The Baltimore Ravens entered their Week 8 matchup vs. the Carolina Panthers as the No. 1 scoring and No. 1 overall yards-per-game defense in the league.
Despite giving up their first second-half touchdown of the season and 17 points in the fourth quarter alone against Drew Brees and the Saints in Week 7, the defense was still looked at as the biggest threat in the league.
But what transpired during their 36-21 loss to the Panther's Sunday has fans, and the players themselves, questioning what's going on with a team that started their season 3-1.
Veteran Safety Eric Weddle recognizes the issue. "I don’t like to say, ‘We’re alright.' We’re not alright. We just got blasted," the five-time Pro Bowler said after the game. "We’re 4-4 — an average team. We just got blown out. I wouldn’t say it’s rock bottom, but we have to look at ourselves and get back to work."
Quarterback Cam Newton had more than enough time to throw the ball, finishing the day 21-of-29 for 219 yards for two touchdowns. The former NFL MVP also added 52 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. Newton found seven different receivers along the way, was sacked zero times and didn't throw a single interception.
On top of making Newton's job easy, the defense looked confused at times and couldn't get out of their own way, logging several unnecessary penalties. In the first half alone with the score 21-7, the defense had given up more points then their season average of 14.4 points-per-game.
More from Weddle:
For us defensively, they present a lot of misdirection and formations, different plays and was tough to get in a rhythm with them and Cam played an outstanding game. Hit some big throws, extending some plays and I’m sure, as a team you can’t turn the ball over, those types of things to get back in the game.
Now the Ravens head back to M&T Bank Stadium to host the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals in what are quite literally must-win games as the team finds itself staring up at the two in the AFC North rankings.
Quarterback Joe Flacco knows the road ahead won't be an easy one.
I think we are going to feel like that at every single game out. We are obviously not in the most ideal situation possible but we still have eight games left. I feel like we have the opportunity to play really good football.
We just have to make sure to keep the focus on that. I think there is obviously a bigger threat now to let this stuff affect you mentally, let it affect the team and how we are gelling together. So we just have to combat that just by being ourselves and being as tough as we possibly can and go out there and take each game one game at a time and play football like we know how to.
Two losses could spell another missed postseason and many questions facing the organization with a quarter left to go in the season.
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