By Daniel Benjamin
The Baltimore Ravens dropped their third straight game as they fell to the New York Giants 27-23 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. on October 16. The loss marks the Ravens third straight loss after leading at halftime, and it’s the second loss where they blew a late fourth quarter lead.
Baltimore falls to 3-3 overall and 2-1 on the road with the three setbacks coming by a combined 10 points. In fact, all six of the Ravens games have been decided by a touchdown or less. Costly mistakes and injuries also contributed to Baltimore’s loss—a recurring theme with the team this season.
“Until we stop setting ourselves back with mistakes,” Ravens’ head coach John Harbaugh said. “We’re not going to be the offense we know we can be.”
Baltimore entered the game without five starters, plus return specialist Devin Hester. The Ravens then lost starting cornerback Jimmy Smith (concussion) and Terrell Suggs (left arm) during the game; neither returned.
Baltimore controlled the ball most of the game, and moved the ball down the field as they rolled up 395 total yards of offense—the team’s second most this season. The biggest problem was the Ravens couldn’t convert when needed, scoring 18 points in five red zone chances, and were flagged a season-high 14 times for 111 yards (seven times for 50 yards on offense). With just two red zone touchdowns, they have now scored a touchdown in only half of their chances on the season (8-of-16).
Baltimore converted 5-of-18 third down attempts and was 1-of-2 on fourth down, failing on a fourth down and goal from the one-yard line at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The Ravens also missed a golden opportunity after cornerback Tavon Young set the offense up with the ball on the Giants 27 following an interception. They moved the ball six yards before settling for a field goal.
Flacco didn’t make any major mistakes and passed for a season-high 307 yards, but he was way too inaccurate, completing 54.2 percent of his passes. He hung wide receiver Mike Williams out to dry on a second down and 10 play from the Giants 24-yard line with 11 seconds remaining. Flacco missed six straight passes on the Ravens final drive, which was aided by a 15 yard roughing the passer penalty that kept the series alive.
West had an extremely productive first half, rushing for 60 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. He finished the game averaging a modest 3.8 yards a carry as he finished with 23 attempts for 87 yards and two touchdowns. West did have a number of carries that netted no gain or negative yardage.
Kamar Aiken and Breshad Perriman did a nice job filling in for the injured Steve Smith Sr., combining for seven receptions and 112 yards.
The defense was outstanding in the first half, limiting the Giants to seven points and 133 in total offense. New York didn’t pick up its first first down until more than 20 minutes were gone in the game. Baltimore was without two starters on defense even before Smith and Suggs went out of the game.
With Jimmy Smith not able to go in the second half, Eli Manning and Odell Beckham ate the Ravens’ secondary up for lunch. The Giants racked up 435 yards against the No. 3 rated defense coming into the game.
Manning, who was only hit twice all games and sacked once, was 32-of-46 for 403 yards and three touchdowns. Baltimore did pick him off twice and recovered a Beckham fumble that S Eric Weddle caused.
But big plays against an inexperienced secondary ended up being the Ravens’ downfall. All three of the Giants touchdowns came on completions of 20 or more yards. Beckham burned the Ravens for three long plays and had 222 receiving yards along with two touchdowns. He took the seldom used Davis to school for a 75-yard touchdown as Davis bit on a hitch-and-go move.
Beckham was matched up against Young on the game-winning drive. The 23-year-old wide receiver beat Young on the inside on a slant and then Young collided with Weddle, allowing Beckham to reach the end zone. The Ravens also had a communication issue on the Giants’ first score—a 24-yard pass play from Manning to Roger Lewis.
Special Teams: A+
K Justin Tucker contributed 11 points against the Giants, and has yet to miss a field goal in 12 tries. He also booted all six of his kickoffs into the end zone. P Sean Koch was nearly as good, averaging 47.8 yards on five kicks while pinning the Giants’ inside the 20 three times.
Baltimore designed a nice game plan on offense and defense. A better result would have probably occurred if not for all the injuries. Baltimore scored 10 points in the first quarter, which was nine less than the Ravens scored during the first four games of the season.
New offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg did a nice job mixing in running and passing plays as West finished the game with a season-high 23 rushing attempts. He also opened up the offense, permitting Flacco more opportunities to throw down the field. Flacco connected on a season-long 70-yard pass to Wallace and a 41-yard to Perriman. Aiken also had one reception for over 20 yards.
Baltimore had two delay game penalties and only had one time-out remaining on their final drive and used that following a short completion instead of getting up to the line and spiking the ball. The Ravens lacked a total lack of urgency on the final possession. In addition, the Ravens could have thrown a pass during their four attempts on the one-yard line instead of trying to run the ball every snap.
Baltimore will try to get back on track next week as the Ravens will once again play at Metlife Stadium. Baltimore will play the New York Jets this time with the kickoff slated for 1 p.m.