It was there. It was there for the taking. And Mason is one-thousand percent correct. On with the internal soul searching…
Suggs. He is playing the best football of his career right now. Special Teams. Cundiff is the best all-around kicker in the NFL right now. I understand Harbs reticence in not going for the field goal at the end to tie for a number of reasons- might miss which may mess Cundiff up down the road; giving the ball back to Ben-Ben even if the kick is good; numerous others. But part of me just doesn’t know –guess that is why we have blogs such as this so we can second guess coaches no matter what they do. Koch is booming the punts; and the coverage and return teams have shown steady improvement. Yeah P-burgh did break off one decent return –but they are professionals over on the P-burgh side also; overall, I did not see too many missed assignments on either the coverage or the return teams. And I really liked the out-of-this-world-gutsy call of fake FG on what- a fourth and nine deep in your own territory? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Maybe a little too risky… but I did like the imagination.
First, second half clock management- the early timeout called in the second half and then a defensive TO?. WTF??? That severally limited our options at end of the game.
Second, penalties. We committed too many stupid-stupid-stupid-stupid penalties and could have been flagged a few more times. One of the few times this year self-inflicted (as opposed to referee caused) penalties have been an issue. Hopefully it is an anomaly.
The O-Line. Flacco was running for his life the entire night and they did zippy, ZIPPY for the running game. MaLoR and I could have been just as effective run-blocking as those wearing Ravens uniforms Sunday night. I know P-burgh has the number one ranked run defense, but if our O-Line is going to keep growing, evolving into the elite unite we all believe it could be, it needs to turn in better efforts than Sunday night. And allowing Troy unfettered access to Joe’s blindside is inexcusable no matter much longer Troy’s hair has grown…
But I believe the problem lies deeper with the O-Line. Much like a lung cancer victim in most cases can point to smoking as the “main catalyst”, there are usually other mitigating factors such as unhealthy lifestyle, excessive alcohol consumption, lack of exercise and adequate sleep, improper diet, etc, etc. The analogy is the offensive linemen’s own performance is the “main catalyst”, and there are other “mitigating” factors such as the inability to correct an improperly called protection scheme for any given play; inflexible game plan (yes I am throwing Cam back under the bus); (not) allowing Flacco more options at the line of scrimmage when he makes his initial and subsequent reads. I believe Mason kind of summed this with his rant in what he is trying to say is, allow us the players, to have a bigger say in what goes on with the offense. We are being held back and misdirected by our own coaches.
In terms of the overall poor performance of the O-Line, I cite as evidence: look at the plays in which the Ravens blitz and yet P-burgh picks it up *perfectly* and yet look at the plays in which P-burgh blitzes and achieves pressure on Flacco either by sacking him of rushing his pass attempt. And we are suppose to have the better O-line-! Not on Sunday night. Even with all their injuries one would get the impression that P-burgh had the hyped-up O-line and our O-Line is the one suffering all the injuries.
The entire O-line schema is just messed up right now. I believe that is what is holding our offense back. Scoring only ten points and losing the ToP battle, at home, is inexcusable. (i.e. scoring ten points on offense while holding onto the ball for nearly forty minutes while the other team only scores three points –that is okay in my book).
Hopefully this team will get really, really angry, wake up out of their collective funk, and go on roll to close out the regular season. They seem to play better when they are angry and maybe a tough road game at Houston will be the bitter medicine this team needs right now. The Texans are no push-over. Beatable, but not a cupcake. Schaub and ‘Dre “TKO” Johnson are arguably the hottest hookup in the NFL right now –hotter than a Ben late night women’s bathroom stall hookup. The Ravens are going to need to get on that aforementioned roll right quick because 11-5 may not be enough for a WC in the AFC this year. And I would still be nervous going into week 17 sitting at 11-4 knowing that 12-4 may go to tie-breakers to see who gets in.
Gonna suck being a Bungles fan this weekend…