Baltimore Ravens Lose Due to Checkdown Obsession, Not Flags

Sam SnyderCorrespondent IOctober 11, 2009

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 4:  Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens pulls grass from his helmet during a game with the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on October 4, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Say what you want about the refs, but the Bengals beat the Ravens without them. Sure, there were some hysterically ridiculous calls, and some good calls, but the Ravens couldn't get anything going on offense.

How could the leagues third-ranked offense in yards and scoring not get any kind of rhythm? Because the check down pass ruled the day, and it ultimately lead to the Raven's demise.

The Ravens leading reciever was Ray Rice, who had 74 yards off of 7 catches, but the majority of those were quick check down passes for short yardage. Until the 48 yard touchdown, Rice only had 26 yards.

Next in line was Todd Heap. He had 7 catches for 46 yards and a pedestrian 5.9 yard average. Why? Because he was Flacco's safety blanket. Truly, there is nothing wrong with that, but you can't check down the ball every play.

You can't win a game if you don't throw down field. The Ravens receivers were thrown to
 less than 10 times, and had a combined five catches. Whenever Mark Clayton or Kelley Washington would catch a football, it would result in a first down. So why not throw down field?

I'm not talking about bombing the ball 50 yards, I'm talking about throwing it 15 to 20 yards, not five or six yards. You have to take risks, you get intercepted every so often, but that's part of the game.

No risk no reward. Simple as that.

Other notes

Chad Ochocinco may have caught for 94 yards, but he didn't walk the walk. He failed to score a touchdown and do the "Ricky Bobby." He got stripped by Ed Reed, and Domonique "Vivica Fox" Foxworth recovered it. In the fourth quarter he got his bell rung by Ray Lewis. Unfortunately, the hit drew a 15 yard penalty and a first down.

Cedric Benson rushed for 120 yards, breaking the century mark against the Ravens, the first person in 39 games to do so. The last person to that was Larry Johnson, who ran for all of 30 yards today, with a 1.8 average. Times have changed.

Today's loss was the first time in franchise history that the Ravens have lost when they get two turnovers or more. They were 47-0, now 47-1.

Ed Reed made his first real appearance this season. Picking off an errant Carson Palmer pass 54 yards for his 8th interception TD. Shame he wasn't covering Andre Caldwell, who is turning out to be as clutch as Carson Palmer.

The Bengals take the first place in the AFC North for the first time since 2005. The AFC North is becoming the most exciting division in the league. Scratch that, it already is the most exciting.

The last time the Bengals started 4-1 they finished 11-5. The last time the Ravens started 3-2 they finished 13-3. The last time the Steelers started 3-2 they won the Super Bowl.