When my dog looks out the window and sees another dog relieving itself on our lawn, she loses it. Our little lap dog morphs into Cujo. I’ve always assumed that she’s ticked off because it’s an intentional, territorial insult to her from the neighborhood dog. For all intents and purposes, the Titans did exactly the same thing to the Ravens when they gathered on the M&T Bank Stadium shield prior to kickoff.
The intended insult is indicative of the punk that is Mike Vrabel. It’s indicative of the team Vrabel envisions the Titans to be. And judging from the way that Malcolm Butler verbally dressed down John Harbaugh, who let the Titans know in so many words, how classless they are, the display amounted to cheap street theatrics intended to get into the Ravens collective head. Maybe it worked. Unlike my dog, the Ravens didn’t resemble Cujo yesterday.
Afterwards the Ravens brushed off the incident, for now. The question is, can they brush off a loss that dropped them from the playoff picture if the season ended today.
J.K. Dobbins just looks like he has that “it factor”. He has the ability to churn yards when none appear to be there for the taking, and he possesses an explosiveness to his game that might erupt at any time. His field vision is also admirable. He had 70 yards on 15 carries and a score. He also was on the receiving end of a two-point conversion. Dobbins made a terrific block on Titans LB Will Compton to spring Dez Bryant for a 16-yard gain during the Ravens final possession in regulation. He should replace Mark Ingram as the de facto starter…Mark Andrews had a very productive game hauling in 5 passes for 96 yards and a score. The TD connection between he and Lamar Jackson represented a terrific, on-the-fly adjustment. Yet, the one Andrews was unable to corral that could have been the pivotal play in the game, may be the play I’ll remember most – the 3rd and 5 pass at the 7:49 mark of the fourth quarter, leading 21-16. Yes, it was a difficult catch but those are the type that separate the good players from the great…
This was a tough one. Could have been caught. Could have been thrown better. But it’s a play that is made by winning teams. pic.twitter.com/Q6va9D3BR6
— Tony Lombardi (@RSRLombardi) November 23, 2020
Bryant saw his most extensive action in three years with 35 snaps. He played hard and if Lamar Jackson had any kind of rapport with him, or if Lamar could actually see the field with clarity, there were a couple of plays left on the M&T Bank Stadium turf that may have made a difference.
Yannick Ngakoue was limited to just 22 snaps but they were productive ones. His time on the field was cut short due to the Ravens focus upon Derrick Henry. This is indicative of personnel that excels in one area or another. Wink Martindale influences offensive tendencies based upon his substitutional packages. He isn’t equipped with a Terrell Suggs…Malik Harrison made a terrific play to thwart a well-designed screen to Derrick Henry. He fought through a block by center Ben Jones to take down Henry, a challenge in and of itself. A couple of plays later, Tyus Bowser made a great break on the ball to intercept Ryan Tannehill. Bowser is a very good athlete who for some reason, just can’t get untracked on a consistent basis…DeShon Elliott was the only member of the Ravens secondary who tackled with any consistency. His hit on Henry shook the mammoth tailback…Justin Tucker, still money!
Small mistakes lead to poor outcomes. Facing a third-and-1 at their own 45, Mark Andrews was flagged for a false start. The third-and-6 failed and the Ravens were forced to punt with a 5 point lead…Later in the quarter the Ravens faced a first-and-10 at the Titans 14, trailing by 3 with 49 seconds left. A premature snap from Patrick Mekari didn’t allow Dez Bryant to properly set and it moved the Ravens back 5 yards. It triggered a 10 second run off but with two timeouts remaining, the Ravens had plenty of time to score 6. But they seemed panicked and the results showed, settling for a field goal…On their very last play in regulation, one that Lamar aborted with a throw away, Marquise Brown was knocked out of the end zone. This has been a pattern for Brown. He is too often out-muscled which disrupts his routes and renders him rather useless. Since Brown’s cry for help with his “souljas” Tweet on November 1, in the subsequent 3 games Brown has 5 catches for 52 yards on 15 targets. He’s had two drops as well…
It seems like the inner clock of Lamar Jackson’s is malfunctioning. Maybe it has been unintentionally adjusted given the pressure he’s been under throughout the season. Maybe he’s just anxious to make a play. And maybe as a result of both he’s locking in on receivers. Against the Titans, Lamar twice threw late into the end zone, once to Andrews (who could have come back to the ball to potentially get a DPI on the play), and then again to Brown on a deep post. Lamar has left some opportunities on the field, most notably with Bryant who was open on a couple of plays but ignored, like the one below.
Lamar is late. Once he held the ball too long (let the safety recover), Dez is open in the flat. Pull the trigger on time or take the easy gain (#Ravens scored anyway because Lamar hit Andrews on the 5 verts play).
— KingMoose (@Yoshi2052) November 22, 2020
Mark Ingram is a leader and an awesome locker room guy. And I don’t know if it’s age, injuries or both, but the difference between 21 on the field and 27 on the field is quite apparent…Devin Duvernay looked like an outfielder who lost the ball in the lights during the late third quarter interception…If you are going to chuck and duck and let a receiver make a play on the ball, doesn’t it make sense to do that with Miles Boykin? Why is he even on the roster? Aren’t coaches supposed to take the skill set of a player and place him in position to succeed? If Boykin, a 6’4” receiver with outstanding leaping ability, can’t make a play in one-on-one situations, what’s the point?
Justin Ellis is so bad. When the Ravens get Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams back, he should not be active for another game if everyone else remains healthy. He looked more like a figure skater messing up a toe loop than an NFL nose tackle…Jaylon Ferguson was sucked in too frequently on misdirection, leaving the edge completely naked. It was a major regression from the progress he’s made during previous weeks…Patrick Queen is just too light to fill in and make plays against a heavyweight rushing attack. To his credit he did make a nice drop in the red zone to force Tannehill to make an errant throw in the end zone and force a FGA. But overall, like the New England game, Queen just gets lost in the wash. Of course, that may be in part a byproduct of Ellis’ figure skating and his inability to eat up blockers.
Last season many were worried that the Ravens would lose Greg Roman – that he would become a head coach elsewhere. Today, many may be wishing that it happened. The Ravens final four drives when it counted most ended with an interception, punt, FG and punt. Their pace is lethargic and lacks energy. Despite how often Brown gets knocked around they fail to move him pre-snap in order to pave the way for a free release. They don’t use misdirection to freeze a defense with distracting eye candy; they fail to use stacks to create mismatches or separation; and now the quarterback can’t throw on time. The Ravens offense is from the dark ages.
Meanwhile when it mattered most during their last four meaningful drives, the Titans, save the kneel-down just before overtime, managed to score two field goals and two TD’s plus the walk-in two-point conversion…Ravens were 1 of 4 in the red zone – the deep red zone. Execution and play calling were horrific.
Tackling was awful, particularly in the secondary. The only player that came to play was Elliott. Marlon Humphrey and Chuck Clark whiffed too often and Marcus Peters had his worst game as a Raven. He was regularly out of position leaving huge throwing windows for Tannehill to target…The loss marked the second time at The Bank this season that they’ve blown a double-digit lead…the roughing the passer call on Pernell McPhee was ridiculous. It cost the Ravens three points – three points that would come back to bite them.
THE MO GABA
On ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown, Mo Gaba was honored. It was a touching presentation and if you missed it, here it is.
Mo Gaba, who battled cancer and was blind, became part of the fabric in the Baltimore sports community and made a lasting impact on the Ravens.
Mo died on July 28, 2020, but his legacy continues to carry on. pic.twitter.com/5y1g6G0XDf
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) November 22, 2020
Mo would have been disappointed by the Ravens effort on Sunday. Once, when reflecting upon the 2019 season and looking ahead to 2020, Mo said, “I think they are going to go all the way this year. They were really close last year but I think they just choked against the Titans.”
The same could be said of yesterday’s performance. Mo would have been disappointed – again.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin once criticized the Ravens for not playing all four quarters. In a way Ravens DE Derek Wolfe said the same thing following yesterday’s debacle.
“We just can’t put 60 minutes together as a football team. I don’t know what it is.”
Wolfe certainly put it all out there on the field. He was a force in the Ravens run defense and was a huge reason why Wink’s unit was able to hold Derrick Henry to 44 yards on 18 attempts through the first three quarters. After the third, Henry rambled for 89 yards on 10 carries.
But let’s give Wolfe some major props here. He was without sidekicks Campbell and Williams and instead was saddled with Wink Martindale’s answer to Dorothy Hamill. Wolfe had 6 tackles, 1 for a loss, and if the Ravens secondary or linebackers played with half the intensity and determination that Wolfe brought to the game, we’re probably looking at a different outcome, a (7-3) record, a place in the playoff seedings and a much better vibe in Baltimore today. DW gets the Mo Gaba!
The Ravens don’t have time to sulk. They have no choice but to put this difficult loss behind them and seek solutions to an offense gone awry. To figure out why time and time again the defense can’t produce a clutch stop.
After the game, Orlando Brown, Jr. was asked why Ravens’ opponents seemed to be setting the tone in games when in the past the Ravens did that.
“Yes, and, man, gosh, what that’s a testament to, I’m not 100% sure. We ultimately want to be the ‘bullies’ on both sides of the ball up front and stop the run and run the ball well. Whatever that is, we’re going to get back in the lab and figure it out.”
Trips to “the lab” are beginning to run out.
And maybe more teams might be keen on desecrating the shield.