After overtime loss to Browns, Ravens looking to avoid mistakes that led to playoff drought - Associated Press
Baltimore safety Eric Weddle proudly proclaimed this wasn’t the same Ravens team following a spirited victory over the Broncos in Week 3.
He might have spoken too soon.
The Ravens (3-2) have dropped out of first place in the AFC North following their 12-9 overtime loss to the revamped Cleveland Browns on Sunday. The performance was reminiscent of Baltimore’s struggles in 2017 when it failed to make the postseason for the third consecutive year.
The Ravens have to quickly regroup and prepare for the Tennessee Titans, which will close out a string of three consecutive road games. Baltimore will face its former defensive coordinator Dean Pees, who retired after the 2017 season before accepting the same role in Tennessee.
”We’re quick to get over wins, and we have to be quick to get over losses,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “We’re going to get back to the drawing board and come Wednesday, this one’s going to be behind us. We’re going to be ready for Tennessee.”
It remains unclear if the familiarity factor will favor former defensive coordinator Dean Pees or quarterback Joe Flacco.
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They were strong on one side of the ball. The defense played well enough to win, as it has all season save for one half in Cincinnati.
Sure, there were a few plays Defensive Coordinator Don (Wink) Martindale would like back, but his unit is performing at a playoff-caliber level. If it continues to do that, it will keep the Ravens close, give them a chance to win every Sunday.
As for the offense, there can be no sugar-coating its touchdown-less dud of an outing in Cleveland. Key drops, a pair of turnovers and a low third-down conversation rate made for a miserable day.
Nonetheless, this was different from other Baltimore offensive performances best dismissed as clunkers in recent years. The Ravens moved the ball. There was no seemingly endless “blackout” stretch of three-and-outs.
Remember those games? The Ravens didn’t register a first down until late in the third quarter of a loss in Jacksonville in 2011. They managed just 186 and 208 offensive yards in losses to the Jaguars and Minnesota Vikings last season.
Comparing the Ravens Week 5 output against the 27th ranked Browns defense to their 2017 showings against Jacksonville and Minnesota, the two best defenses in the NFL last season, does not prove much at all. Another tough road matchup in Tennessee on Sunday should reveal more about this offense.
What we’re wondering: How quick can the fix be?
Coach John Harbaugh gave credit to the Browns for mixing up coverages and stymying the Ravens’ passing attack Sunday. So the task now turns to Baltimore offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who will aim to make adjustments to get his unit back on track before Sunday’s contest in Tennessee. If he can’t, it might hint at more deep-seated issues.
What we’re wondering: How far can the defense carry the Ravens?
After 68 minutes of excellent play, the Ravens’ defense allowed the Browns to convert a third-and-8 late in overtime that set up a game-winning field. Though Baltimore’s defense wasn’t the main culprit Sunday, Cleveland’s last drive served as a reminder that there are limits to how far the group can take the Ravens. If Baltimore’s offensive woes persist, we’ll learn where those limits lie.
Besides the first half of the Bengals game, the Ravens defense has been outstanding this season. The currently rank first in scoring, third in yards allowed and sixth in sacks. The one area where they are trailing the 2017 defense is takeaways, with just six in five games compared to 34 in 16 games last season.
Shaky Run Defense
The Titans are ranked 7th in the NFL in total defense, which isn’t too shabby. The defense is tied for 3rd in the NFL in points allowed, which is good, too. But what’s up with the run defense? The Titans are allowing 123.2 yards per game on the ground, and the Bills racked up 144 yards on the ground. It has the Titans in the bottom third (26th overall) in the league in run defense. Mike Vrabel counted 14 missed tackles against the Bills, including four on one play. The Titans have to improve here with the Ravens headed to town. Getting linebacker Wesley Woodyard back would sure help.
Woodyard is currently listed as questionable to play due to a shoulder injury that sidelined him during their loss in Buffalo. He has averaged 11 tackles in his last three contests against Baltimore. Tennessee tight end Delanie Walker is on injured reserve with a broken ankle.