When your team rushes for 24 yards, gives up 203 yards on the ground, goes 3 for 16 on third down conversions (19%) and throws 5 interceptions you might think the game was a blow out.
Instead the Ravens had an opportunity to tie the game or take the lead when they had the ball on the 50-yard line with 1:33 to play and 2 timeouts.
But hopes of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat fell into the hands of Bills rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso at the Buffalo 36 yard line when he picked off Joe Flacco for the second time of the game.
The Ravens have a history of laying eggs on the road against inferior teams and this loss is reminiscent of road defeats in 2011 against the Titans (26-13) and the Jaguars (12-7). Even on the road in Kansas City in 2012 they were fortunate to have had a touchdown pass to Dwayne Bowe called back, otherwise the Ravens would have lost to the then (1-3) Chiefs, a team that finished the season at (2-14).
There is a ton of blame to go around starting with the coaching staff and right on through the roster. The silver lining in this debacle is that the Cincinnati Bengals lost to the Cleveland Browns (both 2-2) while the Pittsburgh Steelers remain winless at (0-4).
Next week the Steelers have a bye while the Bengals host the Patriots and the Browns host the Bills. The Ravens go on the road to Miami. The early line lists the Dolphins at 3-point favorites next Sunday.
THE GOOD: Torrey Smith had 5 catches for 166 yards and a score. He did fail to play the role of defender when Joe Flacco threw his way in the right corner of the end zone only to be intercepted by Aaron Williams at the 10:30 mark of the third quarter trailing 20-7. The LOS was the 19. Those lost 3 points were huge… Deonte Thompson made a nice grab in traffic for 33 yards to put the Ravens in position to cut the Buffalo lead to 23-20…Chris Canty’s return was a solid one with a sack and 2 forced fumbles.
THE BAD: Three penalties on the first drive makes you question the team’s preparation this week…Jim Caldwell could have loosened things up on first down by testing a banged up Bills secondary missing 3 starters. It’s ok to set up the run with the pass sometimes…Tandon Doss dropped a pass, slipped after a catch for a gain of 3 when a crucial first down was attainable at the end of the first half and then decided to field a punt from inside the 5 yard line. He was tackled at the 10…Red Zone Efficiency 1-4 (25%)…Haloti Ngata is not even close to playing to the level of his contract and is shockingly insignificant defending the run…Josh Bynes is awful in coverage and can’t shed blocks. Arthur Brown can’t get on the field soon enough. Even Albert McClellan would be an upgrade.
THE UGLY: Five interceptions will always qualify as ugly. At times it was difficult to determine who was the rookie, Joe Flacco or EJ Manuel based on the poor decisions the Super Bowl XLVII MVP made repeatedly (46.4 QB Rating). The Ravens ran crossing routes through zones and Flacco on two of those INT’s led his receiver as if he was playing man. The prayer he threw to Smith from the Bills 19 was costly because the interception took an easy 3 points away from the Ravens…The offensive line is abysmal. They could only muster 24 yards rushing against the 30th ranked rushing defense. Juan Castillo’s unit was so overmatched that the Ravens completely abandoned the run in the second half, running it just twice – even when they faced a first and 5 late in the third quarter trailing 23-14, they threw it 3 straight times. Unless changes are made it’s going to be a long season for the Ravens backfield, one that has two of the highest paid players in the league at their respective positions (Rice, Leach)…The defensive front seven against the run made the Bills look like the ’72 Dolphins…
John Harbaugh’s clock management at the end of the first half was completely amateurish. With 3 timeouts remaining the Ravens had a first and 10 from their own 38 with 1:01 remaining. After an incompletion and a short throw to Marlon Brown the Ravens faced a third and 5. They opted not to use a timeout with 37 seconds left to gather together and get on the same page for a key third down play and push towards a field goal to end the half. They then let the clock wind down to 3 seconds before calling a timeout only to throw a 24-yard stat-padding pass to Tandon Doss to end the half at the Bills 37…It’s time to give Matt Furstenberg a shot. Ed Dickson is disgustingly awful.
During the 2010 NFL Draft the Ravens tried to trade up from 25 to 22 with the New England Patriots to select Dez Bryant. Bill Belichick & Company wanted a third round pick for the exchange. The Ravens passed and after a trade at No. 25 with the Broncos selected Sergio Kindle, Terrence Cody and Ed Dickson with their first 3 picks. That third round pick the Patriots demanded doesn’t look like such a steep price now, does it?
THOMPSON CREEK PLAYER OF THE GAME: You have to give credit to Terrell Suggs for the way he prepared in the offseason, took care of his body and reported in excellent shape. You also have to admire how he has embraced the role of team leader. Today he did his best to will his team to victory with 17 tackles, a sack, 3 QB hurries and he influenced a couple of holding calls. T-Sizzle is alive and well.
If we could only say the same for several of his teammates.
GIF c/o Gordon Dixon