Ravens Loss at Patriot Leaves No Lack of Talking Points

Geoff PeckhamContributor IOctober 4, 2009

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 4:  Coach John Harrington of the Baltimore Ravens reacts to a call during a game with the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on October 4, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Whether it’s lamenting the Mark Clayton dropped pass that may have won the game, the numerous penalties both on the field and off, the mounting injuries that could be costly down the line, or the questionable officiating that head coach John Harbaugh had so much to say about but couldn’t, the Baltimore Ravens’ 21-27 loss against the New England Patriots left Baltimore’s fan base with a lot to talk about. Maybe even to question.

But they shouldn’t. The Ravens should still be considered among the best in the AFC (even if they won’t be at the top of ESPN’s power rankings later this week). They lost a hard-fought game on the road against another contender, and the only thing they truly learned is that they won’t be undefeated in 2009.

Regardless, there is room for improvement.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady doesn’t seem to be quite in sync yet with his receivers, but it’s clear he’s getting there. He made the plays when he needed to against a Ravens secondary that is still attempting to find its identity, not to mention stop giving up big plays.

Joe Flacco made plays too. He just didn’t make enough of them, and even made a costly turnover late in the first half on a drive that would have otherwise led to points. The Ravens did a lot to beat themselves, and the Patriots took advantage of those miscues.

But Baltimore still made some key defensive stops, and the offense had a chance to win the game in the end. The Ravens were really good on a day that they needed to be great, and they weren’t.

Fans could look at it glass half-empty, or glass half-full. Half-empty: Jared Gaither may miss time after a scary collision that resulted in being carted off and a trip to Mass General, and Brendan Ayanbadejo may miss the rest of the year because of a torn quadricep. The Ravens got no good positions in short yardage shortage situations, and there were some other questionable calls that linebacker Ray Lewis called “embarrassing.”

But despite all the miscues, the Ravens were one or two key plays away from a W. Good teams take losses like these and grow from them. The Ravens are still a good team. How much they learn from a loss against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will been seen next week when they face off against the division co-leader Cincinnati Bengals.

With the division lead on the line, we’ll see if the Ravens can make the leap from really good to great.