Colts Flawed

Ravens Insider

Ravens Tragically So

November 23, 2009|By Mike Preston

When a team has a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line and can't score a touchdown, it deserves to lose. When a team gets three turnovers in a game and can't score a touchdown after any of them, it deserves to lose.

The Ravens (5-5) aren't a playoff team right now. Instead, they are just a mediocre, undisciplined bunch of nomads roaming around the NFL continuing to fall short in games to the league's elite.

On a day when the unbeaten Indianapolis Colts came to town and tried to give the game away, the Ravens weren't good enough to take it. Why not? Because they were too stupid and too selfish. And they have a quarterback who has faded in the last couple of games and a head coach who should use his red flag to blow his nose instead of timeouts.

You want more?

Well, tune in again Sunday night when the Pittsburgh Steelers come to Baltimore. They aren't great either, but until further notice, always take a quality team when it plays the Ravens because the Ravens will implode or won't make enough big plays to beat the good ones.

We can look back at games against the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots. And now the Colts.

"It is frustrating, especially when you play a team like this," said Ravens running back Ray Rice of the 17-15 loss to Indianapolis. "They're used to scoring 30 points a game. We got their worst today. Peyton Manning threw two interceptions, and they fumbled the ball on the goal line. We have to score on the 1-yard line. When we get in the red zone, we have to put up points. That team [the Colts] should've been playing from behind."

The Colts should have lost, but they didn't because of recurring Ravens problems, such as selfishness and lack of discipline. How many times have we've seen safety Ed Reed do stupid things with the football? And then Sunday, he attempts that lateral off a punt return that could have resulted in a game-winning field goal. Instead, Indianapolis recovered the fumble to basically end the game.

Reed can't defend the move. Let's not hear about him trying to make a play. It was Reed being selfish again, because he is allowed to get away with it. Another sign of an undisciplined team was defensive tackle Haloti Ngata getting an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty midway through the fourth quarter after the Colts had lost 7 yards.

It was stupid but falls in line with the rest of a season in which the Ravens have been one of the most penalized teams in the NFL.

The lack of discipline falls on coach John Harbaugh, but he had his own brain-dead moments Sunday, such as deferring to the Colts when he won the opening coin toss or losing two timeouts with 2:26 left to dispute a first-down ruling. All he had to do was throw the red flag and not waste his final timeout.

Harbaugh is 1-4 in games this season decided by six points or fewer. Fingers now have to be pointed in his direction.

"We all could have done better, me included, during different situations in the game," Harbaugh said.

Oh, make no mistake, this was a team effort. The Ravens had 375 yards of total offense, but they're not going to beat good teams with this offense, or quarterback Joe Flacco, who has been in a slump the past few weeks.

This isn't 2000. You're not going to beat good teams with just field goals. The Ravens' offense is easy to figure out. The team throws comeback passes to Mason, a couple of slants, and everything else goes in the flat or over the middle to Rice. And if you take away Rice, as the Colts did on that fake blitz late in the game, the Ravens have no offense.

The talk about Flacco being a great quarterback needs to cease, too. Let's see what he does in about two more years. Great quarterbacks can consistently complete passes over the middle in tight windows as Tom Brady, Manning and Carson Palmer do. In the past two weeks, Flacco has lost his touch on the short passes.

You can beat the Cleveland Browns with this offense, not the Colts.

A year ago, the Ravens had the identity of a running team. But early in the fourth quarter Sunday, they couldn't power it over from the 1 on three straight running plays as the middle of the offensive line kept caving in.

But the blame can't be put entirely on the offense. Pro Bowl middle linebacker Ray Lewis looked stiff and tired Sunday and has become a liability on passing downs. As usual, the Ravens blew several coverages, and Manning scorched the Ravens secondary for 299 passing yards, and that was on an off-day.

And that's what made the loss so disappointing. On an off-day by one of the best teams, the Ravens still couldn't win. Imagine playing a team like the Colts or New England Patriots when they're peaking.

Never mind. That's kind of frightening.

"It's the little things," Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason said. "In order to beat a 9-0 team, you have to do the little things ... we didn't do it, so we came out with a loss."

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