Everybody and their mother has some lingering opinions about Monday night’s loss to the Steelers, so here are mine. (My mom will blog hers later today.)
Next Time Try the Gipper Speech: I don’t know what was said (or eaten) in the Ravens locker room at halftime, but they really laid an egg after intermission. Entering the second half with a 10-point lead, the Ravens’ third quarter possessions resulted in:
- Four drives totaling 36 net yards and eating up 6:20 of possession time
- Eight pass attempts with one completion (Joe Flacco’s 26-yarder to Derrick Mason after his 12-second scramble)
- Five rushes for 10 yards
- Two sacks
- One first down (the completion to Mason)
Oh, and Flacco also coughed up a fumble that was returned by the Steelers for a touchdown. Just a little different than the 21-point third quarter vs. the Browns last week.
Déjà Vu: With all the talk about how “different” and great the Ravens’ performance was on Monday night, I have to wonder if Ravens’ fans memories are limited to the previous calendar year. Was Monday night really more exciting than the Christmas Eve performance in 2006 when the Ravens destroyed the Steelers 31-7 with Steve McNair throwing three touchdown passes and Jamal Lewis shoving Joey Porter’s head into the turf after steam-rolling him? Was the Ravens’ performance Monday night more inspired than Halloween 2005 when, again on Monday Night Football, the undermanned Ravens (Anthony Wright at QB; Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Jason Brown, Mark Clayton, Anthony Weaver and Ovie Mughelli all inactive for the game) lost 20-19 on a late fourth-quarter field goal to the eventual Super Bowl champion Steelers? Does anyone remember that Brian Billick also lost his first game to the Steelers 23-20 in 1999? Do the Ravens’ current league rankings (first in the NFL in total defense; 31st in the NFL in passing) look any different than in years past? Does anyone have the ability to endorse the Ravens’ change at head coach without pretending that what we’re seeing out of the Ravens is incredibly new and different?
Inmates Still Running the Asylum: And you thought the penitentiary-style summer camp would lead to disciplined play? The Ravens had four personal foul penalties Monday night, just one shy of their total in the infamous Lions game in 2005 that supposedly characterized a team on the brink of chaos due to a lack of leadership. But hey, at least the head referee never claimed that one of the Ravens had “malice in his heart,” as Mike Carey did after ejecting Terrell Suggs from that Lions game.
Talk to the Hand: How about Jarret Johnson waving off head coach John Harbaugh after Johnson’s crucial unnecessary roughness penalty that set up the Steelers’ first touchdown and breathed life back into the Pittsburgh fans? While it’s debatable as to the wisdom of Harbaugh’s timing (Johnson was visibly livid), that was a pretty strong sign of disrespect for the new skipper. Harbaugh was diplomatic in his post-game press conference (with diplomatic being a nice way of describing what used to be chastised as “excuse-making” by detractors of the previous coaching staff), but you have to think this matter will be further addressed behind closed doors.
The Honeymoon Ain’t Over Yet: While perusing the Baltimore Sun’s website, I found two interesting polls. One asked respondents to grade the Ravens various units, including coaching. The other asked “Are Ravens More Disciplined under Harbaugh?” The results of both polls show that Harbaugh and the new coaching staff are still enjoying their honeymoon, even after Monday night’s setback. When dolling out grades, 70.1% of those responding gave the coaching staff a B or better (52% gave a B; 18.1% gave an A) for their job vs. the Steelers. Somewhat surprising given the third quarter play-calling and their failure to ask for a review of Derrick Mason’s incompletion in the end zone in the first quarter – handling either of those situations differently could’ve resulted in a Ravens win. When answering the discipline question, almost half of the respondents (49.3%) said the team is more disciplined, despite all the aforementioned personal fouls that the Ravens committed Monday night.