Three words sum up how bad Ravens were: Mirer beat them

Raiders 20, Ravens 12

Nfl Week 15

December 15, 2003|By Mike Preston

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Ravens got beat by a No. 3 quarterback named Rick Mirer. We thought he was selling cars, insurance or cigars, but yesterday he helped light up the Ravens.

This one is going to be tough to get over. The Ravens got beat by Mirer, a big-time bust out of Notre Dame.

What happened in the Oakland Raiders' shocking 20-12 win over the Ravens yesterday?

The new Ravens looked a lot like the old Ravens, the team that struggled before a recent three-game winning streak.

They gave up 10 points on two turnovers, had eight penalties for 55 yards, dropped a couple of passes, quarterback Anthony Wright had problems, Lamont Brightful fumbled two punts and the offensive play-calling was questionable again, not just like it was earlier in the season, but seemingly forever.

Anything else?

Yeah. After playing three straight home games, the Ravens came to Oakland fat and flat. Those famous words from former Colts coach Jim Mora had to be running through Brian Billick's brain yesterday.

Playoffs? What playoffs?

Oakland looked more like a playoff team than the Ravens, and they had a quarterback named Rick Mirer.

Ahh, it just sounds so ugly.

The Ravens got beat by Rick Mirer. They got beat by a bunch of geriatrics, including two receivers, Jerry Rice and Tim Brown, who are both older than Moses. They lost to a team that had so many injuries it was receiving Red Cross packages, a team so inept its own coach called it the dumbest in America.

Raiders coach Bill Callahan is expected to get fired at the end of the season, which is why Oakland laid down against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. All the Ravens had to do was score early and kiss the Raiders good night.

But ...

"It's frustrating to come out here and lose a game like this," said Ravens center Mike Flynn. "This is not good."

How about embarrassing?

"I wouldn't say it's embarrassing, just not good," said Flynn. "Well, the way we lost, the turnovers, that's embarrassing, but that's how the NFL is. The focus level was not where it was the last three weeks."

That's an understatement.

"We just came out flat, made some mistakes," said Ravens linebacker Peter Boulware.

"We didn't execute like we should have. We needed to have this win. We were flying high. We were feeling good. Any letdown, anytime you get a snitch of overconfidence in the league, you can lose. We need to realize this. Every time we play, we have to bring our A-game."

But the Raiders deserve some credit. They had the Ravens' defense off balance for most of the afternoon, except when they went conservative late in the third quarter.

Mirer completed 16 of 35 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown, but he could have thrown for close to 300 if the Raiders hadn't dropped five or six passes. At times, Ravens safeties Ed Reed, Chad Williams and Will Demps seemed to be guessing or looked confused.

Wright seemed just as puzzled. He completed only 12 of 27 passes for 193 yards and had the two turnovers that led to the 10 points. His second pass of the game was high and was picked off by Phillip Buchanon, who returned the ball 29 yards to the Ravens' 1. On the next play, Oakland scored for a 7-0 lead just 55 seconds into the game.

Wright fumbled a handoff to running back Jamal Lewis with 10:59 left in the game at the Oakland 27 that the Raiders turned into a 23-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski with 6:01 remaining, but that really wasn't his fault. Fullback Alan Ricard failed to pick up linebacker Napoleon Harris crashing inside, and Wright never even got close to Lewis.

But on some passes, Wright was way off, often throwing behind or too high. The Ravens couldn't convert on turnovers inside the red zone yesterday, a problem they seemed to have overcome in the last three weeks. They also finally ran into a solid secondary that eliminated their favorite pass play of toss it up and see who comes down with the jump ball.

"It's not a regression," said Wright. "You're going to have good games and bad games. We had a bad game today, and we just have to move on."

The Ravens got a taste of reality. Despite their so-called offensive resurgence, they can seldom score without a turnover, long pass or big plays from special teams. Long drives are hard because the Ravens lack discipline and don't have receivers who can catch consistently.

And the coaching staff doesn't have the patience or common sense to stay with Lewis' running. On a third-and-two from the Raiders' 12 with 8:17 remaining in the first quarter, Wright faked a handoff to Lewis around left end and then ran around right end, but was sacked for a 2-yard loss.

The Ravens should have stayed with Lewis. At that point, he had carried seven times for 38 yards. He was fresh. He was dominant. On his team's next possession and faced with a third-and-two at the Oakland 42, Wright threw a miserable pass behind Travis Taylor to halt the drive.

Earth to Billick: Just run Lewis. Going into the game, Oakland had the No. 31-ranked rushing defense, allowing 149.9 yards per game. Every season, the Ravens lose anywhere between four to five games because of play-calling.

But Billick has refused to make any changes in his staff because he needs a scapegoat. He needs that insulation from criticism.

Neither the Ravens' defense nor special teams played well enough to bail them out. But this team will regroup and will probably end up in the playoffs.

The Ravens have a lot of character guys, such as Boulware, Flynn, Jonathan Ogden and No. 52, Ray Lewis. The loss simply added excitement to a regular season that will now go down to the last week when they play host to the Steelers.

But for six more days, we've all got to deal with this Raiders' setback. The Ravens lost to one of the worst teams in the NFL. They lost to a quarterback named Rick Mirer.

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