I’m not hungover…I’m not hungover
After a night of binge drinking, you can wake up in the morning and look yourself in the mirror and say “I’m not hungover” as many times as you want – the fact of the matter is, your head will still hurt.
That seems to be about what happened to the Ravens this week. They spent all week saying the right things after their week 1 win over Pittsburgh – there will be no hang over, no let down, every week is different in the NFL, yadda, yadda, yadda.
Coach John Harbaugh even chastised one unlucky reporter who used the “L” word, completely dismissing any notion that his team would suffer a drop in intensity or execution at LP Field in Nashville.
Which is, of course, exactly what happened.
All credit to the Tennessee Titans, of course, who thoroughly beat the Ravens up and down the field for four quarters on Sunday. Ravens fans are left scratching their heads this Monday morning, as it will take quite a bit of convincing to make us believe that the team we saw take on the Titans is the same group of guys that beat the Steelers handily a week prior.
Sometimes the stats of a game don’t tell the whole story. Yesterday’s numbers pretty much paint an accurate picture:
- First downs: Titans 21 Ravens 15
- Total yards: Titans 432 Ravens 229
- Passing yards: Titans 358 Ravens 184
- Third down conversions: Titans 7/17 (41%) Ravens 3/10 (30%)
- Sacks: Titans 3 Ravens 0
- Time of possession: Titans 35:22 Ravens 24:08
- Turnovers: Titans 1 Ravens 3
Whooped in every aspect of the game. All the questions that fans and media had about this team coming into the season – how will they pressure the quarterback? How will the secondary hold up? Will the new receivers and Joe Flacco be on the same page? What about the new-look offensive line? – that seemed to all be answered in resounding positive fashion a week ago, are now all suddenly right back on the table.
Titans’ quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw 42 passes and was not sacked even once. A far cry from the three sacks and constant pressure the Ravens managed against Ben Roethlisberger.
With Chris Carr and Jimmy Smith missing the game due to injury, Hasselbeck and receivers Kenny Britt (9 catches, 135 yards, 1 TD) and Nate Washington (7/99) had their way with the Ravens’ secondary.
All the speed that the Ravens put on display in the opener was nowhere to be found in Nashville. Just like last year, B’More route runners were getting no separation down the field in the routes, and as a result we saw the same happy-feet, indecisive Flacco that we saw in 2009 and 2010. Lee Evans is obviously not playing at 100%, and Anquan Boldin continues to be Mr. Drop-balls-in-the-end-zone.
Guard Ben Grubbs missed the first game of his Ravens career, and was replaced by Mark LeVoir. The results were less than stellar, but LeVoir wasn’t the only problem. Pretty much every offensive lineman with the exception of Marshal Yanda took a step backward yesterday; Bryant McKinnie was nowhere near the mauler he was a week ago, and Michael Oher reverted back to his old false-starting ways (two flags) after successfully waiting for the ball to be snapped to move all last week. There were no holes for running back Ray Rice to scoot through, and the Titans were getting good pressure on Flacco all afternoon – sometimes with only three rushers.
The Ravens defense couldn’t get off the field on third down – especially in the second half, with the game still very much in the balance – or convert their own attempts on offense. Cam Cameron, who looked like a genius a week ago, had some of the questionable play calls we’ve come to expect from him over the years. A throwback pass to Ed Dickson on 3rd-and-2 jumps immediately to mind – wasn’t the focus during the offseason to improve the power and short-yardage running game? You’ve got Ray Rice and Vonta Leach…jam the ball in there and get two damn yards!
Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano looked like a genius against Pittsburgh, but he was unable to get consistent pressure on Hasselbeck all afternoon. Hasselbeck seemed to know exactly when and from where the Ravens were blitzing, again and again throwing quick passes to the opposite side from which the pressure was coming. With Ravens corners (especially Lardarius Webb) playing 8-10 yards off the line of scrimmage, Britt was able to turn 1-yard passes into good gains on several occasions.
All the good feelings and momentum the Ravens cultivated in their week 1 win are now a thing of the past. The Steelers – as everyone knew they would – handled the Seattle Seahawks easily. The entire AFC North is now 1-1. The Ravens go back to the drawing board, where they need to figure out what the difference in their play was between week 1 and week 2. The early returns indicate that we could be in for yet another season of maddening inconsistency from a team that has the talent to be much better.
S.I. Cover Jinx. I’m a believer.