TALE OF THE TAPE: Goal-to-Go for the Win – What Happened?

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At the end of December, we may be looking back at the game against the Chicago Bears as the proverbial nail in the coffin of the Baltimore Ravens’ real hope to make the 2013 playoffs.

More importantly, we’ll be looking back at the final goal-line offensive series the Ravens put together in that game. The offense’s inability to punch the ball into the end zone in the final minute may ultimately be what changed this season from a playoff year to one that ends with the team on the outside looking in.

Three chances starting from the five-yard line, and the Ravens offense faltered three straight plays, ultimately setting up a game-tying Justin Tucker field goal that proved to be not enough in a Ravens overtime loss.

Let’s take a look at the final three offensive plays, and how the Ravens failed miserably to capitalize on what could have been a prime season-changing win.

First down

It was evident the Ravens were trying to take as much time off the clock as they could in the final minute, which led to run-based play calling, ultimately dooming the team’s hopes of winning.

On first down, the Bears put eight in the box, and ideally this would be a pass play.

The Ravens stick to the design, and the result is as expected.

Running back Ray Rice is swallowed up for a minimal gain. The blocking by the offensive line wasn’t that bad on this play, but when the linemen are outnumbered, it’s hard to expect them to get the job done in a goal-line situation.

Of course, we don’t know quarterback Joe Flacco’s audible ability on a play-by-play basis, but if he would have audibled to a pass play, he would have had three one-on-one opportunities.

Odds are one of them would have had a chance to make a catch. The odds in the passing game would have been much higher than a run play against an eight-man front.

Second down

Yet again, the Ravens line up against an eight-man Chicago front. Unsurprisingly, the result is the same.

You’d think the Ravens would have learned their lesson the first time, but they come out with the same personnel: one tight end, five linemen and Ray Rice.

Eight Bears defenders against six Ravens blockers. Who do you think wins?

You guessed right: the Bears.

Again, the blocking wasn’t poor by Baltimore, but the linemen and tight end Dallas Clark were simply outmanned.

It’s hard to expect Rice to score when he’s facing eight defenders in a tight space.

Solution? Pass the ball.

(More on this particular play here)

Third down

Here’s where the devastation sets in for Ravens fans. With just 11 seconds left and no timeouts, the Ravens opted for one last offensive play.

Obviously, the Ravens had to pass (a result of running on second down and burning their final timeout), and the play call was perfect.

There was only one problem: Gino Gradkowski.

The center’s poor snap derailed a promising play from the start.

Torrey Smith runs a route toward the back of the end zone, and he couldn’t have been more wide open.

Unfortunately, by the time Flacco finally grabs hold of the ball and looks up, the window is starting to close, and in a crucial time like this one, he appropriately throws the ball out of the back of the end zone, avoiding a turnover or a sack, either of which would have ended the game.

Here’s another look at how wide open Smith was (remember: at this point, Flacco is just picking up the ball out of the mud, instead of in position to throw, as he’d be if the snap was good).

So if there’s a blame game, the star pupil of the class is Gradkowski, as a clean snap almost certainly gives the Ravens an easy touchdown, a victory and a 5-5 record.

As the old adage goes, “there’s a fine line between winning and losing in the NFL.”

For the Ravens, they’ve learned this season that every close game can’t go their way, which pretty much is the opposite of what happened in 2012.

Miscues like the ones in the final minute of Sunday’s game have been a theme for the Ravens in close games this year, and it may be a sign that it’s just not their year.

11 Raves on “TALE OF THE TAPE: Goal-to-Go for the Win – What Happened?

    • Kyle on said:

      The greater the number, the smaller the difference is. Same thing with any other sport. Easier to score in a 4-on-3 in hockey than if it were 5-on-4. When it’s nine blockers and 11 defenders, that’s different than 6 vs 8.

  1. terpmaniac on said:

    Synonomus with everything that has gone wrong this year. Last year, Ravens would have made that touchdown. But what bothers me more then anything is the team seems to lack a sense of “urgency” as our playoff chances go right down the toilet. No passion. No concern. No angry. Its the same response after every god-awful loss..”oh well, we lost, we need to play better.” REALLY?

  2. Michael Rob on said:

    The play before that 1 the Bears were stacked to 1 side & the Ravens ran right into it. Can’t figure out their stupidity sometimes.Why didn’t they sweep to their right like Rice did for the first touchdown….

  3. CrabbyPatty on said:

    I never agree when I hear someone say “it’s just not their year.” I don’t believe in fate or destiny. I think if the Ravens wanted these wins, they should have had them. Plain and simple.

  4. Tyler on said:

    I’m tired of the playcalling. Like you said, there is no sense of urgency. Except for when there doesn’t need to be. Aside from Caldwell’s offense being downright boring, Harbaugh has made some terrible calls. 4th and 8? Why not at least let Tucker attempt a field goal? Are you that confident that they’ll get a first down? Go for 3, even if he misses, you turn over on downs either way. The way our offense has played, how can you have faith we’ll convert on 4th & 8. And I feel like I’m really starting to see Harbaugh for who he is. The way he dances around questions and gives cloudy, vague answers just tells you that he doesn’t have an answer. He was never the leader of this team. Ray Lewis was. And now that it’s Harbaugh’s team, we’re starting to see that he’s not the mastermind god of coaching we thought he was.

  5. norm on said:

    Harbs and coaching staff are a bunch of nit-wits! Joe Fluncko has spread his might wings of playing like a man who is clueless this year.

  6. Bruce on said:

    By the way, anybody notice Gino’s dominant performance on Sunday? Pancake block after pancake block, this guy is rapidly becoming the Ravens best offensive lineman. The “Gino sucks” crowd is going to have to start changing their tune.

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