Baltimore Ravens Loss Is Not Joe Flacco's Fault, This Time

Alan Zlotorzynski@@zlotsportsCorrespondent IIIJanuary 16, 2011

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 15:  Running back Rashard Mendenhall #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is tackled by the Baltimore Ravens during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Heinz Field on January 15, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

For the third straight season, the Baltimore Ravens advanced to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, and once again, there will be no Super Bowl appearance. 

The Pittsburgh Steelers were able to overcome a 21-7 halftime deficit, scoring 24 second half points on their way to a 31-24 divisional playoff victory.

Many in Baltimore will point to the Ravens lackluster offense which only had 94 yards of total offense entering the second half, and many will point the finger even more to Ravens QB Joe Flacco. 

Some will even say the referee's had a lot to do with the outcome.

I say after seven straight loses to Ben Roethlisberger, the Ravens are simply not a better team than the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It pains me to say it, but it is obviously the truth.

While there is plenty of finger pointing to go around, please remember Ravens fans, that Flacco is not the only reason the Ravens lost tonight.

The fourth quarter has been Baltimore's nemesis all season long. The Ravens surrendered an NFL leading nine fourth quarter leads this regular season.

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Tonight, it was the third quarter, and specifically, the first 10 offensive plays of the second half that did Joe Flacco, Cam Cameron and the Ravens offense in for the evening.

A fumble by Ray Rice (his first of the season), an interception by Flacco and a fumble by Flacco—all in Ravens' territory turned into 17 third quarter points.

The Ravens had chances to take the lead in the fourth quarter, but mistakes again doomed them. Lardarius Webb's touchdown on a punt return was negated by a holding penalty on Marcus Smith.

The holding call that negated the touchdown was very debatable, but the Ravens allowed it to kill any momentum they were gaining. They lost focus.

Moments later, wide receiver Anquan Boldin had a pass bounce off his chest in the end zone, and that summed up the entire Ravens-Steelers rivalry.

A bad Ravens break leading to a Steelers win. This is what Ravens fans are used to, unfortunately.

This is also the same Anquan Boldin that complained about not getting the ball several times during the course of this season.

Don't blame Flacco, as I’m sure many in the Baltimore will. I know he wasn’t great and made some mistakes, but he did what he had to do in the end.

Flacco stepped up and made good throws to two loud-mouth, self proclaimed superstar wide receivers that simply dropped balls they should have caught.

Boldin's was a touchdown. Houshmanzedeh's was a first down in the last 1:20 on the game which would have allowed the Ravens drive to continue.

The defense was great tonight, but what about the series in which Pittsburgh scored their last touchdown? Where was the safety help when Roethlisberger heaved a 58-yard pass down the right sideline to Antonio Brown?

Championship defenses finish games off. They don't once again rush three guys on third and 19. When pressuring the QB got you to third and 19 in the first place. Greg Mattison what were you thinking, again.

Brown got a couple of steps behind Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb, and without help, it was 1st-and-goal at the Ravens four, game over.

The Steelers scored a touchdown, but an un-sportsman like conduct penalty almost cost them.

On the ensuing kickoff and because of the penalty, the Ravens managed to start at the Pittsburgh 48.

Flacco threw three incomplete passes before TJ Houshmeanzedeh dropped a fourth down pass that would have given the Ravens four more downs and a chance to repeat the early October last minute win or at least tie the game.

I would have loved to see the NFL's new overtime rules play out.

Two of the biggest whiners from this season did not come through when called upon to do so for the Ravens tonight.

Instead, the Steelers took over and ran out the clock.

The Ravens are simply not a better organization or team than the Steelers right now. Maybe one day, maybe next year, but for now, it's Big Ben over Joe Cool and Troy Polamalu over Ray Lewis.

It’s a fact of life, and until we beat them when it counts, this fact will not change.

The Ravens have some roster trouble brewing. The Ravens have 17 players who are 30 or older, which represents almost one-third of their roster.

Nearly half of the Ravens current 53-man roster are potential free agents, including eight starters (cornerback Chris Carr, guard Chris Chester, safety Dawn Landry, linebacker Jameel McClain, fullback Le'Ron McClain, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, cornerback Josh Wilson, offensive tackle Marshal Yanda) and two specialists (kicker Billy Cundiff and punter Sam Koch).

This was the year Ravens fans, Super Bowl or bust.  8-8 may be a great year next season, and let’s hope Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome works some magic, and we find ourselves back in the playoffs.

I would even settle for a resolution to the current labor dispute allowing everyone to watch their favorite team play all 16 or 18 games next season.

I don't even want to think about what I would do without any NFL football next year.

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