In a game that was about as exciting as watching paint dry, the Ravens survived their first trip to the west coast this season, holding on to beat the San Francisco 49ers by the yawn-inducing score of 9-7 (Not quite the 20-17 “Barn-burner” predicted here, but a nail-biter nonetheless). It was the first time since the Super Bowl season of 2000 that the Ravens had won a game in which they managed to score solely by the leg of Matt Stover. The offense managed to move the ball fairly effectively, racking up 314 total yards, but – and stop me if you’ve heard this one before – failed to convert for TDs in their 2 red zone opportunities. The Ravens are now a dismal 5 for 16 in the red zone this year (28th in the NFL). Until things change, the Nest will now refer to the area inside the 20 yard line as the “dead zone” as it applies to the Ravens.
Luckily, the defense was up to the task of stopping the absolutely TERRIBLE 49er offense, led by backup QB Trent Dilfer. Give a degree of credit to the Ravens defense, who had their best game of the season to date, but lets call a spade a spade: the Niner offense was anemic. Several times during the first half, the home crowd booed the 49ers playcalling on offense (sound familiar?), as the coaching staff was clearly afraid to let Dilfer even begin to let loose against the purple and black. The Ravens, to their credit, took advantage of the overmatched Niner O, sacking Dilfer 3 times and picking him off once. Of course, the secondary had their usual brain-farts (as foreseen by the Nest), allowing Dilfer to throw for 42 and 23 yards on consecutive plays in the 4th quarter, the latter for the TD that made it a one-score ballgame.
Injuries were again a story, this time on the offensive line as Mike Flynn and Adam Terry both went out. Filling in were Marshall Yanda, Ben Grubbs, and Jared Gaither, who, along with Chris Chester and Jason Brown, played remarkably well for a group having only 8 total years experience between the 5 of them. As of this writing, little has been disclosed about either injury, save that Brian Billick seemed to hint that Terry’s was the more serious of the two. Terry had been doing a terrific job of filling in for perennial Hall of Famer Jon Ogden, who may now be forced to come back sooner than he had expected to. Lets hope there has been significant healing since we last saw J.O. on September 10 in Cincinnati, so he is able to rejoin the lineup at near full strength.
There isn’t a whole lot more to say about the game itself – it was a snoozer, the Ravens did just enough to win, and still needed Joe Nedney to miss a 53 yard field goal attempt late in the 4th quarter to avoid having to put together a waning-moment score to win.
The Nest wonders: Could the problems in the Ravens secondary be partly attributed to the Ravens offense? Not that we are looking to blame everything on the offense and absolve the D of all responsibility, but think about it: If the D is never tested in practice by a Ravens passing game that is completely unable to stretch the field, find holes in coverage, and fit passes into the 10-20 yard range, might that make it difficult for the Ravens defensive coaches to diagnose problems in coverage schemes, communication, etc? Does the fact that they never see them in practice make it more likely that the Ravens cover guys (especially the younger, inexperienced ones) will be beat on WR double moves come game day? Thoughts, Nestgoers?