Yesterday was one of those games… one of those games that makes you wonder why you do this to yourself every week. It was just an AWFUL football game. I was screaming at my TV so much that I scared my two daughters and my dog, as well as lost my voice!
The Baltimore Ravens defeated the Bengals in overtime to extend their season… for now.
They had to win yesterday to even have a chance at making the playoffs and they did that. But they still have a long way to go to get back into the mix to make the playoffs. They remain a game behind the Bengals in the division, but they are still behind the Browns, Titans, Dolphins, and Jets who are all in front of them for the 6th and final playoff spot.
However, this team is so bad offensively, can they even do anything if they make the playoffs?
Right now, this Ravens offensive is worse than the 2000 Ravens!
Yes, that’s the team that went 5 games without scoring an offensive touchdown. But at least that team could run the ball. The Ravens had 85 yards rushing on 30 carries… a 2.8 yards per carry average. But take out Tyrod Taylor’s 18-yard run, and they have 29 carries for 67 yards… simply pathetic.
Yes, you can say that the offensive line is terrible and that’s why they can’t run, and I would agree with you. But the running backs are still to blame. They simply can’t make defenders miss. Ray Rice was a pro at making guys miss in previous years. Yesterday, he had a few times where he was 1-on-1 with a defender and simply ran directly into him. I don’t know what’s wrong with Rice, but he is not the same player this year. Pierce isn’t doing much better than Rice, but better nonetheless.
As we talk about the offense, you need to talk about its leader. Joe Flacco had his worst game of the season. The first scoring drive (the second possession) was all Joe. He underthrew the receiver terribly but at least they ran the play and got the interference call (which they hadn’t done much of this season) to put them down at the 5-yard line. The touchdown pass was well executed by Flacco, as no one was open at all and Joe ran and ran until he found a small hole to squeeze the ball in.
But after that, Joe had very little time to throw and even when he did, he was pressing too hard and making some very bad decisions.
One of those bad decisions was clock management and I put that on Flacco. What was Flacco thinking in the 4th quarter? We can’t run the ball to run out the clock but he could have done his part by not snapping the ball until the clock was under 5 seconds… instead I saw numerous times where the snap had 15, 17, and 16 seconds left on the clock. That is unacceptable when trying to run out the clock.
I really liked what I saw from the Ravens and their play calling in the first quarter. They were pulling out all the tricks, as well as just mixing up the plays to keep the Bengals guessing. The Ravens were extremely creative on offense in the first quarter but what happened? In the 2nd half they went back to what they’ve done the last few weeks. They became very conservative and didn’t try to change up anything. The trickery worked well at keeping the Bengals on their heels early on… so why go away from it?
One of the things that really bugged me at the end of regulation happened on the sidelines.
Who does Jimmy Smith think he is?
Smith was screaming at Ihedigbo on the sidelines after the Hail Mary TD that hit Ihedigbo’s hand and went into AJ Green’s arms for a game-tying touchdown. Jimmy has screwed up a number of times and doesn’t have any right to chew him out in public. And I know everyone is screaming that it was a dumb play and “just knock it down”… but I saw it differently. I think Ihedigbo was trying to block the deflection but the ball hit his hands as he was putting them up and so the ball went up. It was not Ihedigbo’s objective to bat the ball up… it was just bad luck.
At 4-5, the Ravens trail the Bengals (6-4) by just 1.5 games in the AFC North. They, obviously, hold the tie-breaker with them now, and still face them one more time this season.
The Ravens head to Chicago next week. The game is crucial for our overall record, but it’s not a conference game, so a loss doesn’t end their playoff hopes… but it sure won’t help.
They have got to fix their offensive issues if they want to win.
GIF courtesy of Gordon Dixon