At some point, the Ravens' offense must be able to score touchdowns

ON THE RAVENS

Ravens Gameday

Ravens 28 Raiders 6

September 18, 2006|By MIKE PRESTON

The Ravens were happy with the bottom line yesterday but not the overall picture. They've opened the 2006 season with two straight wins, but there is a lot of improvement needed on offense.

It's way too early to talk about playoffs, but the Ravens have been in this situation before - having a great defense, good special teams and no offense. Despite beating the Oakland Raiders, 28-6, yesterday at home, there was already visible frustration among the offensive players. It's a carryover from years past.

Despite recovering three Oakland fumbles, intercepting three passes and starting seven of 15 possessions inside Raiders territory, the Ravens could muster only two touchdown drives. And they failed to get in the end zone all seven times they began on the Raiders' side of the 50.

Professor Derrick Mason wasn't happy.

"An F," said Mason, the Ravens' top receiver, when asked how he'd grade the offense. "We played real bad. The score is 28-6, but that score doesn't really indicate how we played. Hopefully, we can go down to Cleveland next week and get this offense going. If not, the way our defense is playing, hopefully they can score some points; they can be our offense."

Left tackle Jonathan Ogden was extremely animated on the field about his displeasure. During the third quarter, he slammed his helmet to the ground and then had a few words with coach Brian Billick. Another time in the third quarter, running back Jamal Lewis slammed the ball to the ground after the Ravens were called for another illegal procedure penalty.

"We know that it was a sloppy win, but it was a win," Lewis said. "We've got a lot of things to work on, but at least we're 2-0. The offense is a work in progress."

How many times have we heard that? We keep hearing about the 2000 season when the Ravens had no offense but still won a Super Bowl. Lightning isn't supposed to strike in the same place twice. Didn't the Ravens let Matt Cavanaugh go and replace him with Jim Fassel to breathe some life into this offense? Wasn't NcNair signed to put some zip into the passing game?

It's great that the Ravens are 2-0. Yippee! But the veterans know that Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, San Diego and Carolina probably aren't going to turn the ball over six times. They know quarterbacks Carson Palmer of the Bengals and Michael Vick of the Falcons are going to manufacture some points. The Ravens should have put 40 on the board yesterday.

Sooner or later, the Ravens are going to have to score some points inside the red zone, which was a major problem last season.

"Yep, cross the goal line, not just kick field goals. That has to change," Lewis said.

Teams are back to blitzing the Ravens up the middle, and they aren't likely to stop anytime soon.

Oakland had only two sacks, but McNair was hurried five other times and knocked down even more often. Apparently, the Raiders ran some stunts or blitzes the Ravens hadn't seen, and they weren't prepared to block them. Other times, the Ravens looked slow getting into their pass sets.

"No comment," right guard Keydrick Vincent said. Then he commented: "We tried to correct some things on the go, and we didn't get it done."

The Ravens had individual introductions before the game, but the offensive squad was introduced instead of the defense. McNair got a rousing ovation in the final spot that is usually reserved for Pro Bowl middle linebacker Ray Lewis.

It was a good move by the organization. The Ravens have been promoting the team concept since training camp opened. Lewis irritated a lot of his teammates by isolating himself last season, then made matters worse with some stinging criticism of the franchise and his teammates during the offseason.

Lewis is doing a great job of trying to mend his relationship with the team, but it's going to take some more time. Allowing him to do the Ray-Ray dance this early in the season may have reopened some old wounds that haven't completely healed.

It's unbelievable that the Raiders are about to implode only two weeks into the season. They resemble an expansion team.

The offensive line is an embarrassment, and no team should have four fumbled exchanges between the quarterback and center. The Raiders allowed six sacks. Worse yet, you could see some of them quitting during the game.

The biggest culprit was wide receiver Randy Moss. Once, he stopped running despite having a step or two on cornerback Chris McAlister on a short crossing pattern. There were times when he short-armed passes and others when he simply jogged running routes.

The hardest he ran all afternoon was when he was called for illegal procedure, and we thought he was just trying to get a jump on his teammates heading to the bus and then to the airport.

McAlister did a decent job on Moss, who caught only two passes for 32 yards. Twice, McAlister was a step away from intercepting a pass and possibly returning it down the sideline for a touchdown.

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