Well it was a strange one on Monday night football in Arizona, a game filled with reffing miscues, never ending plays, and an exciting ending.
The Cardinals run game started off strong before the Ravens shut it down for the most part. The Ravens played good defense in the first half besides a bunch of missed tackles on the first two drives, but the Cardinals second half adjustments enabled them to move the ball at will for most of the second half. Jimmy Smith, Shareece Wright, and the linebackers had trouble in the passing game, wasting a great effort from the defensive line and pass rush, especially veterans Chris Canty and Elvis Dumervil, and of course Brandon Williams. The unit was very good in the red zone for much of the game.
The Ravens offense looked very good for most of the night, and although the line did allow some pressure, this is one of the better defenses in the NFL. Flacco looked sharp, both Forsett and Allen ran the ball well, Aiken, Givens, Juszczyk, Steve Smith, Gillmore and Boyle all had their moments in the passing game. Trestman called a pretty good game, although at times he still leaves me scratching my head, although Kubiak did too at times last year.
The team was ultimately done in by some bad tackling, a strange play, and a turnover. The Ravens couldn't punch the ball into the end zone on their first 2 drives, although a bogus illegal formation penalty on John Urschel's first NFL reception was called and they had to settle for a field goal. Then, after taking a 10-7 lead midway through the 2nd quarter and forcing a Cardinals punt, Jeremy Ross had the ball punched out on the return, and the Cardinals had great field position to add a touchdown and take the lead before the half. The strange play occurred halfway through the third quarter, when Brandon Williams made a nice tackle of Cardinals running back Chris Johnson, but neglected to put him on the ground or hold him until the ref blew his whistle. Johnson, in a heads-up play rolled right off Williams and ran it down to the 1 yard line.
The Ravens would make it close at the end, with a blocked punt by Asa Jackson which would give the Ravens the ball on the 1 yard line before Flacco threw a touchdown pass to Juszczyk with 4 and a half minutes left in the game. They converted the 2 point conversion despite a penalty which backed them up 5 yards, and were able to get the ball back right after the 2 minute warning with a chance to tie if they could get a touchdown and 2 point conversion. The offense would move down the field, led by a 31 yard reception by Chris Givens and 2 big catches from Crockett Gillmore- a 4th and 1 conversion and a 23 yard reception which put the Ravens on the Arizona 4 yard line with 18 seconds left. However Flacco threw an interception to Tony Jefferson on the second scoring attempt, with Gillmore the intended receiver, the offenses only turnover of the day.
The Ravens looked as good as they have looked all season on both sides, of the ball, but in typical 2015 fashion fell short once again. This team just does not have what it takes to win the tough games, and not having premium players on defense is a large factor in this. The Ravens are home next week to the 2-5 San Diego Chargers, beginning a string of mediocre and bad teams, but it will be too little, too late for this team.