Monday, October 6, 2008

Titan-ic Disaster

Just a week after losing a heartbreaker to the Steelers, the Ravens dropped another winnable game to the Tennessee Titans, 13-10.

If the Ravens are going to make this a habit, I may have to call the doctor and get a prescription for some anti-depressants.

Yes, the Ravens lost another game in which they dominated for the better part of 3.5 quarters, only to commit another game-changing penalty (this time it was controversial -- more on that later) which allowed the opposition to take advantage of the costly mistake.

It doesn't end there, either.

Matt Stover missed another field goal, which would have left the game tied after the Titans scored their late touchdown. I think it's safe to say the Stover era is coming to a close in Baltimore. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Add to that some questionable coaching at the end of the first half and you have a recipe for another heart-grueling Ravens loss.

Rookie Joe Flacco turned in his worst performance to date, going 18-27 for 153 yards and 2 interceptions. Both picks were of the rookie-QB-trying-too-hard-to-make-something-out-of-nothing variety, but the second interception came one play after the Titans scored the go-ahead touchdown and ended any hopes of a last-minute comeback.

And that brings me to this. Flacco is not the superhuman savior fans were making him out to be. He's not going to travel down the same career path as Ben Roethlisberger, who in his rookie season went 14-1 as a starter and limited turnovers. Flacco has a steep learning curve, and if the Ravens have any hopes of making the playoffs, they need Flacco to settle down and start throwing the ball away when there is nothing happening downfield.

And while I may be blasted for this, I would even start thinking about whether it is time to start working Troy Smith into the mix. Now, I know Smith would be hard-pressed to do any better than Flacco, but I still do believe that having rookie QB's standing on the sideline is a good thing. Flacco has gotten his taste of NFL action, and hasn't embarrassed himself, but maybe it's time to let him learn by watching, and not by doing.

That said, benching Flacco is still another bad game or two down the road.

What really makes this loss so tough to swallow, was that despite the penalties, despite the poor play from Flacco, despite the questionable play-calling, the Ravens were in a position to beat the 4-0 Titans, and ended up beating themselves in the 4th quarter.

The refs also played a part. On the eventual game-winning drive, Terrell Suggs went after Titans QB Kerry Collins and while going for the ball, came down on Collins' helmet and shoulder, which the refs called roughing the passer, which was a stretch in and of itself.

However, there was a false start penalty called, meaning that the play was supposed to be whistled dead. The problem? The referee didn't do his part to whistle the play dead. Instead he just kinda waited for the play to keep going before he decided to step in. So how the f--- was Suggs supposed to know the play was over when he went after Collins?

The Ravens have a legit beef with the call, and it only gives the fans more salt to rub in their wounds.

But despite the botched call from the refs, and despite the million of other "what-ifs" fans are carrying on about, the bottom line is that the Ravens simply let this one get away.

The defense, which had been stopping the Titans all game, picked the wrong time to let up, and seemed deflated after the controversial penalty continued the game-winning drive. And where was the pass rush? The Ravens recorded zero sacks and I don't believe they laid a hand on Collins all day.

Hell, he probably didn't even need a shower after the game.

So there you have it. Two tough losses in a row and it still does not get any easier. The Ravens travel to Indianapolis to take on the struggling 2-2 Colts, who are still looking for their first win at their newly opened Lucas Oil Field.

Will the Ravens give it to them? I'm afraid the answer is yes. The Colts have owned the Ravens and after two tough losses, the Ravens look to come out flat against Peyton Manning and the Colts.

So I wouldn't be surprised if the Ravens are 2-3 after next week and the Ravens' once-quick start to the season slows down to a crawl.

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