Ugly? This Ravens win was pitiful

October 07, 2012|Mike Preston

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There are different classifications for victories. There are good wins and great ones. And there are close wins and ugly wins.

The Ravens came up with a new category Sunday. They were pitiful.

Just pitiful.

It was downright frustrating enough to make you kick the cat, cuss the dog, throw a brick through the TV or worse yet, become a baseball fan for life.

Nasty, ugly, boring. Those words could be used to describe the Ravens. Kansas City was even worse. There are no adjectives to describe the Chiefs.

After the Ravens beat the Chiefs, 9-6, in sleepy Kansas City which used to be a great place to watch an NFL game, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said what we all expected.

He said a win is a win and Kansas City was more talented than their record. He said it's tough to win on the road and alluded to the fact that the Ravens lost these kinds of games to Jacksonville and Seattle last year.

Excuse me, coach: those were ugly losses. This was a pitiful win.

On a day when the team with the most turnovers in the NFL coughed up four more and the home crowd was booing the offense and cheering when their top quarterback went down with an injury, the Ravens should have had more than a three-point victory.

This should have been a blowout.

The Ravens had 10 days to prepare and the home crowd couldn't wait to turn on their Chiefs. About an hour before the game, a small plane flew over Arrowhead Stadium with a banner that read: "KC fans deserve better. Fire Pioli [general manager Scott Pioli] and bench Cassel [starting quarterback Matt Cassel]."

It's bad when the home crowd is clamoring for Brady Quinn, a backup, to start. By halftime, fans started leaving the stadium, and the place was half empty midway through the fourth quarter with the outcome still in question.

But the Ravens couldn't take command. No team plays a perfect game every Sunday, but recurring weaknesses are starting to show up. The Ravens can't stop the run. Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles ran for 140 yards, and granted, he is a great back, but who in the hell are Shaun Draughn and Cyrus Gray?

Combined, the Chiefs ran for 214 yards on 50 carries. It was stretch left, stretch right. You would feel better if you could pick on one player and say he played poorly, but it was the entire front seven and the backups.

They stunk.

The Ravens made adjustments in the second half moving their linemen out and linebackers closer to the line of scrimmage, but what took so long?

Everyone in the NFL knew Kansas City had to run because the Chiefs had become so one dimensional they ought to run the Wildcat offense with Charles taking snaps.

It wasn't much better on offense. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco stared down receivers and threw behind them. On a day when he was supposed to carry a team with many problems, he was one of them.

That's not elite.

Offensive tackles Michael Oher and Kelechi Osemele had trouble with speed rushers on the outside again. When that happens, the passing game struggles because the Ravens have to keep in a receiver or running back to chip block with either Oher or Osemele.

Here's another issue: Why do the Ravens struggle against press coverage? The Chiefs jammed the Ravens at the line of scrimmage, and only veteran Anquan Boldin seemed to get open consistently.

The Ravens saw this type of coverage against Philadelphia, and they'll see it again. They better make some adjustments soon.

They can't keep getting lucky like Sunday. In some situations this season you can say the Ravens made their own breaks or forced turnovers. Against Kansas City, it was give away day by the Chiefs.

The Chiefs fumbled and lost a center exchange by Cassel at the Ravens 1-yard line. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City's top receiver, twice played pity-pat with Cassel passes that he popped up in the air and the Ravens intercepted.

There was the bad call late in the game when Flacco fumbled and it was recovered by the Chiefs, but the officials had called Flacco down by contact seconds earlier.

In the locker room after the game, the Ravens celebrated but they weren't elated. They know that when it's late in November or December, and it is cold and blistery outside, they are going to have to run the ball and stop the run. They know they're going to have to face speed rushers on the outside and get press coverage.

They're 4-1 and on top in the AFC North, but they can't play and win games like this against quality teams. It is one thing to win big, and another to win ugly.

On Sunday, the Ravens were pitiful, and they still won.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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