By Samuel Njoku
The Baltimore Ravens lost another heartbreaking loss in the closing moments of a football game. This time it was to the NFC East surging Washington Redskins in OT. Baltimore had plenty of opportunities to pull away with the victory. The Ravens were making it a habit to win close games. Now it appears they are finding ways to lose close games. And as the season winds down, each win becomes pivotal. And each loss becomes devastating.
After abandoning the running game the week before, Cam Cameron made sure to keep Ray Rice involved in this contest. Rice would finish with 121 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries. Many believe the Ravens are better suited to win games when Rice carries the ball 20 times. As far as the offense is concerned, there was little that Cameron could have done to change the outcome of this game. Many will point to the lack of aggression in the closing moments of the football game, but that falls primarily on the shoulders of John Harbaugh. The 5th year head coach has begun to generate some heat for his questionable management of the game in the past few weeks. This contest did little to help his case, as the Ravens failed to put the Redskins away when given the opportunity.
Dean Pees deserves some criticism for the poor defense that has been displayed by Baltimore recently. But at some point injuries are going to play a factor, and this season the injury bug has decimated a once formidable unit. Pees was not only without Suggs and Lewis, but also lost Jameel McClain and Josh Bynes for an extended period of time. Couple that with the absence of Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith and you have to wonder how Pees can keep his composure on the sidelines. But the Ravens have to play games with who they have, and the players that were on the field cost Baltimore his game in the worst way. They need to make improvements and adjustments.
As the season comes to an end, Flacco’s biggest flaw has taken center stage. Joe’s pocket presence has now resulted in two lost fumbles and a plethora of costly possessions for the Ravens’ offense. Jim Caldwell has to remind Flacco to get rid of the ball quickly given how poor the Ravens’ offensive line has been this season. The Redskins pass rush has been poor throughout the season. But against Baltimore, they looked almost unstoppable. It looks like the Ravens will be without Yanda for an extended period of time. That will force major changes in the offensive front. For starters, Oher has got to move away from the LT spot. His natural position lies in the RT position. Bryant McKinnie is the only decent LT on the team and needs to be there to protect Flacco. The Ravens’ indecisiveness in that regard has played a huge role in Baltimore’s current 2two game losing streak.
The Ravens’ defense was porous in the first half. They improved a great deal in the second half only to collapse in the final moments of the 4th quarter. The pass defense of the Baltimore Ravens have never been as elite as advertised, but the run defense continues to disappoint fans throughout the city of Baltimore. The pistol formation of the Redskins caused the Ravens fits throughout the ballgame. Lucky for Baltimore, no other team in the NFL runs that formation. The play of this unit was downright brutal.
Special Teams: B-
The special teams unit played well until OT. Then the huge punt return came into play and it sealed the win for the Redskins. It’s hard to critique a unit like this too harshly, they’ve pretty much kept this team competitive the last few weeks. But they dropped the ball on Sunday. Jerry Rosburg will have to find a way to shore up the punt unit this week.
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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.