It was all there for the Ravens on a frigid Monday night at Lambeau Field. A chance to separate themselves from an increasingly clogged AFC wild card picture. A chance to break away from their hated rival Pittsburgh Steelers. And most importantly a chance to prove to all doubters that they belong with the NFL's elite. Unfortunately, they're just not good enough.
With everything to play for, Joe Flacco, a battered Ravens defense, and a rag-tag group of receivers made mistake after mistake as the Packers did their best to give Baltimore a shot. Although the game featured an ungodly deluge of yellow penalty flags, the lasting images in the disappointing defeat will be Flacco's ill-advised pick in the end zone on second down and the under thrown ball to Todd Heap on his next pass.
Flacco took the blame for the loss in his postgame interview. "I think it was a stupid decision and a worse throw," Flacco said.
While Flacco admittedly may have cost the Ravens the game, his attempt at making a play reveals a greater problem as the team moves further. With no reliable down field threat, opposing defenses can stack the line and play single coverage in the secondary, putting pressure on the quarterback nearly on nearly every drop back.
As the Ravens move forward this season, it is clear what their weaknesses are. With no number one receiver or shut down corner back, John Harbaugh's team is constantly vulnerable.
After the game, Harbaugh alluded to the Ravens character. "We are fighting for or lives right now, but we are still breathing."
While the Ravens are not dead in the water in the playoff race, last night's meltdown does not inspire hope. Injuries, inconsistent play from nearly every player, and a looming match up with the Steelers at Heinz field make the Ravens playoff chances murky at best.
The Ravens are close. They are a few players away from being a contender. But in this league almost just doesn't cut it.