By Samuel Njoku
The Baltimore Ravens lost Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb for the season. And all indications pointed to a loss in Houston on Sunday. But with the sudden emergence of Terrell Suggs, many fans hoped that could spark an inept defense and a struggling road offense. Those fans were disappointed as the Houston Texans blew out the Baltimore Ravens 43-13 at Reliant Stadium. And while many like to point fingers in situations like this, there is clearly plenty of blame to go around.
The Ravens were out-coached in this contest. In the first half, the coaching staff had no answer for the Houston Texans. Cam Cameron was put in a bad situation on their second series of the afternoon. Pinned inside the 5 yard line, Baltimore would hand the ball off to Vonta Leach for a decent gain. Cameron decided to throw the ball on the next two downs, the last of which resulted in a safety. The safety swung the momentum and on the ensuing possession, the Texans would score the go ahead touchdown and not look back. On the next drive, Flacco would throw a pass that is tipped and results in a pick 6. The Texans score 16 points off of turnovers that pretty much sealed the game. The knock on Cameron is that he doesn’t have a feel for the offense. His questionable play-calling contributed to the loss on Sunday. This has once again put his job as offensive coordinator in jeopardy.
Dean Pees defense played decent football given the circumstances. Before the game got out of hand, the unit was doing a good job of stopping the run. But once the score became a bit lopsided, the defense lost its fire. And the Texans kept piling on the points. If the Ravens want any chance of competing in the postseason, they need to patch up the secondary. Players were running open all game. It’ll be a long bye week for this coaching staff.
Joe Flacco struggled in this contest to say the least. He threw the ball 43 times in this contest for only 147 yards. That’s not going to get the job done. But the real issue rests with the offensive line. They took a beating in this contest. The plays in which Flacco actually had time in the pocket was slim at best. And when he did have time in the pocket, Flacco was so rattled that his passes often sailed away from the receiver. It was an ugly performance by this offensive team. The Ravens may need to seriously consider moving Matt Birk and Bobbie Williams away from the line. They were getting abused by a much more athletic front seven. Gino Gradkowski and Ramon Harewood may need to get their feet wet a bit sooner than anticipated.
Ray Rice was a non-factor in this game. He only carried the ball 9 times in this contest. He was effective when his number was called, but the offense had no choice but to throw the ball after trailing by so many points. Rice is the ultimate team player, but he may need to speak with coaches about getting him involved early. The running game should be emphasized on the road a great deal.
Lost in the meltdown that took place in Houston was the return of Terrell Suggs. Suggs practiced very little after suffering a torn Achilles in the offseason. But not only was he able to play in this contest, but he was clearly the best Ravens defender on the field. He looked a bit sluggish, but he’ll pick up speed as the year rolls along.
The defense needs to find an answer for the pass. The Ravens have struggled stopping the run but this is still a passing league. With the loss of Lardarius Webb, Schaub was simply able to pick this unit apart. Jimmy Smith was falling for the double move all game long. And Cary Williams couldn’t seem to cover any route at all. The Ravens are stuck with the personnel they have for the rest of the season, so it’ll be up to the players to turn this season around.
Justin Tucker couldn’t save the Ravens this week. But he continues to impress as he converted two long field goals of 51 and 54 respectively. If he continues to play at this level, he has a shot to make the Pro Bowl. The punting unit struggled a bit, as they gave the offense poor field position in the first quarter. The poor field position would lead to a safety that swung momentum to the Houston Texans.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.