With the Baltimore Ravens coming off their first loss of the year, many will be examining throughout the rest of the week what the Ravens did to in fact receive the loss and what they could have done to get the win. In a game like this there are a million factors that contributed to a 21-27 Ravens loss, some that should be taken lightly and some that will be taken with serious action involved.
Baltimore is in pain after a game like this where a victory and 4-0 start was clearly within reach, but the people out there who have been with us from the start and continue to stick with our beloved purple and black need to let this one go and focus on the Bengals next week. So to start things off, lets fess up to our loss today in New England and take a look at why we lost this game. I really cannot say too much about the players, because most of them looked great with what they had to work with. Feel free to add anything else in the comments to why we lost or what we could have done to win. There are so many.
Play Calling: Even though the Ravens were able to yet again have big numbers and put up 363 total yards of offense, the stats can be deceiving. Today looked to be the worst coaching performance of the year for Cam Cameron. This is not to say that some of the plays called were terrible, because many, many great plays were executed. However, the balance just did not seem to be there. What stands out is the 16 rushing attempts between Rice and McGahee. As much of a transition that we would all like to see, our style of football is still smash mouth. Flacco had 47 pass attempts today, 20 of which were incomplete. Take away 10 or so of those passing attempts and convert them into runs, the game could have really had a different turn out. The passing attack has been great all season, but we dominated the Patriots on the ground today by rushing for an average of 6.8 yards per carry and abandoned one of the strongest aspects of our game many times. 3rd and 1, we sneak with Flacco. 4th and 1, we run with McGahee. Don't we have a pro bowl fullback in LeRon McClain? Oh, wait he did not see a single carry or pass all day.
- Clock Management: Tom Brady is good, really good. Bill Belichick is good, really good. So when you allow for these two masterminds to stay on the field for nearly 35 minutes, a loss is almost inevitable. Yes, we were very close to the win, but having the ball for only 25 minutes today is a difference in the 6 points that New England beat us by. Again, a healthy balance of what was a dominating rushing attack could have made the difference here.
Return Game: You would think that a player who turned what was once the 32nd ranked return team in Tennessee to the 1st ranked return team would be able to have some serious success for us right? Wrong. Chriss Carr has looked nothing of an improvement over Yamon Figurs. Not once today did he ever it ever look like Carr would break a tackle, which he didn't. And a fumble on the opening kick-off? Come on now Chris. There is a reason you were taken out for rookie Lardaius Webb, who had his first return taken 38 yards and set us up perfectly. I think change is upon us in Special Teams. Yes, I know that we were playing from behind most of the game, but we definitely could have afforded to turn some of those incompletions off of 47 pass attempts into a few more runs.
- Tackling: Multiple first downs were gained by the Patriots because of poor tackling. Poor tackling on what is a very average RB group that seemed to find the gap pretty well on the dump off pass. There were multiple plays were the initial tackle was the difference between a scoring drive or not.
- Mark Clayton: I really hate to put the burden of a loss on one player, but that dropped pass killed us. Joe did everything you could ask for on that drive and set us up to get the first. Joe threw a perfect pass and Mark, who is usually sure handed, could not pull it in. Keep your head up though, Mark.
- Officiating: Decided to leave this as the last one because we should not blame this totally on the way that the game was officiated today. The referees were not the ones who put the ball in the end zone for 27 points. But were they a part of it? Yes. Two phantom roughing the passer calls, one of which had Terrell Suggs pushed from behind and skimming the leg of Tom Brady. Brady then resorted to pointing and jumping up and down asking for the flag and was later seen smiling. When have we ever seen a roughing the passer call with a QB standing up, jumping for a flag? Hmmmmmmm......... To anyone who would like to see the Ravens' reactions to the officials, here you are.
Yes, this team did a few things today to show that we deserved to lose. However, there were many positives to this game that we should take for granted. Check out why we could have won after the jump.
- Joe Flacco: Yes, he is a reason we could have won today. The man amazes all of Baltimore every time he sets up behind center. It is incredible what this second year QB is able to do in any situation. Joe was able to work with what ever was given to him and made things happen. If you did not think we were not going to win that game in the last 2 minutes, you are crazy. Joe is special and we should all be thankful to have a player like that on our team.
- Randy Moss: The fans and media have been quick to jump on the secondary as of late, but today we should give credit. We must remember that it is Tom Brady, and holding him to 258 yards passing is not that bad. But what we should be impressed with is holding arguably the most physically dominating WR in history to just 3 catches for 50 yards and a TD that even Travis Taylor could have caught. Very happy to see our group shut down Moss like they did. If Moss would have been able to find his groove in this game, we would have stood no chance to win this game.
Defense: I was quick to jump on the tackling, but all around defense was solid today. After the fumbled opening kick-off, we were able to hold a fresh Patriot offense to 3 points. Then, we were able to give Joe and crew one more shot to get the victory. We did let up some plays, but in the end this group made some plays when we most needed them. The Patriots had not fumbled in 29 quarters before today. Changing that along with recovering the fumble for a clutch touchdown is a positive. Brady was able to put some numbers up on us and give his defense a good enough cushion to force us to do some things we did not want to do. Again, we shut down the run for the most part and left them one-dimensional. Yet, Tom Brady as that one dimension is a pretty good deal.
- Running Game: The running game was on point today, just like it has in the first 3 weeks. Rice seemed unstoppable on the first tackle. He was all over the place and had 103 yards on only 11 carries and why Cam Cameron decided to give up on this at various points in the game, we should be given an answer. This turnout could have gone our way if Rice saw 20-23 carries. But 16 total rushes between Rice and McGahee with no sight of McClain was not smart.
- Heart: This team could have won because of the heart it has. When Tom made a play, we made a play back. When their defense made a stop, ours came right back and made one back. We were not given that much to work with today, but our team made the most of it and really gave it all that they could. There is a lot of heart on this team, and it will show again and again throughout the season.
This was tough. We do not like this feeling. But nothing gives a team like ours a kick in the butt like a loss like this. Good things are going to come from this loss and you will see a different Raven team for the rest of the season. We have too much to look forward to with this group to get down on ourselves after losing to one of the greatest franchises in NFL history. We are passed it and going back home to play the Bengals, a team that needed nearly 5 quarters to beat the helpless Browns. Stick with it Baltimore, good things are coming.