By the end of this article you might even be questioning if I’m a Baltimore Ravens fan. I apologize but losing 37-33 to the Raiders, of all teams, was extremely difficult to watch and my neighbors complained twice for loud shouting and excessive profanity.
Sunday, the Ravens traveled to the O.co Coliseum to grab an easy win from the NFL’s notorious punching bag for the last 12 years. Or so we thought. What we ended up seeing was an uncharacteristically bad Baltimore team who seemed to lack productivity on one side of the ball and identity on the other.
The game was essentially back and forth with both teams trading blows until a final minute touchdown pass from Raiders QB Derek Carr effectively stealing a win from the Ebony Birds. We’ll get to the elephant in the room but first the offense because there were some good things actually to take away from this loss.
Normally scoring 33 points is enough to beat pretty much any team in the league. Steve Smith, thank you again for taking this team on your shoulders. The ageless wonder still manages to defy time week after week as he hauled in 10 catches for 150 yards.
Still it is a glaring hole in our offense at times as Smith provides the only sound option for Joe Flacco. Crockett Gillmore continues to show signs of improvement as a tight end and receiving option but the Ravens are in dire need of a true number one wide receiver.
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Another thing absent that day was the usually reliable Justin Forsett. Forsett has made the most of his short time in Baltimore and quickly rose to the top of the running back depth chart. Sunday, however, Forsett struggled, carrying the ball just 15 times for 68 yards and he never really looked to be in true form.
This gave the Raiders the edge as they knew Joe Flacco would be forced to throw more. Flacco himself, in spite of playing from behind the entire game, actually had a good day, completing 32 passes for 384 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception.
And that brings us to the seemingly Achilles heel (pun intended) of the Ravens this year: defense. More specifically, the loss of future Hall of Fame linebacker Terrell Suggs to an Achilles injury.
Fourth year replacement Courtney Upshaw is a fine linebacker but if you ever want to see what the loss of the anchor of a defense can do to a squad, (more so than Kam Chancellor) look no further than T-Sizzle.
I mean, this is worse than parting ways with the beloved Haloti Ngata. The Ravens are left with half the edge rushing and coverage power. The result: a team that appears to have no identity and struggling on a side of the ball they are renown for. And it’s that same lack of coverage that allowed a late, game winning touchdown.
There’s much to learn and take away from this loss. Fortunately for the Baltimore Ravens it is merely week two. Plenty of time for John Harbaugh and company to fix the problems and turn this whole thing around. But for now, it’s not looking good for our boys in purple.
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