Dallas Clark's Nightmarish Evening Sums Up Opener For Baltimore Ravens

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Dallas Clark's Nightmarish Evening Sums Up Opener For Baltimore Ravens
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

On Thursday night the NFL season began with a humbling message for Dallas Clark and the Baltimore Ravens: "Things aren't what they used to be."

The Ravens' once vaunted defense and Super Bowl defending champion status is at the very least not apparent. The Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning put a whooping on the Ravens 49-27. Manning tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes.

Clark was once one of Manning's favorite targets, but now he had to watch his former quarterback light up the scoreboard from the opposite sideline. What's even worse is that Clark had a rough night himself.

He did have seven receptions for 87 yards, but he dropped a sure touchdown pass and got nailed over the middle by Broncos free safety Rahim Moore. 

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Just as Clark was jolted by Moore, the entire Ravens roster was smacked in the mouth by a team in far better position to call themselves Super Bowl favorites.

The Ravens' other tight end Ed Dickson dropped four passes, per Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun

As Wilson partially references in his tweet, the absence of Dennis Pitta is already being felt in the Ravens' passing game. Had Pitta not gone down during training camp, chances are Clark wouldn't even be on the team.

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He was signed on Aug. 11 to a one-year deal, per Chris Wesseling of NFL.com. With Pitta done for the season, per Dan Hanzus of NFL.com, and Dickson battling a hamstring injury, per Hanzus, the Ravens had to address the position. Predictably, they chose a veteran pass-catching tight end.

To his credit, he was as effective as any of Flacco's options in the passing game. He was targeted 12 times, which was tops on the team. Only Ray Rice caught more passes and only Torrey Smith had more receiving yards.

In fact, Clark's numbers were better than Pitta's per game average in yards and receptions from 2012. Had he caught the touchdown pass, we probably wouldn't be talking about him negatively.

Likewise, the Ravens' offense scored 27 points, which is more than they averaged last season. But neither statistical output was enough to escape defeat in the opener. For Clark and the Ravens, this is a new time.

 

All stat references per Pro Football Reference and ESPN.com

 

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