Sunday’s 25-20 loss to the 49ers was a microcosm of the Ravens’ season. They have lost five games by a total of 22 points. The Ravens have become masters of playing just poorly enough to lose.
You can’t point to one thing keeping the Ravens (1-5) from winning, because too many things have gone wrong. They give up big plays. They commit costly turnovers and penalties. They squander opportunities. They have suffered key injuries.
The worst part for the Ravens is that they can’t seem to change the pattern. You hear similar quotes every week, from players and from coaches. We have to play better. We have to play smarter. We’ll keeping working and we’ll fix it.
Then comes another game, and their frustration continues.
Here are five things costly patterns the Ravens need to change, or the results won’t change.
Key interceptions thrown by Joe Flacco
On Sunday, Flacco threw two interceptions, and neither had anything to do with lack of weapons. In the second quarter, Flacco forced a throw into double coverage. In the third quarter, he tried to throw the ball away, but instead threw a popup into the middle of the field that became an easy interception for cornerback Kenneth Acker. Both turnovers led to 49ers field goals.
“You get two stupid mistakes by myself,” Flacco said. “It starts with me , just not making those mistakes. We can’t afford to do that right now. We have to go play fundamental football, and take care of the football, and then when plays are presented we got to make them…I didn’t play smart.”
Flacco has almost as many interceptions (seven) as touchdown passes (eight).
Glaring breakdowns in the secondary
At some point in every game, usually more than once, you see a receiver wide open against the Ravens. On Sunday, ex-Ravens receiver Torrey Smith left newly-acquired cornerback Shareece Wright in the dust for a 76-yard touchdown. In the first quarter, fullback Bruce Miller was so wide open, he rumbled for a 52-gain. The pass defense may be getting worse, not better.
Ravens kicker Justin Tucker slipped while attempting a 45-yard fourth-quarter field goal, and missed it off the crossbar.
Steve Smith dropped a ball in the end zone in the second quarter for what could have been a touchdown.
That’s a potential 10 points for the Ravens they let get away, But again, that’s a familiar pattern.
Lack of production from wide receivers not named Smith
Here is Steve Smith’s line from Sunday – seven catches, 137 yards, one touchdown.
The rest of the Ravens’ wide receivers had six catches combined, although Kamar Aiken did make a superb catch on a two-yard touchdown reception.
An opposing receiver having a huge day
Sunday it was ex-Raven Anquan Boldin (five catches, 102 yards) topping the century mark against the Ravens. He became the fifth player to have a 100-yard receiving day against the Ravens, joining Gary Barnidge, Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, and A. J. Green.