What we learned from Sunday’s Week 8 games - Chris Wesseling
After jumping out to a 7-0 lead on the game’s opening drive, the Ravens unraveled for the rest of a lopsided first half, drowning in a sea of ill-timed penalties, mental errors, poor field position and just plain bad luck. A blown blocking assignment led to Kyle Love’s forced fumble on Alex Collins, setting up a quick Newton touchdown to Panthers tight end Greg Olsen. A bold fake-punt conversion from Baltimore’s own 10-yard line was negated by an illegal shift penalty. Willie Snead lost a key first down due to his own pass interference, forcing a third-and-long situation that resulted in an egregious Joe Flacco interception just before halftime. It didn’t help matters that the ball bounced Carolina’s way on the 99-yard scoring drive, highlighted by an errant backfield pitch that ended up in Moore’s hands for a big gain which paved the way for a leaping Christian McCaffrey touchdown off a pass deflected by safety Eric Weddle.
Unable to stop Newton’s offense in the second half, the Ravens had no chance to mount a serious comeback bid. On this day, at least, the Panthers were the superior, luckier, more-physical, better-coached team.
It was a true team loss, Carolina won all five phases of the game. Nonetheless, there were some positive individual performances. Matthew Judon, Tavon Young, Mark Andrews and Lamar Jackson played well.
Ravens Defense Humbled By Cam Newton, Panthers - Ryan Mink
Carving up the Ravens with ease at times, the Carolina Panthers rolled to a 36-21 victory that was a slap in the face to a Baltimore defense that has a lot of pride. Carolina scored on its final four possessions of the first half and eventually built a 27-7 lead in the third quarter that was too much for Baltimore to overcome.
“We’re 4-4, we’re an average team, we just lost, we got blown out,” Ravens safety Eric Weddle said.
This game raised some serious concerns for the Ravens at the midway point of the season. The Ravens went the first six weeks of the season without surrendering a second-half touchdown. But were some of those games more about who the Ravens were playing, and less about how good their defense really was?
Over the past two weeks, the quality of competition has stepped up and Baltimore’s defense has taken several steps down. The Ravens have come up short the past two weeks against two quarterbacks that know what it takes to lead a team to the Super Bowl – Drew Brees of the Saints and Newton.
Carolina doesn’t have as much offensive talent as New Orleans, but the Ravens had no answer for almost anything the Panthers tried. Baltimore’s linebackers were consistently beaten in pass coverage, even C.J. Mosley, who followed his best game of the season with perhaps his worst.
The Ravens need more from their own Super Bowl quarterback, Joe Flacco, when they face contending teams. On Sunday, Flacco routinely overthrew his receivers on deep passes, tossed a pair of hideous interceptions and finished with a sub 5-yard average per passing attempt.
Diagnosing the Failures - Ken McKusick
Mosley had a tough game in multiple respects. He was picked on in coverage, had trouble in containment, and had a poor game bringing down the Panthers ball carriers/receivers. Even with the Ravens thin in the secondary, it’s clear the Panthers intended to exploit the middle of the field and test Mosley. Whether flanked by Kenny Young or Onwuasor, that was bound to generate tough matchups for C.J.
This was a game where Greg Olsen was able to box out Jefferson for a TD and Ian Thomas beat him on a crossing route. To be clear, I don’t think this means Martindale should give up on Jefferson covering TEs, but it didn’t work this game.
The defense was unable to sack Cam Newton and managed only four hits on the strapping quarterback. But the lack of pass rush production was partially due to Mosley and Jefferson’s inability to cover the middle of the field.
Jackson found Hurst for a 26-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter Sunday, the final touchdown in Carolina’s 36-21 victory over the Ravens. It was Jackson’s first touchdown pass and Hurst’s first touchdown catch. Both will remember the play, but it would have been sweeter had the Ravens won.
“It kind of takes away because it happened during a loss,” Hurst said. “Hopefully I can help the team moving forward.”
Despite being rookies, Jackson and Hurst understand how critical it is for the Ravens to win Sunday against the Steelers. This will be Hurst’s first taste of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry, while Jackson could have a bigger role than he did in Week 4, when the Ravens won 26-14 in Pittsburgh.
“It’s huge,” Jackson said of Sunday’s game. “We beat them last time we matched up against them. It’s about us, the guys in this room. It starts with us.”