Pretty gross football game to say the least. Seeing that they were a yard away from being down 9-0, the Ravens were in big trouble already when Jimmy Smith got hurt. Losing him pretty much buried their chances. But then the Pats made two awful awful special teams plays and gave the Ravens life. The offense started to move the ball and got into the red zone down 6. And then they failed to finish. Conservative playcalling, a blown coverage, and terrible clock management pretty much ensured a Pats win. That puts the Ravens up against the wall. They pretty much gotta win out. The only way they can afford a loss is if the Bengals find a way to beat Pittsburgh this weekend. Christmas is everything. We knew this going into last night’s game. Tough loss, but it wasn’t everything. More thoughts:
– The offensive gameplan was infuriating. They came into the game insistent on throwing 2 yard dinks and dunks every chance they got. Checkdown city. Yes they got down by multiple scores, but you gotta run the ball more than 4 times in the first half. I don’t care how ineffective it was. You gotta keep at it. You’re never going to beat the Patriots if you don’t beat them in the trenches. They’re too disciplined for you to beat them by airing it out every down. When they started to get the run game going a bit, they were able to hit the deep ball to Perriman. This shouldn’t happen only one time a game.
– Joe Flacco, like most games it seems, was pretty meh. A lot of throws, a lot of completions, but not many throws over 15 yards. It’s maddening. We know what kind of arm Joe has, and we know what kind of speed we have with Perriman and Wallace. The Patriots were daring us to throw those short passes, especially in the 4th quarter, and we played right into their hands.
– Ken Dixon seemed to take the reins from Terrence West this week. For better or worse, we had passing personnel in for the majority of the game and Dixon plays that role, but still. West only got 2 carries. Dixon was impressive at times, scoring one of the two touchdowns and carrying Chris Long out of bounds on that one play. Gotta love what he brings to the table.
– Breshad Perriman caught the one deep ball, but also killed a drive by not even looking for a ball that Joe almost hit him in the head with. It would’ve gotten the Ravens into FG range too, when the game was still close early. I love seeing him catch the one deep ball on a weekly basis, but we drafted him in the first round to be more than just a guy who could run one route. So much room for improvement.
– That Juice catch and run was fucking awesome. Love me some juice.
– Like I alluded to before, the Jimmy Smith injury was the turning point of the game, and probably the season. Those other guys in the secondary have played well, but Jimmy is the straw that stirs the drink. He’s the defense’s Flacco. He’s also Antonio Brown’s kryptonite, so if he’s out for that game in 2 weeks, the season is also over. No two ways about it. He’s as fragile as they come too, so it might be time to find another franchise corner in the draft. Tavon Young is really good but his size limits his ability to be that guy. Let’s go get another corner.
– Jerraud Powers’ injury also played a factor. Tavon was so good in that slot corner role early in the season that I was hesitant to move him to the outside. Well they were able to make that move because Powers was doing a knock-up job in the slot in his own right. With both him and Smith out, guys like Matt Elam see the field. And when Matt Elam sees the field, bad things happen. For example…
– The Chris Hogan TD was such a dagger. It looked like Elam’s fault on the surface, but it was actually Eric Weddle who pinched on the route underneath and left Hogan alone in the middle of the field. Really unfortunate for a guy who otherwise played a great game and kept the Ravens from getting completely blown out in the 1st half with a pick and a punt-forcing sack. He’s more than earned the right to make a mistake here and there, that one just really hurt.
– Legarrette Blount averaged a decent 4.0 yards per carry, but it seemed like so much more. We’re not used to having guys fall forward on our front 7. We seemed to be pretty responsible on gap assignments and we weren’t necessarily getting pushed around by their OL either, the guy is just a bulldozer. Respect to Blount, guy is a helluva runner.
– Devin Hester needs to kick rocks and kick rocks weeks ago. I feel like a broken record talking about him every week. If he was just catching punts and falling forward for 5 yards, it’d be one thing. But he’s KILLING the Ravens, week in and week out. And just when you think he can’t get any worse, he lets one go and pins us against the 1. That safety is 1000% on him and there’s no excuse for him to be on this football team anymore. If you’re going to dedicate a whole roster spot just for a return specialist, he better be producing and he’s doing the complete opposite. Get him out. Promote Campanaro or Asa Jackson. Or let Lardarius do it. I don’t care who. Anyone but Hester. He’s washed.
– Somehow Hester didn’t even make the worst play by a punt returner. Cyrus Jones… what are ya doin pal? And it’s kinda impressive how Chris Moore has a knack for being in the right spot for these special teams plays. It was just delaying the inevitable, but it breathed a little life into the Ravens.
– I wish I had something constructive to say about that Tucker kick that got blocked, but I got nothing. That was just a freak play. Sometimes it’s that simple. Gotta tip the cap. A great streak for Tucker while it lasted. Let’s start a new one.
So yeah, like I said… not all is lost, but we’ve got our work cut out for us. Prayers up for Jimmy’s ankle. I’ll be waiting on those injury reports with bated breath.
PS: RIP former Raven Konrad Reuland.