The Baltimore Ravens finish the season 8-8 and miss the playoffs. The Ravens have been playing up and down football this year, and it only seems fair to conclude a disappointing season with an even record.
Not only do the Ravens miss the playoffs, but they finish below the Pittsburgh Steelers in third place in the AFC North. The Ravens are also the sixth Super Bowl champion to fail to reach the playoffs in the last 12 years.
The Miami Dolphins lost, which would have sent the Ravens to the playoffs if they had won. But the one star over which the Ravens had control just wouldn’t line up.
Many times in the game the Ravens were given chances to win. The stars, ducks, or whatever you imagine lining up, lined up for the Ravens, but they couldn’t capitalize.
There will be much speculation on how the Ravens will need to improve during the offseason. This game against the Cincinnati Bengals certainly highlighted many of the issues that need to be focused upon.
Joe Flacco finished the season by setting a team record… in interceptions. Flacco threw three interceptions in the game, bringing his season total to 22 — a career high and a team record in the Ravens’ short history.
The Ravens needed to play a great game, but couldn’t do it. The defense did exactly what I thought they needed to do by picking Andy Dalton off twice in the first quarter.
Joe Flacco and the offense received excellent field position multiple times, and it only resulted in field goals. The defense set the game up on Dalton’s first pass for the offense to break out, but the Ravens proved to be a team that didn’t deserve to go to the playoffs.
On four takeaways, the Ravens scored only nine points. The only benefit was allowing Justin Tucker to break the team’s record for points scored. Tucker ends the season with 38 field goals made out of 41 attempts. The only bright spot of the game.
Between three running backs, Bernard Pierce, Ray Rice, and Bernard Scott, the Ravens ran for only 47 yards on 14 rushes. Flacco played terribly, and the entire team played like it wanted to miss the playoffs.
Flacco put it very simply:
“We’re an 8-8 football team. We don’t deserve to be there [playoffs]“
Flacco is right. The Ravens did not play like a playoff team, and do not deserve to go. They have continued to struggle in the red zone, and it happened again against the Bengals. Without this problem, the Ravens could have easily taken a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. That’s what a playoff team would have done.
The offensive line continues to be a problem and is one of the first things the team needs to address in the offseason.
The team should have at least played for their jobs, especially the offensive line, because they are going to be the first affected by a poor performance in offseason evaluation and decisions.
The defensive line produced little-to-no pressure on Dalton in the game, which brought about zero sacks; and I don’t remember Dalton being hit or knocked down. Both offensive and defensive lines need to be addressed in the offseason.
Collective problems like this dooms a football team, as it did for the Ravens eight times this season. Of the Ravens’ eight wins, only three were against top-tier quarterbacks.
There is much to discuss about the Ravens and their woes. This game should be on John Harbaugh’s and Ozzie Newsome‘s minds as they begin the offseason journey.