Ravens handed worst home loss ever as Patriots deliver “cleat of reality”

December 22, 2013 | Drew Forrester

This time, there was no late-game heroics to save the Ravens.

No half-a-world-away kick from Justin Tucker.

No final minute punt return from Jacoby Jones.

No last gasp drive from Joe Flacco and the offense.

This time, it was just football for sixty minutes.

And, the Ravens got their rear ends handed to them by Tom Brady and the Patriots.  There’s no other way to slice it.  No fancy way to sugarcoat it.  Not on Sunday.  It was 41-7 in favor of the Patriots and the beating was as bad as the score would indicate, even if two of the New England TD’s were scored in garbage time.

It was a day to forget for Joe Flacco and the offense.  Going up against a beleaguered and injured New England defense, the Baltimore offense simply laid a colossal Christmas egg, coughing up the ball on four different occasions and failing to pick up a first down on two separate 4th and short situations in the second half.

On the first occasion, the Ravens were faced with a 4th and 2 at the New England 39.  They had already run the ball twice in the series — once for five yards and the other for three yards, but offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell eschewed the reasonable solution of running off the edge and instead asked Flacco to connect with Jacoby Jones on a short pass.  It failed.

Later on, at the New England four yard line, the Ravens had two chances to pick up one yard.  On 3rd and 1, Caldwell again called for a pass play, which was incomplete.  Facing a 20-0 deficit, the Ravens rightfully went for it on 4th down.  Flacco initially lined up in the shotgun with Rice to his right.  Just prior to the snap, the QB scooted under center and gave Rice the ball off tackle, where he was stopped for no gain.  Was that the play design coming out of a Baltimore time-out where the Ravens discussed a critical play-call?  If so, it looked sloppy at best, ill-executed at worst.

Those two 4th down failures didn’t cost the Ravens the game, but you can’t win football games in the NFL when you can’t pick up two yards and one yard with your season perhaps on the line.

Later, the Ravens made the wrong call on a field goal decision that all but sewed up the game for the visitors.  Trailing 20-0 and faced with a 4th and 5 at the Patriots’ 19 yard line early in the 4th quarter, John Harbaugh elected to send Justin Tucker on the field for a 36 yard field goal.  That Tucker would miss the field goal was almost poetic justice, for even if he would have connected, the Ravens still trailed by three scores at 20-3.  He missed it.

Sure, Tucker should make a 36-yarder every time, but the call there should have been to go for it on 4th down to try and get a TD on that series and make it a two score game.

If the game wasn’t over prior to Tucker attempting the field goal, it was over when he failed to connect.

The Baltimore offense has now scored one touchdown in its last eight quarters of action.  Six field goals last Monday night in Detroit and one “we don’t care if you score” TD allowed by New England on Sunday.  In fairness, one of those days where the ineptness of the offense finally catches up to the Ravens was bound to happen.  Other Sunday’s, Flacco and Company would figure out a way to put up a TD or two and add a few Justin Tucker field goals to win 23-20.

This was the Sunday where the football gods finally said, “You boys are gonna have to play some legit football on offense today.”

And, the Ravens didn’t answer the bell.

The Baltimore defense got picked apart early by Tom Brady, who used Julian Edelman like a fiddler with his bow.  When the Patriots took advantage of a pass interference call on Jimmy Smith in the end zone and a Flacco interception to go up 14-0, all they had to do from there was play smart, use the clock and not turn the ball over.  What quarterback in the world is better than doing those things than New England’s #12?

Brady expertly used the middle of the field as the Ravens’ secondary played a soft cover-2 that put little emphasis on physicality.

One week ago in Detroit, the Ravens defensive backs went toe-to-toe with Calvin Johnson from the first whistle and physically challenged him.

Against New England, there was very little of that press coverage scheme from Jimmy Smith or Corey Graham, although it’s fair to note Lardarius Webb was tight on his man most of the day.

The Baltimore defense put little pressure on the quarterback all afternoon.  Strong?  Yes.  Big in size?  Yes.  But the Ravens lack pace and speed in their defensive front seven and when they face a quick-release quarterback like the one in New England, there’s not much damage being done.

When Brady gets time to do his thing, it can get ugly.  Like it did on Sunday.

On the flip side, the Ravens offense was unable to solve the mystery of the New England defense that somehow constructed a method to beat Baltimore on the inside and give Flacco something to think about most of the day.  Horrible against the run, the Patriots weren’t challenged that much by Caldwell, who went to the air 42 times.  It was a weird combination, it seemed.  New England WANTED the Ravens to throw it and the Baltimore coaching staff did just that.

It all added up to the worst home loss of the John Harbaugh-Joe Flacco era.  With their playoff lives on the line, the Ravens turned in a stinker for the ages, at home no less, and made next Sunday’s game in Cincinnati a must-win affair.

Everyone’s shorts smelled on Sunday.

The coaches had a long day.

The offense had a longer day.

And the defense, which played respectably overall, got a lesson in how Tom Brady operates when the calls and the balls are both working in his favor.  He’s tough to beat.

Hell, Justin Tucker missed a 36 yard field goal.

You know you’re not winning if that happens.

20 Comments For This Post

  1. The Armchair QB Says:

    One word describes the effort today…….BOOOOOOOOO!!!

  2. Fred Says:

    I disagree Drew, the final score made the game seem much closer than it actually was.

  3. Ralph Says:

    Well Drew, I applaud you for manning up about your terrible prediction. You made fun of me on here for not knowing football then you made a 7 story lock picking the Patriots and you were so wrong I laughed. If I don’t know football because I mixed up Roy Gerela and Garo Yaprimian then what does that make you? Well I guess we are co-football idiots because I wanted the Ravens too. I love your show and I will back you until the cows come home but maybe we should both stay out of the prediction business. (DF: I don’t remember saying anything to you about “not knowing football”. Merely suggested you should get a better researcher after your Roy Gerela gaffe, that’s all. The show loves you, too, Ralph.)

  4. Chuck Says:

    Let’s be honest: it took miracles the last 2 weeks. They should have lost both games and the season should be over.

    Flacco now has more INT than TD with one game remaining in the season.

  5. unitastoberry Says:

    March to Medowlands hits the wall.

  6. Robert Says:

    Oh the humanity! I’ll give you 3-1/2 stars on your 7-star “lock” Drew because you did predict a romp, but it was the Patriots who held the “key”. As far as what happens next week & beyond, I predict that IF our birds somehow make the post-season, they’ll be one and done. It appears to my eyes that Flacco’s knee is worse than disclosed, notwithstanding his denials & a healthy Taylor is no better. Eeysh.

  7. Rich Says:

    All I can say is I hope all those idiots I hear around me clamoring for Tyrod now see why that’s a ridiculous idea.

  8. OVER40DON Says:

    Maybe by next year the Ravens will work on short passes for 1st downs. Maybe say a short slant pass? When the need 3 yards they try to get 7 or 8. And running on 1st down and throwing on 2nd all game has to be easy to defend. AND SPECIAL TEAMS seem very unorganized and penalty prone. The Ravens have as many coaching issues as they do performance issues IMO. But I’ll give them another 10 years to get us another SB Championship.

  9. Balls Says:

    Ravens s**t themselves at home. Team was not ready to play. O-line is the worst in football. Play calling sucks – 3rd and 1 and Ravens put no one in the back field! We can’t run against the 28th ranked run defense.

    No playoffs this year – time to clean house.

    (DF: I have no problem posting your stuff, “Balls”, but you can’t use foul language here. C’mon man.)

  10. Pratt Says:

    I blame coaching. It seems obvious to me but you can predict the play 70% or the time based on formation. If the back is behind Flacco it is a run into the line most times. If it is 1st down it is a run 90% of the time. If the back lines up next to or in front of Flacco it is a pass to the opposite side of the back. Couple that with Flacoo staring down the receiver you get a horrible offense that never changes. It my opinion Flacco gets a play and the has to go to that receiver no matter what. My problem is this never seems to change week after week.

  11. Steve from Sandpoint Says:

    What a ” EMBARRASSMENT” to say the least !!! Caldwell & his inept offense has to be replaced. The 120 man, Flacco, inept, Rice & the running game,inept, receivers stinking up the field, inept. So much for your 7-starlock game, it took over 50 minutes to make there first score, embarrassing. Here is your 7- starlock pick for next week, Ravens get SPANKED in Cincy !!!

  12. Carl Says:

    I agree with Chuck the last two wins were miracles. This team has major problems save for special teams, but criticizing Flacco is ridiculous.
    Many quickly forget this man brought a Superbowl win to Baltimore.
    You would have thought we were 8-8 last season the way people are talking.
    You want misery and real hopelessness, go down the road to DC or drive to Cleveland.

  13. Jason Manelli Says:

    Gotta agree with Carl, yesterday was an uncharacteristic smack down at home for a team with one of the best home records in recent history. The Ravens have set the bar very high, and the fans disappointment is really a function of the amount of winning the team usually does. But to start talking about cleaning house? Premature. The team contended for a playoff spot through the last game in a down year. That’s sums up the 2013 season to me.

  14. John In Westminster Says:

    Great. Since I blew the kids Christmas gift money on your “7 Star Lock”, could I get a few of those coats you’re taking over to Helping Up Mission today? 😉 Truth be told, I (with Vegas) predicted the egg to be laid in Detroit last week.

    Frankly, with Flacco in is hobbled state, I don’t see us in the playoffs and we could very well be sitting home even with a win. However, a win to keep Pittsburgh out will make it all worthwhile.

  15. tsnamm Says:

    Just one of the ugliest games I’ve seen from the Ravens recently…especially one that mattered as much as it did. The offensive game plan was questionable at best. We were getting 3-4 yards a run, and we could have put together some nice long drives earlier in the game, when we had the time, but they just went right back to throwing the ball, 3 and outs. Joe’s accuracy seemed off, and I think that brace was bothering him, and the knee is worse than they’re letting on. Referees way too involved in this game, penalties, penalties. Brady didn’t seem to miss Gronk or any of his other starting receivers against our secondary. Miami beats them and we get our rear ends handed to us…Ty Rod…please let’s put that fantasy to bed now shall we? 2 possessions 2 defensive TD’s…I said the same thing yesterday Drew, when Tucker misses a 30 yard point blank FG, it’s just not our day.

  16. The Armchair QB Says:

    Interesting to note that Harbaugh brought in his buddy, Juan Castillo, to IMPROVE the running game, gave him the unheard of title, “Run Game Coordinator”, and, voila, the run game…..disappeared! As a friend often suggests, the Ravens are becoming the Baltimore version of the Andy Reid Philadelphia Eagles! Perish the thought. By the way, the Chip Kelly led Philadelphia Eagles are my “dark horse” Super Bowl champions…….

  17. unitastoberry Says:

    Good take on the coaching situation Armchair. Coaches are like doctors when you put 100 in a room you get 100 different opinions. Too much of anything is not good.

  18. Fat Frankie Says:

    In for a penny, in for a pound. We’ll be back in four years. With the score 27-7, I saw many of the same looks on fans faces as the streamed for the exits back in Memorial Stadium. Quiet resignation that this team was never as good as advertised. If we can sit through a sputtering offense behind Vinnie Testaverte, we can sit though a sputtering offense behind Joe.

  19. Dan Says:

    A 7-star lock next week in Cinn. you think the Ravens are going into Cinn. next Sunday with the playoffs and the season on the line and LOSE ? No way Jose . Joe’s Brace will be all healed by then ( his knee is fine ) Rice will have a big day( 89 yards) . Ravens 35 , Bengals 10 . Book It ! Mortgage the house , . .
    New Jersey here we come !

  20. OVER40DON Says:

    If the Ravens can’t figure out how to get 3-4 yards on 3rd down, barring a miracle 70 yard field goal they have NO chance of winning. Of course the defense has to show up this week. Little said how poor th Big D played against Brady.

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