You know that feeling you get when your kid admits to you that they did something really stupid; not life-threatening, but really insipid nevertheless? That is essentially the same feeling as Monday night. You warn them about such-and-such (i.e. a trap game), and they still pull a bone-headed stunt- like get a 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty that directly leads to an opposing FG; or attempt an onside kick when a touch-back would have sufficed -more on that gem later. Or, try to field a punt on the hop when THREE tacklers are closing in on you.
Really? You really thought that was a good idea at the time, son?
Torrey Smith. To his credit, he didn't stop fighting, even mixed it up a bit- took a little umbrage. I like the aggressiveness and toughness out of the rookie. Just don't get flagged…
We did generate a decent pass rush so that was a strong positive. And technically the defense did not give up any TD's -only 12 points. That is a positive. Yeah, I am reaching a bit...
Ray Rice. Had tennis rackets for hands in terms of holding onto the ball. Very uncharacteristic for him. And receivers in general- yes Flacco was off the mark most of the night (more on that), but they dropped too many balls.
Billy Cundiff. If he nails that FG, very different ballgame.
Overall offensive execution. It would be tempting to lay all of this at Cam's and/or Joe's feet. And Joe's fumble was pretty bad/ugly. And the game ending pick was Joe's fault. But let us go back in time to the overall execution, and lack thereof, by the offensive unit. Cam may of called a good game or a bad game -who cares as it is damn near hard to tell given that they had something like zero net offensive yards and zero first downs until midway through the third quarter! They are professionals for gosh sake -act like it! It is the NFL- you can trip over your own feet three times in a row and get a first down at some point. How hard can it be? Don't answer that...
The offensive unit looked like a bunch of hung-over fraternity league flag footballers at an 8AM Saturday morning game after a Friday night that was "one for the ages". None of them were in sync, none of them could run block or pass block or catch or not hold. Joe would have been better served by ignoring the playbook, drawing the plays in the dirt and then trying to tell everybody where to go... just abysmal execution.
You have got to keep your composure. You cannot get a 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty and tossed from the game. No excuse for that. Even if it was a lame call. Which leads to-
Penalties in general. The ones we legitimately committed cannot continue to be committed. The offensive holding killed us. And then there were phantom penalties by the refs like the leading with the helmet by Pollard. That was not leading, that was textbook tackling! Pollard lead with the shoulder pad and hit him in the numbers. And that was a third down stop. Instead, Jax kicks a FG. And how does the ref miss the delay of game on Jacksonville’s last kickoff? The fix was in, I tell ya… follow the money as they say. Somebody made a killing by taking Jacksonville Monday night. Where’s Hal Holbrook when you need him?
The "hurry-up" offense. I put it in quotes because it was anything but. What the heck was going on with that? You are supposed to call two or three plays at a time so that as soon as the previous play ends, you get up to the line of scrimmage and go. It seemed like it was taking forever for the plays to get in from the sideline and then forever to get everybody set. We should have scored that TD around 2:30, not 2:02.
And now we come to the epitome of last night’s game. Why would you call for an onside kick? Even if the ball touches the 45, we get it at the about the 42 (about where Ruki stepped out of bounds), with 2:02 left. High risk for minimal reward: if Cundiff boots it out of the end zone, Jax gets it at the 20. Assuming we stop them which is a very reasonable assumption since we did indeed stop them. Would have prevented another Jax FG. They would have had to punt from inside their own 30. Assume a net of 40+, we get it around our 30, with about 1:40 left. So all an onside kick would have done is gotten us ten or twelve or so more yards and twenty some odd seconds, and the two-minute warning time-out. Given my touchback scenario, Ravens down 9-7, first and ten at about our 30 with 1:40 to go, no timeouts. VERY DO-ABLE!!! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, HARBS???????????? And the really bad part, the part that is still killing me about that call, is that it was actually a very good onside kick play that now everybody has seen. That should have been saved for when we really needed a must-have onside kick –not a situation where, at least, the argument could have been made for a touchback.
Now we welcome the Arizona Cardinals to Baltimore. Joe has got to play a whole bunch better. He was off the mark most of the night. Still moved around the pocket well, but ball security is still an issue. It appears to these novice eyes that teams are trying to apply pressure straight up the middle as opposed to the edges to get into Joe’s face. Defenses seem to think Joe is most vulnerable to pressure up the middle. Joe is in a funk right now. He has had some good games and some bad games, and even been up-and-down within games. He has been the 'Pictionary' definition of "consistently inconsistent". Ever the optimist (or if you prefer spin-meister), I hope that game-ending pick wakes Joe up. I hope he suddenly had an epiphany, and he snaps out of this funk. Sometimes, you do not realize how bad you are doing until you have a true shock to the system. I hope this was it. Joe is going to keep seeing Cover-2 again and again and again and again. The two Cincy games will be exact duplicates of that Jax defense –count on it.
But it is not all Joe’s fault. Like I mentioned above, plenty of blame to go around on all facets of the offense for the stinky pile of doggy doughnuts laid Monday night. The entire offense needs to get it together. Here’s a quarter, please go buy a clue on how to block. ANY BLOCKING, please. Just knock the snot out of the guy in front of you for Pete’s sake. And Ray Rice needs to contract a quick case of amnesia and just forget about Monday night, and use a little more "3M Spray Mount Adhesive" on his hands.
The other wince I have is that P-burgh is now in first place. So we are going to have to deal with all them, over here now. The good news, we still control our destiny.
That destiny starts with this short week. I am glad it is a short week. The Ravens need to be run very hard during practice this week, and then thrown right back into the maelstrom against Arizona. We have to learn how to prepare, again; how not to take teams lightly, again; and play like we have been there, again.
Bottom line, we just never got off the plane Monday. Maybe it was the time zone change… oh, that’s right… They gotta correct this quickly, and bring this puppy home. And it all starts Sunday against Arizona.