It is now two and a half hours after the most bitter Ravens defeat since that dreadful loss to Indianapolis in the playoffs two seasons ago and my emotions have run the gamut tonight from angry and mad, to disappointed and sad, to happy overall that the Ravens gave us this opportunity in a year most of us thought would be big trouble, and finally over to the calm analytical mode where I can clearly provide some thoughts on today’s game and the Ravens season:
First off, I think Pittsburgh is definitely the best team in the AFC and they will prove it by beating up Kerry Collins and the fading Tennessee Titans next week. I think they are the best team in the NFL right now but a certain defending Super Bowl Champion who went into Pittsburgh back in late October and won there gets that claim. But I think the Steelers would just love another shot at the New York Football Giants.
As for the Ravens, they are very close to the Steelers and as Drew said, the difference right now is the QB position but let’s give our #5 some more experience and perhaps we might have another story next year. But the NFL is all about right now and this was a missed opportunity. We can put some blame on Flacco for not having a very good game but I also have to put blame on offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, who for some reason got pretty conservative today when the Ravens were in scoring position (inside the Steelers 30). Cameron has done a great job with this offense but today he used a little too much of a “let’s not lose” game plan instead of the “play to win” plan we’ve seen alot of this year. The play calling after the Ed Reed fumble recovery was awful and the two runs before the Flacco fumble late in the game were too predictable. Flacco finally had a little rhythm going at that point so a pass on either first or second down should have been called and could have gotten the Ravens in position for a TD that would have made the late Steeler touchdown a moot point.
I also have to put some blame on Willis McGahee again because he let his man escape on that crucial 3rd and 8 play that led to the Flacco fumble when the Ravens were leading 9-6 late in the fourth quarter. McGahee was also a disappointment running the ball, although Pittsburgh does have a good defense, but for the money the Ravens are paying #23 he just isn’t cutting it.
Defensively, the guys played their tails off but were just inches short, although that first Steeler field goal was aided by a questionable first down spot early in the drive. Clearly the Fabian Washington injury caused Rex Ryan to alter his defense. Can anyone say take a cornerback early in the draft in April?
It looks like the Ravens must win both games to make the playoffs thanks to Buffalo’s stupid coaches who decided to have J.P. Loserman try and throw the ball with a three point lead with less than two minutes left against a Jets defense that could NOT stop Marshawn Lynch. The Bills gift wrapped this one for New York and it hurts the Ravens because 10-6 likely won’t make it in now. Winning in Dallas with it being the last game in Texas Stadium will be VERY tough but if you want to make the playoffs then you have to win a tough game and this is one of them.
Can you believe the Redskins lost to the Bengals today? Their season is done and any Redskin fans should be buying Raven fans beverages all off-season, especially those Skins fans who were talking smack before the beginning of the season. Ravens 9-5, Skins 7-7 and Ravens 24 Skins 10 does make me feel better about this loss today but I still would rather beat the Steelers any day than beat the Redskins. But Steeler fans have to admit that this Ravens team is a good one given how close the two games were and I bet most of them aren’t happy at the prospect of this Baltimore franchise finally having a QB for the future and that is something this town has desperately wanted since 1996 (I was never a Vinny fan so I don’t count him as a good QB).
Finally, I agree with Casey Willett, it is nice to hear the Ravens players not blaming this loss on the referees. I thought the officiating crew did a poor job but the bottom line is the Steelers were just barely better today. And as a former Super Bowl winning Ravens head coach (who keeps appearing in Coors Light commericals) likes to say: If you put the game in the hands of the referees, you usually won’t like the outcome!
I’m proud of this football team and I don’t think we’ve heard the last of them yet this year so let’s just hope they can find a way to win in Texas Stadium next Saturday night. The Cowboys are good, but they are beatable.