Monday, September 19, 2011

Role Reversal: Ravens lose to Titans, 26-13

Just a week after they dominated the Steelers in every facet of the game, the Titans (yes, the Titans) did the same to the Ravens in a humbling 26-13 loss.

In a game where the Ravens did little right, they were also outcoached by a coaching staff making their second NFL start. Remember that adage about John Harbaugh not losing to teams with losing records? Well you can throw that out of the window. Especially during week 2, the same week the Ravens dropped a game in Cincinnati.

The Titans (1-1) weren’t on many playoff prediction lists, but they played like defending Super Bowl champions yesterday, taking away the Ravens ground game and putting ample pressure on Joe Flacco all day. All this coming from a team that lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 1 – a team that could contend for the worst record in the NFL when it’s all said and done.

Flacco turned in a stinker of a game, completing just 15 of 32 for 197 yards, 1 TD and 2 INT. His two picks were awful, especially the first one, where he threw the ball right at the numbers of waiting defender. However, receivers were rarely open and Flacco didn’t have much time for check-downs as the pocket collapsed quickly the entire game. It was the kind of game you’d hoped that Flacco had put past him on his way to becoming an elite QB in this league. But yesterday was another painful reminder that he still has a long way to go to reach that elite level.

Ray Rice managed just 43 yards rushing on 14 carries, but did haul in the only Ravens TD of the game on a screen pass he took 31 yards for a touchdown. He wasn’t used enough in the passing game where screens would have taken away the impact of the Titan’s pass rush. Ricky Williams carried the ball only 4 times for 2 yards and a fumble.

The receivers also had a poor game. Anquan Boldin had 46 yards on 3 catches. Lee Evans had 2 catches, one of them for 32 yards and hopefully a sign of things to come once he gets completely healthy. Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta had 49 total yards while failing to have the impact they had against Pittsburgh a week before. Torrey Smith failed to make a catch despite being the Ravens #3 WR. He needs to step up and become a part of this offense, and fast.

On defense, the Ravens didn’t fare any better, failing to pressure Matt Hasselbeck enough. He picked apart the Ravens defense for 358 yards. They did contain Chris Johnson on the ground, which wasn’t very hard since he’s not in game shape just yet. Kenny Britt absolutely scorched a weak Ravens secondary for 135 yards and a TD. Nate Washington also hauled in 7 passes for 99 yards.

All in all, it’s a game the Ravens want to forget, and move on. The Titans clearly treated the game the same way the Ravens treated week 1, wanting to play a physical game against a team that expected to show up and win. Hopefully the Ravens learned a valuable lesson, and can come out a better team for it.

The Ravens travel to St. Louis next week to take on the Rams, who will be coming off a short week.

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