Ravens lose at Green Bay, 27-14 — lots of questions, few answers

December 08, 2009 | Drew Forrester

That should be a fun flight back home from Green Bay.

Just a hunch here, but I’m betting the flight doesn’t take off on time and the airport throws a penalty flag on the Ravens for “delay of plane”.

And once they get back to Baltimore, there will be A LOT of questions for the Ravens to answer after Monday night’s 27-14 loss at Green Bay that has pushed the team to the brink of playoff elimination with a 6-6 mark and four games remaining.

In the most important game of the season, the Ravens looked anything but interested, with the exception of about one minute or so in the 3rd quarter when they scratched their way back into the games thanks to two defensive turnovers.

How do the Ravens come out listless – again – and fall behind 17-0 in the first half?  How?

And how on earth, trailing by two scores with less than 3 minutes to play, do the Ravens mismanage the clock (with two time-outs) and not get the ball back until 1:56 remained in the game?

In the final 1:56, the Ravens then operated as if they were walking in Druid Hill Park on a Sunday afternoon.

12 games into the season and that “two-minute drill” at the end was the best they could do?

What about Joe Flacco, you say?  Oh, we’ll get to him, don’t worry.

I just have to check in with the refs real quick to see if they have any more flags to throw.  Yep, they’ve just called Dom Foxworth for a pass interference penalty on a play in the 2nd quarter.

Here’s the real story of the game:

The Packers wanted it more.

It was a game for men to play on Monday night.  Temperatures in the 20′s.  Lambeau Field.  The mecca of football.

And the Packers won this game in the trenches.  Their defensive line outworked the Ravens offensive line all night and the Green Bay defense – when not being penalized – stopped Baltimore’s run throughout the game.

Two turnovers crushed the Ravens.  In all fairness, Baltimore generated a pair of turnovers that changed the complexion of the game (momentarily) in the 3rd quarter…but two mistakes by the Ravens, at nearly alternate ends of the game, really hurt Baltimore’s chances.

There was an early fumble by Ray Rice deep in Green Bay territory when the Ravens were driving after falling behind early, 3-0.

That one was huge.  It stopped Baltimore’s “rebound drive”.  It’s tough to be down on Ray Rice after the season he’s had but that’s a turnover you just can’t have at that moment in the game.

The gaffe at the end of the game, though, was much bigger.  Down 24-14 early in the 4th quarter, the Ravens had a first and goal from the one yard line.  A Willis McGahee run was stopped short of the goal line and then the throw that sealed the night came next.  Flacco, rolling to his right, threw across his body into the middle of the end zone, where the ball landed softly in the hands of Tremayne Williams — he plays for the Packers, though.

And what was about to be a 24-21 ballgame with almost 9 minutes to play became a first and 10 for Green Bay at their own 20 yard line.

To say that mistake was huge would be akin to saying Tiger’s week didn’t go so well last week.

“Huge mistake” doesn’t cover it appropriately.

And 12 games into his second season, Joe Flacco shouldn’t make that mistake.

He knows that.

But that doesn’t help matters.

Flacco – and the offense in general – was so ineffective throughout the first half and into the 3rd quarter that I honestly thought out loud that it might be a wise move to see if maybe Troy Smith could come in and light a spark under the team.  That would have been drastic, yes.  But when you’re 6-5 and your offense is running on fumes, those kind of changes might be useful.  Just as I thought that, though, Chris Carr created a turnover and the Ravens scored a touchdown on a Flacco-to-Kelley-Washington TD pass and I stopped thinking about Troy Smith and started thinking about a comeback.

They eventually made it 17-14 and then, at 24-14, Flacco’s big mistake took the air out of the comeback balloon.

And then the way the team lollygagged up and down the field in the final 3 minutes or so epitomized the effort the team gave in the first half.

Neither effort was acceptable.

Down two scores with two minutes to go is NOT time to go on cruise control.  The Ravens got the ball back with 1:56 to play and one time-out in their pocket.  They ran exactly six plays in the next 1:13 and used a time-out with 43 seconds to play.  Six plays in 73 seconds.  I’ll do the math.  That’s 12 seconds per-play…on average.

By comparison, the Raiders ran six plays in the final 32 seconds of their game-winning drive in Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh.

You have 1:56 to play, down by two scores, and the BEST you can do is run six plays in 1:13?

That’s why you’re 6-6.

So it’s back to Baltimore where, amazingly, the Ravens will convene on Wednesday and be alerted to the fact that they’re still not out of this playoff race.

And honestly, they’re not out of it.

Almost.

But not officially out of it.

In fact, they “only” need to win their last four games and they’ll probably get in.

Home tap-ins over Detroit and Chicago will then take the team to Pittsburgh on December 27 for what will definitely be a “win or go home” kind of game for BOTH teams.

One thing for sure:  If the Ravens can’t conduct themselves more professionally over the last four weeks, the playoff streak for this team ends at one.

Everyone has to step up.

The coaches, the players…everyone.

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