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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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Ravens' Sam Koch teaches celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay how to punt

Ravens' Sam Koch teaches celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay how to punt

Sam Koch teaching celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay how to punt at M&T Bank Stadium isn't exactly the football highlight you'd expect to find in late February. 

But hey, here we are. 

Ramsay is pretty good at punting based on this clip, though we don't know exactly how many attempts and cuss-word filled rants went on before it. 

His connection to the Ravens? Glad you asked. Ramsay opened a restaurant in Horseshoe Casino Baltimore in 2017. He met a few players and toured the stadium back then, so he's returned to get more action on the field. 

Maybe now Ramsay can teach some Ravens players to make his perfect burger. 

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Lamar Jackson's college teammate recounts the time he tackled the elusive QB

Lamar Jackson's college teammate recounts the time he tackled the elusive QB

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is hard enough to bring down during live action, but that task is impossible during practices when he's donning an alternate, no-contact jersey in practice. 

But during a live scrimmage when he was at Louisville, linebacker Jonathan Greenland claims he did what many NFL defenders struggled to do in 2019: Tackle the ever-elusive Jackson. 

"I actually tackled him one time. I think that was our freshman year when he was live for like one time," Greenland said at a podium appearance during the NFL combine. "He probably ain't gonna tell you that. But I always got the video and all that."

Greenland and Jackson were both members of Lousiville's 2015 recruiting class.

Greenland may have tackled him once, but on another play, Jackson showed he was on a different level than most others on the field. 

"He took it for like 60-70 yards," Greenland said. "I'm running down the field, but I'm not catching him, No. 1. But, two, it's just like 'this kid gonna be special.'"

The two former Cardinals played together from 2015 to the 2017 season, which was Jackson's Heisman Trophy year before the quarterback entered the draft. 

Meanwhile, Greenland returned to Louisville in 2018 but suffered a season-ending wrist injury on the first series of the season. He transferred to Florida for his final season of college. During his only season as a Gator, Greenland racked up 52 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. 

That production alone is enough for teams to covet the pass rusher in the draft. But if you're an NFL team that Jackson terrorized in 2019, a proven ability to tackle the Ravens star quarterback is an added reason to select Greenland.

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