sonics led 83-69 after three quarters, building slightly on their halftime lead with a combination of good ball movement and penetration in the low post.The Sonics picked up the pace after the intermission, moving out to a 60-49 lead just over three minutes into the second half, which was highlighted when Brent Barry fed Calvin Booth on a sharp play for a dunk.Barry hit consecutive 3-pointers midway through the second quarter and led all scorers with 15 at halftime as the Sonics took a 44-42 lead.Barry, the son of Hall of Famer Rick Barry, brought the crowd to its feet early in the first quarter when he drove to the lane and flew in for a rim-rattling slam that he turned into a three-point play after being fouled. “We would like to take these fans back home with us,” said Barry, who finished with a game-high nine assists. “I felt like I just needed to be aggressive. I told Rashard at the break I’ve done my job, now you do yours.”Thursday’s game marked the first NBA action in Japan since 1999, when the Sacramento Kings and Minnesota Timberwolves played two contests at Tokyo Dome.The teams will meet again on Saturday in Saitama with tipoff scheduled at noon. SAITAMA — Rashard Lewis scored 25 points and Ronald Murray added 24 as the Seattle SuperSonics beat the Los Angeles Clippers 109-100 in their season-opening game at Saitama Super Arena on Thursday night.Los Angeles Clipper Quentin Richardson looks to pass the ball while being guarded by Seattle SuperSonic Brent Barry during NBA action in Saitama on Thursday. The Sonics won 109-100.center_img GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMESlast_img read more

Georgia hammers USC

first_img Session ID: 2020-09-18:ffeef5e1c785c4c8fdbdc863 Player ID: videojs-brightcove-player-395086-4497163024001 OK Close Modal DialogCaption Settings DialogBeginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsDefaultsDoneClose Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.ATHENS, Ga. — South Carolina got a look at its future Saturday night.Georgia running back Nick Chubb (27) stiff-arms USC safety Jordan Diggs (42) at Sanford Stadium in the Bulldogs’s 52-20 win over South Carolina.Georgia running back Nick Chubb (27) stiff-arms USC safety Jordan Diggs (42) at Sanford Stadium in the Bulldogs’s 52-20 win over South Carolina.What the Gamecocks saw wasn’t good. Getting dominated 52-20 by a Georgia team it has gotten the best of in recent years left no doubt the team has problems that only recruiting can fix.“It’s hard to imagine we beat these guys four of the last six years,” said USC coach Steve Spurrier. “They totally dominated us tonight, no question about it.“Their offense was really good, and we were not very good, not very good on defense and not very good on offense. We couldn’t throw the ball very well and we couldn’t run it very well.”The problems facing USC stretch far and wide. Everyone from Spurrier to the co-defensive coordinator Jon Hoke to several players are convinced the Gamecocks have what takes to turn things around.But, considering how the team played last season and the similarities Saturday, at least defensively, that remains to be seen.The defense allowed its most point in a game since USC’s 52-17 loss to Auburn in the 2010 Southeastern Conference Championship game.Coming off a tight win against North Carolina and a disappointing loss to Kentucky, USC faced its first highly ranked team of the season Saturday night.Entering the contest having defeated the Bulldogs in four of the last five encounters, the Gamecocks and Spurrier were paid back by a Georgia team that is not only talented but wanted to humiliate its rival.Spurrier is enemy number one in these parts, which meant a majority of the sellout crowd left Sanford Stadium happier than it has in years.Georgia also had questions to answer as quarterback Grayson Lambert had yet to be tested as a passer.The Virginia transfer played like he was related to Peyton Manning or Tom Brady as he carved up the USC secondary.Lambert finished with 24 completions in 25 attempts for 330 yards and three touchdowns.It topped his previous passing yard high as a college player by almost 100 yards.Nunez can spice up bland GamecocksGamecocks leave Athens beaten, bruisedLambert set a national record for highest completion percentage by a quarterback who threw 20 or more passes as he completed 96 percent.That left a defense that entered the stadium confident it could put a leash on Lambert wondering what hit it.“Yeah, I guess you can say he was better than I thought he was,” said USC junior linebacker Skai Moore, who led the Gamecocks with 12 tackles. “We thought we would do better, but we didn’t play our schemes the way coach Hoke taught us.”Using a version of the hurry-up offense that gave USC problems in its first two games, Georgia moved the ball virtually at will.When Lambert wasn’t running the show, it was running back Nick Chubb who did nothing to damage his Heisman Trophy propsects.He rushed 21 times for 159 yards and two touchdowns.“I have to give him credit,” Hoke said of Lambert. “He made the plays he needed to make. I’m disappointed that we did not make the plays. That was the thing that probably disappointed me the most. I thought we would compete a little bit better on balls and we did not.”The Gamecocks offense was a bit schizophrenic as Perry Orth had both good and bad moments. He completed six of 13 passes for 66 yards but never managed any consistency.That forced Spurrier to turn to backup quarterback Lorenzo Nunez, who delivered a pick-me-up. Although he didn’t attempt a pass, he rushed twice for 19 yards.Spurrier put Pharoh Cooper in the field backfield on every play Nunez was under center.That worked as the Gamecocks scored their only touchdown on the series Nunez began. It ended, however, with Orth running four yards for the score.The Gamecocks still managed only 258 yards of total offense, by far their lowest total of the season.Spurrier did not commit to a starting quarterback for Saturday’s game against Central Florida.As it turned out, that is one of many problems that will have to be tackled this week. Play VideoPlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration Time 0:00Loaded: 0%0:00Progress: 0%0:00 Progress: 0%Stream TypeLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1ChaptersChaptersdescriptions off, selectedDescriptionssubtitles off, selectedSubtitlescaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedCaptionsAudio TrackFullscreenThis is a modal window. The Video Cloud video was not found. Error Code: VIDEO_CLOUD_ERR_VIDEO_NOT_FOUNDlast_img read more

Barça are already trembling and began to be baptized after these…

first_imgBarcelona’s nightmarish 2: 8 loss to Bayern (Munich) in the Champions League may be just the beginning of the end of the Catalan club, commented in Spain after the reviews of former players of the new Barça coach Ronald Koeman.Fans began to tremble and pray that what was said about the 57-year-old Dutchman was not true, because in view of the expected departure of the veterans, there may be nothing left of Barça.“In just five months, he destroyed our team. He turned out to be a bad coach and an even worse person. He didn’t dare say anything in person, and when he was fired, he didn’t come to say goodbye. The only important thing for him was to be served 5 bottles of wine for dinner “, the current player of Betis erupted, and then (2007-08) in Valencia Joaquin.Bat legend Santiago Canizares also hit the Dutchman and said that instead of improving the situation in the team, he destroyed everything.Winbet – double the thrill of the game! (18+)“We played very well with Rafa Benitez, but Kuman came and ruined everything. He turned out to be a person with whom it is difficult to communicate and I really felt relieved when I left,” said another former Valencia player Vicente Rodriguez.However, it was not only Valencia’s players who spoke sharply about Kuman. Former Barça player Gerard Deulofeu also spat on the Dutch legend because of their joint period at English Everton.“What can I tell you, I had nothing to remember him with. He didn’t give me anything professionally. I didn’t like it and I went to Milan,” Deulofeu recalled.last_img read more

Walker’s free throws give Big Reds a 52-20 win over East Kentwood in Hall of Fame finale

first_img The League Bestseller Share × Bestseller Add Comments (Max 320 characters) Not relevant Vern Nash III drives into the lane for Muskegon. Photo/Jason Goorman Displayed poorly Displayed poorly (822) ENDS IN DEAL OF THE DAY Shop Now Shares Inappropriate / Offensive DEAL OF THE DAY Other Displayed poorly × Bestseller Report a problem This item is… Share ENDS IN DEAL OF THE DAY DEAL OF THE DAY FOX Sports: Stream live NFL, College Footbal… $0.00 Not relevant $15.29$17.99 Report a problem This item is… DEAL OF THE DAY Report a problem This item is… × Ads by Amazon The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extr… × × 0 Mail DEAL OF THE DAY (657) Bestseller Inappropriate / Offensive Cam Martinez looks across court before taking the ball out of bounds for Muskegon. Photo/Jason Goorman Inappropriate / Offensive Inappropriate / Offensive Fox Sports Go (117) ENDS IN $14.99$18.00 Bestseller Inappropriate / Offensive Thank you! This will help us improve your ad experience. We will try not to show you such ads again. Other Billie Roberts takes a shot in the post for Muskegon. Photo/Jason Goorman Thank you! This will help us improve your ad experience. We will try not to show you such ads again. Add Comments (Max 320 characters) MIRITY Women Racerback Sports Bra… Add Comments (Max 320 characters) Other Other (2) Bestsellercenter_img $49.95 × (17612) Other Bestseller Report a problem This item is… Thank you! This will help us improve your ad experience. We will try not to show you such ads again. Jarvis Walker drives left for Muskegon. Photo/Jason Goorman Other ENDS IN (34271) NBC Sports ENDS IN Twelve $9.99 Muskegon’s Jordan Porter gets ready to get on the floor. Photo/Jason Goorman Report a problem This item is… ENDS IN Ads by Amazon Inappropriate / Offensive Thank you! This will help us improve your ad experience. We will try not to show you such ads again. By Andrew JohnsonLocalSportsJournal.comMUSKEGON TWP. – Muskegon head coach Keith Guy told senior Jarvis Walker he would still love him, whether he made or missed his crucial free throws on Friday.The idea was to try to take some pressure off Walker, with a big victory hanging on his shots, and it might have worked.Walker sank both go-ahead free throws with 3.8 seconds remaining, lifting the Muskegon Big Reds to a thrilling 52-50 victory over East Kentwood in the third and final game of the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame Classic at Reeths-Puffer High School.“I told him make it or miss it, I love you,” Coach Guy said after the game. “I said I really don’t care. We got no pressure. We go to overtime, so be it. Don’t put pressure on yourself, you’re built for these moments.”Vern Nash III takes the ball up the floor for Muskegon. Photo/Jason GoormanWith 1:25 left in the fourth quarter and the score tied 50-50, Muskegon an the clock down to 9.5 seconds, then Guy called time out and set up a final play.Walker received the inbounds pass, drove to the top of the key and drew a foul with 3.8 seconds left, sending him to the line to shoot for the win.The star senior said he loves to have the ball in pressure situations, with big games hanging in the balance.“It’s humbling,” said Walker, who finished with a game-high 19 points. “But it’s fun. It’s an unexplainable good feeling really. I look forward to moments like that.“I had a feeling. God told me I was going to hit both. He told me earlier in the game I was going to hit the game-winning shot. So I hit it, and it was no surprise for me because God is going to deliver.”The first half was a bit rough for the Big Reds, who gained revenge for a loss to East Kentwood in the regional semifinals last year.They trailed 16-11 after one quarter. Vernon Nash III and Lamar Lee each had three points for Muskegon.Muskegon trailing 29-23 going into the locker room. Zy’Kier Davis paced the Big Reds with six points in the second quarter.Jarvis Walker looks to drive baseline for Muskegon. Photo/Jason GoormanWalker got going in the third quarter, pouring in eight points and helping the Big Red crawl within one point, 39-38, headed into the fourth.“We wanted to get him and Vernon (Nash) going,” Guy said about his two top scorers. “I thought Vern pressed a little bit and Jarvis wasn’t going hard enough, so we tried to get both of them going.”In the fourth quarter, Walker hit a two-point shot and a free throw to put Muskegon ahead at 41-39 with 6:57 left.The two teams traded baskets back-and-forth before Walker ultimately sealed the victory with his free throws.Davis finished with nine points while Nash had a quiet night with five.East Kentwood was led by Ja Shon Large with 19 points and Ja’moni Jones with 13.Muskegon is now 2-0 on the season and will next host Chicago Curie next Saturday with game time scheduled for 7 p.m. Thank you! This will help us improve your ad experience. We will try not to show you such ads again. (31628) Not relevant Other Report a problem This item is… 50PC Disposable Face MàSc/Mack Anti-Dust … Thank you! This will help us improve your ad experience. We will try not to show you such ads again. Bestseller Report a problem This item is… $37.99 Inappropriate / Offensive Displayed poorly DEAL OF THE DAY Thank you! This will help us improve your ad experience. We will try not to show you such ads again. × Inappropriate / Offensive $0.00 $0.00 Add Comments (Max 320 characters) Displayed poorly Add Comments (Max 320 characters) Displayed poorly Displayed poorly DEAL OF THE DAY Thank you! This will help us improve your ad experience. We will try not to show you such ads again. Displayed poorly Add Comments (Max 320 characters) Other Not relevant Add Comments (Max 320 characters) Not relevant × ENDS IN Report a problem This item is… Not relevant Not relevant (7802) Not relevant ENDS IN Add Comments (Max 320 characters)last_img read more

Miami Gardens Wine & Food Festival throws Golden Ticket Promotion Event

first_imgOn October 23, from 5 to 8 pm, the City of Miami Gardens Councilwoman Lisa C. Davis will host the Miami Gardens Wine & Food Experience Golden Ticket Promotion event at the Aficionado’s Cigar Lounge.The Golden Ticket Promotion is one of the celebrations Councilwoman Lisa C. Davis has created to interact with the community and to encourage resident to be part of the Miami Gardens Wine & Food Experience.The event will allow residents the opportunity to purchase their tickets, receive free gifts and possibly win a pair of tickets to the 11th Annual Jazz In The Gardens Music Festival.The Miami Gardens Wine & Food Experience is set for November 14th at the City of Miami Gardens Municipal Complex from 6pm to 12am.last_img

Kiwis hold no World Cup mystery for us, say India

first_imgMANCHESTER, England,  (Reuters) – India may have been denied first-hand experience of the threat posed by New Zealand when their World Cup group game was washed out but Virat Kohli’s men say there will be no mystery for them when the teams face off in their semi-final tomorrow at Old Trafford. The June 13 contest at Nottingham, featuring the only two unbeaten teams of the tournament at that stage, was called off without a ball being bowled but India assistant coach Sanjay Bangar said his players would not be concerned.“It’s not too long ago that we played a full series in New Zealand,” Bangar pointed out.India, in imperious form, registered a 4-1 victory in the one-day series and prevailed 2-1 in the Twenty20 Internationals in New Zealand earlier this year. New Zealand did see off India by six wickets in a World Cup warm-up match at The Oval but Bangar said India, who saw off Sri Lanka by seven wickets on Saturday to top the group stage, would continue to focus on themselves rather than their opponents.“We are just keen to get on and play the semi-final as soon as possible. We need to keep doing the things we are doing at the moment.  “We have always maintained that we are looking at our internal parameters. If we are hitting our internal indicators, then we will be playing at our best and that is what we aspire to do.”Tuesday’s contest, intriguingly, will be a repeat of the semi-finals of the 2008 ICC Under-19 World Cup in which a Virat Kohli-led India defeated a Kane Williamson-captained New Zealand in Kuala Lumpur. India’s success at this World Cup has been built on the heavy scoring of a Rohit Sharma-led batting top order, but Bangar rejected suggestions the team’s middle order was undercooked.“I don’t think so,” the former test all-rounder said, highlighting the cameos played by Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya and Mahendra Singh Dhoni during the group stage.“Of course the middle order hasn’t got to bat for a longer period of time, except for the Afghanistan game. But Hardik has done a role, Mahi has done a role and Rishabh has had a few good knocks. “As long as we are getting the job done it really augurs well for the team.”The second semi-final takes place on Thursday between Australia and hosts England at Edgbaston.last_img read more

Signs there, but Ravens still learning how to become really good team

first_imgNothing really changed about the Ravens with their 24-23 loss to New Orleans.The defense remains at or near the top of most statistical categories after holding the high-powered Saints — with an extra week to prepare coming off a bye, mind you — to 12 points below their season average, a number many fans would have taken going into Sunday’s game. Even while struggling to run the football, the offense ranks in the top half of the league, which is substantial improvement from the last few years.We did learn Justin Tucker is human after all, but he remains the best kicker in the NFL and has won a slew of games over the years, earning him plenty of slack for missing the game-tying extra point.To be clear, there’s no shame in losing to the Saints, who might be the second-best team in the NFC and are viewed by many as a serious Super Bowl contender. Perhaps you expected John Harbaugh’s team to go undefeated at M&T Bank Stadium, but New Orleans was easily one of the season’s two most difficult home games on paper — the other being Pittsburgh — entering the season. This loss hardly breaks them.Sunday’s defeat was a missed opportunity, however, and a reminder that the Ravens are still learning how to truly become a very good team. The components are there for a return to the playoffs and to perhaps make some noise if they get there, but just 13 players remain from Baltimore’s last playoff team in 2014, meaning a number of key individuals — including the last four draft classes — are still seeking what it takes to make it to January.You have to finish when owning a 17-7 lead entering the fourth quarter, something the Ravens have struggled to do against top-flight teams these last few seasons. Yes, they went toe to toe with the Saints in an intense game and were only an extra point from likely forcing overtime, but let’s not pretend the last couple non-playoff teams were always blown out in such affairs either. The truth is this one hurt because the Ravens have had more than their share of “moral victories” as some have tried to label this one to be.Holding future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints offense to a single touchdown through three quarters is a very impressive feat, but surrendering 17 points in the final three drives — not counting Brees’ final kneel-down — left the defense licking its wounds. The turning point really came late in the third quarter when Brees converted a third-and-8 pass to wide receiver Michael Thomas as safety Tony Jefferson was bringing the 39-year-old quarterback to the ground. From there, the run began in a way not unlike an NBA team erasing a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit in the blink of an eye.Just like when playing Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, or Peyton Manning several years back, the best defense is only going to hold down Brees for so long. That’s just reality in today’s offense-driven game, especially without a game-changing turnover or a few more sacks to help get you off the field in crunch time. You’re only going to make so many stops straight up when facing an explosive offense, and the Ravens defense just couldn’t make a big play when the momentum shifted.More to blame than the defense was a Ravens offense that sleepwalked through most of the fourth quarter and didn’t awaken until a 10-point lead had turned into a seven-point deficit with just over two minutes remaining. Injuries along the offensive line and a shortage of possessions in the first half didn’t help the overall output, but responding to two long touchdown drives in the fourth quarter with a three-and-out and a turnover on downs against a below-average New Orleans defense isn’t a winning formula against a great opponent. Games against Brees have been rare for the Ravens, but they’ve played Brady and Ben Roethlisberger too many times not to know how a low-scoring affair can morph into a shootout at a moment’s notice. The offense wasn’t prepared to counter-punch until it proved too late with Tucker’s rare misfire.Asked after the game about his 14-yard touchdown pass to John Brown that looked like it would tie the game with 24 seconds remaining, quarterback Joe Flacco regretted the offense not coming away with some points on the previous two drives. A poor running game didn’t help as the Ravens offense neither provided rest nor scoring reinforcements for its defense after the Saints came alive. Scoring 23 points usually isn’t going to get the job done against an elite offense.How the Ravens respond over these next two weeks will go a long way in determining whether they’re closer to becoming a really good team. Rebounding from Sunday’s loss to top a tough Carolina team on the road and to beat Pittsburgh at home would give them a 6-3 record entering the bye week and put them in really good shape to contend for their first AFC North championship since 2012. Anything less feels too much like the last couple years and leaves a tiny margin for error down the stretch with road games still to be played at Atlanta, Kansas City, and the Los Angeles Chargers.If the Ravens want to make it back to the playoffs, they’ll need to get on a roll at some point. It looked like they might have graduated after their huge road victory at Pittsburgh, but they produced a dud in Cleveland the next week. Their dominating shutout at Tennessee was followed by a potential win slipping through their fingers on Sunday.At some point, they’ll have to break the pattern of one step forward and one step back to get to the next level.last_img read more