At some point during every football season, you become exposed. Your team is no longer riding high in statistical categories. You team is essentially the product that is on the field. No more, no less. What we witnessed on the field last night was by no means a team destined for a Super Bowl. It was team who couldn’t stop Matt Ryan and the Falcons, and got “Dougie”-d out of the Georgia Dome, 26-21.
It has been written by almost every journalist and blogger alike that the Ravens are a NOTORIOUSLY slow starting team. How can this still be the case for John Harbaugh and OC Cam Cameron? Why has this habit not be given the methodone clinic treatment is beyond me, but it was on display again as Joe Flacco couldn’t get the offense going and miscues led to the Ravens being down 10-0 at the half. Trading punches early in the game eventually led to Matt Ryan striking first with a 91 yards march down the field and the Ravens’ secondary spring leaks. Getting burnt all night like a forest fire wasn’t enough for DB Lardarius Webb. He decided to make a donation on a punt return by fumbling the ball. The Ravens were able to keep the damage to a field goal but the damage was done in the turnover differential department.
The Ravens offense woke up in the second half only after Flacco donated an interception on his first play from the locker room. Either he was color blind or reading was not fundamental because CB Brent Grimes just said “thank you.” Just as Flacco would get his squad back in the game, the defense would buckle at the knees. The rush D held the Falcons running game to 60 yards for the game, but the pass D was non-existent as they allowed Ryan throw for 302 yards. Ryan sometimes had time to check his 5th option and tie his shoe laces before throwing a dime. Fabian Washington, Josh Wilson, Haruki Nakamura and Webb took turns getting run over in the intersection for not looking before crossing. But Flacco played his “Joe Cool” and put the Ravens on his back and arm to a third TD, leading 21-10 with 65 seconds left on the clock.
1 minute and 5 seconds is long time for a QB like Matt Ryan. Those 65 seconds unfolded like a car crash unfolding in front of you as you try to avoid it. Heart is racing. You think the game is sealed because the Ravens are a defensive team first. They live for this type of situation. But the game unfolded as follows: a sack by Terrell Suggs; suspect “catch” by Michael Jenkins; penalty; questionable blitzes by Greg Mattison resulting in none-on-one coverage; retread secondary; and a TD by Roddy White with a no call push on Wilson. Game over.
Where does this leave the Ravens? Are they a re-branded “package” that is nonetheless the same weak “package” it was last year (The Wire – 2nd season)? Were the rankings a smoke screen over a secondary that is no better than last year? With all the offensive acquisitions, why do they continue to have slow starts? Can any of the receivers play defensive back? Are the Ravens nothing but quarter-horses trying to run with thoroughbreds? It will be a long 10 days to digest this loss and come up with viable answers.
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Written by Lea Anderson