After win vs. Bills, Ravens really need a break

  • Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis strips the ball from Bills tight end Shawn Nelson.
Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis strips the ball from Bills tight… (Baltimore Sun photo by Gene…)
October 24, 2010|By Mike Preston

Thank goodness the Ravens have a bye Sunday.

They need one. Even though they are an impressive 5-2 at this point after edging a winless Buffalo team Sunday, the Ravens have regressed instead of progressing.

Their pass defense was bad last week against New England, and absolutely pathetic against Buffalo. Once upon a time, teams feared trying to run against the Ravens, but an opposing team rushing for more than 100 yards happens almost every Sunday now.

The Ravens have no return game. If Jermaine Lewis had been hanging out with the 2000 Super Bowl team Sunday, the Ravens should have signed him to a contract. Receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh? Is he really on the roster, or another ice cream flavor at Baskin Robbins?

The Ravens need a week off because they are inconsistent and tired. No one fears their defense anymore. During the week, maybe tight end Todd Heap can get healthy and safety Ed Reed can get re-acquainted with the rest of the secondary. Maybe the Ravens can find some return specialists and break out some new tackling drills.

Over in another corner of the locker room, linebacker Ray Lewis was trying to put his best face on the win, pointing out that a majority of Ravens games have been on the road against playoff-caliber teams, and they have faced a lot of teams coming off a bye week.

OK, it's noted. But regardless, the Ravens haven't gotten any better.

Thank the refs

The Ravens can't blame officiating anymore. They got a break when Lewis pulled the ball out of tight end Shawn Nelson's hand and recovered his fumble at the Buffalo 45 with 12:52 left in overtime to set up the game winning field goal.

Clearly, Nelson's progress had been stopped. In fact, his feet were lifted off the ground when he was first hit by Lewis for a couple of seconds.

"I had an old coach who said you play until you hear the whistle," Lewis said. "I knew he wasn't going anywhere when I got him with my forearm. Then I lifted him up, and went backdoor for the steal. He was just kind of floating there for a while. "

Take a seat

One impressive thing about Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is that he will bench players when they are performing poorly. He sat running back Willis McGahee two weeks ago against Denver, and then put cornerback Fabian Washington on the sidelines Sunday.

The only problem is that he didn't have enough backups to replace some of his starters Sunday. Cornerback Lardarius Webb couldn't cover and couldn't tackle. Safety Dawan Landry should have been replaced by Haruki Nakamura for as many tackles as he missed.

It wasn't as if these guys missed tackles. In some cases, they didn't want to make them. There will be an interesting film session in the defensive back room Monday morning with secondary coach Chuck Pagano.

The weak of heart should not attend.

Secondary got beat

A lot of fuss was made about the return of Reed, his two interceptions and a forced fumble where he actually ducked his head and accidentally ran into the ball. But more importantly, What happened to some of the over-the-top-pass coverage by the safeties?

Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had four touchdown passes, and the Ravens were always trailing the play, including Reed. It may have been that the Ravens cornerbacks were beaten so badly that not even Reed could cover that much ground so quickly.

Heap needs a break

It might be time for Harbaugh to start using some of the younger players (see rookie Ed Dickson) to give Heap a break. When a player drops to the ground like Heap did in the third quarter without being hit that should send off a signal.

The Ravens are only seven games into the season, and Heap dropped as if a sniper had shot him from the top row. He needs more of a break than just a bye week.

Oh, by the way, get Heap a calculator, too. He jumps off sides almost every week.

Pep talk?

With about four minutes left in the half, Lewis was in the middle of a defensive huddle on the sideline, and some nasty words were pouring from his lips.

"Nah, I don't cuss," said Lewis, laughing. "It's just good to be 5-2. That's all I'll say about it."

Take a hint

Returning punts and kickoffs is difficult, but it's not that hard to obey certain rules.

To Tom Zbikowski, Webb, Josh Wilson and Jalen Parmele, I offer these suggestions: If the kickoff is three yards or deeper in the end zone, please take a knee, and if you do return it, run straight. This east-to-west business has played out.

Missed opportunity?

Harbaugh didn't take his final timeout before Rian Lindell kicked a tying 50-yard field goal with 4 seconds left.

There's a belief that you can't ice an 11-year veteran like Lindell, but you might as well try anyway. You can't take the timeout with you.

More no-huddle

I think the Ravens should run the no-huddle almost on a full-time basis. Quarterback Joe Flacco plays better at a faster tempo and when he reacts instead of thinking too much.

The faster pace also allows him to get more plays and more passes to those talented receivers who have been known to complain when they don't get some passes thrown their way.

One of the best things about Flacco is that he doesn't always look good, but he makes just enough plays to keep the Ravens in every game.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

Listen to Mike Preston on "The Bruce Cunningham Show" from noon to 2 p.m. on Monday and Friday on 105.7 FM.

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