Perhaps we would be better prepared to handle yesterday's loss if the scored ended at 27-10, which it was early in the 4th quarter. Losing by a bunch to what looked like a better team at that point in the game would have hurt, but this much? Losing three straight games that we could very well have won by making one more play on either offense or defense feels like a stab in the heart rather than just a knife in the back.
While that is a pretty sorry analogy, I'd rather be put out of my misery early than suffer to the very end of the game, only to see the same thing happen again. Each time the offense gave us hope, the defense snatched it away the very next time on the field. When the game came down to the final play again and the onus was on our kicker, how many of you actually had the confidence he would make that kick after seeing him nervously pacing the sidelines moments earlier?
More on "Ravens Loss For Third Time in Final Seconds Hurts" after the 'Jump')
I had to google the kid from the movie, 'Superbad' (Michael Cera) who was so nervous during his chance to lose his virginity, and found out his name was Evan. Steven Hauschka looked like and reminded me of Evan before attempting the kick, as he flinched on the timeout that Minnesota called to "ice" him, which it did. Even his post game interview reminded me of Evan, where he was still shy and nervous about being in front of the camera, much less the opposition. If he can't make a 44 yarder indoors in a close game, how can he make one in Pittsburgh, much less at home? I've said since Training Camp that the better pro would have been Florida State's Graham Gano, who lost the placekicking battle to Hauschka before the season. Gano didn't look that good in the few attempts he had in the pre season, but looked better in Camp and had the better college experience, playing at FSU in all those close games. His leg was stronger and he seemed to have a stronger spine as well to deal with the pressure, which pre season games do not take into consideration.
Do not start the "Matt Stover would have made that" talk here on The Beatdown! The current Stover not only wouldn't have made it, but he wouldn't have even reached the goal line with his leg. However, we all know the airwaves and internet will be flooded with the "Stover" talk, but please spare me.
However, this game was NOT lost, nor would it have been won, by the kicker. The other 59 minutes and 58 seconds determined the game, not the final :02.
This one's on the defense. While the offense seemed bland for three quarters, the team still put up 31 points on an undefeated Vikings team. If we had won that game, no one would have anything negative to say about the offense. Joe Flacco has another career high, Ray Rice settled the issue of whether or not we will be clamoring too much for Willis McGahee after playing lights out again. However, every time we inched closer to the Vikings, they just moved down the field with big plays and stupid penalties against a Ravens defense that looked lost, confused and overmatched all game long. It almost seemed that the Vikings knew they could move the ball at will and did just enough at the end to hold on for the win.
We'll have two weeks to dissect and spread the blame around, but as much as we want to say we're three plays away from being undefeated, we're 3-3 and in 3rd place in the AFC North, albeit just one game out of first place. The good news is that last season we had the same record before Ed Reed came alive and took over the game like we know he still can and remember, we did what we did with a relatively weak offense, so try to imagine....