Cleat of Reality delivers “real” blow to Ravens

December 19, 2011 | Drew Forrester


The Cleat of Reality flew back to Baltimore with the Ravens early Monday, having done his work a few hours earlier in San Diego as the Chargers pounded John Harbaugh’s team, 34-14.

San Diego knows enough about the Cleat of Reality…he’s been visiting the Chargers on a regular basis for the last half-dozen years or so.

But for one night, the Cleat was applied to the Ravens.  Big time.

This year’s edition of the Baltimore Ravens might be good enough to make it to the Super Bowl, but they might also be not good enough to win a game in the playoffs.  It’s an odd thing when a team is 10-4 with two weeks to play and no one is still quite certain just what they’re capable of accomplishing.  And, if nothing else, the loss in San Diego only further muddied the picture as far as the Ravens are concerned.

Questions from Sunday night include these:

> Who were those two guys wearing #29 and #22?  Cary Williams and Jimmy Smith both needed to bathe in aloe vera afterwards. I know Smith is a rookie and all, but we need better than that from him down the stretch.

> OK, the Chargers did a terrific job on Terrell Suggs.  Fair enough.  Where, then, were the likes of Pernell McPhee, Paul Kruger and Jarret Johnson?  The Ravens got nothing — from any of them — and didn’t sack Phillip Rivers one time.

>  John Harbaugh wasn’t exactly Vince Lombardi on Sunday night.  With less than two minutes to go in the first half, trailing 10-7, Harbs elected NOT to use any defensive time-outs and the Chargers did their best to kill the clock before going in for a TD that made it 17-7 just prior to the half.  Memo to John:  You can stop the clock when YOUR team is on offense, that’s why you call your time-outs on DEFENSE.  And why would you punt the ball away with 12 minutes left in the game, trailing 31-7?  On 4th and 6 from your 40, don’t you go for it there?  Punting it away there was very un-Harbaugh like, I thought.  And I’m ALL for Tyrod Taylor getting some mop-up duty — I’ve called for it a bunch this year — but I don’t understand why you only give him one series at the very end of the game.  If you’re going to punt the ball away with 12 minutes to go, why not just let Taylor finish up there when you get it back with 7 or 8 minutes to play?

>  Billy Cundiff has to make EVERY kick inside of 40 yards.  Those are three-foot putts in golf.  You don’t make them all, but when you don’t, you lose.  And that’s what kicks inside of 40 yards represent.  Those are game-winning kicks.  You MUST hit them all. I can accept misses from 45 or 50 yards.  But not 36 or 37 yarders.  Cundiff needs to make those kicks or next August we’ll have some other feet trotting around the facility in Owings Mills doing battle for the kicking job.

>  Joe Flacco complained about the Ravens not getting any respect last week.  I think most folks agree that the likes of Tebow and Brady and the Steelers and the Packers get all the meaty publicity.  You know what they have in common?  Winning.  Flacco had his chance to help show everyone around the country that he and the Ravens are more deserving of respect…and he threw the ball to the other team twice in the 3rd quarter when he was trying to bring the Ravens back into the game.  It wasn’t all on Joe, of course, but as Flacco himself noted last Monday night when he was a guest on our Monday Night Live show, when you’re the quarterback, you get the bad rap if your team loses.

>  What’s with the Ravens stinking it up on the road this season?  Other than that walk-in-the-park in St. Louis in week three, the play away from home has been uneven at best and downright awful nearly half the time.  It’s one thing to lose on the road.  Most teams go in to the season hoping to go at least 4-4 away from home, and the Ravens are 3-4 with only a visit to Cincinnati remaining on their away schedule.  But the four losses thus far have been ass-beatings.  Sunday night’s debacle in San Diego was the worst total team performance of the John Harbaugh era, in my opinion.  That’s not good in week #14 of the season.

>  Sunday night once proved this:  The teams that win games are the ones who DON’T make mistakes.  Or, at least, make the fewest.  If I told you prior to Sunday that I saw the script for the game and the Ravens turn the ball over twice, miss a chip-shot field goal and give up seven sacks, what result would you have guessed?  A loss, of course.  Right.  That’s what happens when you throw two picks, miss a field goal and let the other team sack your QB seven times.  You lose.  Can the Ravens win their last two regular season games and go into the playoffs and clean up there, too?  Sure.  But they can’t play games like they played on Sunday in San Diego or they’re done.  All it takes is ONE game like that after January 1st and you’re cooked.  Sometimes, all it takes is one bad HALF of football and your season is over.

If you’re a Ravens fan, you have to balance out last night’s poor performance with the fact that the team is 10-4, relatively healthy and capable of beating anyone on any given Sunday.

The problem, as we’ve seen a few times too many this year, is that the Ravens are also full capable of producing the ugliest of efforts like they did in Jacksonville, Seattle and San Diego.

We’re not quite certain which team is going to show up.

And with two weeks to play, that’s not a good sign.


13 Comments For This Post

  1. Franchise Says:

    Let’s Go Niners!!!!

  2. unitastoberry Says:

    Of all the negatives to worry about Cundiffs misses top my list.

  3. rick reed Says:

    not to mention your Defense giving up points on the first five possesssions

  4. barry Says:

    i will use some of your lines.

  5. John in Westminster Says:

    Total team loss. Dr Flacco/Mr Boller strikes again. It seemed like Rivers knew every blitz we were going to run. And we decided to keep on doing it anyway? Especially on 3rd down. Ed Reed played a little too free last night with our young corners. Hopefully, we laid our last egg before the playoffs.

  6. Carlos Henry Says:

    I have a few questions of my own: Why can’t Ray Rice touch the ball more than 10 times in a game that was only 17-7 at the half? Not that it cost the team the game but, does Ray Lewis ever get to the QB when he blitzes? Did Jared Gaither really eat Terrell Suggs’ lunch and the bag it came in last night? If Jimmy Smith couldn’t cover anybody last night why wasn’t Ed Reed or Pollard helping him over the top? And finally, can Joe Flacco come to play when it matters against anyone but the Steelers? It’s great that the Ravens swept Pittsburgh this year but at this rate that feat won’t amount to what it could have because of losses to the likes of Tennessee, Jacksonville and San Diego.

  7. matt Says:

    i maintain the giants game in 08 was the biggest stinker in the harbaugh era. it was a physical beatdown, where the chargers game was a finesse beatdown.

    my only gripe is that the defensive gameplan looked like last years, rush them all or rush none, very telegraphed. and rivers had a field day against it.

  8. dave hittinger Says:

    Kind of like the emperor with no clothes, Ray Lewis has slowed so much he looks like my grandmother running. Of course nobody talks about it, because we’re told that we need to be thankful for how good he’s been. Right now he’s a liability unless someone happens to run right into him.

  9. The "Armchair QB" Says:

    The only thing that I take out of this game is that for whatever reason, they were not prepared to play. You and I will continue to disagree on the role the coaches play in the FACT, as you point out, that the Ravens still don’t seem to have an identity and, like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get from one week to the next! I think we can agree that they are talented and “deep” and capable of beating anybody, including themselves, so they likely will remain an enigma throughout the playoffs. But, there is one constant: during Cam Cameron’s tenure as OC, the offense has been consistently…..inconsistent! There….I said it!!!

  10. charlie Says:

    drew, i’ve criticized a few columns this season, but imho, this is the single best piece of writing about the ravens i’ve seen since september. anywhere. hits many sensitive spots head-on, but is not unfair. we’re all pulling for the same team, and they have a chance to be champs, but they’re not where they need to be, yet.

  11. Mack Says:

    The Ravens are who they are. No reason to be surprised or frustrated after they lose to teams like the Chargers or Jags because they Ravens have letdowns about every 3 to 4 weeks. I’m used to it by now. This team has a lot of talent but isn’t consistent enough to run off more than 4 consecutive wins. We just have to live with who the Ravens are and come to the realization that this team loves to lay stinkers just when you think they’ve become elite.

  12. tsnamm Says:

    @Matt I totally agree with your assessment… one of the most troubling things this game shows is that our offense is unable to compete in a shootout. If the D cannot keep the other team from scoring, we are doomed. The big problem is that there are at least 3 teams with elite QB’s and high powered offenses that we can conceivably meet in the playoffs and hopefully in the Super Bowl. If the defense plays like they did Sun against say Brady and the Pats, Brees and the Saints, or Rodgers and the Pack, the game will be over in the 1st quarter. The key to giving your offense a chance to win against teams like that is a ferocious pass rush, like the kind we didn’t have against the Chargers. Thank God for the 48ers win, as the irony of this loss is that we might have to fly all the way back to SD and face this team again in the playoffs. Considering how poorly the Ravens have played on the road, and especially on the West Coast, home field at least for 1 game is imperative if we are to move forward in the playoffs.

  13. tsnamm Says:

    49ers…lol no spell check!

Leave a Reply