Archive for November, 2011

With Reed Off Kickoff Returns, Doss Deserves his Shot

November 18, 2011

With three fumbles and a personal foul penalty in the past two games, Ravens kick returner David Reed is experiencing a sophomore slump.

Reed, who led the NFL in kick return average last season (29.3 yds), has been told by special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg that his services will not be needed on Sunday. The Ravens have turned to starting cornerback Lardarius Webb and rookie wide receiver Laquan Williams as their top options on the depth chart to return kicks versus the Bengals.

With Jimmy Smith slated to see more action this game, it makes no sense to expose a starting cornerback to the injury risk of returning kickoffs. Losing Webb (again) on a special teams play could be detrimental to the Ravens defense.

Even though Reed contributes in other aspects on the Ravens special teams squad, his role as a gunner is far less important and easy to replace.  Listed as the fourth wide receiver on the team’s depth chart, Reed is rarely used and hasn’t recorded a reception all year.

Given the poor performance of this 2011 special teams unit, now would be a great time to give rookie wide receiver Tandon Doss a shot. Doss, the Ravens fourth-round draft choice out of Indiana, would be a great candidate to replace Reed on kickoffs and possibly permanently on the 46-player active game day roster.

At Indiana, Doss was fourth all time in kick return yards (1549) and averaged 24.8 yards per return in 2010. Given the fact that he has previous kick return experience and is a better wide receiver than Reed, if Lee Evans isn’t active this week, Doss deserves an opportunity to make a name for himself.

At the conclusion of the preseason, Doss arguably was the best wide receiver on the team not named Anquan Boldin. Unfortunately for Doss he was leapfrogged by Torrey Smith and LaQuan Williams, has only been active in four games so far this season and hasn’t caught a pass.

Doss shouldn’t be buried on the Ravens active roster by a player like Reed – who is hampered by a severe case of “Fumblitis” as well as the new NFL kickoff regulations. His services as a “gunner” on punts and a buried wide receiver on the depth chart can easily be replaced.

Arguing to play Tandon Doss over David Reed may be a moot point if Lee Evans is active versus the Bengals. The current injury report has Evans listed as “questionable,” and if he is active along with Reed moving forward, Sunday may provide the only chance Doss has left this season to make a favorable impression on the coaching staff in game action.

Bengals (6-3) @ Ravens (6-3)

November 18, 2011

Instead of having some breathing room entering this Week 11 divisional clash with the upstart Cincinnati Bengals, thanks to their third road hiccup against an inferior opponent, the Ravens find themselves needing a win on Sunday to avoid falling to third place in the AFC North. As ridiculous as that proposition seemed just two weeks ago after completing a season sweep of the Pittsburgh Steelers, that’s nonetheless the situation this team finds itself in, due to their inability to go on the road and take care of business against the Seattle Seahawks.

As if last week’s debacle didn’t have Ravens fans edgy enough already, the news late Thursday night that Ray Lewis will miss Sunday’s game with a toe injury has only added fuel to the fire of purple angst engulfing B’More. Number 52 will be missing his first start since late in the 2007 season, before John Harbaugh, Joe Flacco, or Ray Rice were even members of the organization.

What Ravens fans have to hope will happen on Sunday is that what “Sports Guy” Bill Simmons calls the “Ewing Theory” will take effect. Basically what the idea says is that a team, suddenly devoid of their superstar, will raise their individual games to new heights, in order to – consciously or not – prove to the rest of the league that they can, and will, win without said superstar.

Hell, look no further than the Bengals for a relevant example of this phenomenon. They jettisoned Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco, and a 4-12 team is suddenly 6-3.

It’s a lot to ask of the Ravens’ defense to go out and perform at their usual level without their emotional leader and coach on the field out there with them. But their ability to do so may very well – more so than Joe Flacco’s inconsistencies or Cam Cameron’s stubbornness – be the main component in the story of the Ravens’ 2011 season down the stretch.

The “good” news is that inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, sidelined the last four games with a hamstring injury, has practiced fully this week and should be able to go Sunday in Lewis’s stead. Fellow linebackers Jameel McClain and Brendan Ayanbadejo will see their roles increased. Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed will need to carry the emotional torch for Lewis and keep the team and crowd pumped up. You can’t replace Ray-Ray with one man, but the collective unit of the Baltimore defense should be up to the challenge.

They’d better be.

These are obviously not the Cincinnati Bengals we expected to see at the start of the season. They’ve taken a page out of the Ravens’ 2008 script, riding a Top 5 defense and a rookie quarterback into surprise playoff contention. Even when the Bengals are “bad,” they’ve given the Ravens fits, as Flacco and Harbaugh are just 1-3 against Cincy in the last four meetings after sweeping them in back in ’08. Ravens fans were delighted to see perennial thorn-in-the-Ravens’-side Palmer leave town, but Andy Dalton looks like the real deal.

Real deal Bengal

Dalton’s 14 touchdown passes through Week 10 are the most of any rookie since the AFL-NFL merger. Luckily for the Ravens, he may be without his favorite target, fellow rookie A.J. Green. Green, who has hauled in 41 passes for 635 yards and 6 scores, will be a game-time decision with a hyperextended knee. Even if he is on the field, he should be at less than 100%.

Dalton has other options though, including 6’5″ tight end Jermaine Gresham, who is a match up nightmare, Jerome Simpson, and Andre Caldwell, who has given the Ravens problems before. I’m confident in the Ravens’ secondary though, and even more so because rookie Jimmy Smith is expected to see more of the field this week. Lardarius Webb, Cary Williams, Smith, Ed Reed, and Bernard Pollard should be able to handle things on the back end.

What I’m more concerned with is the lack of pass rush we’ve seen recently. The Ravens have just a single sack in each of their last two games, and those were against teams near the top of the league in sacks allowed. Chuck Pagano seemed very Greg Mattison-esque last week in Seattle, opting for coverage rather than blitzes in giving Tarvaris Jackson way too much respect. Dalton can move some, but isn’t near the athlete Jackson or Ben Roethlisberger are, so here’s hoping the Ravens can push the Ginger QB takedown total closer to 4 or 5 on Sunday.

On the other side, Marvin Lewis’s defenses have had Joe Flacco’s number. Since 2009, he has thrown just two touchdowns and nine interceptions against Cincinnati. His main nemesis, cornerback Jonathan Joseph, is now with Houston, though, and the Bengals lost their current top corner Leon Hall for the season last week with a torn Achilles tendon. Joe should be able to breathe a little easier when he drops back and doesn’t see Hall or Joseph, but at this point it’s a matter of “I’ll believe he can play well against the Bengals when I see it.”

For all the talk this week about needing to get Ray Rice the ball more, the Cincy defense isn’t very inviting as a target to do so. They are #2 in the NFL against the run, and trail only the Ravens (3.3 ypc) allowing 3.4 yards per carry. Add that fact to the aforementioned weakened secondary, and the smart game plan seems to be to throw the ball.

Rice, for his part, has had much more success against the orange and black than has his quarterback. He had a streak of three consecutive games with 100+ yards from scrimmage against the Bengals snapped in Week 17 last year, when they held him to 77 yards rushing and 0 receiving. Marvin does a good job taking away Rice as a check down option, which is a big reason for all the interceptions when these two teams meet. Flacco has been more willing to chuck it this year, as opposed to looking for Rice underneath, so it will be interesting to see how the dynamic plays out. Especially if Lee Evans, who practiced again this week, can finally get back on the field. The improved play of the Ravens’ tight ends, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, should also help them break down the Bengals’ Cover 2 by exploiting the linebackers in coverage down the seam.

The best way to be sure that Rice gets more touches would be for the Ravens to get out to an early lead, something they’ve struggled mightily to do here in 2011. Last year they led in the fourth quarter of every game. This season they’ve trailed in the fourth in six of their nine contests. Which means they have been fighting to come back from deficits – sometimes big ones – which renders Rice and the running game in general largely impotent.

Score early. Get to Dalton. Force turnovers. Feed the horse. That’s the script that will lead to a 7-3 record and a seat back atop the AFC North.

I’m confident in the Ravens Sunday even without Lewis. They are a completely different team at home, and – as they’ve shown – against “good” opponents. The M&T crowd will be rockin’ after two straight road games, the boys will be eager to prove they can win without Ray, and without David Reed returning kicks and letting the other team play “make it, take it,” the good guys will come out with a convincing win.

Ravens 23 Bengals 13

Oh No. Ray Lewis to Miss Bengals Game, Maybe More

November 18, 2011

Oh, no. No no no no no no.

Bad news in Ravenstown, folks.

Aaron Wilson tweeted early Friday morning that the foot injury that has kept Ray Lewis out of practice this week isn’t nearly as trivial as all of us had thought, and hoped, it would be. It looks much worse, as Ray will miss Sunday’s crucial division clash with the Cincinnati Bengals, and could miss more:

This is potentially devastating news for our purple birds. Lewis hasn’t missed a game in the John Harbaugh era, last sitting out the last couple games of the 2007 season. His absence couldn’t come at a worse time for the Ravens, with the 6-3 Bengals and then the NFC West leading San Francisco 49ers both coming to M&T Bank Stadium in the next seven days.

If I’m fishing for some optimism, at least inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe returned to practice fully on Thursday, and should be ready to play this week. Ellerbe has missed the last several games, and his absence has been felt, especially last week in Seattle when Marshawn Lynch broke the 100-yard plateau on the ground.

Ray is the emotional leader of the defense though, as well as the coach on the field, and Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, and Haloti Ngata will all need to shoulder some of the load moving forward. Hopefully Ray won’t miss more than a game – two at most – but you can’t overstate how significant of a void there will be Sunday with no #52 on the field.

Ray Rice Wears New O's Cap. WOOOOOO.

November 16, 2011

I suppose as a Ravens/Orioles blogger, Ray Rice sporting the stylish new O’s cap at The Castle today should be a perfect opportunity for some crossover posting action.

Sorry, but I just can’t get too excited about this. Yeah, it’s cool that Ray is wearing the O’s cap and showing his support for Baltimore, and it’s awesome that he says he wants to throw out the first pitch at a game at Camden Yards this year. Still, just like I didn’t feel inspired to do a separate post on the O’s unveiling their new unis (I love them, by the way – but you can put lipstick on a pig and it’s still a pig), Rice wearing O’s gear and talking about baseball just isn’t getting me all fired up today.

An while it obviously beats seeing Ravens players in say, Yankees caps, what we SHOULD be excited about as we sit here on November 16 is the Ravens sitting at 8-1, two full games up in the AFC, and with two very winnable home games in the next eight days.

Instead, because the team has shat the bed twice against cupcake opponents in Jacksonville and, most recently Seattle, we’re all very timid and unsure about just what kind of football team we have on our hands.

A championship contender?

A team that’s capable of running the table and still securing home field advantage in the AFC?

Or a team that will be more like the 2004 Ravens, who collapsed down the stretch after a 7-3 start only to finish 9-7 and miss the playoffs?

With their relatively easy (on paper) schedule, I’d like to think that last scenario is outside the realm of reasonable possibility. But with the way they’ve conducted themselves against inferior competition here in 2011, how can anybody truly be confident that they’ll take care of the likes of the Colts, Browns, and suddenly very pedestrian Chargers?

I’m sorry to be Debbie Downer here, I really am. I’m just still extremely annoyed and frustrated with the Ravens at the moment for blowing a golden opportunity to give themselves some breathing room. The “what ifs” surrounding this team are enough to drive a purple fanatic to true Raven maniac status.

Here’s the video of Rice in the O’s hat, c/o WNST. Enjoy. I’m gonna go sulk some more.

GOOBVISION: Ravens-Bengals Preview/Andy Dalton Hate Edition

November 16, 2011

In this week’s GOOBVISION, Goob scores an exclusive interview with Bengals’ quarterback Andy Dalton, watches Pac-Man Jones make it rain, and enjoys a smooth Natty Boh.

Nest Wins Best Ravens Blog in Baltimore. Thank You!

November 16, 2011

Thank you all so much for taking the time to vote for B’More Birds’ Nest in the 2011 Baltimore Sun “Mobbie” (Most Outstanding Blogs) awards. This was our third time being nominated, but this time we finally brought home the prize!

We won’t take the title of “Best Ravens Blog” lightly. We promise to continue to bring you a great mixture of hard-hitting analysis, goofy/hilarious GOOBVISION videos, hating (mostly on Cam Cameron and the Steelers), and more of the great content you’ve come to expect here at the Nest.

Again, thank you all so much for voting for us. We’re honored and humbled.

Goob was unable to make the trip from N.C., but he was there in spirit with Nick-A-What?! and I.

NestMinder celebrating the win with Best Sports Blog winner Phil Gentile of I Hate J.J. Redick.

Ravens Suffering from Lack of Big Plays on Defense

November 15, 2011

In the Ravens’ season-opening 35-7 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, they registered four sacks and caused a whopping seven turnovers. In Week 4 against the New York Jets, the defense went off again, this time causing three turnovers and scoring touchdowns on every single one of them.

After seven games, Chuck Pagano’s defense had registered 25 sacks (3.5 per game), picked off seven passes, and recovered nine opponents’ fumbles. They were averaging over two takeaways per game, and were on pace to challenge the franchise record for sacks.

Over the last two games, though, they have managed only two sacks (one each of Ben Roethlisberger and Tarvaris Jackson), and caused one “real” turnover (the stats will show two from the Pittsburgh game, but Mike Wallace “fumbling” while running a desperation hook-and-ladder play doesn’t really count for our purposes).

The severe lack of impact plays from the defense has been a glaring problem in each of the team’s three losses.

Tennessee: 0 sacks, 1 interception, 0 fumbles

Jacksonville: 4 sacks, 0 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery

Seattle: 1 sack, 0 turnovers

In their three losses, the Ravens are averaging 1.3 sacks, 0.3 interceptions, and 0.3 fumble recoveries per game.

To contrast, in their six victories, they have 23 sacks (3.8 per game), 7 interceptions (1.2 per game), and 9 fumble recoveries (1.5 per game).

Big plays on defense have been a staple of Ravens’ teams going all the way back to Marvin Lewis’s tenure as defensive coordinator. When the team gets big plays from the “D,” they more often than not come out on top.

Is that stating the obvious? In a way, sure. Most teams that score a defensive (or special teams) touchdown or win the turnover battle by two or more will greatly improve their statistical chances of winning that particular game.

Some teams, though, are able to overcome a lack of big plays on defense and still win football games. We need look no further than our own division, where the Pittsburgh Steelers have caused only six turnovers all season (four interceptions, two fumbles), and have a turnover margin of -10 (tied for worst in the NFL with the 0-10 Indianapolis Colts), and yet boast a 7-3 record. In the NFC, the New Orleans Saints have caused only nine turnovers and sit at -5 for the season, yet they are also 7-3 and atop their division.

As evidenced by the Ravens’ numbers in their three losses, they do not yet possess the kind of offensive firepower to overcome losing the turnover battle or failing to produce impact plays on defense.

The Ravens’ biggest playmakers on defense have been uncharacteristically absent during the team’s recent 3-2 post-bye stretch of games.

Terrell Suggs: Sizzle started the season gang-busters, bringing down Ben Roethlisberger three times in the opening game. He has failed to register a single game with multiple sacks since though, managing just one each against St. Louis, Jacksonville, and Arizona, and none in the previous two games. To be fair though, Suggs did have a key interception on a tremendous play in Pittsburgh.

Ed Reed: Another guy who had a great Week 1 but has been very quiet since, the Ball Hawk hasn’t picked off a single pass since racking up two in the opening game. Reed had four total passes defended in that first game against Pittsburgh, but now has just five TOTAL for the season. Ed hasn’t made an impact play since he strip-sacked Mark Sanchez in Week 4. His eight-game streak without a pick is his longest since 2005, when he missed six games and finished the season with only one. Again to be fair, Reed got his hands on a Kevin Kolb pass in Week 8, but had his interception overturned by a terrible pass interference call on Lardarius Webb.

Lardarius Webb: Webby has had a very good season overall. He has been solid in run support and leads the team with 10 passes defended. Since interceptions in back-to-back weeks against St. Louis and New York though, he has been unable to haul in any more.

Ray Lewis: Ray had an interception in Week 1, and nearly another one on Kolb in Week 8. He only has two sacks on the season though, despite regularly rushing the passer, and none since Week 6 against Houston. Still, he played well enough to be named a 2nd-team All-Pro for the first half of the season by Pro Football Focus. His most recent game in Seattle, however, was bad enough to be called “the worst of his career” by the Baltimore Sun’s Mike Preston.

Haloti Ngata: Another guy who, along with Suggs, heard his name in the running for Defensive Player of the Year after the first quarter of the season, Ngata’s play has also dropped off. After batting down passes in Weeks 1 and 2 (both of which were intercepted), Ngata hasn’t gotten his hands on any since. Haloti forced fumbles against Pittsburgh and the Jets, and had sacks in consecutive games against New York, Houston, and Jacksonville, but has been quiet in the last three contests. He registered 11 tackles in Seattle, but most were several yards downfield.

Paul Kruger: A pleasant surprise this season has been Kruger, who has stepped up to pick up some of the slack left by the above players. The former “bust” out of Utah is second on the team with 4.5 sacks, all of which have come in the last four games.

It’s great that Kruger, and to a lesser extent, rookie Pernell McPhee (3 sacks) have stepped up and started to make plays. Also, there is of course the incessant chirping from the fan base about the misuse of Ray Rice by offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. For this team to truly get to where they want to go this year though, the Ravens’ big-name defensive players need to get back to what they do best – making big defensive plays.

The Ray Rice Factor

November 14, 2011

I am a fan, I’m not a coach. I possess a lot of football knowledge but I have actually never even played a down of organized football in my life (soccer was my fall sport). My knowledge about this gridiron game should never be even in the same ballpark as that of a professional NFL coach or coordinator. Unfortunately, it seems that with a certain coach in Baltimore, it is.

Once again the Ravens have lost to an inferior opponent and once again Ray Rice was all but eliminated from the equation. The box wasn’t stacked with nine defenders. Rice wasn’t double-teamed on passing routes. No, Ray Rice was eliminated from the game by his own team and more specifically, Cam Cameron.

In every loss this season, the same recipe for disaster has been used and each loss tastes just as horrible as the last. The Ravens were beat more by their own coaching staff and planning than they were by the opposing team. It’s no secret that this 2011 Ravens squad is inconsistent and the same can be said for the play calling. A team which drafted and groomed Rice into a top tier running back in the NFL has only called for the rush a staggering 38% of the time. The blame for this level of mismanagement can be pointed at Cam Cameron and at John Harbaugh for turning a blind eye to his ineffectiveness as a coordinator.

The solution to the Ravens’ problem is simple and can be seen by everyone except the ones wearing Motorola headsets. Keeping a defense honest and guessing is Football Offense 101; this course apparently isn’t on the curriculum at Ball So Hard University. The proof is in the pudding. Ray Rice’s three lowest rush totals of the year all came in the three losses (Ten- 13, Jax- 8, Sea-5).

In yesterday’s NFL action, let’s take a quick look at the winning teams and how often their running backs carried the ball.

OAK- Bush- 30 carries
TEN- Johnson -27 carries
PIT- Mendenhall- 16 carries
STL- Jackson- 27 carries
DAL- Murray 20 carries
JAX- Jones-Drew- 25 carries
DEN- Ball- 30 carries
MIA- Bush- 14 carries Thomas- 17 carries
NO- Thomas- 6 carries Ingram- 8 carries (Drew Brees offense)
ARI- Wells- 23 carries
HOU- Foster- 17 carries Tate- 13 carries
SEA- Lynch- 32 carries
CHI- Forte- 18 carries
SF- Gore Injured
NE- 23 combined carries between 4 RB’s

If these statistics prove anything, it’s pretty obvious that running the ball gives your team the best chance of winning. Ray Rice is arguably better than EVERY ONE of the running backs listed above. The Ravens faced a Seahawks team which finds itself 12th in the league for total rushing defense. Abandoning the run game is necessary when you’re consistently losing yardage; that wasn’t the case on Sunday.

After failing to use the shotgun formation the first few games of the season, Joe Flacco was in it most of the game Sunday. Flacco received a boost in confidence last week after a big win over Pittsburgh but it quickly was diminished after yesterday’s game plan and performance. The Ravens have the luxury of an explosive player who can make things happen if the quarterback can just hand the ball off. Cam Cameron forced Joe to throw and once again can be blamed for another horrific offensive performance.

The big picture here is that Cam Cameron can drive Ray Rice out of town. Rice is a free agent at the end of the year and instead of him simply resigning with Baltimore and not looking at other teams, he should strongly consider testing the market. The results we’ve seen from this offense has far more to do with the people designing plays and dictating game plans than it does the talent on the field. Ravens fans can only wonder if Rice wants to continue to be grounded when he knows he can help the team.

We’ll just have to wait and see, much like we’ll have to wait and see if the team has finally had enough of Cam Cameron.

Seahawks 22 Ravens 17 (The DOOMED BY DAVID AND THE D Game)

November 14, 2011

When a 6-2 NFL team goes on the road and loses to a 2-6 team, there is bound to be plenty of blame to spread around. Such was true in the case of the Ravens yesterday, as they fell to the woeful Seahawks 22-17 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. However, if you’re looking for a scapegoat at whom to direct the majority of your anger, look no further than second-year WR/kick returner David Reed.

Reed had a day he won’t soon forget – and not in a good way.

His afternoon actually started on a positive note, as he took an end-around play on the team’s opening drive 16 yards for a first down. This was just one play after fellow wideout Torrey Smith had taken an end-around the other way for an equal 16-yard gain. Unfortunately, that sequence would be pretty much the only bright spot – for Reed or for offensive coordinator Cam Cameron – all day.

After Seattle took a 7-0 lead on a 6-play, 60 yard drive, Reed took the ensuing kickoff in the end zone and decided to run it out. Then, just as he did last week in Pittsburgh, he coughed the ball up. This time, though, no friendly jerseys were there to bail him out, as the Seahawks recovered at the Ravens’ 19.

Six plays later, former Raven Steve Hauschka booted a 22-yard FG (his first of a career-high five on the day) to give Seattle a 10-0 lead.

A loud chorus of “HERE WE GO AGAIN!” could be heard echoing throughout Charm City.

In the second quarter, the Ravens began to mount their comeback. Cameron’s only other high note on the day – an option pass from Ray Rice on the 1-yard line – pulled the Ravens to within 10-7 with over nine minutes to play in the first half.

Still very much anybody’s ball game.

Alas, the vaunted Ravens’ defense – as they did for much of the day – wavered when they had a chance to seize momentum and potentially turn the game.

Seattle faced 3rd-and-9 from their own 25-yard line. A 3-and-out would have given the Ravens the ball back with favorable field position and the momentum swinging in their favor. That was not to be the case, though, as Hawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson found receiver Doug Baldin for a 50 (FIFTY!) yard gain that eventually set up another Hauschka field goal.

13-7. Again, still in this thing.

Enter David Reed.

Reed again eschewed a touchback, instead bringing the ball out of the end zone all the way to…the 20 yard line. Super. Whatever, let’s go.

Oh, wait, what’s that? Some yellow laundry on the field? An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Reed, who was so impressed by his own 20-yard freaking return that he felt compelled to TAUNT an opposing player by dropping the ball on him?

This stupid, juvenile, inexcusable mistake backed the Ravens up to their own 10-yard line, where they promptly went 3-and-out. The usually reliable Sam Koch shanked his punt to the tune of 28-yards, and it was now Seattle with the ball in Ravens’ territory and all the momentum.

Sensing a theme here? Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes.

Field goal #3 from Hauschka made it 16-7 with just under 2 minutes to play in the half. Still, the Ravens had plenty of time to drive down and at least pick up a field goal to make it a one score game heading into the locker room.

David Reed still wasn’t done though.

Trying to make up for his prior mistakes and give his team a spark, Reed again brought the ball out of the end zone. And again put it on the turf. And again Seattle recovered it.

The Seahawks managed just a single yard on the ensuing drive, but it was more than enough as Hauschka kicked a 35-yarder to make it 19-7 bad guys.

The Ravens put together a decent drive with less than a minute to work with, only to see their own kicker, Billy Cundiff, miss his second 50+ yard FG attempt of the day as time wound down in the half.

Down 19-7, Cam Cameron completely abandoned the running game (though he had already half-abandoned it when the score was about 13-7).

From there on out, Cam did all he could to try to make Joe Flacco’s arm fall off. Flacco attempted a career high 52 passes (one of which was tipped and intercepted on the opening drive of the second half, resulting in a 22-7 Seattle lead) but finished with a dismal 4.9 yards per attempt.

Joe had an up-and-down day, missing several throws that could have resulted in big plays. His receivers also once again betrayed him though, as everyone from Torrey Smith to Anquan Boldin to Ray Rice was dropping catchable passes. I counted at least 5 drops on the day.

As many have stated, Flacco and the Ravens’ receivers – while performing admirably in comeback wins over Arizona and Pittsburgh – are not yet ready to be the bread-and-butter of this offense. Nor do they have to be. The Ravens possess one of the game’s most dangerous weapons in running back Ray Rice, yet yesterday was just another game where he was a forgotten man.

In the team’s three losses this year, Rice has a grand total of 26 carries for 98 yards. He had eight carries in Jacksonville. He had FIVE yesterday in Seattle.

Now granted, the flow of the game dictated a sense of urgency that didn’t leave quite as much room to try to establish the run (wouldn’t it be nice to see this team play with a lead for once?). However, Cameron abandoned Rice entirely too early. Even against a Seattle defense that entered the game tied with the Ravens for second fewest yards-per-carry allowed, #27 needed to be more involved.

And now to chastise the Ravens’ defense a bit.

First off, kudos for holding Seattle to field goals every time they were set up with a short field. The game could have been a lot further out of hand a lot earlier had the Seahawks been able to punch in a couple of those turnovers.

Still, when the D had the chance to make a play and potentially set up another game-winning drive from Flacco, they instead floundered.

After the Ravens had pulled to within 22-17 with just under six minutes to play, all they needed was the ball back for a shot to win. Instead, the Ravens defense allowed Seattle to hold the ball for the entire rest of the game clock, twice allowing conversions on 3rd-and-5, and despite Seattle shooting themselves in the foot with consecutive penalties to open the drive at 1st-and-20 from their own 10 yard line.

For the second consecutive week, Chuck Pagano’s unit looked more like a Greg Mattison-coached one, picking up just a single sack. They weren’t able to cause a single turnover against a quarterback who entered the game with nine interceptions. They allowed 327 yards to the 29th-ranked offense in the NFL. And they let Marshawn Lynch bully them into submission with the game on the line.

Sure, they were on the field for 35 minutes, but the final six of those were all their own doing.

With another loss to a sub-.500 team, the Ravens and their fans are left again scratching their heads. You’re not going to win many games with a -3 turnover margin, that’s for damn sure. But where was the team that just finished a sweep of the Pittsburgh Steelers? Pittsburgh, by the way, beat the three teams our Ravens lost to by a combined score of 79-30.

As I said last night on twitter (@BMoreBirdsNest), maybe the Ravens should petition the league that all of their remaining opponents have to wear Steelers uniforms when they play us. Apparently that’s the only way this team can summon the level of emotion and focus necessary to win.

They sure aren’t making things easy on themselves, but all is not lost. No team in the AFC has fewer than three losses. If the Ravens could have beaten even one of these inferior teams, they’d still be holding onto the #1 seed after Week 10. Instead, they’ve set themselves up for yet another dogfight down the stretch. They still hold the tiebreaker over the Steelers. Taking care of business at home the next two weeks against Cincinnati and San Francisco (combined record 14-4 – hey, we’re good against good teams!) will go a long way toward helping the fan base regain our sanity.

These are kind of losses that can very easily come back to haunt the team in January though. There’s no getting around that.

GOOBVISION: Instant Reaction to Another Loss to a Crappy Team

November 14, 2011

The Ravens laid ANOTHER egg against a crap opponent on the road. Fans don’t know what to make of this team, and our frustration is starting to boil over…


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