There was some serious smash-mouth football on display in Seattle on Sunday.
Unfortunately it wasn’t played by the Ravens.
The lowly Seahawks outplayed John Harbaugh’s team in all three phases of the game and turned the contest around with two strips of the ball on David Reed kick-off returns en-route to a stunning 22-17 win.
The math is fairly simple, I’d say. Ravens lose by five points. Two Reed fumbles in the first half resulted in six points. I’m certainly not blaming the entire game on one player and two plays, but special teams is often the forgotten element and those mistakes by Reed definitely changed the tenor of the first half.
When the Ravens needed to move the ball in the second half, they really couldn’t, save for one 4th quarter drive that resulted in a Joe Flacco-to-Ed Dickson TD strike to make it 22-17. Other than that, the offense wasn’t very good. Ray Rice carried the ball just five times all afternoon, which tells you everything you need to know about the way the game started (Ravens fell behind early 10-0), how the game went (Ravens never got untracked) and how the game ended (Ravens lose).
The Baltimore defense was decent for the most part until the final five minutes or so when the Seahawks put together an impressive drive that included a couple of big plays from Tarvaris Jackson and some balls-to-the-wall running from Marshawn Lynch, who sealed the game with two big power runs to pick up important first downs.
One stat that sticks out in both of this season’s shocking losses – at Jacksonville and Seattle – was the defense’s inability to stop the run. It turned out to be the pressing issue late in the game when the Ravens needed to get the ball back and give Flacco a chance for another comeback but the Seahawks ran it with great success to end the game.
If you’re looking for a game-clinching sequence, it came when the Seahawks faced a 1st and 15 at their own 15 late in the 4th quarter. An illegal motion penalty gave John Harbaugh an interesting decision. Take the penalty and move Seattle back 5 more yards and make it 1st and 20? Or decline the penalty and make it 2nd and 15? Harbaugh took the yards — but three plays later, Jackson made an improbable 3rd down throw that got Seattle out of hot water and left everyone questioning why the Ravens coach didn’t simply refuse the penalty and hand the Seahawks a 2nd and 15 situation.
Following that, Marshawn Lynch barreled over and through a sagging Ravens interior and the Seahawks iced the game by running the ball and killing the clock.
That’s one of the rare times in the career of Ray Lewis that the other team salted the game away with a nearly-six-minute drive at the end of the game. It doesn’t happen very often.
Oddly enough, the Ravens had two touchdowns on Sunday to Seattle’s one. But former Raven Steven Hauschka kicked a career-high five field goals for the home team. And that’s how you lose 22-17.
The loss in Seattle keeps the Ravens deadlocked with the Cincinnati Bengals, who come to town next Sunday on the heels of a 24-17 home loss to the Steelers on Sunday.
It was, by all accounts, a disappointing result for the Ravens in the Pacific Northwest. No flair on offense, not enough grit on defense and too many game-changing mistakes on special teams. You can’t throw the ball to the other team and fumble the ball to the other team — and the Ravens did that three times in the first half. Those mistakes are the difference between winning and losing.
And Sunday, mistakes were the difference for the Ravens. They just made far too many of them.