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Towson Hosts UNC Wilmington Saturday in CAA Clash

Posted on 28 January 2012 by WNST Staff

ON AIR: Saturday’s game can be seen live on ESPN3 with Gerry Sandusky handling the play-by-play duties and Vince Angotti providing analysis.

SETTING THE STAGE: The Tigers welcome UNC Wilmington to the Towson Center Arena today for a CAA clash. The Seahawks have dropped five of  their last six games after starting 3-1 in Colonial Athletic Association play. The Tigers are coming off a 67-42 loss at home to VCU and will be playing their fourth game in eight days. Towson and UNCW are two of the best squads in the CAA in offensive rebounding. The Tigers average 13.0 offensive rebounds per game and rank second in the league by grabbing 36.9 percent of their offensive misses. The Seahawks corral 34.7 percent of their missed shots, a number that ranks fifth in the conference. Saturday’s game is being sponsored by the University Store.

THIEVERY:
The Tigers had a season-high 13 steals against VCU on Wednesday. It was the second time this season Towson had double figures in steals. Freshman point guard Kris Walden led Towson with a season-high four steals while senior Robert Nwankwo and freshman Deon Jones each had three thefts.

DOMINATING THE BOARDS: Towson won the rebounding battle against VCU, 40-35, Wednesday night. It was the fourth straight game in which the Tigers outrebounded their opponent. Towson’s opposition in that stretch included George Mason, VCU and Old Dominion, all of which are in the top-four of the CAA standings. The Tigers are one of just three CAA teams (Drexel, Georgia State) to have three players rank in the Top 20 in the league in rebounding. Senior Robert Nwankwo and sophomores Marcus Damas and Erique Gumbs are each in the Top 20. Nwankwo ranks fourth in the league at 8.9 rebounds per game.

LAST TIME OUT: Towson was upended by VCU on Wednesday, 67-42. Forward Robert Nwankwo continued his stellar play for the Tigers as the senior recorded his eighth double-double of the season and his fourth in the last five games. Nwankwo scored a team-high 16 points and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds. Freshman Deon Jones just missed his second double-double of the year, tallying nine points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

SCOUTING THE SEAHAWKS: UNC Wilmington is coming off back-to-back losses against two of the top teams in the CAA. After topping William & Mary on the road, the Seahawks fell at George Mason, 67-61, Monday before getting beat at home by Old Dominion, 53-48, on Wednesday. Junior Keith Rendleman leads the league in rebounding with 11.0 boards a game and his 15.2 points a contest ranks seventh. Freshman Adam Smith is sixth in the CAA with 15.5 points per game.

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Ravens hope to avoid losing formula against underwhelming Browns offense

Posted on 02 December 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — There’s no big secret to beating the Baltimore Ravens despite how difficult it might be to actually carry out the plan.

Create turnovers, build an early lead, and control the tempo with the running game to wear down the defense and keep the offense on the sideline.

The Jaguars did it when they built a 9-0 lead behind a dominating defensive effort and rode the back of Maurice Jones-Drew in the second half to a 12-7 victory in October.

Three turnovers gave Seattle a 22-7 lead early in the second half as Marshawn Lynch’s 109 yards on 32 carries wore out the Baltimore defense, and the Seahawks controlled the ball for the final six minutes of the fourth quarter in a 22-17 final. The rushing totals by each team were eerily similar: 42 carries for 132 yards by Jacksonville and 42 carries for 119 yards by Seattle.

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The Cleveland Browns will try to find a similar formula to hand the Ravens their fourth loss to a sub-.500 team this season and put a dent in their goal for the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage in the AFC. They fit the same profile with an offense that won’t strike fear in anyone. Cleveland ranks 28th in total offense and averages just 15.0 points per game this season.

Colt McCoy is more game manager and less quarterback in his second NFL season, as Browns head coach Pat Shurmur preaches efficiency and high-percentage pass plays for the second-round pick who starred at Texas. Though clearly a bigger threat than Blaine Gabbert, who the Jaguars won in spite of in their meeting with the Ravens, McCoy isn’t going to strike fear into Ravens defenders’ hearts.

“You look at the breakdown, there’s a bunch of [third-and-short situations],” defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said. “He’s doing a great job managing the game. They’re making it simple for him. He’s getting the ball out, simple reads, and then he’s athletic and he’s scrambling.

In fairness, McCoy doesn’t exactly have a plethora of weapons to which to throw, with his leading receiver being rookie Greg Little, a second-round pick from North Carolina, who caught his first career touchdown against the Bengals last Sunday. He also soiled the day with four big drops in the Browns’ 23-20 loss in Cincinnati.

Much like their meetings with Jacksonville and Seattle, the Ravens won’t be facing a prolific offense that can light up the scoreboard. However, if the sixth-ranked Cleveland defense can force turnovers and set up the offense on a short field to score some early points, the Browns might be well-equipped to copy the second-half strategy used by the Jaguars and Seahawks.

Big, bruising running back Peyton Hillis is finally healthy and can wear down a defense in the same way Jones-Drew and Lynch were able to do in the Ravens’ last two losses. If the Ravens fall behind early in Cleveland on Sunday, they can expect plenty of Hillis, who’s rushed for only 276 yards on 79 carries this year after off-season accolades that included being on the cover of the Madden NFL 12 video game.

“I think I can make a huge difference,” Hillis said. “Including last game, I’ve only played [five] games all year, so I haven’t been out there too much, but I feel like when I get out there I can produce and help the team win.”

Of course, Hillis’ breakout performance came against the Ravens last season when he rushed for 144 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries in a 24-17 loss in Baltimore. The big day put the 250-pound back on the map and put the Ravens on notice that Hillis was no one to take lightly.

After an injury-riddled season in which he’s dealt with a hamstring injury and even a bout of strep throat, Hillis might be the great equalizer should the Browns be able to build an early lead against the Ravens on Sunday.

“He’s a downhill guy, so it’s a huge challenge,” Pagano said. “I think our guys fully understand and they know what they’re up against. They’ve got a good offensive line, and they’re blocking well. We’ve got respect for them. We understand what style of game he plays.”

With Hillis unavailable for most of the season, the Browns rank 29th in run offense with backup Montario Hardesty unable to stay healthy and previous unknown Chris Ogbonnaya receiving a bulk of the carries. But a healthy Hillis might just be enough to move the chains and keep the Browns in control if the Ravens shoot themselves in the foot as they did in their previous losses.

If the Ravens are their own worst enemy for a third straight time on the road against a team with a losing record, Hillis just might turn in a performance reminiscent of what he did in Baltimore last season.

“That was the first time we played them last season,” defensive end Cory Redding said. “It was early in the year. We played them later on in the year, and we stopped him. And, we put that behind us. Of course, you will go back and look at those games and see what hurt us – this, that and the other – just to get refreshed about how he runs and the blocking schemes, all that kind of stuff. But, for the most part, this is a new day and a new era. [He is] the same guy, same team, and you just go out there and do it one more time.”

The Ravens are hoping for a new day, indeed.

One that involves them taking care of an inferior opponent in the way they’re expected to.

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No sign of Lewis on Thursday as doubts grow for his status against Browns

Posted on 01 December 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As the Ravens move closer to a meeting with the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, it’s appearing more likely star linebacker Ray Lewis will be sidelined for his third straight game with a turf toe injury.

Lewis was absent from the portion of practice open to the media for the second straight day, putting his status in further doubt as he continues to receive treatment for the injury he suffered in the Ravens’ loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Nov. 13.

Cornerback Chris Carr (back) was also absent during the open portion of practice after he worked on a limited basis on Wednesday. The veteran missed Baltimore’s Thanksgiving night game against the San Francisco 49ers last week.

Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (thigh), running back Anthony Allen (thigh), and defensive tackle Arthur Jones were present and working during the open portion of practice. All three were listed as full participants on Wednesday’s official injury report.

 

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Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 Ravens for Week 10

Posted on 16 November 2011 by Luke Jones

Below are our (day-late) Tuesday Top 7 Ravens players in the surprising 22-17 defeat to the Seattle Seahawks. We’ll track our rankings throughout the 2011 season with the following point system:

No. 1 – 7 points
No. 2 – 6 points
No. 3 – 5 points
No. 4 – 4 points
No. 5 – 3 points
No. 6 – 2 points
No. 7 – 1 point

To hear our full explanation for our respective lists, click HERE.

Luke Jones’ Top 7 …

7) Haloti Ngata
Ngata

6) Dennis Pitta
Pitta

5) Cary Williams
Williams

4) Ray Rice
Rice

3) Bryant McKinnie
McKinnie

2) Lardarius Webb
Webb

1) Ed Dickson
Dickson

Drew Forrester’s Top 7 …

7) Paul Kruger
Kruger

6) Marshal Yanda
Yanda

5) Joe Flacco
Flacco

4) Dennis Pitta
Pitta

3) Bryant McKinnie
McKinnie

2) Cary Williams
Williams

1) Ed Dickson
Dickson

SEASON TO DATE:
Luke Jones:

1. Ray Rice (30 points)
2. Terrell Suggs (29 points)
3. Joe Flacco (27 points)
4. Haloti Ngata (25 points)
5. Anquan Boldin (20 points)
6. Torrey Smith (11 points)
6. Lardarius Webb (11 points)
8. Cary Williams (10 points)
8. Bryant McKinnie (10 points)
10. Ed Reed (8 points)
10. Ray Lewis (8 points)
10. Terrence Cody (8 points)
10. Billy Cundiff (8 points)
14. Ed Dickson (7 points)
14. Bernard Pollard (7 points)
14. Dennis Pitta (7 points)
17. David Reed (6 points)
18. Jarret Johnson (5 points)
19. Sam Koch (4 points)
20. Cory Redding (3 points)
20. Jameel McClain (3 points)
20. Paul Kruger (3 points)
23. Matt Birk (1 point)
23. Ben Grubbs (1 point)

Drew Forrester:
1. Joe Flacco (30 points)
2. Ray Rice (22 points)
2. Terrell Suggs (22 points)
4. Haloti Ngata (18 points)
5. Anquan Boldin (17 points)
5. Lardarius Webb (17 points)
7. Cary Williams (14 points)
8. Dennis Pitta (13 points)
8. Ed Dickson (13 points)
10. Ray Lewis (12 points)
10. Bryant McKinnie (12 points)
12. Torrey Smith (11 points)
13. Ed Reed (10 points)
14. Bernard Pollard (9 points)
14. Billy Cundiff (9 points)
16. Sam Koch (7 points)
17. Paul Kruger (6 points)
18. Jarret Johnson (5 points)
19. Jameel McClain (4 points)
19. Marshal Yanda (4 points)
21. Andre Gurode (2 points)
22. Cory Redding (1 point)

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Rice, Flacco offer own takes on lack of offensive balance

Posted on 16 November 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Following the Ravens’ surprising 22-17 loss to Seattle on Sunday, Ray Rice declined to speak to the media in fear of saying something he might regret after the star running back was limited to just five carries and 13 overall touches.

After three days of reflecting on Baltimore’s third loss to a team with a sub-.500 record, Rice talked with reporters, speaking diplomatically but also stating his position on what the Ravens’ vision should be on offense moving forward. However, even Rice acknowledged how three turnovers led to an altered game plan that made establishing the run more difficult in a two-possession game.

It was the second time this season Rice had been limited to 13 touches in a loss after he receiver just eight carries in a 12-7 defeat to Jacksonville on Oct. 24.

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“I’m never going to be the guy who talks about touches, but obviously, we know going into a game, five carries is not going to cut it,” Rice said. “You look at it, and I know five carries is not going to do us any justice, but at the same time, we found ourselves so deep in the situation that we had to climb our way out. We were looking for answers, whether it was running, passing, you’ve got to find your way out of the situation.”

Rice’s point was clear and echoed the sentiments of coach John Harbaugh, who explained Monday that the Ravens clearly want to establish the running game, but two early turnovers limited their opportunities in the first half as they fell behind by two possessions for most of the game.

With Rice receiving only five carries, quarterback Joe Flacco threw the football a career-high 52 times for 255 yards as the Ravens relied solely on the passing game to try to erase a 22-7 deficit early in the third quarter. The ratio of 53 pass plays to 12 runs has sparked much criticism from fans and media alike, but Flacco went on the defensive when asked about the imbalance.

“What do you think’s going to happen when there’s five minutes left in the third quarter and you’re down 22-7?” Flacco said. “It happened in the Arizona Cardinals game, too — we won. Nobody was complaining about it then.”

It was rare to see the nonchalant quarterback speak with such conviction, but Flacco could easily have taken the questioning as a slight toward his play. The fourth-year quarterback averaged only 4.9 yards per attempt.

Flacco acknowledged any frustration Rice and fellow running backs Ricky Williams and Vonta Leach may have felt, but explained how misguided criticism toward the pass-run ratio has been over the last few days.

“It just doesn’t make sense,” Flacco said. “Did you watch the game or didn’t you watch the game, you know? I understand the way our running backs feel. I understand because if we were throwing the ball 10 times, I’d be a little upset that I didn’t get to put my stamp on the game, either. Did you see how the game went?

“Down by 15, you have to score pretty much every possession. You can’t assume that they’re not going to score, and you can’t assume that you have eight possessions left. You could have three possessions left in the game, and that’s the kind of game we played. We didn’t have a lot of possessions. We weren’t perfect, but we weren’t terrible either. We moved the ball all game, and things didn’t go our way.”

After both offensive leaders shared their piece in a final look back at the Seattle game, they shifted their comments to the Cincinnati Bengals and their 4-3 defense that has given the Ravens fits over the last couple seasons. After struggling to run the football effectively against four-man fronts for most of the season, Rice believes an aggressive approach is the key to establishing the ground game.

“You’ve got to attack them,” Rice said. “The problems we’ve been facing against these 4-3 teams, we have to attack them, and it starts with running the ball. The run opens up the pass. Offense has to be balanced, but you’ve got to find a way to have that balance where run sets up the pass. When you’re running the ball effectively, it sets it up for later down the field.”

Perhaps the most effective way to jump-start the running game — and the offense, in general — would simply be to take care of the football, something the Ravens failed to do in Seattle after fumbling two kickoffs and throwing an interception on the opening drive of the second half. Since a turnover-free performance in a 35-7 win over Pittsburgh to begin the season, the Ravens have turned the ball over at least once in every game and two or more times in six of the eight games since Week 1.

“We’ve got to control the game situations,” Rice said. “We can’t turn over the ball. We can’t get stupid penalties starting back from the 5-yard line. If we want to average a drive [going] 80 yards, let’s go 80 yards, but let’s not make it a situation where you get a cheap holding penalthy where you find yourself first-and-20. We want to be able to manage first and second down, so we can get manageable third downs.”

NOTES: Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata is still not 100 percent after suffering a quadriceps injury in the win over the Arizona Cardinals three weeks ago. The Pro Bowl lineman finished with 11 tackles against the Seahawks despite not being fully healthy. “I’m up and down,” Ngata said. “I think the week after I actually hurt my thigh I was probably 80 percent. It was a little bit more last week. It’s getting better and better each week. I’ve just got to make sure I take care of it.” … Harbaugh said he expects cornerback Jimmy Smith to continue getting more playing time after the rookie saw time in the dime package against Seattle. “He’s going to get more and more time out there,” Harbaugh said. … The winless Indianapolis Colts signed fullback Ryan Mahaffey from the Ravens’ practice squad on Tuesday, and Baltimore signed tight end Davon Drew to fill the open spot on the practice squad. Drew was a fifth-round selection of the Ravens in the 2009 draft. … Rice sported the Orioles’ new cartoon bird cap during Wednesday’s interview session. “I am just trying to represent our other part of town — the Orioles. Let them know we are here, representing the new logo.” The running back would also like an invitation to Oriole Park at Camden Yards. “I am hoping to throw out a first pitch. I proved I can throw now,” joked Rice, alluding to the touchdown pass he threw to tight end Ed Dickson on Sunday.

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Baltimore Ravens Training Camp August 22, 2009

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Harbaugh, Ravens “not licking any wounds” in aftermath of Seattle loss

Posted on 14 November 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — John Harbaugh’s mood was exactly how you might predict it to be 24 hours following the Ravens’ third loss against a sub-.500 team this season.

The Baltimore coach was tense and defensive, clenching his teeth in response to a few questions and providing noticeably short answers on a number of occasions. While Harbaugh was clearly ready to move on to this week’s matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, his thoughts remained unchanged regarding the Ravens’ 22-17 defeat to the lowly Seahawks.

“It feels the same way that it did [Sunday] night,” Harbaugh said. “Very disappointing loss, one that we have to regroup from, improve in a lot of different areas, and get ready to play this week. Every week in this league is a new week. Every game is a new game. At the end of the year, they count up how many you win and how many you lose.”

As media asked him about the psychology connecting the Ravens’ three losses to teams with losing records and the team’s spirits in the aftermath of the surprising defeat, Harbaugh’s explanation for the loss was blunt: three turnovers, two missed field goals, an erratic passing offense, and a defense that couldn’t get off the field in the game’s final drive.

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“We put ourselves behind the eight ball [in] too many situations and then ended up losing by just five points in a tough environment,” Harbaugh said. “You play better football, you win football games like that. That goes to all of us. That’s what we have to do — we have to coach better, we have to play better — and we’ll win those three football games [we lost].”

Answering many questions with the same theme — only different wording — Harbaugh closed the press conference with the quote of the afternoon when pressed about a perceived attitude of simply moving on to the next week before taking the proper time to focus on mistakes after three defeats to teams with losing records.

Did the Ravens take time to lick their wounds before picking themselves up off the mat on Monday?

“Licking wounds? No, we’re not licking any wounds,” Harbaugh said. “We are moving on. We correct our mistakes, and we go practice on Wednesday. And we get ready to play on Sunday.”

Running away from the run?

A heated topic of discussion on sports talk radio and internet message boards was the Ravens’ one-sided offensive attack that featured 53 passing attempts to only 12 run plays. After an initial uproar was created when Ray Rice received only eight carries in the loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars last month, the star running back received only five rushing attempts against the Seahawks.

The argument can certainly be made that offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and the Ravens panicked too soon in abandoning the run, but an early 10-0 deficit and two lost possessions in the first half — thanks to kick returner David Reed’s two fumbles — threw the offensive game plan out the window. Harbaugh also acknowledged that quarterback Joe Flacco checked out of a run play on the opening drive of the second half when he had his pass tipped into the air and intercepted, leading to another short field goal by Seahawks kicker Steve Hauschka.

“When you don’t have very many plays [in the first half], it’s hard to build up your running game,” Harbaugh said. “When you’re down, you have to throw it to get back in the game. I think every game is different. You’ve got to do in any particular game what you’ve got to do to try to move the ball.”

While many continue to call for Cameron’s job with the Ravens’ perceived refusal to run the football, Harbaugh made it clear that there was no plan to have such offensive imbalance. However, the game situation of being down two possessions and a 4-3 defensive front that continues to give the Ravens problems made it difficult to establish the ground attack.

“In the end, we definitely want to have more runs,” Harbaugh said. “I think that’s indicative of having the lead and having more plays, especially early in the game. The way the game went, we had to throw it. And based on some fronts they were giving us early, we felt like we had to throw it, too.”

Searching for answer at kick returner

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On the road against weaker foes for Ravens it’s been ‘Ball So Hard-ly’ in 2011

Posted on 14 November 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

The trip home from Seattle was just as long for me as it’s been for the Baltimore Ravens. They’ve had several hours of reflection now, and so have I, as the purple tour of North America continues with intermittent ugly losses and long plane rides.

The Ravens, as I’ve written and said many times since the initial debacle in Nashville back in September, have been become quite consistent in their inconsistency and unpredictability. We all know that there’s a very good football team someone in there based on the sweep of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the steely resolve they’ve used to overcome deficits like the hole they dug against the Arizona Cardinals.

But, when will the “real” Baltimore Ravens of 2011 stand up and define their season?

This latest smelling, wretched turd in Seattle will not sit well for the next six days as head coach John Harbaugh will go back to the drawing board – or maybe that’s Cam Cameron’s job? – as the Ravens attempt to game plan for a first-place showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium this Sunday for the most recent “really important game” of 2011.

The Seattle game had all of the hallmarks of a lost game amidst the promise of an elite team and a still-potential Super Bowl year for the Ravens.

Sure, kick returner David Reed will be the fall guy for the two obvious field possession swings and the 22-17 loss to the Seahawks but as Ray Lewis told me at his locker last night it goes far deeper than a few fumbles or turnovers.

Some random questions and observations as the Ravens return from Seattle at 6-3 and still fully in control of their own destiny in the AFC race for a No. 1 seed, a January bye week and some home-cooking to start the 2012 Festivus season:

Is the defense aging?

The otherwise stingy Ravens defense began every stand yesterday in Seattle from a position of obvious weakness. When Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed lead their defense onto the field and the first mumble is: “I hope we can hold them to a field goal!” that’s never good.

The turnovers yesterday killed the spirit

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Ravens again show they’re not ready to be great in shocking loss to Seahawks

Posted on 13 November 2011 by Luke Jones

At one point during the first half of an inexplicable 22-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, I quipped that the Ravens should petition the NFL to play the Pittsburgh Steelers every week.

In retrospect, maybe it wasn’t such a crazy idea.

After securing one of the most significant wins in the 16-year history of the franchise in Pittsburgh last week, the Ravens once again proved the margin for error in the NFL is too small to expect to win on the road with anything less than your best performance. Three turnovers, a one-dimensional offense, and a tired defense aren’t going to get it done, even against a 2-6 team that had lost four of its last five games.

While much blame will fall on the shoulders of kick returner David Reed’s two fumbles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron for only giving running back Ray Rice five carries, there were far too many problems across the board as the Ravens dropped their third game of the season against sub-.500 teams — Baltimore had only one in John Harbaugh’s first three years as head coach — and lost their hold atop the AFC North.

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The Ravens are now 2-3 against teams with losing records this season while they are 3-0 against those with winning marks (Pittsburgh was 0-0 in Week 1, of course).

Simply put, the Ravens aren’t ready to be an elite team that disposes of inferior competition. For whatever reason, Baltimore has been unable to handle the success of beating quality teams and has followed such feats with mistake-laden, uninspired play against teams it’s supposed to handle without many complications.

After falling behind two scores in the first quarter, the coaching staff panicked despite having come back to win in the Ravens’ two previous games against the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers. Instead of mixing in the run with 30 minutes to play after trailing 19-7 at halftime, Cameron put the game solely on the shoulders of quarterback Joe Flacco in the shotgun much earlier than the Ravens really needed to.

This wasn’t a three-possession deficit like the Ravens faced against Arizona two weeks ago. And the Seahawks defense clearly doesn’t possess the pedigree of a Steelers defense where you simply presume you won’t be able to gain yardage on the ground.

Yet, the Ravens put everything on Flacco all afternoon, who performed exceptionally in come-from-behind victories in their last two games, but the sum of the parts simply isn’t good enough for the Baltimore passing game to expect such success every single week.

Flacco missed open receivers, including a wide-open Torrey Smith streaking down the right sideline at one point, but his receivers let him down with drops on several key occasions as well. Flacco tossed it 52 times for 255 yards and a touchdown, but a meager 4.9 yards per attempt just doesn’t justify the complete abandonment of the running game after an early 10-0 deficit. The heroics in Pittsburgh aside, Flacco and his receivers just aren’t ready to be Tom Brady and the Patriots or Aaron Rodgers and the Packers where you can throw and throw and throw some more to be successful every single week.

As was the case in a loss to Jacksonville last month, giving Rice — your best offensive player — 13 total touches just isn’t nearly enough. And while it’s true the Seahawks ran the same 4-3 defense that’s given the Ravens difficulty all season, it’s not an excuse to fail in even trying to mix in the ground game.

Of course, the Ravens’ inept special teams put Cameron and the offense in a difficult position. To fumble two kickoffs — plays that are meant to swing field position in your favor — is a formula for disaster. The second-year kick returner Reed should find himself fortunate to still have a job this week, let alone remain as the team’s primary returner.

Two more missed field goals from 50 yards or more from Billy Cundiff can — mathematically speaking — be pointed to as the difference in the game. Awarded a five-year, $15 million contract in the offseason, Cundiff cannot be expected to connect on every long try, but a far better clip than the 1-for-6 he has this season isn’t unreasonable.

And, yes, even the vaunted defense failed the Ravens when it mattered most. Though only two of the Seahawks’ six scoring drives were longer than 20 yards, Ray Lewis and the defense took the field with 5:52 remaining in the fourth quarter after a Ed Dickson touchdown catch narrowed the margin to 22-17.

Instead of forcing a three-and-out and affording Flacco an opportunity at a third-straight game-winning drive in the final minutes, Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch ran for 32 yards on seven carries and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson twice completed passes on third down to move the chains and keep the ball out of the Ravens’ hands. Though the Baltimore defense spent 35:01 on the field, it failed to look like that championship-caliber unit that could get a stop when it was needed the most.

As much as the Ravens talked all week about the need to build on the elation of sweeping the regular-season series with Pittsburgh last week, they sure didn’t come out and play like it.

Credit Pete Carroll and the Seahawks — proving once again that no game in the NFL is a slam dunk — but the Ravens tripped and fell down the steps to greatness for a third time this season. They have to find a way to play their best football every week, regardless of who they’re playing, and avoid playing to the level of their competition.

As strange as it sounds, one of the biggest challenges in sports is being able to handle success.

The good news is Baltimore still has seven games remaining on the schedule to figure it out.

The Ravens are good — even very good, at times.

But they’re just not ready to be great.

 

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Reed agonizes over two costly fumbles

Posted on 13 November 2011 by WNST Staff

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Nestor: An ugly assessment from Seattle after costly loss to Seahawks

Posted on 13 November 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

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