Monday, November 9, 2009

Ravens lose to Bengals, playoffs in jeopardy

Joe Flacco was sacked 4 times by the Bengals in the Ravens' 17-7 loss.

Technically, the Ravens played a football game yesterday.

I beg to differ.

The Ravens turned in one of the worst performances in a couple years, yesterday, in a "not as close as the score indicated" 17-7 loss to the Bengals.

The Ravens fell to 4-4 on the season and erased any momentum they gained after crushing the Broncos a week before. They came out flat on both sides of the ball and the Bengals picked them apart.

On the first drive of the game, Carson Palmer drove the Bengals drove down the field on a 6 minute long drive that resulted in a touchdown pass to Andre Caldwell, putting the Bengals up 7-0. On the Ravens first drive, they sputtered out quickly, not even holding the ball for 2 minutes. The Bengals got the ball back, and drove down the field over the course of 4 and a half minutes, and scored another TD, this time coming from Cedric Benson.

Once the final seconds ticked off the clock in the first quarter, the Ravens had the ball for just over 4 minutes, were trailing 14-0 and had gained just 41 yards of offense.

When the second quarter began, it didn't get any prettier. The Bengals first drive lasted for 7 minutes and resulted in a field goal, putting them up 17-0. Thankfully, the Bengals must've eased up on the gas pedal after taking the 17-0 lead because they didn't score again.

But that still didn't make the game any less of an embarrassment for the Ravens.

The Ravens' longest drive of the day was 2:43. They scored a measly 215 yards of offense. Joe Flacco played what could possibly be the second worst game of his pro career, throwing for 195 yards, 0 TD and 2 INT. Again, Ray Rice was a large chunk of the Ravens offense, gaining 135 total yards. The Ravens' receivers couldn't get open, they were bottled up by the Bengals secondary all afternoon.

You have to give credit to the Bengals though. Thy held the Ravens 5th ranked offense to just 14 total points in their 2 wins over the Ravens. They just had the Ravens figured out, and it showed.

On defense, the Ravens reverted back to the defense from their 3-game losing streak. There was no pressure on Palmer. The secondary was routinely beaten. And again, Cedric Benson abused our defensive line for 117 yards and a TD. So much for a consecutive streak of holding opposing RB's to less than 100 yards, Benson has already done it twice this season. Even with Haloti Ngata, who missed the game with an injury, it wouldn't mave made much of a difference.

The writing is on the wall, ladies and gentlemen. The Ravens defense is finished.

Greg Mattison may have been a poor choice to take over for Rex Ryan but it's not all his fault. The Ravens put on another poor tackling clinic yesterday, trying to finger tackle Bengals players all day. Ed Reed, obviously still bothered by his neck injury looks like a shell of his former hard-hitting self. He whiffed on several tackles. Maybe it's time to see what Tom Zbikowski or Haruki Nakamura can do in his place.

And finally, Steve Hauschka missed a crucial field goal that would have put the Ravens within a touchdown with 7+ minutes left in the 4th quarter. It was a 38-yarder, not a chip shot by any means, but some point he's going to have to make some crucial field goals. Meanwhile, Matt Stover is perfect for the Colts.

At 4-4, the Ravens are on the fringe of the playoff race along with the Steelers (5-2), Chargers (5-3), Texans (5-4), Jets (4-4) and Jaguars (4-4). They still have several tough games on their schedule. A record of 11-5 will likely get you a seat at the table, but 10-6 could also get you in too. That means going at worst, 6-2 down the stretch. Based on what I saw yesterday, there's no chance this Ravens team can do it.

They looked like a team beaten before the game began yesterday. The win over the Broncos may have been their last hurrah. And on top of that, the Bengals showed the NFL how to destroy the Ravens in their two wins and teams around the NFL will take notice. The Colts and Steelers already know how to beat them. They've been doing it for years. But teams like the Bears and Packers just saw how to beat the Ravens.

It's sad to see, but this isn't your Ravens of old any more. No more smash mouth defense, grind it out offense. It's been replaced by sketchy coaching, poor tackling, and ill-timed penalties.

The Ravens motto this year has been "Play like a Raven".

I used to know what that meant, but I have no clue what the hell it means any more.

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