Wow. What does one even say after a game like that? Let me start off by saying that this loss is a real tough one. It's one of those games where everything goes right and the Ravens still manage to lose. As Ravens fans we have become quite acclimated to this type of game during the Flacco/Harbaugh era (see 2011 AFC Championship). It has to be one of the most frustrating feelings in the world to watch your favorite team battle it out over the course of a 60 minute game, do everything (seemingly) necessary to win, and then screw the pooch.
I'm not going to be one of those fans who solely accredits a loss to poor officiating, but anyone who says the refs had no influence on this game would be a little more than delirious. However, what led to the eventual demise of the Baltimore Ravens in this game was the stale, predictable play-calling and failure to make adjustments by none other than our good friend, Cam Cameron. While some may argue that everyone could be the greatest Offensive Coordinator in the league if they were calling the game in retrospect, there were moments when even I knew exactly what to look for on the next play. Lo and behold the failed, forced incompletions on 3rd & short kept piling up.
Let's take a look at this dreadful performance by analyzing each and every single one of Cam Cameron's playcalling gaffes.
It's early in the second quarter, the game is tied 7 points apiece, and the Baltimore Ravens face a critical 3rd and 4 situation on their own 43-yard-line. Three out of last four plays have been short passes to the left for gains of 4-6 yards. The Ravens need to pick up four more yards to pick up a first down to get the momentum swinging in their favor. I would have to say the old expression "going back to the well one too many times" applies here. Cam Cameron calls a short pass to *gasp* the left side of the field, and who would've thunk it; the defense caught on and forced an incompletion. To cap off this wildly ineffective drive, the Ravens failed to convert a fake punt to Sean Considine, turning the ball over on downs giving the Eagles great field position. Wonderful.
But that's alright, the Ravens score on their next drive to put them up 14-7. All is forgiven right? Wrong. After forcing a three-and-out the Baltimore Ravens get the ball back on their own 43 with roughly seven minutes remaining in the 2nd quarter. After rushing the ball for a combined 8 yards the previous two plays, Baltimore faces a 3rd and 2 situation. Instead of relying on the best FB/HB combination in the league to rush the ball forward for a gain of two yards, Cam Cameron decides to call yet another short pass to the left intended to Ray Rice. It doesn't work. The Ravens are forced to punt the ball away again.
The Ravens force a turnover and look primed to cash in with two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the 2nd quarter. Baltimore picks up 11 yards on a pass to Torrey Smith and another 16 on a majestic run by Ray Rice. 1st and 10 on Baltimore's 36-yard-line. Incomplete short pass to the left to Dennis Pitta. 2nd and 10. Three yard gain on a Ray Rice reception. 3rd and 7. What do the Ravens do here? If you guessed "try to force a short pass to the left", you are probably catching on to how the Baltimore Ravens' offense works. The Ravens pick up 2 yards on this predictable call, and are forced to punt away the ball again.
The Ravens get the ball back with 9 seconds left on the Philadelphia 38-yard-line looking to score more points before heading into the locker room. Leave it to Cam Cameron to try to dial up a short pass play to the left side of the field one more time before the second half. After picking up no yardage (you don't say?) on a short pass to the left to Anquan Boldin, Justin Tucker drilled a beautiful 56 yard field goal to give the Baltimore Ravens a 17-7 lead to close out the first half of football.
Baltimore receives the ball to start of the second half of play, looking to build on a 17-7 lead. After about a minute the Ravens find themselves in another 3rd and 2 situation. Do I even need to say it? Cam Cameron elects to call a short pass to the left to try to pick up the 1st down, and it is intercepted by Demeco Ryans. To add onto that, Ray Rice decided it would be a good idea to get a little chippy with Philadelphia's defense which resulted in an unnecessary roughness call which tacked 15 more yards onto the Eagles' field position, starting them off at the Baltimore 42-yard-line.
Three minutes, and an Eagles' touchdown later, the Baltimore Ravens get the ball back. To start the drive off, Joe Flacco throws two incompletions. It's now 3rd and 10. "Short pass to the left you say? Sounds like a splendid idea" is what I imagine Cam Cameron was thinking here. Joe Flacco throws an incompletion to Torrey Smith, and the Ravens have to punt it away yet again.
After the Eagles kick a field goal to tie the game up 17-17, Baltimore receives the ball. Two plays and 8 yards later, the Ravens are in another 3rd and 2 situation. Joe Flacco's short pass to the left, intended for Ed Dickson, falls short. Shocker.
Baltimore gets the ball back with two-and-a-half minutes left in the 3rd quarter after an impressive three-and-out by the defense, and you will never guess what happens next. It is 3rd and 1 and Joe Flacco fires an incomplete short pass to the left, intended for Anquan Boldin. Oh, that's what you guessed would happen? Well this isn't a game show.
To cap off the first drive of the 4th quarter, Justin Tucker hits another field goal to put the Ravens up 20-17. (A drive which consisted of two incomplete short passes to the left, no less). Baltimore gets the ball back with nine-and-a-half minutes remaining and hit another field goal to put them up 23-17. This drive should've ended in a touchdown, but thanks to poor officiating the Ravens had to settle for a field goal.
Philly scores a touchdown to put them up 24-23 with 2 minutes remaining in the game. The Baltimore Ravens have a golden chance to get into field goal range to let Justin Tucker win the game. After a few completions an illegal contact penalty, the Ravens find themselves with a first down on their 37-yard-line. 1st and 10. Incompletion to the deep left. 2nd and 10. 9 yard completion to Dennis Pitta to the short left. 3rd and 1. Incomplete short pass to the left. 4th and 1. Incomplete short pass to the right (shaking it up a bit, huh Cam?). Eagles Win 24-23.
There is absolutely zero excuse for not running the ball on one of the last two plays. You need one yard, and you have the best FB/HB duo in the league. Ten out of ten times you have to run the ball in this situation, and yet Cam Cameron insisted on forcing the pass. And because of his ignominious playcalling ability, the Ravens failed to pick up the first down, not one but, two times! This is absolutely absurd. By no means is this an acceptable outcome, and as Ravens fans we should not settle for this poor excuse of an offensive coordinator.
It should be clear and simple to every Ravens fan out there; Cam Cameron lost this game for the Ravens. End of discussion.