I woke up this morning and told my wife I just had the worst nightmare. Wait, it wasn't a bad dream!? Could that have been the most embarrassing display of professional football ever seen on Monday Night Football for all the nation to witness? Even former Steer great Mel Blount called the Ravens out, saying something to the tune of that they were supposed to be professionals and they looked pitiful.
At the aftergame report on ESPN, While Emmitt Smith said that the Ravens performance was "pathetic," Steve Young characterized it as "typical." Typical stings more than pathetic, as the Ravens' offensive performance was not significantly different than it has been all season. While Ben Roethlisberger and James Harrison were setting records in the first half last night, Ravens QB Steve McNair was quietly setting his own record. He now has the rights to the record of completing at least 13 passes for the fewest yards in NFL history (63). Put that in your resume', Stevie!
Now a national TV audience has witnessed what we Ravens fans have seen all season long. McNair is done. He is only 34 years old, but plays like an old man. He takes forever to set up in the pocket, runs like he's got two broken hips, and throws like he can barely lift his arm to shoulder level. It's sad, because he had a decent year last season and now can't seem to throw the ball straight more than a few yards downfield. His longest pass ATTEMPT last night was nine yards! As bad as backup Kyle Boller has been in his Ravens career, he always had a strong arm and good legs. That alone should result in a switch in QB's.
The frustration that I felt obviously was felt by the defense as well. Constantly put in the position of the offense giving the Steelers the short field, they were unable to overcome the loss of both starting cornerbacks, and wow, did Roethlisberger take advantage of that (unfortunately, those two TD passes to Santonio Holmes beat my fantasy team this week as well!). Both Bart Scott and Ed Reed were leveled by Hines Ward on highlight reel blocks. While the Terrell Suggs hit/push on Roethlisberger that put him out of the game for awhile was absolutely legal, it just wasn't necessary and was most likely fueled by frustration.
Give the Ravens defense the credit for never giving up. They held Willie Parker to under two yards per carry, but their backup cornerbacks looked lost and confused all night. Ray Lewis kept sticking his helmet in their faces, trying to motivate them, but it wasn't going to matter. They just couldn't keep up with the Steelers receivers and it certainly didn't help that whenever the Ravens looked like they were going to get the sack, Big Ben escaped and rolled out until his receivers broke into the open for big gains and, oh yes, FIVE touchdown passes (in the first half!).
Regardless of the loss of playmakers due to injury, the rustiness of the offensive line, the rain and the return of the Steeler great of yore- the Ravens still should have shown up and made it a game. They were unable to produce anything other than a surprising TD run by Willis MsGahee late in the first half and may have lost him for awhile to a concussion. Gee, what would that do to the Ravens offense?
Where do they go from here? After the emotional frustrations subside (will they ever?), the Ravens will have to begin to prepare for another game and should quickly get a case of amnesia from this game as there is nothing to gain from the tape (please NFL Network, don't replay it!).
Over the rest of the week, I will offer Coach Brian Billick and GM Ozzie Newsome the valuable information that they can use to salvage this season and determine its needs for the offseason, that unfortunatley will start a little earlier this year than last.