Ravens' offensive struggles make it hard to celebrate win

Rob Carr

Defense forces three interceptions, provides good field position for struggling offense who barely use it to their benefit.

"A win is a win" especially in the National Football League.

Waking up this morning was a little bit easier after a win, but Sunday's 20-17 overtime thriller against the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals certainly shed a few years off of my life. However, in the end, nothing really changed offensively to give me confidence that the Ravens have turned the corner into a legitimate contender.

This game was a 69-minute roller coaster ride, and it's one I'd rather not ever go on again. But there's just something about it that makes me want to endure this rigorous soap opera each and every Sunday.

After losing the past three games by a collective total of 11 points, being on the right side of the final score was nice, but it didn't have to go down the way it did. The Ravens' defense played out of their mind, clearly showing it is not at fault for the team's underachieving first half of the season.

Speaking of first halves, the Ravens' offense got off to a surprisingly good start. Having averaged an abysmal 7.875 points in the first half over their first eight games, the 17-0 lead they took into the locker room at halftime was encouraging. However, it would be the Bengals who would repay the favor to the Ravens offense, shutting them out in the second half.

Even though the result of the game meant the Ravens could add another tally to the win column, it's hard for me to drop my guard given the way the offensive struggles continue. The finger should primarily be pointed toward the offensive line, which seams to be the stream that crap continues to flow down, stinking up all other subsequent areas of the unit.

If quarterback Joe Flacco can survive the rest of the season without having his ribs broken, I'll be shocked.

Flacco was sacked five times on the afternoon, collecting a total of six quarterback hits. Could you imagine how many No. 5 imprints would have been on the turf at M&T Bank Stadium had Geno Adkins not torn his Achilles tendon?

Once again, the run game essentially hit a brick wall, continuing to the embarrassing under-utilization of talent in the Ravens backfield. The only encouraging takeaway was that running back Bernard Pierce was able to break off 3.9 yards-per-carry, but at the same time only had a long run of nine yards. As for Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice, the line has essentially demoralized him, having only 31 yards on 18 carries (1.7 yards-per-carry).

Rice was (and I think still can be) a Pro Bowl back (next year), and the offensive line broke him.

With the victory, the Ravens can go on to fight another day as they sit only 1.5 games behind the Bengals for the lead in the AFC North. While being in the divisional race is nice, at this point, this team still can't even be considered a legitimate threat given the way their offense has preformed thus far, primarily because a play doesn't have time to develop after the ball is snapped.

Maybe I'm holding this team to too much of a high standard, but having a solid victory over a good team shouldn't be too much to ask, especially with the talent and playmakers that are on this roster. I've always heard the saying that "football is won in the trenches" and until this season, I never knew the actual magnitude of statement.

At this point, it's clear, this team will only go as far as the offensive line will carry them because the weakness on this team sticks out like a sore thumb. The 24-hour rule to celebrate a victory should apply for everyone on the team, except the offensive line, who must feel awkward high-fiving each other after their performance each week.

Am I being too harsh simply because the team won? I understand that a playoff run is indicative of putting together consistent good performances each week, and that's not happening with those meant to protect the franchise quarterback.

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