Played Like a Raven – Michael Oher and Jared Gaither
Remember the Sunday Night game in Week 10, when Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels would NOT SHUT UP about Colts’ defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis? It was like they had “Favre-cams” on those two, showing us all the ways that they were wreaking havoc in the Patriots’ backfield, and how creative the Pats were being in trying to slow them down, and blah, blah, blah.
Well, how many times did you hear the names Mathis or Freeney Sunday? Maybe once, and it was in the context of a “where the hell are they?” kind of reference.
Freeney and Mathis COMBINED on the day for nary a tackle, sack, quarterback hurry, deflection, or anything else that would get them on the stat sheet.
Nada. Zip. Zilch. Freeney and Mathis were non-factors. Of course, Freeney had an excuse:
“When they passed the ball, they pretty much left two guys on us to deal with, and the ball was gone,” said Freeney, who missed out on a chance to tie the league record shared by Denver’s Simon Fletcher and Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware of a sack in a 10th consecutive game. “Stats don’t always tell the true picture of what’s really going on. Based on how much attention they gave us, that means less receivers go out and less points for them.”
Sure, Gaither and Oher got some help at times, but everyone gets help against those two, and they still have 18 sacks between them. You got shut down, tornado-man. Deal with it.
A very impressive day by the Ravens’ two young tackles to keep them in check. A similar effort will be needed against the Steelers’ fierce pass rushers this week.
The only small bone to pick with these two was that Oher got called for a false start in the second quarter, and Gaither SHOULD have been called for one on the Ravens’ final offensive play. That shouldn’t be happening at home.
On the whole though, it was a fitting way for Oher to celebrate the opening weekend of “The Blind Side,” especially considering that, in the book version, Freeney called Oher out, saying he would be waiting for him on Sundays, or something to that effect.
Did Not Play Coach Like a Raven – Cam Cameron and John Harbaugh
The Ravens’ clock management was atrocious on Sunday, and John Harbugh needs to shoulder the lion’s share of the blame. Although he should be commended for going 2/2 in his first two challenges of the day, which granted him the chance to take a third, the ridiculous way in which he squandered his third challenge was inexcusable.
The game book at NFL.com reads as follows:
Timeout #1 by BLT at 02:26.
3-1-IND 30 (2:26) 18-P.Manning pass short left to 87-R.Wayne to IND 31 for 1 yard (21-L.Webb). Baltimore challenged the first down ruling, and the play was Upheld. (Timeout #2.)
The Ravens stopped the clock ONCE by using TWO timeouts. That effectively cost them about 40 seconds worth of critical game clock, in a game that they trailed by two points. Terrible. Just terrible.
Harbaugh’s explanation, that he was trying to “flip” the timeout to a challenge, is laughable. He knows that he can’t do that, and once he realized as much, he needed to abandon the ill-advised notion to challenge the spot of that Reggie Wayne reception. The timeouts are just too crucial at that point in the game.
And this was all on the heels of the strange clock-management at the end of the first half, when the Ravens were calling timeouts when they should have been spiking the ball, and spiking the ball…well, never.
Harbaugh needs to get a handle on this clock thing, as he is quickly entering Andy Reid/Lovie Smith territory.
As for Cam Cameron – when you don’t score a touchdown all day, there are issues. When you can’t punch it in from the opponent’s roughly “3-inch” line, there is a monumental, potentially insurmountable problem with your offense.
As was mentioned in Monday’s recap, the Ravens have now scored just two offensive touchdowns in their last 12 quarters of play, and one in their last eight. The coordinator ire that was so pointed at Greg Mattison early in the year has suddenly and unexpectedly shifted to Cameron.
If the Ravens are to have any prayer of putting together a late winning streak and squeaking into the Playoffs, improvements from the guys in the polo shirts and headsets will be just as important as the guys in jerseys and helmets picking it up.