There’s a difference between a close loss to a great opponent and getting annihilated by one. But to the Ravens, this distinction does not matter. Baltimore has masqueraded as a top team in the league since the start of the season. In week eight, the Ravens showed their true colors. Baltimore is simply an average team, one that will win the easy games, but flake at the first sign of contention. After the Ravens began the season with an impressive string of games, safety Eric Weddle proclaimed that “It ain’t the same Ravens”. But while the team pretends to be a Super Bowl contender, the whole country now knows, these are the same old Ravens.
It is forgivable to lose a game to an objectively top-tier team by a fluke play. It is understandable to lose to division rivals on the road. But to get obliterated by a team that is on the same plane, if not inferior, is more than unacceptable. It is appalling. The display the Ravens put on the field in Charlotte was disheartening, depressing, and disgusting. The Carolina Panthers blew up the so-called “best defense in the league”, exposed it, and dropped 36 points on it. While the defense was as effective at stopping Cam Newton as a piece of paper is at stopping the wind, the offense could do nothing but succumb to the might of the mediocre Panthers defense.
The Joe Flacco led offense looked like a deer in headlights. There was no direction, no drive, no urgency. The entire unit acted as if the game was a meaningless scrimmage. I have seen better efforts in the preseason. While Flacco assumes much of the blame for being the leader of the group, the blame should be evenly distributed. Flacco’s two boneheaded interceptions were matched by Alex Collins’ fumble, matched by Willie Snead’s penalties, matched by the offensive line’s inability to block. The entire display consisted of one mistake after the other, on a repeated cycle, spiraling the Ravens down the nine circles of Hell.
The defensive performance was one of the most sluggish and uninspired that I have ever seen. The Panthers faced no opposition moving down the field throughout the entire game. The defensive line got no penetration and put no pressure on Cam Newton. As a result of failing in this critical assignment, the front seven allowed Cam Newton to charge down the field on the ground. When he was not shredding Baltimore’s run defense, he was grilling the secondary. Newton repeatedly targeted receivers like D.J. Moore and Christian McCaffrey, yet the Ravens never got close enough to properly defend them. If the Ravens had provided any semblance of energy, perhaps the unit could have stopped the blitzkrieg, commanded by Cam Newton.
The loss ultimately falls on the coaching staff. Individual players and groups always have bad games, but for the entire team to play as disgracefully as they did, is the fault of the coaches. The Ravens were unprepared, and as a result, outplayed, outcoached, outsmarted, and undone. Baltimore proved themselves to be the same old Ravens of years past. One that cannot get over the hump in the important games. One that is not worthy of making the playoffs, yet constantly raises the hopes of gullible fans, claiming that this year will be different. If John Harbaugh wants to continue as the head coach, he will have to turn the Ravens around.