A funny thing happened in Jacksonville on Monday night.
The Ravens offense forgot to show up.
The defense certainly held up their end of the bargain, allowing only 4 field goals in a 12-7 loss, but the offense was absolutely atrocious and a cupcake-laugher turned into the ultimate embarrassment as Baltimore allowed Blaine Gabbert and the 1-5 Jaguars to shock them on national television.
Nothing went right for the Ravens on offense.
No one was worth a hoot.
Hell, if you want to break it down, Josh Scobee himself beat the Ravens on Monday night, with four field goals, including three from 50+ yards.
And it’s a battle once again in the AFC North as the Ravens stumbled into a first-place tie with the Steelers and Bengals.
How can you explain what happened on Monday night?
Everyone on offense was terrible. Flacco, Rice, McKinnie, Oher, Boldin. Bad, bad, bad. Cam Cameron will get crushed by his legion of haters, but I’m putting this one on the players. They just didn’t get the job done.
The only thing worse might have been the officiating crew, who were awful all night…for both teams.
But this game wasn’t lost by the referees.
It was lost by the Ravens.
They didn’t get a first down on offense for 40 minutes. Yes, you read that right. 40 minutes.
And yet, despite their pedestrian offensive performance, Cam Cameron didn’t direct the offense to go to the hurry-up, no-huddle version until 5 minutes remained in the game. Oh, yeah, the Ravens scored a touchdown on that drive.
It should be noted that the defense, while solid, did allow 132 yards on the ground. That’s a tonic for losing.
Even John Harbaugh got in the act with a late-game coaching faux pas. Down 9-7 with 2:02 to play, Harbaugh eschewed the reasonable decision — to have Billy Cundiff kick the ball out of the stadium — and gambled with an onside kick. Why was this a faux pas? Simple…field position. If Jacksonville starts on their own 20 and they go 3 and out and have to punt from their own 15 yard line or so, the Ravens likely get the ball somewhere around their own 30, maybe better, and only need to get somewhere close to the Jags 30 yard line to set up a potential game-winning field goal. With the onside kick, the ONLY thing that works out in the Ravens favor is if they recover the kick. If Jacksonville recovers the kick and doesn’t move the ball at all and they punt, it’s likely to be downed somewhere inside the 10 yard line, meaning the Ravens will need to go 60 yards to set up the field goal. And if Jacksonville holds the ball and kicks a field goal to go up 12-7 – which, of course, is what happened, then Baltimore needs a touchdown to win.
The right call there was to kick the ball into the end zone. That’s not why the Ravens lost, but even John Harbaugh had a hand in this defeat.
There was some post-game friction too, as Terrell Suggs openly questioned *someone* by saying, “Their big horse (Jones-Drew) ran the ball, what, 30 times? And he got 100 yards. That’s what you do with your horse, you give him the ball. Our horse ran it 7 times? (Rice actually carried it 8 times). I don’t understand that.”
Give Suggs credit for standing up and talking to the media afterwards. Same to Cam Cameron, Joe Flacco, and Jarret Johnson. Ray Lewis and Ray Rice didn’t speak to the media following the loss. They’ll get beat up a little for that and rightfully so. I’ve beat that horse to death. You have to talk to the media after the game whether you win or lose. Ray Lewis knows that. He just didn’t want to do it last night. It’s not right, but it is what it is. Same for Ray Rice. He knows better.
It’s a slippery slope anytime a player – even someone with the resume of Suggs – openly questions a member of the coaching staff. It’s basically unacceptable. It’s one thing for a player to pull the Head Coach aside at the facility and talk things out, but you just can’t have a player in a post-game media setting dropping loud and open hints about a member of the staff’s decision making. And the excuse of “those guys are just frustrated” doesn’t hold water. It’s a basic tenant of team sports. Keep your dirty laundry in-house and work it out like men. Say what you will about John Harbaugh, but you never, ever hear him question one of his players publicly. Hell, after the first half on Monday night, he was questioned by an ESPN talking-head and he said, “I’m not disappointed with the first half, we just have to play better in the second half.”
But the Ravens problems go deeper than guys not talking to the media or Suggs taking a veiled swipe at Cam Cameron after the game.
Or do they?
Now would be the appropriate time to mention that Jacksonville played phenomenal defense all night long. To not give them credit – a lot of it – would be grossly unfair, despite how poorly the Ravens offense played. The Jacksonville secondary played press coverage at the line of scrimmage all night and continually befuddled the Ravens wide receivers. If there’s one concern going forward for the Ravens, it might be that other teams with good, physical corners will be able to adjust their coverage accordingly and play the Baltimore wide receivers at the line of scrimmage.
Jacksonville played well on Monday night. That has to be repeated to keep the outcome in context.
But a 4-1 team with the kind of talent possessed by the Ravens shouldn’t lose to a Jacksonville team that hadn’t won since opening day.
They didn’t just lose. The Ravens were embarrassed on Monday night.
But there is good news.
I won my fantasy football game when Maurice Jones-Drew failed to get 30 fantasy points for my opponent.
Feel better now?