Aside from all of the obvious stuff — much of which will be covered in my forthcoming video blog of the trip here to The ‘Nati – I’m back in my hotel room and I gotta tell you: I hate this place.
Hordes of drunks yelling "Who dey" at the top of their lungs on every corner. Another blown game in Southern Ohio. But the worst part is the lousy residue remaining from this season-opening train wreck.
Enough turnovers to lose two games. Injuries up and down the roster — and virtually every one of them in key positions. And, of course, the 0-1 start on a short week and loss to a division opponent that puts the Ravens in the basement for the time being with the lowly Cleveland Browns.
Yeah, it could’ve been a WHOLE lot better tonight.
Let’s start with the injuries because they will be the recurring issue facing the Ravens not just next week, but for the next 16 weeks. Tonight’s game at Paul Brown Stadium was a virtual "body bag" game.
Jon Ogden: Is he gonna play or is this one giant mistake, him coming back to attempt to play when it’s pretty clear he’s nowhere near ready to be a productive 60-minute NFL player right now, let along his Hall of Fame self. It’s really a shame. He wants so badly to win another championship. Will he ever truly get back on the field and be the J.O. who is going to Canton? This is a legitimate Tuesday morning question.
Ray Lewis: He told some reporters after the game that he has a torn muscle in his arm. We’ll see when the MRI comes back. Either way, for ALL of the heroic efforts No. 52 has put forward since that day in 1996 on 33rd Street, not much tops his first half tonight — making tackles, shooing Bengals and motivating his teammates WITH ONE FREAKING ARM! If you EVER doubt how badly Ray Lewis wants to join Ogden in that Super Bowl winners’ circle one more time, you got your proof tonight. Ray is an absolute warrior, unlike anything I’ve ever seen. BUT — will he make it back onto the field this season if this is the type of injury that has cost the likes of Leon Searcy and Edwin Mulitalo entire seasons?
Steve McNair: Someone said it was a groin, someone else said it was a hip. Whatever it was, clearly McNair’s accuracy (everything was high and he couldn’t plant) and mobility were shaky this evening after the initial hit in the first quarter. His near-perfect health last year was miraculous given the tread on his tires and his problems at the end in Tennessee with getting him on the field and healthy. At this point, I’d be shocked if Kyle Boller doesn’t play a LOT this season.
Dan Wilcox: Limped off the field. This is a blow to depth on special teams and specialty packages on offense.
B.J. Sams: Perhaps we’ll see Yamon Figurs sooner than we thought, but Sams was a threat tonight every time he touched the ball before he got sandwiched.
In addition, there were a whole litany of players in the locker room after the game complaining about a variety of physical ailments. And it’s only 60 minutes into the season.
The game was so weird, so up and down that the officiating looked borderline "fixed." The call on the interception. The weird "make up" calls at the end of the game. It was just garbage all the way around. Not that we even EXPECT decent officiating in the NFL anymore (sheesh, they all but gave the Steelers a championship two seasons ago against Seattle), but tonight was beyond atrocious. It decided the game, and I think you’d be hard-pressed to convince Brian Billick OR Marvin Lewis any different. Officials should NEVER decide games.
All told, it was a devastating loss on a variety of levels for the Ravens.
But as Billick and the remaining players pointed out: it’s a short work week, no time for whining of crying over blown pass interference calls.
They turned the ball over six times, turned in their sloppiest effort in two seasons and now go home where trainer Bill Tessendorf is going to have to turn into Mother Teresa to get some of these elder statesmen back onto the field in the next five days.
Yeah, it could’ve been a whole lot better tonight in Cincinnati…