The Ravens have started the season with a 5-1 mark only twice during their 17-year history. Before 2012, the last time they reached this desirable milestone was in 2000 when of course they went on to win Super Bowl XXXV.
Back then the Ravens got it done with defense. Today the Ravens defense is simply undone.
* Overall Defense ~ 26th (397 yards/game)
* Passing Defense ~ 22nd
* Rushing Defense ~ 26th
* Sacks ~ 23rd (10)
At the end of the day, many will tell you that the only thing that counts is the win. And while that may be true, the evidence is still scattered all over the field at M&T Bank Stadium that suggests if the Ravens don’t get their act together on defense, their collective good fortune will dry up – and soon!
Looking back again at the 2000 season, you may recall that following their 5-1 start, the Ravens offense disappeared. They struggled to score and began a string of 21 consecutive quarters without a touchdown. The Ravens lost three straight games to fall to 5-4.
Yet they had resolve. They clung together as a team and weathered the storm carried by a history-making defense. Eventually the offense gathered itself and at climbed back to a respectable level.
Can the struggling 2012 Ravens defense do the same?
Time will tell but until then, let’s take a look back at this highly unusual contest between the Ravens and the Cowboys.
THE GOOD: Ray Rice had 106 total yards of offense and while that may not be a stellar Rice effort, it is clearly worthy given the fact that he touched the ball just 17 times on Sunday. Rice was also 3 for 3 on third and 1 conversions, something the Ravens have struggled with over the past few years…Anquan Boldin had 5 catches for 98 yards while easily fighting off press coverage from Brandon Carr…Dennis Pitta made an incredible grab on a short out route, fully extending along the right sideline and completing the catch despite tight coverage…Bernard Pierce is beginning to show why the Ravens didn’t prematurely seek a veteran to spell Ray Rice. Pierce is rewarding the team’s patience. He had 21 tough yards on 4 carries…Michael Oher answered his critics and save for one failed blocking attempt following and inside move by the dangerous DeMarcus Ware, he kept the Cowboys All-Pro sack master quiet for most of the afternoon.
Jacoby Jones’ record tying 108-yard kickoff return was explosive. There’s no need to have Deonte Thompson on the 46 man active squad…Haloti Ngata’s warrior-like effort has to be mentioned. Battling a sore shoulder and sprained knee, Ngata hustled while scraping down the line to provide what little defensive line support the Ravens could muster against the run; he was relentless chasing plays down for a man his size; and he provided the team’s only sack on the day…Jimmy Smith played well in spurts, blowing up a bubble screen to Dez Bryant for a loss and then blanketing Miles Austin on a 9-route down the right sideline.
THE BAD: The Ravens execution on screen plays was horrific. Maybe Cam Cameron should execute the play design…Ed Dickson, you have to make that catch. Your quarterback does a phenomenal job to escape pressure on a waggle play and delivers a strike right on your hands for an easy touchdown and you put it on the carpet? C’mon man!…
Apologists for Cary Williams will point out that he had an interception and successfully defended a couple of passes. Sometimes even a blind squirrel will find a nut. Williams’ technique remains out of whack particularly when defending the back shoulder throw. The entire stadium knew that Tony Romo would attack Williams when singled up on Dez Bryant yet Dean Pees continually dialed up that situation for failure. Isn’t insanity defined as doing the same things the same way and expecting different results?…
THE UGLY: First and foremost, the injuries – Lardarius Webb and Ray Lewis, done for the season. Also hobbled were Ngata and Jimmy Smith…The interior defensive line (save Ngata) acted like a welcoming doormat for the Cowboys rushing attack, particularly Art Jones, Terrence Cody and Maake Kemoeatu. Cody and Kemo spent more time on their backs than Kim Kardashian…The Cowboys had 79 plays to the Ravens 49 and maintained the ball for over 40 minutes. The Ravens after their opening drive of the game had the ball for just 12 minutes, 47 seconds the rest of the way…Brendon Ayanbadejo looked like Wilson Betemit on the “hands team”. Jerry Rosburg, you’ll have to do better than that.
The overall tackling by the defense was atrocious. The Ravens missed 19 tackles contributing to an additional 104 yards of offense for Dallas and one of the biggest culprits was Ed Reed…The stats will show that Ray Lewis had 14 tackles and some might even suggest that he played well. He didn’t. Most of his tackles happened well beyond the line of scrimmage and he was often out of position or unable to shed blocks. His tackle tally is inflated given extremely high play count for the Cowboys (79). Interestingly, on the Cowboys’ opening 80-yard TD drive they ran the ball on 7 of their 9 plays for 65 yards. Ray Lewis didn’t register a single defensive statistic.
THE MEGAN FOX: Joe Flacco was 17 of 26 for 234 yards and a score for a QB Rating of 106.9. The Ravens were 60% on third down and 3 of 4 in red zone efficiency. Flacco also completed a couple of passes in the face of extreme pressure. For the Ravens to score 31 points while given only 49 plays to do it particularly when their average starting field position was their own 20 yard line while encountering the NFL’s best pass defense – WOW that is undoubtedly a very impressive performance!