Broncos vs. Ravens: 5 Observations from Sunday's Loss
The Baltimore Ravens had not lost three straight games since October of 2009. In addition, a Ravens team had not lost back-to-back home games since November of 2007.
After Sunday’s 34-17 loss to Denver, Baltimore lost its third straight game and second straight home game.
Here are a few of my observations from Sunday’s loss.
Joe Flacco Is the Ravens' Worst Enemy Right Now
It’s cliché to say, but Joe Flacco is the Baltimore Ravens’ worst enemy right now. Before Sunday’s game got out of hand, Baltimore had a legitimate chance to defeat Denver.
Down 10-0 with two minutes remaining in the first half, Flacco led a drive down to the Denver 5-yard line. With about 30 seconds on the clock and three timeouts still at his disposal, Flacco telegraphed a quick out-pass to Anquan Boldin. The pass was behind Boldin and easily intercepted by Chris Harris and returned 98 yards for a touchdown.
Had Flacco and the offense been able to put points on the board, the momentum of the game instantly shifts in Baltimore’s favor. Instead, Harris returns the interception for a touchdown and Denver leads 17-0 at the half.
What is more, on Baltimore’s first possession of the game, Flacco fumbled on a third-down sneak that would have given the offensive a first down. With the ball on Denver’s side of the 50, the Ravens had a great chance to grab the early momentum, but instead, Flacco’s fumbled ended any chance of that. After losing the ball Sunday, Flacco has now lost a fumble in three straight games, all losses.
After More Injuries Sunday, the Ravens Are Being Held Together by Band Aids
On Sunday, Baltimore was without starters Marshal Yanda, Ray Lewis, Bernard Pollard and Jameel McClain. In addition, starting cornerback Lardarius Webb suffered a season-ending injury earlier in the year.
The injuries continued to mount on Sunday, as both Torrey Smith and Bernard Pollard left the game with concussions. Furthermore, both Haloti Nagta and Terrell Suggs are battling injuries of their own and have been shells of their former selves this season.
It is becoming more and more obvious that the Ravens are a team in serious trouble, and with all the injuries, things will not get any easier.
Baltimore Will Not Win with Both Brandon Ayanbadejo and Josh Bynes Starting
Without its top three inside linebackers on Sunday, Baltimore was forced to start Brandon Ayanbadejo, a veteran who plays mostly on special teams, and Josh Bynes, a second-year undrafted player.
For a consecutive week, the Ravens defense allowed a 100-yard rusher. Both Ayanbadejo and Bynes struggled in run support Sunday. Neither backer displayed good instincts and had difficulty getting of blockers.
Although Bynes finished with 11 tackles, the majority of those were down the field. The two players had little effect in pass coverage when forced to drop back.
With the playoffs nearing, Baltimore needs its linebackers to get healthy. If they don’t, Baltimore will not win another game.
Cam Cameron Is Not the Sole Reason for Baltimore’s Offensive Struggles
In its first game without Cam Cameron, Baltimore’s offense still struggled mightily. After failing to pick up a first down until late in the second quarter, Flacco and the offense did not come out firing like many thought they would.
The offense has so many problems currently that blaming the offensive failures solely on Cameron is ludicrous. The line cannot pass block, Flacco turns the ball over too much and in critical situations, they cannot convert on third down and Ray Rice does not touch the ball nearly enough.
This unit has a lot to figure out—and figure out fast.
Bernard Pierce Will Be a Starting Running Back in the Future
Despite all the negatives that occurred during Sunday’s loss, there was at least one positive.
Before leaving the game with a concussion, rookie Bernard Pierce continued to show explosion and decisiveness when running the ball. Every time Pierce touches the ball, it seems as if he gains five yards.
Don’t expect Pierce to be surpassing Rice anytime soon, but the rookie will definitely get the chance to be a starter in the NFL one day—be it with the Ravens or another team, it will happen.
Contact Kyle Oland at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @NFLWaterCooler