Ravens: Offense and defense both get blame in 3-point loss at Pittsburgh

October 20, 2013 | Drew Forrester

Tough loss.

At the worst time.

And, like the one last week against Green Bay, it was there for the taking.

Sunday’s 19-16 loss in Pittsburgh – against a mediocre-at-best Steelers team – will sting for a lot longer than the 45-minute flight home later tonight.

The Ravens are in unfamiliar territory now, dropping two straight games heading into the bye and sitting at 3-4 as the halfway point of the season approaches.

John Harbaugh, Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs and the rest of the men in purple have their work cut out for the next ten weeks or so, that’s for certain.

Once again on Sunday, the Ravens offense failed to do anything for the first 50 minutes of the game.

Then, like last week against the Packers, they suddenly came to life with a championship-type-drive late in the 4th quarter to knot the game at 16-16.

Unfortunately, it was also “just like last week” for the defense, who surrendered a huge throw to Jermichael Finley late in the Packers game that sealed their fate and allowed 39 yards in the final two minutes of Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh to put the Steelers in position to nail the game-winning field goal.

That’s been the story of the last two weeks, in particular, and most of the season, really.

Offense:  not very good for most of the game, comes to life late.

Defense: decent for most of the game, runs out of gas late and gives up a huge drive.

In fairness to Baltimore’s offense on Sunday, do you know how many possessions they had in 60 minutes of football?

Think about it for a second — in four quarters against the Steelers, how many offensive series’ did Flacco have at his disposal?



They had seven offensive possessions in four quarters and scored on four of them; three FG’s and a TD.

The reason they only had seven?  For starters, they gave one of them away with a third-quarter onsides kick attempt that wasn’t all that bad of an idea, honestly.  They just needed better execution, which means, basically, that Jeromy Miles can’t be offside on the play.  Even though Justin Tucker was flagged for touching the ball before it went ten yards, Miles was flagged for offsides, which would have negated the play had it been successful.

And the bigger reason why they only had seven offensive possessions?  The Ravens defense just can’t get the other team off the field without yielding a 12-play, 10-minute drive of some sort.

Pittsburgh, too, only had seven offensive series’ on Sunday, but not once did they go 3-and-out.  In fact, five of their seven offensive possessions were eight plays or more.

On the final drive, Baltimore just couldn’t get a defensive stop when they needed it.  Just like last week against Green Bay.

The back-breaker of the whole affair wasn’t even an offensive or defensive play.  After the Ravens had tied the game with 1:58 to play, Emmanuel Sanders promptly took the ball six yards deep in his end zone and ran it back out to his own 37 yard line, scampering past the Ravens’ kick-coverage contain player who was supposed to seal the sideline but failed to do so.  Starting in decent position, Ben Roethlisberger connected on three big passing plays and before you could blink, Shaun Suisham was lining up for the game-winner from 42 yards out.

In review, at the seven game mark, the biggest issue continues to be the team’s offense.  Even with the no-huddle effort on Sunday, they looked lethargic and lacking the big play explosiveness you would expect from a unit with a QB who can throw it sixty yards like you and I can throw it twenty.  They ran the ball for 82 yards, which looks like an improvement over recent weeks, but still have lots of work to do in that department between now and New Year’s.

Defensively, the Steelers penetrated the Ravens front seven time and time again with their own hard-nosed running style and Roethlisberger was his typical, scrambling self, finding receivers who had created enough separation to get the ball buzzed into them in tight quarters.

Baltimore’s defense, while decent enough “stats wise” this season, just isn’t adept enough at getting opposing offenses off the field quickly.  Case in point on Sunday:  the Steelers punted the ball one time all afternoon.

So, it’s back to the drawing board for Harbaugh and his coaching staff.  The biggest benefit for the Ravens?  They haven’t yet played the division leading Bengals, so they’ll have two swipes at them between now and their 16th game.

That said, if the offense can’t play better in the first 50 minutes and if the defense can’t play better in the final 10 minutes, those two showdowns with Cincinnati might not matter at all.

6 Comments For This Post

  1. joe of bel air Says:

    Have to be concerned about the Ravens. In their last 12 regular season games they are 4-8 against some pretty mediocre teams. They lost last year to a Charlie Batch Steeler team, lost to a rookie led Redskin team, lost to a rookie led Buffalo team and now to a 1-4 bad Pittsburgh team. Not sure what the answer is because there is blame to go all around, offense can’t score until the last quarter, defense can’t get off the field and except for Justin Tucker the special teams are making too many mistakes (blocked punts, long returns and offsides on an onsides kick attempt). After watching Cincy win their last 2 games it’s hard to think that this isn’t their year.

  2. Kolo Jezdec Says:

    Funny how the fans are concerned because the Ravens have lost to several ‘mediocre’ teams recently. Perhaps that might indicate that the Ravens are mediocre?

  3. JesusIsLord Says:

    This has to be so far one of the worst starts to a season from a super bowl champion! The Ravens aren’t clicking on any front, they are mis-firing on offense and defense, pathetic. Say it ain’t so Joe, what excuse are you gonna come up with this week? As far as I’m concerned his huge contract has strapped the Ravens and now they are being found out by everybody, I mean everybody!

  4. unitastoberry Says:

    Except for the playoff run starting with the Giant game last December this is the way they played last year too. Too many new faces who are not good enough.

  5. JesusIsLord Says:

    True that, too many new faces and not clicking. The problem is they had a good record at this point last season, it was near the end that they sputtered into the playoffs. If they don’t right the ship ASAP they will be outside looking in at this years playoffs, “playoffs, playyyyofffs……..

  6. Chuck Says:

    “Kolo” makes a good point.

    The 4-game playoff run was great, but since the beginning of last year (a full season and a half- becoming a meaningful sample) the Ravens and Redskins have the same number of regular season losses.

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