Ravens look like a team headed in the wrong direction

  • Safety Ed Reed, long snapper Morgan Cox and quarterback Joe Flacco head to the locker room after the Ravens' loss to the Redskins.
Safety Ed Reed, long snapper Morgan Cox and quarterback Joe…
December 09, 2012|Mike Preston

LANDOVER — — A week ago, the Ravens got beat by an old quarterback. On Sunday, they got beat by two rookie quarterbacks, one playing on one leg and the other having thrown only nine passes in his NFL career.

The Ravens are in trouble. Big trouble.

Not only did they lose to arch rival Pittsburgh last Sunday, but then they lost to the uppity Redskins in overtime in the Battle of the Beltway.

Beep, beep, beep.

That's the sound of the Ravens backing into the playoffs.

That might be the only way they get there, especially with the Denver Broncos, New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals left on the schedule.

This is the time of season when the good teams separate themselves from the bad ones. But the Ravens crashed and burned here Sunday blowing another touchdown lead in the fourth quarter.

The good news is that the AFC North is in such a sorry state that both the Bengals and Steelers lost Sunday as the Ravens remained two games ahead in the division race, but the Ravens don't look like a team that can go deep into the playoffs.

They're gasping for air heading to the finish line.

"We should have won this game," Ravens linebacker Paul Kruger said. "It's just a killer to come down here, play a full game and then lose the game like we did, it's rough. We have to do whatever we need to do to get back this week. "

"There is no fear, that is not the word I would use," said Kruger in describing the upcoming schedule. "It's definitely an urgent feeling. We have to win. That's the bottom line. It was the same thing coming in this week, so that just makes it more intense and we have to be clutch these last couple games. We have to make it happen. Our destiny is in our own hands."

That's scary, and that's why the Ravens are in trouble.

On Sunday, the Ravens played without injured starting linebackers Dannell Ellerbe, Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and starting cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb.

After the game, head coach John Harbaugh announced that starting inside linebacker Jameel McClain had suffered a neck injury (initial test were negative), starting guard Marshal Yanda had a sprained ankle and running back Ray Rice was nursing a hip pointer.

This team needs a Medivac.

"I think it will take us handling adversity and that is what you have to do," Harbaugh said. "It was a tough week and we have a tough run with four challenging games. We are fighting through all the things you fight through at this stage of the season as a football team. ... You don't overreact to these things."

No one is overeacting, but you can't be blind to the truth. The same weaknesses are occurring every week now. Pittsburgh quarterback Charlie Batch butchered the Ravens with passes over the middle, and so did Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.

The Ravens linebackers can't cover, safety Ed Reed is nowhere to be found and there isn't anyone to punish receivers after the catch. For the second straight week, the Ravens have allowed long, game deciding drives in the fourth period, and cornerback Chris Johnson lost receiver Pierre Garcon on an 11-yard touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins with 29 seconds left in regulation to set up the tie game.

Just who is Cousins?

He is a fourth round pick out of Michigan State. If he can complete two of two passes for 26 yards in crunch time, then imagine what Peyton and Eli Manning will do.

Oh, this might get ugly.

"It is nothing that we haven't been through before," said Harbaugh, of back-to-back losses. "It is a tough loss and it is going to be a fight to the division championship and that is what we are fighting for right now. We have to bounce back next week with a very good Denver team in our stadium."

It's not just defensive problems, but offensive problems as well. Quarterback Joe Flacco is horribly inconsistent and seems to have hit the ceiling of his career in Baltimore.

He had a strong performance in the first half and wasn't much of a factor in the second except for turnovers. In other words, just another day at the office for Flacco.

His most costly turnover occurred with 5:42 left in the third quarter on third-and-6 at the Washington 11. The Redskins overloaded to one side and outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan blindsided Flacco which resulted in an interception by London Fletcher.

Flacco said he should have thrown to Rice immediately.

"I was enamored trying to get Ray something over there and it was my fault," Flacco said. "It was easy. I should just throw [him] the ball."

Flacco has poor pocket presence. He doesn't know when to get rid of the ball or step up in the pocket. The problem is compounded because Ravens offensive tackles Michael Oher and Kelechi Osemele have problems with speed rushers, and left guard Jah Reid can't stay on his feet.

At least the Ravens stayed with the run Sunday handing the ball off to Rice, but after a while they had no other choice because the Ravens couldn't figure out how to pass block the Redskins.

It's all troubling. Even the special teams, the strength of this team, allowed a 64 yard punt return to set up the game winning field goal.

It's so bad right now, that even Lady Luck has abandoned the Ravens. Maybe they used her up in the first half of the season.

If this continues, the Ravens might have to crawl into the postseason instead of walking in after kicking down the door.

Beep, beep, beep……

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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