Ravens fall in Atlanta 26-21 as defense buckles once again

November 12, 2010 | Drew Forrester

what we all know but have been unwilling to admit: our purple defense is now the team’s liability.

Unfortunately, the defense wasn’t actually the team’s worst department on Thursday night.

The offense meandered around for about 38 minutes before Anquan Boldin was finally unlocked for the Ravens first score with 6:50 remaining in the third quarter.

“Meandered” is a kind way of saying that Baltimore’s offensive effort in the first half was lifeless. Boldin and Todd Heap weren’t used at all and Joe Flacco was harassed constantly thanks in part to a shockingly poor performance from Michael Oher. It all added up to one of the team’s worst first-half offensive displays in the John Harbaugh era.

Once Boldin put Baltimore on the scoreboard in the 3rd quarter, the Ravens came to life. A Derrick Mason TD grab with 5:42 to play cut Atlanta’s lead to 20-14 and then Heap snared a 9-yard throw with 65 ticks on the clock remaining to give the Ravens an apparent victory.

But Matt Ryan engineered a dramatic final drive, aided in large part by a pass interference call on Tavares Gooden that came moments before White grabbed the final pass and walked into the end zone for the winning score.

The team that deserved to win wound up winning.

And the team that looked like they were sleepwalking in the first three and a half quarters got what they deserved, too.

A loss.

I wrote this morning that this game would tell us a lot about the Ravens. And so it did. It showed that the Ravens are still a puzzling team on the road, where they have developed a mysterious habit of not-showing-up until someone throws orange slices around in the locker room at halftime. And it displayed the vulnerability of the team’s once-proud defense.

Terrell Suggs, it should be noted, got the bit between his teeth on Thursday night and had his best game of the season. As far as notable performances go, that was about it for the Ravens on the defensive side of the ball.

It’s hard to figure out how the Ravens can have so many offensive weapons and yet fail to mount any kind of offense. The first two quarters were an exercise in futility, as only Ray Rice showed any kind of spark. Flacco was chased and hounded and was largely ineffective…and when he did throw the ball to a wide receiver, the results were mixed and not very damaging.

It was a bad half of football that was nearly erased by a late-game magic act.

And when that magic act put Baltimore in position to pull a winning rabbit out of their hat, the defense caved in once again, like they did against the Patriots and Bills in October.

It’s only one loss – and not an overly harmful one because it came against an NFC team – but more and more these days, we’re seeing cracks and splinters in this Ravens team that lead us all to wonder if they’re really capable of putting four quarters of football together against a really good team.

The answer to that question on Thursday was definitely “no”.

Thursday in Atlanta, the Ravens couldn’t put four good quarters together. In fact, they only put one good quarter together.

And it cost them the game.