So how did that go? The Baltimore Ravens were embarrassed in front of their home fans as the Denver Broncos showed everyone the difference between a playoff contender and a playoff pretender. The Broncos are the former and the Ravens, alas, are the obvious latter.
The final score of 34-17 wasn't anywhere near a close as it might look. This was a blowout of epic proportions, magnified by the fact that Baltimore needed to rebound after two straight disappointing losses and the AFC North title hanging in limbo.
The hilarious thing is that the Ravens will more than likely be shoved from behind through the door into the playoffs even if they end the regular season with five losses in a row, which now appears a very real and scary possibility. Denver is proving they are among the top three teams in the AFC along with the New England Patriots and Houston Texans, but the drop-off to the Ravens and the rest of the conference is huge and apparent.
For all intents and purposes, this game was over just before halftime, when just another poorly thrown Joe Flacco pass was picked off by Broncos CB Chris Harris and returned 98 yards for the back-breaking touchdown, when it appeared a Ravens TD would cut the deficit to only 10-7 at halftime.
With three timeouts at the time, there is every reason to question why didn't the Ravens call timeout instead of forcing a play to be started that never got untracked as Flacco stubbornly tried to get the ball to a receiver that was nowhere near being open. Give Joe credit for chasing Harris the full length of the field, diving at his heels at the goal line and lying motionless on the field for a while after the scoring play was complete.
Noticeable was than no teammate came ove to his side to see if he was okay and he was force to take the walk of shame across the field to the sideline under a chorus of justifiable boos. At this point, it appeared, his teammates had abandoned him and were as upset at the play as the 70,000+ fans in attendance.
Blame Cam Cameron, Jim Caldwell, John Harbaugh, the offensive line, the defense, Edgar, Allen or Poe if you want, but the blame has to be placed at the feet of the quarterback. With pressure to prove he isnot the obstacle to the offense's success, Flacco needed to have a statement game, and he failed to answer the call when he needed it the most.
His first half was atrocious and the statistics bear it out in black and white. Seven for fifteen for 78 yards and one interception, translating to a painful-to-even-type-here QB Rating of 34.9. Forget about his final numbers of 20 for 40 for 254 yards, 2-TDs, 1-INT and a 76.5 QB Rating, as most of those completions, yards and rating came when the outcome of the game was long over.
Obviously, there is a ton of blame to go around in this game. You could close your eyes and spin around in the locker room and throw a stick and hit someone who should hang his head in shame. However, this was not a situation where you could place it on the play-calling despite some questionable decisions.
Somewhere, Cam Cameron is smiling and perhaps even laughing.