Big Game Blunders

November 23, 2009 |

Despite the popular belief shared by the respective fan bases of the 32 NFL teams, IT IS acceptable to lose games in the NFL. This is a league of wacky, wild happenings – broken bones, bad calls, a ball that doesn’t bounce straight, mud, snow, blind officials, drops, missed tackles, cross country flights and coin flips all factoring into the equation that consistently yields the result – “Any Given Sunday” every week and every season.  While losing games is a reality that must be accepted for any good team to achieve long term success, the manner in which the Baltimore Ravens consistently lose games is unacceptable.

Internal meltdown for the Baltimore Ravens is a recurring problem. Week after week, there are victories before their eyes and within their grasp. These are the games that good teams win, the Colts, the Patriots and the Steelers find a way to win enough of these big games against good teams to earn the respect and the reputation coining them the elite teams in the league and perennial playoff contenders.

The Ravens are simply not in this category.

Throwing out the 2 playoff games that the Ravens won last year en route to the AFC Championship game, when is the last time the Ravens won a big game against a really good opponent? More importantly, when is the last time they did so in convincing fashion? There is something to be said for being able to put teams away when you have them on the ropes.

Great teams put good teams away; this is what separates them.

The Ravens do not have killer instinct, they lack the composure to avoid mistakes at key moments and capitalize on opportunities that would separate them in big games.

This lack of composure and lack of ability to execute at pivotal moments was glaringly obvious against the Colts.

Execution was absent when we desperately needed a touchdown in the 4th quarter. 3 failed attempts to score from the Indianapolis 1 yard line highlighting the offensive line’s inability to get any kind of push on the smallish front 7 of the Colts. It is also notable that during this series the offense looked completely unprepared and confused. The change of personnel to the “heavy package” killed the momentum of the drive while Ray Rice watched from the sideline. The guys on the field were stuck in quicksand, and they sank. The Colts didn’t have to stop them as they seemingly couldn’t get out of their own way.

With a minute left in the game, John Harbaugh called 6 time outs, wet his pants and threw the red flag all at the same time.

Ed Reed ignored the most important aspect of his job as a punt returner – BALL SECURITY. With the game on the line, his haphazard attempt to be the hero resulted in the fat lady singing at yet another big loss against the Colts for the Ravens – make it 7 straight.

This string of events in the 4th quarter against the Colts wasn’t a fluke. These are the types of things that continually happen to the Ravens that keep them from being regarded as one of the best teams in football.

It’s not that the Steelers and the Patriots don’t occasionally fold in big games. . . they do, but they also chalk up convincing victories making these occasional let downs the exception and not the normal result that sends a season spiraling in the wrong direction.

The Baltimore Ravens fan base has been worn down over recent years by consistent disappointment following big game hype. Ray Lewis’ dance has become the highlight, it has become the moment where the fans feel most triumphant instead of the catalyst leading to a dominating performance on the field for 60 minutes.

Simply put . . . the Ravens don’t win big games.

The Ravens start slow and lack intensity as a team. While failing to grasp opportunities to take over games, they hand the game to opponents in a manner that is excruciating for the fans to watch. The Ravens desperately need to come out and dominate one of the NFL’s elite teams to get over the hump and remove the tag of “good, but not good enough” from their back. They need to start taking advantage of opportunities and executing game plans with consistency.

This has become an era of Ravens football where pro bowl caliber players generate plenty of hype as individuals, but fail to become anything exceptional as a unit. Missed opportunities and loss after loss in the biggest games against the teams regarded as elite keep the Ravens from being regarded as a true powerhouse and until they win a big game against the NFL’s elite, they never will. For now, the Ravens are that team that’s just not good enough to get it done.

Deal with it.