When you win most of games close and ugly, you have no margin for error within the game itself. And the odds will eventually catch up to you. We saw that in Philadelphia and we saw it home yesterday. Of the Ravens twelve games this season, only four of them have been decisive one way or the other. And the other eight were not pretty. And we won six of those eight, while two of them we dropped the ball. Not pretty.
Not much good came out of yesterday’s game so there is not much here.
Arthur Jones had a good game. At first I thought it was San Diego’s absolutely awful O-line but it seems to be coming together for him.
Vonte Leach. Had some really nice plays. Problem is, when you run him on an eleven yard flare, while pretty, he then needs to come out more times than not. I get the whole "take what the defense gives you", but too many passes to him. One or two a game; the rest of the way he needs to be a road-grader.
Acrobatic interceptions. A couple of really nice plays in snagging the ball away from Pittsburgh.
Pass Blocking. Flacco was under way too much pressure. No chance to get an offensive rhythm going.
Dropped balls. Too many dropped balls. A couple of missed first downs and a touchdown. And there was no separation, again. Too many defenders were able to make too many plays on breaking up passes.
Flacco. When he did have time he missed. This is two weeks now where he has not been not very accurate. Flacco has flaws but accuracy has not been one of them. Lower completion percentage has mostly been on his receivers dropping the ball and not getting separation thereby forcing Joe to throw into tight windows. And of course the two turnovers. The second one was a combination of the O-line not doing their job and Joe not feeling the pressure; the first one was an ill-fated decision to try to make something out of nothing. Anytime you try to float a ball while a defender is hanging on you, nothing good happens. Very Testaverde-ish. Throw it into the third row.
The defense. No tackling. How many yards did Steeler running backs gain after initial contact? Wrap up and tackle; no excuse. Also, way too many Steeler receivers running free and clear in the Baltimore secondary –what was up with that?
Coaching. Steeler defense may be good, but that does not mean you abandon the run from the get go. You impose your will on that defense. Or at least try. 20 rushes? Ray Rice only getting 14 touches? And that is with the Ravens only ever being down by 3, and leading most of the time. 20 rushes and 14 touches are numbers you expect if you are getting blown out, not winning most of the game. Start the game off with six straight pass attempts? C’mon, enough with the too clever by half horse hockey.
And that challenge? Everybody and their brother knew that wasn’t going to get overturned. Wasted a timeout that we desperately needed in the last two minutes. And finally, this team was not ready for a desperate, cornered Pittsburgh team. We were goaded into too many unforced errors. Where was the instilled discipline?
Officiating. The Ravens didn’t lose because of poor officiating. But we did not do ourselves any favors, and the refs were idiots. First, the obvious too quick of a whistle on the Flacco "sack" –in the grasp my tuckus.
And the personal fouls are becoming legendary now. Instead of punting from mid-field with a chance to pin Pittsburgh inside their own five, Pittsburgh gets the ball back around their own 20. And of course Kruger. This is twice now, late in a game where he does something really stupid. Who knows if Pittsburgh is able to get close enough without that penalty. 1st-and-10 from the 34 is very different than 1st-and-10 from the 19. Ravens could stuff them; maybe get a turnover; or a holding penalty pushes the Steelers back –who knows? And anything can happen in overtime.
Ravens are now 9-3 heading into the final quarter of the season with an extra home game on tap next Sunday down in Raljon. The Redskins actually have a pretty good team this season what with RGIII. Ravens had better bring their A-game and not their normal road effort or they will let another close game slip through their fingers.
Despite the bitter lose yesterday, I still like the Ravens chances against Washington and I like our division/playoff chances. We have no margin of error left for the #2 seed, but we have an easier schedule than New England and we get Denver at home. It will take a lot better effort down the stretch, but I think we can still get the #2 seed.