After getting off to the proverbial fast start and quickly building their first double-digit lead of 2016, it looked as if the Ravens were set to make it a very long afternoon for Eli Manning & Co.
Then the second quarter came, and the offense sputtered, blowing many chances to build upon their early lead.
While Marty Mornhinweg kept a well-balanced attack on offense – including taking several deep shots with wide receivers Breshad Perriman and Mike Wallace -, injuries, missed opportunities and costly penalties were the story of the day.
“It’s tough, man,” stated Joe Flacco following Sunday’s game. “You get ahead that early and have our defense getting stops – you’ve definitely got to score there and make it 17 or more.
“You know, we had the opportunities to do it, and like I said, a lot of times penalties have been hurting us.”
The penalties were indeed alarming, as the Ravens committed a season-high 15 for 111 yards. Many of these were drive-stoppers that cost the offense valuable yards.
As if overcoming a patch-work offensive line wasn’t hard enough, the offense continued to shoot themselves in the foot on way too many occasions. Six weeks into the season, there’s no excuse for the lack of discipline.
“Yeah it’s guys fighting in there, man,” stated Flacco. “I think, you know, we’ve had some holding calls – and it’s guys fighting, trying to block as hard as they can and sometimes it’s tough in there.
“And the other one that we’ve had is trouble lining up, getting on the ball and stuff like that,” added the veteran quarterback. “It’s just a combination of things but you know they both have to stop if we want to be successful.”
The Ravens certainly didn’t do themselves any favors even when they weren’t committing costly penalties. Dropped passes, missed assignments and shoddy pass protection all played a role in their third loss of the season.
Head coach John Harbaugh found himself under scrutiny for the third week in a row after opting to be aggressive on 4th-&-1 at the goal line, down by four in the fourth quarter.
“You always want to score on the goal line,” said Harbaugh after the game. “We’re on the 1-yard line, and we expect to be able to score there…touchdown.”
While the Ravens find themselves still very much in the race in the AFC North, there’s still a lot of work to be done on both sides of the ball, as well as more injures to overcome.
“We’ve been there before, man,” Flacco said. “It’s a tough league.
“It’s a lot of tough games and a long road ahead. We’ve got to stay as confident as we can and we’ve got to move forward and just keep our head down – and our division is still up for grabs, and a lot of things are, so we got to keep fighting and do our best to win games.”
Joe is right – the Ravens are just a game out of first in the AFC North. However, they need to go out and stop this losing streak before any more talk about division titles or even playoff spots. They’re on the cusp of digging themselves a hole from which there is no getting out.
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