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Passing game ground to a halt


Passing game ground to a halt

The Ravens had first-and-goal from the 10-yard line early in the second quarter. After Ray Rice ran for 4 yards on first down, Joe Flacco twice threw incompletions intended for Anquan Boldin in the end zone, and the Ravens had to settle for a field goal.

It was that kind of missed opportunity that defined the Ravens on Sunday in their 23-20 loss to the Steelers.

Flacco finished 16-for-34 for 188 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. His quarterback rating of 61.9 was his worst at home this season and his second-lowest at home in the past three years.

Flacco, who also lost a fumble after James Harrison rushed from the blind side and knocked the ball from his hand, said, “I think we missed a couple of opportunities early in the game to take a better hold of the game. I thought we could have put up 30 or 40 points today, and we didn’t do it. That’s probably the best reflection that we hurt ourselves a little bit.”

The Steelers brought the league’s No.1-ranked defense to Baltimore, but the feeling in the Ravens locker room afterward was that this was one that got away.

“It shouldn’t have been close. If we execute, it wouldn’t have been a close game,” said Ravens receiver Torrey Smith.

“Everything’s about execution,” Smith added. “They didn’t do anything special. We stopped ourselves. They made plays. We didn’t.”

The Ravens indeed had their chances. The Steelers lost starting cornerback Ike Taylor to an ankle injury early in the game, and the Ravens at times picked on his replacement, Cortez Allen. Anquan Boldin caught a 28-yard touchdown pass against Allen, but the Ravens also missed  other opportunities.

They came out firing, throwing on their first six offensive plays, including a deep pass that went in and out of the hands of Smith, who was covered by Taylor. Ray Rice and Tandon Doss both dropped passes while open, and Flacco underthrew Smith a couple of times, allowing Steelers defensive backs to break up the pass.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” said Smith, who was targeted eight times and finished with three catches for 33 yards. “Regardless of how tough it might be, it’s my job to make a play. More often times than not I make it. A couple of plays I left on the field I’m very upset about.”

Boldin, who finished with a team-high five catches for 81 yards, was also upset with the officiating, still hot afterward about a pass interference call against him that nullified a 17-yard gain. Boldin said he was being held.

“They were making bad calls all night,” Boldin said. “They may not want me to say it, but it’s just what it was. You can’t allow a guy to hold, and then when a receiver breaks free, call pass interference. I mean you can’t have it both ways. If you’re going to allow us to play football, let us play football.”

In the end, though Boldin, like others, lamented the missed chances.

“We felt like we left plays out there,” Boldin said. “We felt like we could have put them away early. (We) missed opportunites here and there.”

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Baltimore Ravens crash Andrew Luck's homecoming with 20-19 preseason win

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Baltimore Ravens crash Andrew Luck's homecoming with 20-19 preseason win

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Baltimore Ravens spoiled Andrew Luck's Indianapolis homecoming.

They picked him off before allowing a completion, and Terrell Suggs nearly chopped the ball out of Luck's hands on a sack. The Ravens then secured a 20-19 preseason win over the Colts by stopping a late 2-point conversion run.

Luck was just OK in his first home start since Jan. 1, 2017. But he did receive a roaring ovation from the crowd when he took the field, led the Colts to one score and apparently emerged unscathed after going down twice on sacks.

"Not too sharp, certainly red-zone turnovers are a negative, missed a couple of throws I'd like to hit," he said. "And I didn't feel like we, as an offense, got into any semblance of a sustained rhythm."

Expectations were high following a solid start in Seattle.

This time, the Colts (1-1) looked sloppy.

Luck missed his first three throws, the third winding up in the hands of Ravens safety Anthony Levine Jr. Luck rebounded to finish 6 of 13 for 50 yards and set up 45-year-old Adam Vinatieri for a 57-yard field before leaving in the second quarter.

If Luck had his way, he might have played longer. But first-year coach Frank Reich wasn't taking any chances with Luck's surgically repaired arm.

"We just never found a rhythm for him and some of his balls were not his best balls," he said. "But I still have a lot of confidence we're headed in the right direction."

Joe Flacco, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens looked better.

Flacco went 7 of 9 for 72 yards and one touchdown. Jackson then showed flashes of what helped him win the 2016 Heisman Trophy.

Jackson was 7 of 15 for 49 yards and a TD and carried four times for 26 yards before giving way to another Heisman winner, Robert Griffin III, in the fourth quarter.

Indy still had a chance at the end after Tarell Basham recovered a fumble at the Ravens 9. Five plays later, Phillip Walker threw a 9-yard TD pass to Zach Pascal with 2:24 left. But the Ravens (3-0) stopped Walker on the 2-point try, recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.

"Happy to get the win," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We did a lot of things that weren't winning football, especially in the second half."

The Ravens made it tough on Indy all night.

They stopped Indy twice in the red zone and nearly had a third when Jordan Wilkins fumbled the ball into the end zone, where it bounced right into the hands of receiver Chester Rogers.

Flacco gave the Ravens a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter when he hooked up with John Brown on a 7-yard score, and Jackson's masterful hurry-up drive at the end of the first half ended with Justin Tucker's 38-yard field goal with 2 seconds left.

When Colts rookie Nyheim Hines fumbled away the opening kickoff of the second half, Jackson hooked up with Chris Moore on a 7-yard TD pass to make it 17-10.

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Joe Flacco not at all concerned with Jalen Ramsey's 'he sucks' comment

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Joe Flacco not at all concerned with Jalen Ramsey's 'he sucks' comment

After spending 10 years in the National Football League, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has been called just about everything.

His "eliteness" has been in question ever since winning the Super Bowl during the 2012-13 season, and while Flacco is known for his "cool as a cucumber" demeanor, he still hears all the noise.

In an interview with GQ, Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey gave an uncensored review on some of the league's top players. When asked what he thinks of Flacco, Ramsey responded with "And just being honest about it, [Joe] Flacco sucks. I played him two years in a row. He sucks."

Just one of several QBs Ramsey took a shot at, Flacco will be adding his comment to the laundry list of opinions.

“I don’t really have much of a comment,” Flacco said, via the Baltimore Sun. “I don’t really care. There’s plenty of people out there saying things. Just add one more to the list. No big deal.”

After finishing the 2017 season with 3,141 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions, there were a lot of opinions surrounding Flacco's future with the team. Those opinions ramped up when the Ravens traded up in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft to select Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.

But Flacco has begun quieting those doubters with what has been his strongest and healthiest training camp in years. And with Jackson still adjusting to NFL style of play, the 2018 season is Flacco's time to prove he's still got it.

While Ramsey isn't too high on Flacco, the All-Pro cornerback foresees a successful career for Jackson.

"I would've picked [Lamar Jackson] earlier than 32," Ramsey said. "I think he's gonna do a good job. Especially with the [Baltimore Ravens'] offensive coordinator—he likes running quarterbacks, likes that read option."

Among other QBs Ramsey sounded off on was Bills first-round draft pick Josh Allen, who he called "trash," said Ben Roethlisberger is "decent at best" and that Jared Goff is "average to above average."