Plus Some Terrible Officiating
Perhaps I’m in the minority here, but I was a bit pessimistic heading into the Dallas game last weekend. However, I was holding out hope that they could squeak by and get an ugly “W”. The realization that the Ravens weren’t going to pull this one out came to me about an hour before the game when I saw the official word that Jimmy Smith was downgraded and would miss the game.
Before we look at some tape, let me just say two things:
The play that I decided to analyze came at the 8:31 minute mark in the 4th quarter. Joe Flacco lined up in shotgun formation with Mike Wallace split out to the right and Kamar Aiken split out to the left. Terrance West was in the backfield, with Joe and both Dennis Pitta and Darren Waller along the left side of the line.
This play encompassed the entirety of the night, because Joe and his receivers missed multiple opportunities for an easy score and the referees completely missed one of the most obvious defensive holding penalties I’ve ever seen.
Frame 1 details the routes that were run by Aiken, Pitta, and Wallace. Joe’s first read was to Wallace, who was double-covered by Anthony Brown and J.J. Wilcox. His second read was Pitta, who was completely jammed up by Orlando Scandrick – a guy that is 6 inches shorter and at least 30 pounds lighter than Pitta. Flacco’s third read was Aiken, who was covered by Brandon Carr.
Of the three routes, Aiken was the only one to get open, which can be seen in Frame 2. Had Flacco made his reads a split second quicker, he may have been able to get the ball over to Aiken for a touchdown.
It would have been a tough throw and Flacco would have had to put the ball low and away to ensure that Carr didn’t have a play on it. But Carr’s back was to Flacco the entire play. This would have been the correct throw and represents a missed opportunity.
Frame 3 is hypothetical, but it questions exactly what plays are being called in these types of situations. Furthermore, and probably more importantly, what in the world are Flacco and Pitta looking at here!? Do they not realize that there are no safeties and the linebackers only drop into shallow zones? Never mind the fact that Pitta had an inside release, but do they not realize that Pitta had a complete mismatch against a smaller corner?
What’s most bothersome to me is that Pitta and Flacco are supposed to be pretty tight and in tune with each other. This is a play that they’ve been successful with many times in the past.
The blocking for this game was, by and large, much better than it was against Pittsburgh. Ronnie Stanley seems to be getting back into the swing of things a bit, but on this play, he and Waller are completely punked by Ryan Davis. What makes this situation all the more laughable is that there are three (West, Stanley, and Waller) Ravens blocking Ryan Davis…a guy that was cut from Jacksonville earlier this year. After Davis makes contact with Stanley and Waller, West releases into a delayed route.
It was this pressure from Flacco’s blind side that made him pull the ball down and bounce out to the left side of the field where he immediately locked onto Aiken. The only problem was, Brandon Carr was locked onto Aiken as well..and by locked, I basically mean bear hugging him.
Frame 5 occurred just after Flacco rolled away from the pressure. He’s clearly locked onto Aiken and Pitta still, which is why he doesn’t recognize Waller releasing in front of him. The linebacker (#56, Justin Durant) crashes down to stop Flacco from scrambling. This is another missed opportunity. Had Flacco recognized Waller’s release, he could have made an extremely easy pass and Waller had a clear lane to the end zone.
As can be seen in Frame 6, Carr is continuing to engage Aiken well past the 5 yard point. Carr is not only grabbing Aiken’s jersey, but his back is also to the ball. In the second picture of Frame 5, the ball is in the air at this point. The fact that a referee is standing a mere few feet away from this just makes the officiating of this game all that more pathetic. This is defensive holding and defensive pass interference all day. The Ravens should have had the ball 1st and goal from the 3 yard line.
Frame 7 pretty much sums up this entire game and specifically this play for me. The positive is that the Ravens did score on the very next play — a quick slant to Steve Smith Sr., but the fact remains that there were blatantly missed opportunities to score on the play before that. The referee (if we want to call him that…I personally just prefer to call him spectator) not calling the obvious hold/interference penalty on Brandon Carr, was just icing on a relatively unappetizing cake.