When a win feels like a loss …..

December 14, 2010 |

As you awakened and gathered your thoughts, this morning, did you immediately beckon back to last night’s crucial victory, in Houston? Better yet, did you develop an immediate sense of confidence, as the Ravens find themselves one game closer to the playoffs?

Probably not …..

It just doesn’t feel like one of those mornings after a BIG WIN …. as we wade through the most demanding stretch of the schedule. While the factual truth is the Ravens achieved their 9th win of the season, the sobering truth is they blew another 4th quarter lead and benefited from a devastatingly costly blunder by the opponent.

That’s football, but it’s certainly not the brand and style of football the Ravens have displayed throughout much of the last decade. The offense stalled and sputtered, while the defense buckled with an exhausted presence.

Let’s be honest, they didn’t achieve this victory by “MANNING UP”; they simply lucked out …..

Nevertheless, I’m happy with the win. It’s no less humbling than the Steelers overtime victory against Buffalo, a couple weeks ago. Nor, is it any cheaper than the Colts squeaker against the Bengals, last month.

When January arrives and win/loss records are tabulated, the Monday night affair against the Texans will benefit the Ravens respective postseason position. Whether they somehow migrate into the AFC-North title or secure a wildcard berth, this team will count win #9 as a true blessing.

But, we know the truth. They got lucky …..

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 13: Quarterback Matt Schaub  of the Houston Texans during warm ups before playing the Baltimore Ravens at Reliant Stadium on December 13, 2010 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

While Josh Wilson is rightfully credited with pulling off the game winning (and SAVING) play, I’ve gotta hand it to Matt Schaub – he really propelled the Ravens victory. Heck, he deserved the game ball …. and an all-expenses paid trip to ANYWHERE !!!!

I realize most of the “Tuesday Morning Quarterbacking” will emphasize on Cam Cameron’s decision not to run the ball on 3rd down, with less than 3 minutes remaining in the game. And, I agree with the respective questioning of that call, but the Texans decision to throw the ball from deep within their own territory to begin their first overtime drive is equally perplexing.

Arian Foster was succeeding against a GASSED Ravens defense, and I certainly expected him to carry the load until achieving a more comfortable field position. To be blunt, the Texans gambled when they really didn’t need to play so recklessly.

And, they paid the ultimate price for such a risky proposition …..

Last night’s affair showcased a fast start for Joe Flacco and the offense, which absolutely defies what we’ve witnessed during other road games, in 2010. But, we also observed the stunning reality of a very pedestrian offensive attack in the final 30 minutes.

While the Ravens were expected to capitalize on a very suspect Texans defense, it was quite refreshing to see the early assault on such a disorganized crew. Yet, in the second half, they looked like one of the top units in the NFL, while punishing Flacco’s offensive line.

I suppose today’s most agonizing acceptance is the once-heralded Ravens defense is nowhere near as talented and tough as former editions. They surrender entire fields of yardage at the most inopportune times – and a late lead is not safe in their arms.

Attribute the defense’s apparent demise to personnel deficiencies, aged veterans and a lack of depth, among other factors. However, if this team wants to play football in late January, the defense must find a way to protect leads – period.

Today is just one of those days when we’re obligated to be honest with ourselves; this Ravens team has serious concerns as they drive toward the final few games of the season. They’re on the brink of securing a spot in the “bonus round”, but are they capable of winning games in the new year?

I’m not as confident as I was a few weeks ago …..

Yesterday, I identified the Ravens as one of the AFC’s best teams. I stand by those remarks and my previous blog. But, I’m not so sure they can beat the other “best teams.”

And, I know one thing for certain …..

Last night’s overall effort wouldn’t get it done.