After Tough 33-31 loss to Vikings, Ravens Must Regroup During Bye

October 18, 2009 | Glenn Clark

The Ravens’ 33-31 loss to the Vikings Sunday was particularly painful for a number of reasons, not the least being the way the team rallied from down 17 in the 2nd half to have a look at a last-second game winning field goal.

Unfortunately, it was a painful loss-one that drops the Ravens to 3-3 after a 3-0 start to the season.

The good news for the Ravens is that they’ll have 14 days before they have to take the field again.

14 days to mull over a 3 game losing streak might be a bad thing for a lot of teams, but looks particularly necessary for this team. For a number of reasons.

First of all-this team needs to get away.

It will be tempting for John Harbaugh to want his guys to come out and practice during the week, but they need to clear their heads for a few days. They have not played poorly, they have lost to 3 good teams in the final minutes of each game. It is the type of stretch that unfortunately happens sometimes, even to good football teams.

Getting away from the facility and away from football should help take the edge off a bit. It is particularly difficult during a slide like this to remember that you are only playing against 1 opponent. When losses pile up, teams have a tendency to feel like they need to win 4 games because they’re carrying a 3 game losing streak. Getting away from football gives you the chance to remember that there is only one opponent on the other side of the field.

Secondly-Greg Mattison, Cam Cameron, Jerry Rosburg and John Harbaugh really need to look at their play-calling and overall gameplanning.

When there is an opponent to prepare for, it is a bit more difficult to adjust what your team does without doing it in consideration for what you expect from the other team.

Greg Mattison has to look at pass rush schemes, the 2nd layer of his run defense, and corrections that can be made to keep his corners from being left 1 on 1 with taller receivers. 2 straight running backs have carved up yards, which has allowed teams to throw the ball at will with the defense on it’s heels. The bulk have that yardage has come on big plays, which means the 2nd layer of run stopping hasn’t always been in place. When teams are able to throw at will, they’ll find success, but the Ravens have NOT found a way to create turnovers, either off QB sacks or interceptions. The team may be forced to take a few more chances.

Cam Cameron needs to try to see how the offense can compensate for the lack of a big, physical receiver. Having the same 3 receivers on the field at all times has appeared a bit detrimental-we expected to see Troy Smith, Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and Demetrius Williams lined up wide a bit more this season. Trying to force the run in the middle of the field was particularly tough against the Vikings. It was surprising to see a lack of screens in the 2nd half Sunday in Minneapolis.

Jerry Rosburg’s unit isn’t without blame either. They will have to figure out how to work David Tyree into the game, and will certainly have to work on keeping composure in stressful situations. He’s going to have to keep a young kicker’s mind in the game-and may be forced to bring in a kicker for a “competition” to remind his young kicker that nothing is given in this league.

Third-this team needs some time to really look at the makeup of their roster.

It is not surprising to anyone to hear that the organization has been discussing potential trades with teams who may be willing to part ways with a receiver. This team could REALLY use a sizable option at the position to extend the field offensively. This does not mean the organization should mortgage their future to bring in a guy like Mike Sims-Walker, but it remains necessary to consider all options.

The Ravens must also analyze other places on their roster. The secondary has underperformed, thanks in part to the lack of a pass rush. While the pieces certainly seem to be there for an improved pass rush, the secondary probably could use some sort of an upgrade. Again, this does not mean that the Ravens could trade for a corner even if they wanted to-but it is a position they need to look at.

There are other personnel questions on the team-including the JACK linebacker position, and what the expectations are there. Tavares Gooden played a pretty good game Sunday, but might not fill the position quite the way it needs to be filled in this defense. The Ravens have gotten little from any Tight End not named Todd Heap. The 53 man roster is unlikely to look much different on November 1st against the Broncos, but they must look at it.

Fourth-this team can use the time to improve their health.

The obvious example of this is Jared Gaither-who should be ready to return against Denver, but Samari Rolle is also eligible to return following the bye-and could possibly help the team. Jarret Johnson has been playing with a shoulder injury, and Haloti Ngata has played with a back injury. These guys can use the time to regain strength and quickness. There are countless other bumps and bruises that can be addressed as well.

The important thing to recognize is just how close this team is to being a really good team. They’ve been very effective most of the time, and at least somewhat effective nearly every minute of the season. Their 3 losses have been by a combined 11 points. 2 of the 3 have been on the road, and all 3 have been at the hands of a team that appears to be playoff-bound. They’ve VERY close.

The pain of Sunday’s loss will linger, but this is the best possible time to have a break.

-G

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4:24-To expand, that was a bad snap from Katula. Saw that as soon as the ball was released. If the Ravens had a timeout there, they could have moved the ball to the middle of the field. You almost wish Ray Rice would have just moved the ball to the middle of the field on the play before.

4:20-Boy was this a bad week for Matt Stover to have signed in Indianapolis……unbelievable……

4:19-Greg Gumbel knows the Vikings can’t call back to back timeouts, right?

4:18-No pressure Steve Hauschka…….

4:15-This will probably be the last time I invite Drew to watch a game at my house. “The Ravens are gonna win this one” is the last thing I want to hear right now.

4:13-It’s all on Joe here. He couldn’t quite finish it against New England, but he doesn’t need a TD this time. A sack would be particularly bad as the Ravens have no timeouts. Everything is 4 down territory.

4:09-So here’s the game. If Longwell misses, game over. If he hits, Joe has 1:52 to try to win the game for the Ravens. He’s never rallied them from BEHIND in the final 2 minutes of a game before. And no pressure for Steve Hauschka or anything……

4:06-HAVE to stop them here and force them to try a field goal after the 2 minute warning. If so, Flacco would have 2 minutes to try to win the game……

4:05-What a great play call by the Vikings there. Can’t have single coverage on Sidney Rice AND give him that much time. Unbelievable. This game turns again……

4:01-This can’t be happening. HOLY FREAKING CRAP.

3:58-That’s a big tackle there by Kelly Gregg. Followed by a HUGE sack from 52. THIS is seizing momentum. Wow.

3:57-It really is remarkable that the Ravens are still alive in this one. They need to get off the field without giving up more than one first down-or allowing a big play to put the Vikes in field goal position.

3:55-Ray Rice and Derrick Mason are heroes on that drive, and this is still a football game. Wow.

3:49-Big play there by Dannell Ellerbe. Even with 3 here, the Ravens could make this a one possession game again if they can get 7 quickly. Of course, I’m basically dreaming at this point…..

3:46-And as Drew likes to say, if my Aunt had a penis, she’d be my Uncle. Thanks to Tavares Gooden for not giving up on that one; if they can make a stop it would still be a 2 possession game after the FG.

3:45-Big play by Mark Clayton, if the Ravens can get the Vikings off the field quickly, this might turn into a football game again….

3:40-This will stay a catch. Not like it matters……..

3:37-There you go guys, Demetrius Williams is in the game! (Edit: Please dear God let Kelley Washington be okay….)

3:28-And with that, the Ravens’ decision to punt the ball on the previous drive becomes the wrong decision. The Dawan Landry haters will be out in full force now……

3:24-Drew is absolutely FURIOUS that we had former Morgan State Bear Visanthe Shiancoe on the show Thursday morning and now Shiancoe is killing us.

I guess that was interference, but it wasn’t brutal. Frank Walker wasn’t looking for the ball, which makes it tough. This one is about over….

3:22-Drew would like to point out that both he and I picked the Texans to beat the Bengals today. I would ALSO like to point out that I chose the Saints to beat the Giants by double digits…..Drew laughed at me when I made that pick…..

3:21-The reason to call timeout there? I’m not sure….

3:20-Just as I say it…..

3:17-Drew and I are yelling at each other about this; but I WOULD have gone for it on 4th and 5. On the chart, that’s a 50-50 situation……the Ravens only netted 25 yards on the punt. If they pin the Vikings inside the 5, they made a good decision. Decisions are ALWAYS judged by their success or failure.

Big tackle by T-Sizzle there. Ravens have to get off the field quickly to have a chance in a 2 possession game.

3:13-I know Joe was excited to throw that ball, but double coverage to Mason???

3:12-Lardarius Webb is showing himself to be a real weapon. The Ravens might want to consider having him in on a couple offensive plays later in the season. Seriously.

3:10-Great play call there by the Vikes on 3rd down, thank God Brett overthrew Sidney Rice on that one…..but it’s a 2 possession game again, so the pressure goes right back on Flacco’s shoulders.

3:08-Ed Reed unfortunately picked Fabian Washington himself there. Remember what I said about momentum? Gone…..

3:03-Now there’s a little pressure on the Vikings to do something offensively. The Ravens could use a turnover BADLY. When you start to turn momentum, you have to absolutely seize it…….

3:01-THANK FREAKING GOD!!!!!!

2:59-Ravens have been doing little to nothing on 1st down…..I think anyway…..don’t have stats handed to me every quarter.

Great job of getting rid of that one there by Joe Cool.

2:58-Remember when the Ravens ran a successful screen play to Jared Allen’s side of the field? Where do you think that play went?

2:52-At least holding them to a Ryan Longwell field goal means this is still a 2 possession game, but they HAVE to get something going offensively.

2:49-The Ravens absolutely HAVE to make tackles…….that was unacceptable. The Vikings will try to keep the ball on the ground in the 2nd half; ground the rest of the clock away……

2:48-I understand everyone’s frustration watching this game……trust me.

This is a big play here. 3rd and 2….the Ravens HAVE to get off the field somehow…

2:42-Does anyone know who the penalty was on there on Lardarius Webb’s kick return? Did he say #29? Would like to know…just a terrible way to start the first half. You have a chance to take momentum, and just give it away completely.

2:24-Hauschka gets his first FG attempt in weeks to get the Ravens on the board. If they can get points on their first drive of the 2nd half; they can make this a 1 possession game and at least make this interesting…..

2:23-TERRIBLE decision there. Just TERRIBLE.

2:22-If they had been effective earlier on this drive, they would have 3 shots at the endzone.

2:21-We knew the Ravens were going to miss Jared Gaither. Michael Oher hasn’t played poorly, but this is just a REALLY tough assignment for him….

2:20-HORRIFIC 2 minute offense. Just absolutely unacceptable in every way.

2:18-Mark Clayton HAS to get out of bounds there. HAS TO. Damn….

Also, how bout that? The officials corrected their missed spot? Would have liked to have seen that a week ago……

2:16-Why would Ed Reed pick up the ball there????

2:10-On a day like this, the only good news can be the site that the Redskins trail the Chiefs 3-0…….

2:09-I’m not sure I agree with that………

2:08-They’ll have field position here. If a team EVER needed a 3 and out badly……..

2:04-Great catch by Derrick Mason after a push-off. Hey, if Randy Moss can get away with them, Derrick should be able to as well…..

2:01-Chris Carr probably should have let that one go. At least they have the football. If Joe can get something together, he could make this a 1 possession game……

1:58-Pass rush “creativity” is not just bringing extra men. That wasn’t particularly good…..

1:56-Ray Lewis had 6 points there if he can find that ball……

1:53-Dan Dierdorf says what everyone else was thinking……looked like the Vikes jumped. It might have been nothing more than an anticipated snap count; but it looked brutal.

1:52-At least Mike Carey saw that correctly the 2nd time. Geez…..

1:50-This is a fumble if Joe’s hand was empty when it came forward. It was not. This is a forward pass….Jared Allen was just on Joe’s arm as he was throwing it forward.

1:49-If Mike Carey can’t see Joe threw the ball there, I’m not sure what he’s watching…….

1:48-That was an incomplete pass……..NO WAY that was a fumble……

1:46-Who missed the block on that screen? Looked like Ben Grubbs. That might well be the difference between that being a first down gain and being a 6 yard gain…..

1:43-Greg Mattison’s adjustments solid after a disastrous start early. Let’s see if Cam Cameron can make similar solid adjustments….

1:41-Jared Allen apparently isn’t aware that he stepped on the most important foot in the state of Maryland. Someone should probably let him know…..

1:35-Cam Cameron’s in-game adjustments have not been outstanding this season. He will not be able to just assume that Ray Rice/Willis McGahee/Le’Ron McClain can run the ball in the middle of the field with Kevin and Pat Williams waiting for them. They have to use passes to Ray Rice in the flat to try to GET the middle of the field. (I say this as if Cam doesn’t already know it….)

1:32-Domonique Foxworth may have just made the best play he’s made all season. Dierdorf rightly points out it was a good no-call. Chris Kluwe does Ravens no favors on punt….

1:31-Greg Gumbel mistakenly called John Harbaugh “Jim Harbaugh” earlier in the game……..John Harbaugh might be wishing he were Jim Harbaugh right now……

1:30-Sam Koch takes a dive. Worth the shot…….

1:29-There was a TD to Derrick Mason-if Mason was 5 years younger…….

1:24-Bernard Barrian TD…..14-0…..this could be a disaster if the Ravens don’t adjust QUICKLY

1:18-This is a classic chess match issue…Darrell Bevell noticed that the Ravens would probably adjust to the big plays outside and up top, so they went to the middle strikes on quick throws. Instead of putting touch on the ball-expecting Greg Mattison to move his safeties outside for help-he’s taking advantage of quick developing passing lanes.

Hint: It’s working.

1:17-Wait, the Ravens had the ball? I must have missed it……..

1:07-This doesn’t bode well for my pick. Christ. Visanthe Shiancoe scores a TD on a play where Kelly Gregg (Justin Bannan?) was offsides anyway. Favre with the quick strikes to both Shiancoe and Rice on the drive after AP’s big run. The only highlight was Terrell Suggs’ tackle of Chester Taylor in the backfield. 7-0 Vikes, and this could get brutal if adjustments aren’t made.

1:03-Tackling at the point of attack is the only way to stop Adrian Peterson. That HURTS. It also hurt that Fabian Washington was blocked by a ref, but I doubt he would have brought down “All Day” either.

Also, Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf on the call today. Gumbel says Ray Lewis called Brett Favre “The Ultimate Warrior.” Apologies to this guy???

warrior

12:50-I have been informed that Jay Glazer said today that the Ravens called the Bills regarding Terrell Owens’ status-a story that has gained traction over at PFT.

I would like to point out that this does NOT mean the Ravens were interested in trading for Terrell Owens. Quite simply, a call made to the Bills could have been nothing more than a gauge regarding the value of receivers on the open market. If the Bills had been willing to part with T.O. for a 5th round pick, the Ravens may have told the Chiefs they were looking for too much in return for Dwayne Bowe.

Glazer did a nice job of making the Terrell Owens story more sensational for FOX; but we do NOT know enough about the nature of the conversation to assume that the Ravens were truly trying to make a play for Owens. I would assume that Bills WR Roscoe Parrish would be a better fit for the Ravens.

12:40-On Friday’s Comcast Morning Show, I picked the Ravens to win 24-13, despite the fact that they have lost 2 straight games and have a TON of question marks.

That being said, the positions where the Ravens are vulnerable are NOT the positions where the Vikings are particularly strong.

The teams that have had success throwing the football against the Ravens are the teams that have had big, physical receivers to throw the football to up top. The Vikes have just one receiver (Sidney Rice) who is taller than 6’1″. While Chris Henry was the only Bengal over 6’1″ (6’4″), 6’1″ Chad Ochocinco’s remarkable leaping ability made him play taller than his height. Bernard Berrian does not offer the same threat.

On the other side of the football, the Ravens were done in last week by a Bengals defense that cheated with their safeties because they were comfortable putting Leon Hall and Jonathan Joseph in one-on-one situations with the Ravens’ Wide Receivers. Putting 5’9″ Antoine Winfield in the same position would be VERY dangerous for Brad Childress’ team. I think the Vikings will be forced to drop their safeties back to help in coverage against Mark Clayton and Kelley Washington, which SHOULD keep the middle of the field somewhat more open for Derrick Mason and Todd Heap-although each will draw extra attention.

Michael Oher will have a tough assignment with Jared Allen, and I think Joe Flacco’s jersey will get dirty today. If Joe can hold onto the football, the Ravens should survive whatever havoc Jared Allen creates. On the other side of the ball, the Ravens will face a tall talk on the Vikings’ left side of the offensive line, where Bryant McKinnie and Steve Hutchinson rarely let defenders through. But the right side of the line is more suspect (A banged up Phil Loadholt and Anthony Herrera), and Jarret Johnson should be able to get into the backfield.

Plus, you’re heard my thoughts on how the Ravens like to rally behind players and coaches to create an emotional “chip on their shoulder” type of edge. Matt Birk is coming back to Minnesota, and Greg Mattison and Cam Cameron have been maligned throughout the week. This team should certainly have their edge back.

12:32-For the record, Percy Harvin IS active today.

12:21-The weekend has been marked by trade rumors revolving around the Ravens. Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe was linked by ESPN on Friday. The NFL Network linked Pats WR Joey Galloway last night. Even today, NBC Sports somewhat linked Jaguars WR Mike Sims-Walker.

The conversation I had with a team source yesterday left me feeling as though a trade for Bowe (or any trade of significance) would be unlikely. However, Galloway would likely be available for little more than a conditional 7th round pick-so I wouldn’t eliminate it.

That being said, the Ravens SHOULD be willing to deal for a player like Bowe or Sims-Walker. They may not be as tall as some of the receivers around the NFL (both are 6’2″), but they can stretch the field-which the Ravens lack right now. The rumor surrounding Bowe was a 2nd & 5th round pick-which I just don’t see Ozzie Newsome doing. I was surprised Kansas City would make that deal as well-as Bowe was a 1st round pick himself, and teams RARELY trade away a 1st round pick without getting one back. That being said, the Bucs traded Gaines Adams (4th overall pick) to the Bears for a 2nd rounder. That might have hurt the Chiefs in what they were hoping for-even though Adams and Bowe play different positions.

12:11-James Brown (of CBS) just offered condolences to CBS Sports President Sean McManus on the death of his mother (Margaret Dempsey McManus) Thursday. McManus was of course the wife of the great Jim McKay. Sean McManus joined Drew Forrester just two Thursdays ago on The Comcast Morning Show-and I know that I enjoy seeing the success of Sean McManus due to the great pride I have in what Jim McKay meant to the city of Baltimore. I would also like to pass along my condolences to Sean for his loss.

11:41-Here are your scratches:

Baltimore:
QB John Beck (3rd QB)
RB Jalen Parmele
LB Antwan Barnes
DE/LB Paul Kruger
WR/ST David Tyree
OT Oniel Cousins
OT Jared Gaither
DT Kelly Talavou

Minnesota:
QB Sage Rosenfels (3rd QB)
WR/KR Darius Reynaud
RB Albert Young
CB Asher Allen
LB Erin Henderson
C Jon Cooper
DT Letroy Guion
DE Jayme Mitchell

11:20-Greetings from……my couch. Yep, I’ll be joining you at home; live at The Glenn Clark compound (we call it “Summer Camp”) in Rosedale. Nestor Aparicio is keeping me updated from the Metrodome in Minneapolis; and Drew Forrester and Luke Jones will also be checking in here and via Twitter (@WNST) during the game. The Ravens are 3-2 and have lost back to back games (@New England, vs. Cincinnati); the Vikes are 5-0 with wins over the Browns, Lions, 49ers, Packers and Rams.

The biggest question marks on the injury report are Jared Gaither (doubtful) and Minnesota’s Percy Harvin (questionable). Mostly a guess, but I think we’ll see Harvin active-Gaither inactive.

Back shortly with your inactive list….

-G

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