Two plays that doomed the Ravens

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As every Ravens fan tries to come to terms with a third straight loss, and the second straight at M&T Bank Stadium, there seems to be plenty of blame to go around. The offensive line, an undermanned defense, the quarterback, the head coach, the new offensive coordinator, the old offensive coordinator, probably Billy Cundiff and Lee Evans too.

And while it’s true that it was a performance that left a lot to be desired all around, particularly on offensive where the team seemed to be trying to store up on three and outs like they were going out of fashion, the Ravens effectively took themselves out of the game by the start of the third quarter with two key errors.

The first is on Joe Flacco. After driving the team all the way down to the Broncos four-yard line with 30 seconds left on the clock in the first half, he threw without doubt one of the worst passes of his career and one of the worst you’ll see from any quarterback this season.

If you’re looking for a check list of what not to do in this situation, Flacco went through it all. Forcing the throw, staring down the receiver, lazy pass? Check. Check. Check. Give him credit, he tried to make amends for his error by chasing Chris Harris the length of the field, coming up just short before starting the “Flacco-ing” trend that has occupied your twitter and facebook feeds today but that doesn’t take away from how poor a decision and throw it was. A little more poise there from Flacco and suddenly the Ravens are heading into the locker room down 10-7 as opposed to 17-0.

Video: John Harbaugh defends the call the led to the interception

And that takes us to error number two. Down 17-3 early in the third quarter, a miscommunication by cornerback Cary Williams and safety Ed Reed allowed Eric Decker to haul in a Peyton Manning pass for a 51 yard score. Whether or not Reed should have given help over the top as opposed to gambling and trying to jump the route, Williams was still beaten deep. It’s been the story of Williams’ career in Baltimore, while he makes plays on the ball – he had two pass breakups on Sunday – he always looks likely to give up a big play at any moment.

Just like that a game that could have been 10-10 in the third quarter and the Ravens find themselves out of it at 24-3. There were plenty of poor plays on both offense and defense to look back on for Ravens fans and while the team never looked like a match for Denver, those two plays killed the game not long after halftime. Errors like those are something they need to fix as the postseason approaches.

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