Tape will show one ugly Ravens defense

September 24, 2012|Mike Preston

The Ravens' defense had been good for so long that even when it played poorly in the preseason, there was always hope that it would get better in the regular season.

After Sunday night, there are serious doubts.

The Ravens came up with a last-minute defensive effort to stop New England and pull out a victory, but they have holes. Big holes.

And it appears the Ravens are going to have to win a lot of games the way they did against the Patriots. Quarterback Joe Flacco might have to put up big numbers or Ray Rice has to gain a lot of yards, but the Ravens are going to need to score a lot of points.

The Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady turned the game into a seven-on-seven passing drill.

As in most of the season so far, the Ravens couldn't get much of a pass rush on Brady. Without that, Brady picked on cornerbacks Cary Williams and Jimmy Smith. And then he picked on Williams and Smith some more.

The Ravens made the Patriots look like the pass-happy San Diego Chargers of the 1980s. New England brought in tight end Kellen Winslow, and he is playing on one leg. The Patriots still have receiver Deion Branch, and he's collecting Social Security. But it just wasn't the secondary. The whole defense played poorly for the second straight week, and there was hope that the No. 27 ranking wasn't true, and the Ravens would regroup after last week's loss to Philadelphia.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh was hugging his players and pointing to the fans as if he were in the WWE Sunday night after the win, and he should be happy. But this morning, when he looks at the video, his demeanor will change.

He'll like the performance of Flacco, Rice and a young offensive line. He'll admire the play of receiver Torrey Smith, who received the news of his younger brother's death early Sunday morning.

But the defense. Ugly. Just plain ugly.

Other observations

** These might be replacement officials, but they need to take control of the game. Every week, there are more and more fights, and it slows down the game.

After the first fight, officials needed to go to both benches and tell the head coaches that if there are any more, players involved will be ejected immediately. Until that happens, the outbreaks will continue.

** Ravens safety Ed Reed was as active and as physical Sunday night as I've seen him in years. He had several good, hard tackles and separated receiver Julian Edelman from a touchdown pass with a hard shoulder to his chest with 7:52 left in the first period.

When he is disciplined, Reed still plays the best center field of any safety in the NFL.

** The Ravens brought Jacoby Jones in to return kicks and possibly punts, but every time rookie Deonte Thompson returns a kickoff he appears close to breaking one. He has good change of direction and quickness to accelerate through holes.

He just needs to be a little faster on his decision-making.

** The Ravens can't complain too much about officiating. They got away with a call when Edelman was clearly interfered with by Williams on a back shoulder reception deep in Ravens territory on the Patriots' fourth possession. The officials, though, called Edelman for interference, and they were clearly wrong.

And the Ravens got a favorable call by the officials on a spot after a reception by Anquan Boldin on a third-and-13 at their own 48 early in the second quarter. Officials initially said Boldin was a yard short of the first down, but they reversed the decision after a challenge by Harbaugh.

It was a good challenge at that point with the Ravens down 13-0.

** When a fan ran onto the field wearing a cape and shorts in the second quarter, it took a while for security and policemen to chase him down.

Where was former Colts linebacker Mike Curtis when you needed him?

** The best call of the game was Flacco hitting Smith down the right sideline for a 25-yard touchdown with 9:53 left in the second quarter. The play-action pass worked because the Ravens had set the Patriots up with consecutive runs by Rice of 8 and 5 yards.

The worst call of the game was the reverse to Edelman for a 13-yard loss near the midway point of the second period. The Patriots were gaining big yards on passing plays with their regular offense but then tried to get too tricky.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.