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Ravens might check-down right out of the playoffs

Ravens might check-down right out of the playoffs

For the second week in a row, Joe Flacco set a Ravens franchise record for receptions on Monday night.

But Flacco’s 37 receptions – on 52 attempts – yielded just 324 yards, as he often relied on dumpoffs and checkdowns to running backs in a 30-23 loss to the Patriots that, for now at least, leaves the Ravens (7-6) on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs.

RELATED: INSTANT OBSERVATIONS FROM THE RAVENS' 30-23 LOSS

The Ravens aggressive offensive approach in the win over the Dolphins last week was nowhere to be found Monday night, as Flacco routinely made a quick read and a dumpoff, regardless of whether he was under pressure.

Flacco targeted his running backs 18 times, including 11 throws to rookie running back Kenneth Dixon, who finished with a team-high eight receptions for 42 yards.

In other words, Flacco threw as many passes to the running backs as he did to his top three receivers; Mike Wallace (8), Steve Smith (6) and Breshad Perriman (4) also totaled 18 targets, and many of those were short-yardage dumpoffs as well.

The Ravens simply can’t go toe-to-toe with elite offenses that way.

Flacco’s record-setting night aside, the Ravens offense looked far from elite for much of the game. The Ravens were greatly helped by two huge special teams errors by the Patriots, who fumbled two returns inside their own 25-yard line – one inside the 5 – to set up the Ravens two touchdowns.

 “They were dropping a lot of guys it seemed like most of the game in the middle of the field,” Flacco said, acknowledging that the Patriots took away much of what he had so much success with last week against Miami.

“Took a couple of shots downfield,” Flacco said. “We were hoping to be able to take a couple more.”

Instead, the Ravens relied far more often on 2- or 4-yard dumpoffs, even in third-and-long situations.

That has been a recurring problem this season. The Ravens, who entered the game ranked 30th in the league in third-down conversions, were 6-for-16 on third-down conversions against the Patriots.

Coming into the season, the Ravens boasted the makings of a high-powered offense, with one of the strongest-armed quarterbacks in the league and receivers such as Wallace and Perriman who could stretch the field.

Yet the season hasn’t played out that way.  The Ravens rank 25th in yards per pass play and rarely take deep shots downfield.

Now the Ravens are in a three-week sprint to the finish with little margin for error. They need to be aggressive, bold and get their big playmakers involved.

Two-yard dumpoffs are not the answer.

More Ravens: THE RAVENS WILL HEAD TO LONDON FOR THE FIRST TIME NEXT SEASON

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Michael Pierce responds to last week's dismissal from practice

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Michael Pierce responds to last week's dismissal from practice

Kick off your Monday with the latest Baltimore Ravens news.

1. Last week, defensive tackle Michael Pierce was dismissed from practice after showing up in "less than ideal shape" according to The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec. Pierce joined WSNP-FM 105.5 Friday where he responded to being dismissed from practice. “Throughout the offseason, I tend to lift more than run,” Pierce said. “Being a nose guard, I want to be strong or what not. I, honestly, just mismanaged my running a little bit.”

2. On the other hand, tight end Mark Andrews looks "bigger, faster and stronger" Zrebiec said. Andrews had a standout year last season as a rookie with three touchdowns and 34 catches for 552 yards. Zrebiec said Andrews has not slowed down and will be an even bigger asset to the Ravens offense this season.


Looking Ahead:

July 15: 4 p.m. deadline to get a long-term deal done with designated franchise tag players.

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Baltimore Ravens and Rotoworld for news points.

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Lamar Jackson has his best practice yet

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Lamar Jackson has his best practice yet

Kick off your Friday with the latest Baltimore Ravens news.

1. The Ravens are hopeful Earl Thomas will be a leader for their new defense which Thomas called "very complex." "This defense is very complex compared to what we were doing in Seattle,” Thomas said to Ravens media. “We were just playing Cover-3 all the time. Now, we’re making calls on the fly. That’s the biggest adjustment for me.”

Additionally, Thomas told media members after practice that he's made "fast friends" with quarterback Lamar Jackson. "He's a very funny guy, I don't know if you all know that," Thomas said.

2. Speaking of Lamar Jackson, he reportedly had his best day of practice so far this offseason according to Ravens media. Jackson's throws looked much better and he was quick in the pocket.


Looking Ahead:

July 15: 4 p.m. deadline to get a long-term deal done with designated franchise tag players.

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Baltimore Ravens and Rotoworld for news points.

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