This article is part of a new segment on The Baltimore Feather, called, Ravens Retrospective Review. In this new series, I take an in-depth look at how the Baltimore Ravens performed in their game a few days earlier. In this first edition of Ravens Retrospective Review, we delve deep into Baltimore’s disappointing loss at home to Pittsburgh.
“I sucked. It wasn’t good.” – Joe Flacco
That quote by Joe Flacco just about sums it all up. Joe Flacco sucked against Pittsburgh. The entire offense sucked against Pittsburgh. The offense found no traction for the majority of the game, only scoring points in the third quarter. Much of the blame gets placed on Flacco, and rightly so. He played miserably, giving the Ravens little to work with. However, the entire offense is to blame, as there were many players who hindered the Ravens on Sunday. Here, we take an in-depth look at Baltimore’s loss against Pittsburgh and try to diagnose the problems of the team.
Ravens vs Steelers Analysis:
Joe Flacco Disappoints
By just watching the game, the main takeaway for most people will be that quarterback Joe Flacco again played on a non-elite level. Despite his poor performance, Flacco was able to notch some statistics that would suggest he played well. Flacco completed 31 of his 49 passing attempts, putting him at 63.3% completion. He also threw one touchdown to wide receiver Mike Wallace. There is one statistic, however, that just stands out like a sore thumb. Flacco threw not one, but two interceptions in the fourth quarter, in back to back drives. The Ravens were only down by 10 points when Flacco tossed his first interception from midfield. The Ravens were able to stop Pittsburgh’s offense and take possession of the football. Flacco had yet another chance to put the Ravens back in this game, but he gave the ball away for a second time. This interception sealed Baltimore’s fate, as there was simply not enough time left to take control of the game after such a crushing blow of a play. These two interceptions extend Flacco’s streak of consecutive games with an interception to 10. He is the leader among all active quarterbacks in that streak. Flacco’s performance was obviously bad, and the Ravens cannot win with more of the same from their franchise quarterback.
Constant Theme of Drops
As stated in the previous section, much of the blame falls on the shoulders of Joe Flacco. However, much blame has to be given to the wide receivers in general. Dropping the football on easy catches has been, and still is, a constant theme with this Ravens receiving corps. Early in the game, Mike Wallace let the ball slide through his hands on a big play opportunity. With the offense visibly struggling, a deep bomb down the sideline was just what the Ravens needed to spark their attack. However, Wallace could not haul in the simplest of catches. Then later in the game, Breshad Perriman was not able to reel in a pass that would have been a touchdown. (Albeit, the pass from Flacco was high, but it was indeed catchable.) With the drop, the Ravens had to settle for a field goal, instead of scoring a much-needed touchdown. Even by the end of the game, in garbage time, the Ravens still struggled with drops. Wide receiver Chris Matthews dropped a ball in the end zone with the clock running out in the game. Joe Flacco needs help from the receivers if he wants to improve himself for the sake of the offense. The receivers can’t remain unreliable. Not all passes will be or can be, perfect. The receivers need to learn how to make plays, as Flacco can’t catch the ball for them.
Offensive Line Failure
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an offensive line that has allowed this much pressure on a quarterback before. It seemed like every other play, Flacco was under heavy pressure from the pass rush of the Steelers. How can a quarterback be expected to play winning football if he doesn’t even have time to throw the football. Too many times Flacco had to either escape the pocket or get rid of the football. The run game also suffered under the offensive line. The running backs can’t find a lane to run through and gain yards. This offensive line has been nothing short of terrible, and detrimental to the struggling offense. Yes, I do recognize that the offensive line has been barraged by injuries. However, Marshal Yanda, Alex Lewis, and Nico Siragusa being done for the foreseeable future does not give the Ravens any excuses. This is the NFL, there are plenty of linemen who should be able to fill the role and at least not play terribly. Every lineman on the roster shares some of the blame, with the exception of Ronnie Stanley. Notably, Stanley has played well at left tackle so far in his second year. He seems to be the exception to Baltimore’s mediocre offensive line. Ryan Jensen and Matt Skura got beat hard in the middle of the line. (Jensen also messed up a snap to Flacco, effectively killing a play.) Right tackle Austin Howard also seemed to struggle often and has been called for penalties numerous times this season. James Hurst at left guard has at times struggled, but he has found some rythem protecting the quarterback.
Running Game Yet to Stabilize.
So what Alex Collins can be explosive with the football? He can’t be trusted to carry it. This Ravens rushing attack has been making me increasingly dissatisfied each week this season. Terrance West, who is supposed to be our lead back, only ran the ball four times, losing 7 yards. Buck Allen goes out there and only gains 7 yards rushing on just 2 attempts. (Admittedly, he is more of a check down back than anything else, so we will let him slide. Then there’s the precarious case of Alex Collins, who has shown flashes of being a real NFL running back. Alex Collins will rush for 50 yards on one play, and fumble on the next. Let me make this clear, all great plays by running backs are taken away if they fumble. You absolutely, positively, cannot fumble the football as a running back, and Alex Collins seems to do it more than most. Especially when playing against a divisional opponent like Pittsburgh, in a game that you need to win. Harbaugh said that he is keeping Collins on a “short leash”, and I really hope he is. The Ravens cannot afford a running back to hand the football away to the defense when their quarterback has a bad case of the picks. Even though the Ravens haven’t been able to run the ball efficiently, I still have to question why offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg didn’t call runs very often this week. The rushing attack needs to be the backbone of this offense. However, it cannot be the backbone of the offense if the running backs are only given the ball a combined 15 times. Mornhinweg needs to commit to running the football, or this Ravens offense will never flourish again.