Last week the Ravens blew a chance to put a serious dent in the playoff hopes of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Instead they allowed the great Charlie Batch to shred their defense.
This week the Ravens had an opportunity to win the AFC North if the Bengals and the Steelers both lost. Those divisional rivals cooperated, but the Ravens couldn’t finish the job.
In each of the last two games the Ravens played with a lead in the fourth quarter. Both times they let it slip away, almost helplessly watching their opponent move the ball at will. They are struggling to close out games.
These aren’t the Baltimore Ravens we used to know.
The entire season the team has been plagued by inconsistencies and that seems to be the team’s only consistency. Today was no different.
THE GOOD: Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce were an extremely effective tandem averaging 6.2 yards per carry on 28 carries for a total of 174 rushing yards. Both showed patience allowing the highly productive offensive front to win in the trenches…Anquan Boldin was productive (3 catches, 78 yards, 2 TD’s) despite not being targeted (3) enough. He was having his way with DeAngelo Hall and it’s a mystery why the Ravens didn’t go after Hall more…Dennis Pitta had 5 catches for 46 yards and a score and showed good awareness when extending the play as Flacco bought some time sliding to his left on the TD connection…Joe Flacco had the best half of his career going 10 for 13 for 3 TD’s and 127 yards for a 146.5 first half QB Rating. Unfortunately things would change.
Haloti Ngata returned to form today after slumping recently. He was a big reason why the Ravens seemed to control the line of scrimmage during the third quarter. He also pressured RG3 pretty consistently…Art Jones continued his ascent in the Ravens defense. He had 1 ½ sacks and now has 4 ½ over the past 4 games…Sam Koch had a big day averaging 50.2 yards on 5 punts…The Ravens kick coverage was very stout.
THE BAD: The Ravens did their best to remain among the league leaders in penalties, seeing laundry 8 times for 56 yards the wrong way…Michael Oher whiffed again on a deep drop by Flacco and it cost them a possession and good field position…Courtney Upshaw looked lost at times trying to defend the option…Terrence Cody still looks like he plays on roller skates. He was pushed around regularly during his time on the field…The Ravens tackling is still a problem…Albert McClellan reminded everyone why he was an undrafted free agent.
THE UGLY: Joe Flacco’s second half was nearly the polar opposite of his first half performance. He was 6 for 8 after the break with 2 turnovers and a 53.6 QB Rating. He has very little pocket presence and fails to recognize rather obvious blitzes pre-snap…Pass coverage was ridiculously bad at times with large gaps opening in front of the safeties and behind the linebackers. Josh Bynes looked like he was running in quick sand at times.
During the second half we may have witnessed the worst collective effort of coaching in Baltimore Ravens history. Let’s start with the regular whipping boy – Cam Cameron. For Cameron his slump started at the end of the first half with a disgustingly inadequate hurry up offense that started with a draw to Ray Rice from the shotgun. Really? With 44 seconds left from your own 13? During the first half it was rather obvious that the Ravens were in a nice rhythm offensively mixing huddle with no huddle. Flacco was on fire and once again showed clearly that he’s a rhythmic passer who responds well to the up tempo attack. Of course the Ravens abandoned it in the second half and when they did Flacco lost that swagger and his mind went into vapor lock, particularly in the pocket…
Dean “Swiss” Pees rushing three on third and goal from the Ravens four-yard line AND dropping his best pass rusher into coverage (Kruger) was mind-boggling. The extra time to survey the field allowed RG3 to complete the TD pass. Then while RG3 was hobbling around behind center, Pees did nothing to force him to move off his spot, which would have limited his accuracy since his plant leg was obviously painful. Instead Pees dropped 7 into coverage. Then when backup Kirk Cousins was forced into duty, Pees failed to get after him or disguise coverages or call for some overloads at the line of scrimmage.
John Harbaugh, I have no idea what goes through his mind at times. He chooses to feign a fake punt with the obvious intent being to get the Redskins to jump offsides. Ok, not a bad idea. You gave it a boy scout’s try and it failed. No sweat. But why call a timeout when the play clock approached zero? Take the 5-yard penalty and punt from the 45 instead of the 40. This is very basic stuff.
Then at the end of regulation with 24 seconds left, tied at 28 and with 2 timeouts in tow, He instructs Flacco to take a knee. During each of the last 3 games when faced with similar situations, Harbaugh has shown absolutely no confidence in his quarterback to make any positive plays to help his team win a game. If that is what you are going to ask your supposed franchise quarterback to do, Steve Bisciotti, if you endorse this kind of coaching, please save your money and go out and get a game manager, not a franchise quarterback.
THE MEGAN FOX AWARD: Paul Kruger has played extremely well since the return of Terrell Suggs. Maybe that was just a coincidence because today, with Suggs on the sidelines as an observer, Kruger was an absolute beast and delivered the best game of his career. He supported the edge well when defending the option, scraped down the line of scrimmage to take down ball carriers from behind. And he had a total of 7 tackles, 1 ½ sacks, 2 QB hurries and a fumble recovery.
Mr. Bisciotti when you’re doling out dollars for Flacco this offseason, please save a few for this unrestricted free agent.