Last week, I wrote about Michael Crabtree’s history of dropping passes and examined whether or not the Ravens had a problem on their hands. Then, the Week 5 matchup against the Cleveland Browns happened.
Crabtree finished with six catches for 66 yards. While the yardage total was his highest of the season, the numbers fail to tell the whole story. Crabtree’s day will be remembered because of his drops.
It was a brutal performance. Crabtree dropped two passes in the first quarter, one on the opening drive and another on the second possession. Flacco rarely looked his way the rest of the half, and he was almost invisible.
With roughly a minute left in the fourth quarter, Crabtree had an opportunity to make up for his shortcomings earlier in the game and be a hero. However, his inability to hang onto the ball once again proved costly.
On third down at the Cleveland 14-yard line, with the Ravens trailing by three points, Flacco threw Crabtree a perfectly placed ball in the endzone. It wasn’t the easiest catch to make, but it hit Crabtree in the hands and he could not hang on.
Baltimore was forced to kick a field goal and ultimately lost in overtime. Several factors contributed to the defeat, but Crabtree’s three drops certainly did help. Crabtree voiced frustration with his performance after the game and openly took responsibility for the loss.
“I had a game-winner I could have caught. I put that on me,” Crabtree said. “I’m going to have to get back in the lab and get to the basics. You know what I’m saying? That’s just what’s going on.”
Crabtree appears determined to fix the drop issues that have plagued him to start the season. After Wednesday’s practice, Crabtree spent extra time catching passes and fine-tuning his hands.
Don’t know if he always does this, but Michael Crabtree put in extra time catching passes from Joe Flacco after today’s practice, then went straight to the JUGGS machine after that.— Ryan Mink (@ryanmink) October 10, 2018
Despite his struggles, Crabtree still has the support of his coaches and teammates and coaches. While addressing the media at Wednesday’s practice, quarterback Joe Flacco expressed confidence in the 10-year veteran.
“I’m still going his way when he calls for it,” Flacco said. “I still believe that’s going to be the difference. Mike’s got great hands … it’s just about relaxing, letting the game come to you, not trying to do too much.”
Time will ultimately tell if Crabtree can put these struggles behind him. However, it's at least encouraging to see him actively trying to correct the issue.