With today's shocking loss to the Tennessee Titans, the Baltimore Ravens are now feeling entirely different than they did last week. They go directly from the thrill of an emotional victory to the disappointment of an unexpected loss.
But, as the saying goes, any team can win any given Sunday. And this Sunday went to a Titans team that completely outplayed the Ravens.
The Ravens' pass rush was extremely lethargic against the Titans. They had zero sacks the entire day and gave Tennessee's aging veteran, Matt Hasselbeck, ample time to make throws. Now, Hasselbeck is by no means a bad quarterback, but his best days have passed him by, and when someone like him throws for 358 yards, there's reason for the defense to be concerned.
Another stat that heavily contributed to the loss was the Ravens' turnovers. Joe Flacco finished 15 for 32 with a touchdown and two interceptions. Ricky Williams also turned the ball over with a careless fumble.
Even with all the mistakes, the Ravens can't say they didn't have their chances.
In the first quarter, before Hasselbeck had warmed up, the Ravens failed to capitalize on a Terrell Suggs interception that gave them good field position. The Williams fumble occurred at an inopportune time, directly after the reliable Rob Bironas missed a 34-yard field goal.
The Ravens kept the game close until the second half, where the Titans scored a third-quarter touchdown and two field goals to continue to pull away from the Ravens. By the time the Ravens settled for a 29-yard Billy Cundiff field goal late in the 4th quarter, the game was basically over. The Titans were clearly the hungrier team in the 4th quarter, putting up 16 points—as opposed to the Ravens' three points after halftime.
This was obviously a bad day for a Ravens team that expected better, but at least some lessons can be learned from this.
This game is only the second time under John Harbaugh that the Ravens have lost to a team with a losing record. Now that the Ravens realize that these losses can happen, they need to remember to give it their best when they face another inferior team in the St. Louis Rams next week.
Lessons Learned this Week
1. The Ravens continue to be elite against the run
What's lost in the Ravens' loss is how well they shut down the Titans' running game.
Star running back Chris Johnson finished with only 53 rushing yards. The Ravens had made stopping Johnson their priority on defense, so it's a sad twist of irony that in doing that, they instead were beaten by Hasselbeck.
2. The pass defense needs work
The Titans aren't known for having good receivers, so allowing 358 passing yards is very disappointing.
One of the Ravens' main culprits was Domonique Foxworth, who has looked terrible so far this season. Foxworth is a veteran who has played well in the past, but after coming off of knee surgery it seems like time for him to have an even-more reduced role in the secondary.
Cary Williams was another cornerback who had a good preseason but played terribly today, and really needs to step up in the future.
3. Joe Flacco is still maddeningly inconsistent
Flacco was brilliant last week, but like so many times before he followed up a good week with a bad week. He can't keep playing so inconsistently if he really wants to take the next step as a quarterback. The regular-season stinkers have got to stop.
The Ravens travel to the St. Louis Rams next week for their second road game. The Rams will be coming off of a Monday night game where they may or may not have won their first game. Although the Rams are the favorites in the weak NFC West, they have not played well against good teams.
The last time the Ravens faced the Rams in the regular season was in 2007, where the Ravens won 22-3. The game was perhaps the highlight of a dismal 5-11 season, and was the last time the Ravens failed to make the playoffs. It was the Ravens' only dominant victory that year, although it was against a 3-13 Rams team that was the worst in the NFC.
Thankfully, both teams are significantly better today. The Ravens should be favored again, and will have a good chance to find redemption for today's loss. With the way the AFC North is playing out, all teams are currently tied for first at 1-1.