Ravens' pass coverage nowhere to be found vs. Chargers, Gates

ON THE RAVENS

Ravens Gameday

November 26, 2007|By MIKE PRESTON

SAN DIEGO — SAN DIEGO-- --Instead of physicals next season at the start of training camp, the Ravens might want to undergo eye examinations. They lost the best tight end in the NFL not once but twice yesterday.

That's pretty remarkable. The San Diego Chargers' Antonio Gates is 6 feet 4 and weighs 260 pounds. But yesterday, Gates had touchdown catches of 35 and 25 yards.

How do you lose a man that big and that good? He was so open, he could have drunk a cup of coffee, eaten breakfast, completed a crossword puzzle and read the rest of the newspaper before hauling in the passes.

In the locker room after the Ravens' 32-14 loss, the players kept mentioning the word "miscommunication."

Cut the excuses.

That might be a reason early in the season, but not in the 11th game. It's apparent that if the Ravens don't blitz and get pressure on the quarterback, they don't have a clue as far as coverage.

The Ravens gave up 249 passing yards yesterday, and San Diego receivers were so alone they started signing up for a dating service.

Pounding Boller

The Chargers knew they had this game won midway through the fourth quarter as the Ravens took possession at their 15-yard line.

On the next play, the Chargers apparently called a team meeting around quarterback Kyle Boller's head because he was buried by Shaun Phillips, Ryan Bingham and Shawne Merriman.

They smothered Boller so much, in fact, that Boller lost his helmet and got up holding his eye.

But even he could see Gates.

Crowd control

If the Ravens had come out and scored early, they could have turned the crowd against the Chargers.

The crowd of slightly more than 63,000 started booing San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers and the Chargers' offense on their second play.

The Ravens had a futile answer: a whopping 37 yards of offense in the first quarter.

Ditch the play

The Ravens added a new play to the offense. They've always had the pass out in the left flat for 1 yard, but yesterday Boller threw it to tight end Lee Vickers for minus-1 yard.

Who in the heck is Lee Vickers?

Better question: Can't they lose this play?

But look at the good side. Boller took a snap and slammed the ball into the ground with one second left in the game to stop the clock. Who said Brian Billick lacks clock management skills?

The man still is a genius.

Celebrating linebackers

The first half should have been a dancing contest between Merriman and Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis.

After both made tackles behind or near the line of scrimmage, they got up and pounded on their chests. I hadn't seen that much shaking since a Beyonce concert.

Tackle switch

The Ravens apparently studied the game film last week because they had rookie Marshal Yanda replace Adam Terry as the starting right offensive tackle.

After yesterday's loss, and with the New England Patriots coming up, the Ravens ought to go to the youth movement.

Bad calls

There were two phantom calls in the game. One was pass interference on Chargers cornerback Quentin Jammer covering receiver Devard Darling in the first quarter.

The other was Chargers safety Clinton Hart being called for roughing Boller in the third quarter.

I didn't see where Jammer interfered with Darling. There was virtually no contact except for a quick brush in and out of Darling's cut.

As for Hart, the guy jumped, tried to block the pass and managed to bump Boller's helmet on the way down. It's hard for a 6-foot, 205-pound safety or anybody else to change direction in midair.

Where's the flag?

Billick challenged two calls but was slow on one because he couldn't find his red flag.

I suggest that he hire an assistant just to throw the red flag now that his clock management issues are under control.

Too much Mason

If the Ravens are to develop more of a passing game, Boller has to spread the ball around more to the receivers.

Derrick Mason is having a great year, but do you think New England coach Bill Belichick isn't going to take him out of the picture on third downs?

In the first quarter, Boller threw seven of his first eight passes to Mason. What happened to Mark Clayton?

As for Darling, he has to prove he can play well against a team other than the Cleveland Browns.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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