Someone has to say it, so I will: Lots of guys didn’t think or try all that hard vs. Denver

December 17, 2012 | Drew Forrester

There’s losing and then there’s strolling around while you’re losing and looking as if you don’t really care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game.

I watched the second half intently on Sunday afternoon as the Ravens were getting punked by the Broncos and you know what I saw?  Strolling.  Lack of interest.  No attention to detail.  Stupid penalties.  Not owning up to it afterwards.

As the teams came out for the second half with Denver up 17-0, I settled in my press box seat and said to myself, “This is going to be a great opportunity to see what these men are made of…because they’re almost never down 17-0 to a good team, home or away.”

So, I made a particular point to watch individual players and coaches in the final 30 minutes and I followed them with one word in mind: Effort.

You know what I saw? A general lack of trying-real-hard.  A lack of thinking.  A lack of concern with how it all looked to the people who paid good money to sit there and watch their team lollygag through a second half of football.

Like I wrote above — there’s losing, which happens to the best of them, and there’s not being concerned with losing, which shouldn’t ever happen.  But it did yesterday in Baltimore.

We all know how the game got out of hand in the first place.  The Ravens defense played well enough in the first half, but the offense was horrible.  They only managed four first-downs in 30 minutes and when they did manage to somehow maneuver down the field late in the first half, the quarterback threw the ball to the other team and changed the game.  Instead of going to the locker room down 10-7, they stumbled in trailing 17-0.

That’s when I started watching more closely. I didn’t necessarily watch the football game.  I watched the players and the coaches, specifically, without concern for where the ball might have been.

And here’s what I saw, in no specific order of importance.


One of the big mistakes occurred in the first half, but most of them took place in the final 30 minutes.  The decision to not call a time-out late in the 2nd quarter with the Ravens driving for a touchdown was just not smart.  With Jim Caldwell making his debut as the offensive coordinator and the ball on the four yard-line, a time-out there would have given everyone the chance to set up a two or three play game-plan to make sure it was 10-7 at half.  We know what happened.  No time-out was called and Flacco tried to quick-snap and catch the Broncos napping.  Afterwards, there was some discussion about not wanting to leave time on the clock for Peyton Manning as the main reason for not calling a time-out.  Well, I’d think it’s far more important to first get your own seven points and not worry all that much about the other team’s quarterback having 30 seconds to finish out the half.  Any way you slice it, not calling a time-out there was a mistake.

It turned into a Keystone Cops routine in the second half.  A mysterious third-quarter challenge by John Harbaugh was the least of the Ravens’ worries.  I have no idea what John thought he saw on the Torrey Smith catch – maybe he was just shocked that Smith actually ran a route to its completion – but virtually everyone in the press box and the stadium went “Huh?” when he tossed  the red flag.  That mistake, though, paled in comparison to a few others in the second half.  Not going for two points after the Pitta touchdown with four minutes to go – trailing 34-16 – was just unacceptable.  And as much as I’m going to beat up some individual players for “not thinking” and “not caring”, it’s hard to say the coaching staff was thinking when they kicked the extra point to make it 34-17 instead of trying to narrow the gap to a two-score affair with the two-point conversion attempt.

There’s more, though.  Plenty more.  Why did Terrell Suggs play throughout the second half when the team was losing 34-10?  I get it.  Someone has to play.  But when you have a star player suffer what we were all led to think was a serious injury just two weeks ago, why would you have him out there down 24 points with six minutes left in the game?  Head scratcher, to say the least.  And then, with fifty seconds left in the game, the ultimate lack-of-thinking took place when Joe Flacco was forced to run for his life when Jim Caldwell inexplicably called for a pair of pass plays and then watched in horror as Michael Oher didn’t try on either one.  The result?  Two sacks, both from Flacco’s blind side, and on each occasion the team’s quarterback could have suffered a serious shoulder injury as he was driven to the ground.

It’s one thing to press the team and the players to put out the maximum effort in the 3rd quarter when they’re losing 24-3.

It’s another to be smart with a half-minute to go and say, “We’re not going to risk anything now.  The game is over.”

What happened on those final two plays was a complete lack of smarts by the coaching staff.

Oh, and speaking of Caldwell, his debut as the play caller included twelve carries from Ray Rice and not one touch from Rice on a third down play.  Can you imagine the outcry if those two elements were part of a Cam Cameron-called game in a 34-17 home loss to the Broncos?

Coaches are human.  None – including the “genius” in New England – are perfect.  But Sunday was a low point for the Ravens coaching staff and the head coach, in general.

Here are some others who deserve their share of blame for Sunday’s woeful effort:

(Please see next page) 

13 Comments For This Post

  1. RJ Says:

    DF, your article is Spot-On … well-done! I could not agree with you more! What infuriates me are the mental mistakes – Harbs does not appear to hold these primadonnas accountable. I would have benched Williams, for sure, after that 15 yard penalty; by not demonstrating this sort of leadership, he condones this sort of behavior! Shame on you John – I expect more from the Head Coach!

  2. barry Says:

    harbough better be careful or he might be out of a job next year.
    ist and goal on the 4 yd line with 3 time outs on the board ther is no excuse fo not trying a run or two. is it lack of mental capacity and game planning.
    they had to back into the playoffs, thats a shamful excuse.

  3. Over40 Don Says:

    Hey Drew, any idea what the Orioles might be doing in the draft for the 2013 season?

  4. Steve from Sandpoint Says:

    Flacco, Harbaugh, Newsome and the rest should not be so secure in there jobs as they think they are. Accountability does not exist on this Raven team and that’s a shame.

  5. Lisa, Aberdeen Says:

    Great points.

  6. Robert Canady Says:

    Nice piece Drew and very good and valid points. Speaking selfishly,as a fan of the team down I-95, I sure hope they can get things turned around in time for the Giants on Sunday.

  7. charlie Says:

    drew, i agree w/what you write here. what does it all add up to, though? i’m not being argumentative, instead i really wonder what they ought to, or even what they can, do at this point. is it the kind of thing that shouldn’t be happening this late in the season and therefore leads to an early playoff exit? maybe that’s all that there is. . . or can stuff this intrinsic be fixed the fly? what do you think?

  8. Frank Says:

    I agree with all of your points Drew, this team gave up in the 2nd half yesterday. OUR TEAMS NEVER GIVE UP! But this one did, and I put that on the Head Coach. Ozzie messed up big time not having Joe signed going into the season – not for 20 Million – but signed, and now this is all in Joe’s head and it’s going to cost us a playoff run.

    I’ll bet the owner is some kinda pissed off!!!

    On the bright side… Best band in America at 1st Mariner Tuesday!

  9. jpetrosino Says:

    The players gave up once they saw how incompentant Flacco was on the very first drive when he fumbled the ball on a QB sneak which would have given them a first down withing fld goal range.

    Instead, Flacco cost us 6 pts early than another 14 points on the TD-Pick. That’s 20 pts Flacco gave to the other team. How else are the other players suppose to reach when the dude who holds the ball is throwing the game away like a clown. Embarasing.

  10. The Armchair QB Says:

    These things may be “symptoms” of more serious problems within the locker room where, as I commented elsewhere, Harbaugh may be “losing” his team………..

  11. Raven BB Says:

    Great article and spot on. Baltimore people hate change when we had a great TEAM. We had a GREAT defense(no O)with many GREAT players who could play to a good defense with guys(getting old) who could MAKE plays(ok O) to a BAD defense(and just as BAD O) with guys who can’t make plays. Total offensive rank in the mid 20’s and total D around 30th. Yes we are in the play offs and we need to live the dream now. What till next year when we are at the bottom looking up, no play offs, and go through a rough 3 years.

  12. Mike Says:


    Are you going to ask Harbs about this today? (DF: I’m not sure what, exactly, you mean by “ask Harbs about this”. I have a couple of questions lined up, yes. He answered the two-point conversion question yesterday — said they didn’t consider it — and the time-out before the half question…so there’s no need to ask those again. I have others planned. Hopefully I get them in or someone else does.)

  13. Art Lawrence Says:

    thanks for the insight and analysis, great post. Doesn’t get any easier going forward with Giants desperate for a win…..

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