Today has sucked. Sucked more than any day I can remember. As if that whole Ray Rice thing wasn’t enough, we’re on the wrong side of a football hangover. It’s no fun. We can talk ourselves in circles about how terribly the organization and the NFL have mishandled the Rice situation, but the show must go on. Football stops for nobody.
Any loss within your division is costly, especially at home. But it’s still just one loss. And believe it or not, there were some good things to takeaway from Sunday. It doesn’t change the result, but the Ravens showed some resiliency yesterday. They played the ugliest first half of football these eyes have ever seen (or at least since the Terps on Saturday), yet were only 15 yards from sending the game into overtime. They had far more first downs than Cincinnati and gained more yards. They had their way with them in the 2nd half. So despite getting few breaks and playing like dog shit, they actually turned out a performance better than you’d think. Here are some thoughts from yesterdays game:
– Flacco. Needed to be better, obviously. He hardly got any help from his receivers (more on that in a bit), but you can tell this offense is still a work in progress. Lot of timing plays that were off just a tick or two. The West Coast offense is very dependent on having everyone on the same page, and too often they weren’t. The red zone third down incompletion with Pitta in the 4th stands out in my mind as a perfect example. Pitta sticks on a curl and Flacco threw a dart 10 feet to the left, clearly thinking he was running a post. They make that connection, the chains move and Pitta might even score. Too many little plays like that cost the Ravens yesterday.
– Know what wasn’t a little play? The abomination that was the end of the first half. Inexcusable error by Joe. He’s been in the league for far too long to be holding onto the ball for 8 seconds there. He summed it up perfectly after the game saying it was the dumbest thing he’s ever done on a football field. Gross dude, clean it up.
– The receivers. 8 drops? Christ, somebody catch a football one time. I think every single key receiver dropped a first down reception at one point or another. Even Steve Smith dropped a couple. It’s not even the fact that they lost out on the yards or a first down. It’s that they completely wrecked any opportunity we had to get the offense in a rhythm. Every time it looked like we were ready to get on a roll, we dropped a pass that halted the drive. Flacco deserves some of the blame today, but his day looks a whole lot better if these guys just squeeze the football. Gotta help your QB out fellas.
– Bernard Pierce was a major disappointment. Coughed a ball up in the 2nd quarter and didn’t see the field again because of it. That’s football. I’m not sure if I would’ve been so quick to bench Pierce, but Harbs had confidence in Justin Forsett to take over and the vet seized the opportunity. Forsett looked fantastic out there, racking up 70 yards on 11 carries. Would’ve liked to have seen him get more carries down the stretch, but hindsight is 20/20. All in all though, we looked good on the ground. I expect Forsett to be the first guy getting the ball moving forward. Pierce will get more opportunities to win the job long-term, but he’s put himself in a hole.
– Defense was in classic “bend, don’t break” mode the entire 1st half. They deserve some serious kudos for keeping us in the game. Would’ve been over at the half had they not hunkered down in their own territory. They only forced one 3 and out, but you gotta like seeing your defense fight with their backs against the wall.
– Having said that, they didn’t get to the QB. No sacks yesterday. Zero! It’s not difficult to figure out why they didn’t force any turnovers. I said getting pressure on Dalton was a key to winning this football game, and they didn’t do that. Andy Dalton can’t do Andy Dalton things if you don’t rattle his cage a bit. Pisspoor effort by the pass rush.
– Chykie Brown. Why, why why… Why in the world was he tasked with covering AJ Green in the 4th quarter? I understand that Jimmy Smith might be more comfortable on the right side of the field, but there are certainly extenuating circumstances. This HAS to be one of them. Smith had been doing a solid job bottling up Green up to that point. It’s easy to pass the blame on to Chykie in that situation and he needs to be better, but why put him in that position? I don’t get that, and it was the difference in this contest. Need Webb back next week.
– Justin Tucker missed a 54-yarder, that was weird.
– Need to improve in the red zone on offense. We were able to move the ball fairly effectively in the 2nd half until we got inside their 30, especially on the final drive. I think they had enough time on the clock for them to utilize Forsett a bit more, but again, easy to say in hindsight. The O-line had a decent day, but broke down there when it mattered most, and that’s what most people are going to remember. Still room for improvement from those guys.
– Eifert, your elbow… woof.
*Sam Koch: Never good when this guy makes the list.
**Steve Smith: Yeah, the drops sucked, but he still had himself a day. Made the biggest play of the day with a ferocious stiff arm. Ice up Pacman.
***Justin Forsett: 11 carries, 70 yards, a nice TD run. One of the few guys who played mistake free football.
Short week, gotta gear up for Pittsburgh. Shake it off, go get em on Thursday.