A moral victory occurs when a person, team, army or other group loses a confrontation, and yet achieves some other moral gain.
Yesterday the Ravens had two moral victories. They still control their own destiny and they have a chance to advance to (4-0) in the AFC North at home against a banged up Bengals team. And, they were in a game on the road against the hottest team in football despite not playing their best game.
“We’re on the road against one of the best teams in the league and we’re right there with them. We just didn’t make the plays that you need to, to win the game. Hopefully, we’re a confident bunch coming out of here. If everyone gets a little better — look at yourself first, look why we lost, a couple of bad penalties [and] third down situations where we can clean up on defense. Offensively, just play a little bit better and we’ll win those games. It’s a 16-game season. We’re first in our division. I believe this game will be a defining moment in our season.” ~ Eric Weddle
Other than that, there’s a ton to be frustration coming out of Dallas.
Let’s get to it…
Terrance West (8 for 42) and Kenneth Dixon (6 for 40) combined for 82 yards on 14 carries (5.9 YPC)…Mike Wallace chipped in with 5 catches for 62 yards. It could have been much more if not for the accuracy issues of his quarterback…Marshal Yanda was effective at left guard and his gritty toughness cannot be taken for granted…Vlad Ducasse rebounded from a horrible game against the Browns with a productive outing.
Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce were very effective run stuffers and controlled the interior line for most of the game. Most of the damage from Zeke Elliott was on the edge usually opposite Terrell Suggs who was stout at the point of attack and the only Raven to provide anything resembling a consistent push towards the quarterback on passing downs.
While the stats might tell a different story, Joe Flacco had another bad outing against a very unimpressive Cowboys defense. He finished 23 of 35 for 269 yards and a score but it could have been much more.
• Q1 (10:45) 3rd and 6 at Cowboys 49: Flacco missed an open Steve Smith, Sr. for a first down with time to set and throw.
• Q2 (2:47) 1st and 10 at Cowboys 36: Flacco misses on a throw to Wallace running a “9” down the right sideline with a step on the defender and with time to set and throw.
• Q4 (11:30) 1st and 10 at Ravens 25: Flacco misses West badly on an easy check down with time to set and throw.
• Q4 (0:51) 1st and 10 at Ravens 43: Flacco misses Dixon on a simple swing pass with time to set and throw.
Flacco locked in on Wallace from the snap when facing a third and 5 from their own 41 with 5:19 left in the third quarter. He threw to Wallace 3 yards short of the sticks while the receiver was double-covered and with ample time to consider other options. Sam Koch showed up shortly thereafter.
Down 27-17 the Flacco-charged offense needed two scores without any timeouts (more on that in a bit). Once again Marty Mornhinweg’s unit showed no sense of urgency, dinking and dunking their way down the field. As you can see below the Ravens spent 1:50 advancing the ball 34 yards against a very soft Cowboys defense camped out in prevent mode.
Shareece Wright picked up where he left off prior to his thigh injury. He played passively and would fall into the ugly category if not for the secondary’s only two defensed passes on the day credited to him…Lardarius Webb couldn’t cover a corpse with a blanket yesterday. Deep in the red zone he lost the not-so-speedy Jason Witten on a play that should have been an easy touchdown, a play Witten failed to finish. Webb was regularly late to the party.
Dennis Pitta made Jack Crawford look like Lawrence Taylor when the Ravens faced a second and 10 from the Cowboys 35 with 10:08 to go. His blocking has been horrendous as of late and he will lose reps to Nick Boyle who returns from his 10-game suspension this Sunday…Jeremy Zuttah actually played well if not for 3 penalties totaling 35 yards. But that’s like saying Chris Tillman threw effectively for the Orioles except for the 3 bombs he surrendered.
• Zuttah’s first hold negated a 14 yard gain on a screen to Kyle Juszczyk forcing a second and 15. Two plays later Koch was back on the field.
• The second hold took place at the end of the second quarter on a third and 4 play from the Cowboys 30, forcing the Ravens into a third and 14 situation and possibly risking a Justin Tucker FGA. Flacco and Kamar Aiken saved him on the next play that set up Tucker’s 46-yard FG.
• Zuttah’s last foul, a late hit on Cowboys safety J.J. Wilcox, moved the Ravens from a second and 1 at their 45 to a second and 16 at their 30. Two plays later Koch was doing his thing again.
Tavon Young has had a very good rookie season. You would have never known that in Dallas where his size disadvantage was on full display and more than likely influenced him to play passively, perhaps with an assist from defensive coordinator Dean Pees…Jerraud Powers struggled against WR Cole Beasley yielding 2 key first downs during Dallas’ final possession to set up the Dan Bailey field goal to put Dallas up 27-17…The Cowboys started the game 1 of 5 on third-down conversions. Then Dean Pees stopped creating confusion for Dak Prescott and it proved costly as the Cowboys went 6 of 7 the rest of the way on third down…Speaking of Prescott, he started 4 of 8 for 31 yards and a passer rating of 59.9. After the Cowboys adjusted and Pees did not, Prescott went 23 for 28 for 270 yards, 3 TDs and a passer rating of 142.6 from 13:15 mark of the second quarter on…
Devin Hester, you sure do make a lot of money ($1.1M) for touchbacks and fair catches that you fail to make a play on. Hester lost the ball on a punt deep in Ravens territory and another time he let it bounce around the 15. Fortunately, the ball bounced barely into the end zone…Kamar Aiken blew an opportunity to pin Dallas at the one when he stepped on the goal line. Starting at the 20 instead of the 1 allowed the Cowboys to tilt the field in their favor…Matt Judon’s offsides on the kickoff sucked momentum from the Ravens. They just closed the lead to 7 and had the Cowboys pinned at their own 10 with 8:16 to go. It cost the Ravens 15 yards of valuable field position.
The Ravens coaching staff from Harbaugh on down and including special teams should be looking sheepishly in the mirror this morning. Let’s start with the offense. It goes without saying (unless you work for John Harbaugh) that if you can run the ball on the Cowboys you do it. You keep the Dallas offense off the field, keep your own defense fresh and it’s a great equalizer on the road. On the Ravens second possession they went 90 yards on 6 plays in 3:09 to take a 7-0 lead. On the drive the Ravens ran it 4 times for 58 yards. The rest of the game the Ravens called 9 running plays in total and only 2 in the second half! But Harbaugh wants to run the ball, right?…Mornhinweg also failed to build on the momentum of the previous game against the Browns when the Ravens ran no huddle. His offense has little pulse or tempo without it…How many times can a primary receiver run short of the sticks on third down? Oh, and could someone please introduce Marty to Breshad? Perriman took 23 snaps and wasn’t targeted once. Now there’s some player development by the Ravens coaching staff, right?
Defensively Pees did what he so often does – take the pedal off the metal and did little to create confusion for Dak Prescott from midway through the 2nd quarter on. Instead, short to intermediate passes between the numbers weren’t much more difficult than extended handoffs as the Ravens created no pressure and the safeties played closer to Galveston, TX than the line of scrimmage…On special teams, why do the Ravens instruct Justin Tucker to kick the ball through the end zone? Why not always kick the ball to the goal line with higher trajectory kicks to pin teams inside the 20?
PENALTIES, 12 for 136 yards to be exact. The Ravens are the second most penalized team in the league behind the Raiders. Apparently there are no repercussions for players who are regularly flagged. It’s an undisciplined culture and that falls at the feet of Harbaugh, who by the way remains clueless when it comes to clock management. The Ravens called two timeouts between the 2:12 mark and the two-minute warning. Two timeouts to save 12 seconds? C’mon man!
We were led to believe that the Ravens mistakes are all correctible yet the same mistakes go uncorrected.
By the way, anyone else sick of hearing things like this from Coach?
“I think the thing to take from it is, if we play good, solid football and play winning football, eliminate the mistakes, we would have won the game, in my mind. We’re definitely good enough to win any game we play in the National Football League. Our eyes go to next week against Cincinnati at home. Six-game season and we need to take care of our business, and part of that’s improving. We’ve got to improve. I think we’ve come a long way in a lot of ways. We’re not there yet to beat this team in this situation because we made too many mistakes. That’s on us. No moral victories, no. We expected to come in here and win the game.” ~ John Harbaugh
THE MEGAN FOX AWARD
Joe Flacco’s passion or the lack thereof was questioned repeatedly leading into the game after the public statements from Ray Lewis. And while that is a debate that will rage on, no one will ever question the passion of Steve Smith, Sr. The 37-year old future Hall of Famer ventured into elite territory hauling in his 1,000th pass of his illustrious career to open the second half. Smith finished with 8 catches for 99 yards and a touchdown. Maybe his passion can rub off on the seemingly comfortably numb amongst the Ravens roster and the coaching staff.