The Baltimore Ravens suffered the worst loss in franchise history Sunday with a 41-7 wipeout by the New England Patriots. The previous largest loss in team history was by 27 points to Kansas City in 1999.
It is almost literally true and without any exaggeration to say that absolutely nothing went right on this day. Along with losing the game and dropping their record to 8-7 on the season, the Ravens have lost control of their own destiny in terms of making the playoffs. That scenario is complicated, and even the Steelers are back in consideration and not eliminated – yes, it was that kind of day!
In my preview of the game, I had written that the two most critical issues would be red zone offense and defense, and the ability to run the ball at a reasonable level. Indeed, the Ravens were a mere 1 of 3 in the red zone, while the Pats were a perfect 3 of 3. And even though New England has one of the worst rushing defenses, the Ravens were not able again to maximize the opportunity.
But the problems were far larger than simply those two issues. In writing a preview, I think it goes without saying that a key to any game is to not turn the ball over. And the Ravens gave up three interceptions and a fumble, while the Patriots never coughed it up. An interception run back for a TD and a covered fumble in the end zone simply added 14 points of additional pain to the total in the final minutes of the game.
Not only was it an ugly game for Ravens fans because of the spanking received, it was an ugly game by any standard. The Pats were penalized seven times for 58 yards, and the Ravens were flagged nine times for 83 yards. The amount of time that the head ref was pictured announcing a call on the broadcast may well equal the time of possession of either team. This officiating crew stunk as bad as the Ravens (though it would not have really changed anything), as many of their calls were overturned and reversed.
Though Joe Flacco got into some rhythm in the 3rd and 4th quarters, he was clearly not himself on this evening. The knee brace, and/or the time out of practice this past week, and/or the short week after the Monday night Detroit game … all must have contributed to a rough experience.
Beyond that, there are some serious questions about play calling. It seemed to me that the critical moment of demise was the failure late in the third quarter to convert a third-and-one at the Patriots four yard line! Again, the inability to muscle the ball on a run ended up with a first failure in the red zone. This could have at least brought the score to 20-7. On the next drive, now at the beginning of the 4th quarter, the Ravens were halted at the Pats’ 19. Instead of continuing the drive, Harbaugh elected to send out Justin Tucker to cut the lead to 20-3 (and yes, it looks as silly in print as it was in real life). And as yet another example of what this day was like, the infallible Tucker missed his first kick after hitting 33 straight. The score remained 20-0.
It is difficult to even remember the numbers of times Flacco made deep choices in pass attempts, even as shorter opportunities were wide open. Unlike the Patriots and other opponents, the Ravens seldom seem to take advantage of high percentage quick outs and crossing patterns.
Surely it was the worst showing of the year for the Ravens. But credit must be given to New England. In spite of their many injuries, they performed well all over the field. I believe they are the fastest team I have seen against the Ravens this year. Their coverage was great, and again, Flacco was on the run much of the night – getting sacked four times.
Everyone knew that this game was going to be the most difficult of the final six. This is one of those occasions where a team simply needs to quickly put this out of mind and move on. There is little positive to take away from it. Cincinnati is very beatable next week, so just get ready and do it!
Terrell Suggs said,
“You will have to look at the tape. Actually, you could burn the tape. It’s not even worth looking at… We just have to move on to next week. If we just get the next one we will be fine.”
Tags: Baltimore Ravens