Ravens just don't seem to get it

To go deep into the playoffs, you need to secure home-field advantage

November 13, 2011|Mike Preston

SEATTLE — — Maybe the Ravens need a team psychiatrist or they simply can't handle success. These guys just don't get the big picture.

They keep losing games they are supposed to win — and that's not how you get to the Super Bowl. After the Ravens beat Pittsburgh for the second time last weekend, the road to the Super Bowl was supposed to come through Baltimore and M&T Bank Stadium.

But after the Ravens were upset by the lowly Seahawks Sunday, we'll shelve the Super Bowl talk this week. Don't even think about talking playoffs.

Playoffs?

No one wants to overreact because it's still a long season, but the Ravens are blowing a tremendous opportunity here. When you play teams like Seattle, one of the worst in the NFL, you need to win because that's how you secure a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the playoffs, which has been a major problem for the Ravens during the Harbaugh era.

This was a game for the Ravens to build on heading into a big showdown with Cincinnati on Sunday. This was a game for the Ravens to pad their win column along with other future opponents like San Diego, Indianapolis and two against Cleveland.

But the Ravens can't beat the weak sisters. They've lost to Tennessee and Jacksonville, and had to get a last-minute field goal to beat Arizona.

Somewhere in the psyche of this team, there is a switch that needs to be turned on, one that gets this team to play hard all the time, full-time. The Ravens had this same problem a year ago and it's still plaguing them.

It is a shame because they have such a great opportunity before them, and they need to stop wasting it.

"There's a three-way tie for first place in the AFC North. That's what we understand," Coach John Harbaugh said. "We know that there are three very good football teams in that mix right now, and we play one of them next week. We understand that we're going to be the target of a lot of criticism. We understand that. We understand it's going to be local, it's going to be national. We understand that our fans are very disappointed in the game. We're very disappointed in the game."

Blame goes all around

We'll hear a lot of bashing of the coaching staff over the next two days.

Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will be under scrutiny again because the Ravens failed to have success against another 4-3 team and running back Ray Rice ran the ball just five times against Seattle.

That's unbelievable.

It wasn't like the Ravens were so far behind that they had to abandon Rice, one of the game's best playmakers. Harbaugh needs to address that issue because this is the second time Cameron has panicked this year, and tried to turn Joe Flacco into Aaron Rodgers.

But the players deserve a lot of blame too, maybe even more than the coaches.

The Ravens like to talk about the greatness of their defense, but it allowed the Seahawks to control the clock at the end with a 14-play drive lasting 5:52.

The Seahawks converted on two third downs, and they came in front of the Ravens' top two defensive players. On third-and-five at their own 25, quarterback Tarvaris Jackson dropped a nice 24-yard pass in front of safety Ed Reed to Golden Tate.

And then with 3:38 remaining, running back Marshawn Lynch caught a two-yard swing pass three yards short of the first down, but then broke the ankles of linebackers Jarret Johnson and Ray Lewis for six more yards and a first down.

Offensively, the Ravens dropped about six or seven passes. And Flacco was short-hopping passes and missed two opportunities to hit a wide-open Torrey Smith for long touchdown passes in the first half.

Coaches coach, but it's the players who makes plays, and the Ravens didn't get it done against Seattle.

Can't spell elite with Flacco

Please, no more talk about Flacco being an elite quarterback.

I'd settle for him just being more consistent from quarter to quarter and game to game. When you're short arming swing passes into the ground, there is nothing elite about your game.

Nothing.

Not a great defensive effort

Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano could not have been happy with his group's effort in the first two quarters. The Ravens gave up plays of 21, 23 and 50 yards.

Quite a few times Seattle receivers were wide open and Jackson couldn't get them the ball, like when he missed tight end Zach Miller in the end zone midway in the second quarter.

If Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin could catch, the Ravens would have been getting blown out in the first half because he dropped two possible touchdown passes in the end zone.

Point of no return

David Reed is playing his way off the roster. He fumbled two returns Sunday (after fumbling against the Steelers last week) and got hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the second quarter that put the Ravens deep in their own territory. Both fumbles led to Seattle field goals.

The Ravens showed their frustration by putting Smith back as a returner, and most teams wouldn't do that with a starting receiver.

Can Rice play QB?

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