Ravens Lose in a Familiar Way
If John Harbaugh was asked to accept a (3-1) start for the Ravens at the beginning of the season, I’m sure he would have jumped at the offer. And after Sunday’s game against the Raiders, that’s exactly where the Ravens sit.
But the Ravens should be (4-0) if not for the questionable game management from Harbaugh and his staff. There are times when the Ravens don’t even look like their playing the same game as the rest of the league.
Down 14-12 at the 14:57 mark of the fourth quarter Joe Flacco, showing little pocket presence, fumbled the ball over to the Raiders, recovered at the Ravens 29. Three plays later the Raiders faced a fourth and 6 at the Ravens 25. But on the play Raiders guard Gabe Jackson was flagged for unnecessary roughness. Instead of forcing the field goal, a clear moral victory given the turnover just 4 plays prior, Harbaugh accepted the penalty and gave the Raiders another chance to secure the first down.
Two plays later they did exactly that and then they navigated their way into the end zone to jump ahead 21-12 – a two possession lead, in the fourth quarter.
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
In a game that was closely officiated and given the fact that Derek Carr’s uniform didn’t even need to be washed after the game since he went untouched all afternoon, conceding the 3 points was the obvious choice. Well, I guess the strategy was obvious to everyone in the building except Harbaugh and his staff.
It wasn’t as if the Ravens could count on sacking Carr and knock Sebastian Janikowski out of FG range. Carr could’ve had a bowl of crab soup while waiting for his receivers to gain separation.
Yet somehow, the Ravens eventually caught fire and scored 15 unanswered points to take a 27-21 lead with 3:36 to go in the game.
Enter flashbacks to 2015…
Given the Ravens struggles to disrupt Derek Carr, with the game on the line and Shareece Wright struggling to cover Michael Crabtree, Dean Pees would surely dial up some pressure packages that might at the very least disrupt Carr’s timing.
Instead Pees opted to dust off the tried and true failures from last season, pucker up his hind parts like a snare drum, and drop into soft zone coverage. Eight-four seconds later the Ravens trailed 28-27.
But there was still plenty of time left, 2:07 to be exact and the Ravens only needed to navigate 45 yards to put Justin Tucker in position to hit a game winner. Joe Flacco and all of those weapons surely could do that against the NFL’s 32nd ranked pass defense, right?
After securing a first down at the 50-yard line with 1:02 remaining, 15 yards was all they needed. Four incompletions later the Ravens were done.
Terrance West showed that once given the opportunity he can get the ground game going. The Ravens ran the ball just 7 times in 36 first half plays, one of which was a reverse to Mike Wallace. After the break they ran it 19 times for 97 yards (5.1 YPC). No wonder the Ravens scored 22 second half points. See how this works Mr. Trestman? West finished with 113 yards on 21 carries… Kyle Juszczyk had 6 catches for a very physical 56 yards. He should have had another 3 yard catch for a score but, well, you know…Marshal Yanda was the only offensive lineman who played well. He was largely responsible for West’s most productive runs…Devin Hester averaged 14 yards on punt returns and 30.8 yards on kick returns…
(AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Eric Weddle was effective in coverage and nearly had a game saving interception. His pressure on Derek Carr was responsible for one of the very few times that the Ravens forced the Raiders QB to unload earlier than desired…Zach Orr and CJ Mosley were effective both at the line of scrimmage cleaning up tackles in run defense thanks to the big guys up front (Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce) choking off running lanes. Both were fairly solid in coverage but you have to wonder why Orr is on the field in third and long situations. Beyond 10 yards from the LOS he struggles a bit in coverage…Jimmy Smith had his best afternoon of the season…The entire defensive unit is tackling very well and they are fast to the ball.
The offensive line was his nemesis but that aside Joe Flacco still had a bad outing. Perhaps he was a bit twitchy given the lack of adequate time to set on most of his drop backs. Flacco missed some open receivers and forced the ball a few times. He’s fortunate not to have been picked off twice. He missed Juszczyk for an easy TD in the left flat and his last 3 passes to end the game were throws from a flustered and frustrated QB. The play during which he fumbled, Joe showed a rookie-like lack of pocket awareness. And those hand signals pre-snap, they always precede a running play – a clear tip to defenders. It might be time to use that against the next opponent…Ravens receivers cut off routes short of the sticks too often…Chris Moore and Breshad Perriman need to spend a couple hours with the Jugs Machine. Their drops are a weekly occurrence…Maxx Williams’ only contribution was a stupid personal foul that prevented the Ravens from forcing a Raiders drive to start deep in their own territory. He’s looking like another second round bust. Might his knee injury be the opening the Ravens need to clear space for Darren Waller who is coming off suspension? …The Ravens have no clue how to run a bubble screen. It consistently pops…Mike Wallace needs to be a professional. His taunting penalty cost the Ravens 15 yards of field position and an opportunity to pin the Raiders after the go ahead score.
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Kendrick Lewis still couldn’t cover a dead sea bass with a newspaper. The one play he was forced to sub for Lardarius Webb (concussion protocol) he gets lit up. He helped give up the game winner to Michael Crabtree after Shareece Wright was torched. Mr. Wright, your jock is waiting for you just in front of Section 151…Wright made a couple of plays but when it counted most he was two steps behind. He’ll be targeted again and again. It’s a mystery why Will Davis has been a healthy scratch through 4 games…Special Teams had a bad day save for Devin Hester and Justin Tucker. Coverage was bad and led to the Raiders first TD. A couple of times they had a chance to pin the Raiders only to let them out of jail with a stupid penalty, like the interference on a fair catch by Kamar Aiken. There were 15 total punts in the game and the Ravens had a 13.4-yard deficit on average. As a result, the Raiders won the battle of field position and that in large part is why the Raiders were able to win a game despite running 26 fewer plays on offense, accumulating 151 fewer net yards and had 9:28 time of possession deficiency. And let’s not forget the Raiders have already traveled in 4 games more than 7 teams will travel all season!
The offensive line was a sieve. James Hurst is arguably the worst offensive lineman ever to wear Ravens colors. He is consistently awful. His sidekick Ryan Jensen wasn’t much better. Jeremy Zuttah had a few moments but two holding penalties? Rick Wagner had his worst outing of the season. The only one from the group who showed up was Marshal Yanda…Marc Trestman’s game plan wreaked of arrogance. Did he really think they could contain Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin with that line? The disproportionate number of passes to runs in the first half was unconscionable given the ease with which the Raiders got to Flacco. No chipping by the tight ends? …Dean Pees did nothing to disrupt Derek Carr and did little to confuse the young signal caller. The Ravens defense did begin to frustrate Carr late in the game but when it counted most the Ravens played soft defensively and stopped doing all the things that helped them take the lead…22 times on Sunday we heard Bruce Cunningham exclaim, “There’s a flag on the field!” Ten times those flags were aimed at the Ravens for 105 yards.
What has happened to Ravens Nation? Just and eyeball test but I’d bet that 15% of the stadium was empty. Of the 60,000 actually there, 12,000 had to be Raiders fans. On Opening Day I’d venture to say that 5,000 were Bills fans. This used to happen only during Steelers games. What might we expect when the team from Landover, MD heads up the parkway this coming Sunday? Or worse when the Steelers actually do visit?
I spoke to a few of the Raiders fans and they were cordial for the most part and came from different parts of the country. One was from Spokane, Washington, another group had flown in from California on the red eye and headed straight to the game and then there were others from New Jersey.
But like any fan base, there were some real knuckleheads. As we exited the stadium there was a group of Raiders fans around the Talon Club standing on something to elevate them, presumably a trash can, displaying black Raiders towels like the image below. Only instead of “The Rest” it said, “Your Team”. I regret not taking their picture.
Are NFL games morphing into mob scenes?
A tragic altercation after the game yesterday has left one Ravens fan in critical condition.
The costs to go to a game are expensive enough. And now this?
Only last week it was reported that TV ratings are off 12%.
Roger Goodell, you have a problem.
THE MEGAN FOX AWARD
(AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Many had written Steve Smith, Sr. off after suffering an Achilles injury last season. During the broadcast, analyst Steve Beuerlein explained that he knows the doctors at the rehab center where Steve Smith trained to get back on the field this season. According to Beuerlein, doctors said that the injury was as severe as any Achilles tear they had seen. His return is a testament to his commitment.
Now it’s safe to say that Senior has completed the healing process. The 37-year-old receiver had 8 catches for 111 yards including a 52-yard score (including 40 yards of YAC) that sparked the Ravens comeback. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a 9th catch. It appeared that Smith was open on Flacco’s final pass of the day for roughly a 12-yard gain that would have given the Ravens a first down and help set Tucker up for the game winner.
Would-a, should-a, could-a.
On to Washington…