If the loss in Tennessee was a letdown, this one was a meltdown. The Ravens couldn’t move the ball for the first 55 minutes. The defense played well, but helped the Jaguars put points on the board with key penalties. And it was Joe Flacco, not Jaguars rookie Blaine Gabbert, who made the final fatal mistake in crunch time.
There is plenty of blame to go around, and trust me, Baltimore sports fans will be more than willing to hand it out on Tuesday morning after an inexcusable 12-7 loss to the Jaguars – which came on national television, no less. Thankfully for coach John Harbaugh and the Ravens, this dud only counts as one in the loss column.
Here are my quick hit thoughts after the Ravens lost the Jaguars on “Monday Night Football.”
1. The Ravens couldn’t run the ball. The Ravens couldn’t throw the ball. And in the first half they spent as much time going backwards as they did going forward. There were a couple of common denominators: the offensive line losing ground to Jaguars defenders and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron failing to make the necessary adjustments to get his guys back on track. The Ravens mustered just 146 yards of total offense, 90 of which came on their lone scoring drive in the fourth quarter. “I don’t know if you can play any worse than that,” Harbaugh said of the offense afterward, turning up the heat on “Cam Under Fire” even more.
2. And then there’s Joe Flacco. This loss doesn’t fall squarely on the quarterback by any means. Ray Rice was not himself. His offensive line had a rough night. And his wide receivers didn’t appear to be getting separation. But Flacco had an opportunity to sweep this mess under the rug and leave Jacksonville with a win, but he threw a bad interception to secure a loss. I am not ready to use the “R” word -- you know, regressed -- but I haven’t seen improvement in his game overall. He got better in some areas, but he is spraying throws all over the place, even the little dinky ones, and he hasn’t looked all that cool so far.
3. Let’s get one thing out of the way: The referees didn’t cost the Ravens this game. Like you, I absolutely hated that personal foul penalty on Bernard Pollard that kept Jacksonville’s third-quarter field-goal drive alive. But the costly penalty by Paul Kruger was legit and Brendon Ayanbadejo got caught with his fist in the cookie jar. The Ravens made the zebras a factor, and either way, they lost this one for themselves.
4. It’s a shame that I’ve had to spill more than 400 words before getting to the Baltimore defense. Chuck Pagano’s group was fired up and ready to play for this one. They did the bend-but-don’t-break thing, but unfortunately, they couldn’t get that one game-changing play to bail out the offense. It shouldn’t have had to come to that, though. Twelve points allowed against the Jaguars should have been good enough to win.
5. The no-huddle offense is more like the slow-huddle offense right now. It’s downright maddening. Even Harbaugh appeared to be losing his mind on the sidelines as the Ravens sauntered up to the line late.
6. I probably would have kicked it deep, but I didn’t mind Harbaugh’s decision to try for an onside kick at the end of the game. I see his logic, and Billy Cundiff was oh-so close to making Harbaugh look smart there. Either way, he trusted the defense to get the offense the ball back. It did. But Flacco gave it right back.
7. Take a deep breath and relax. The AFC North is still there for the Ravens to reach up and seize it. They aren’t the team to beat in the AFC in America’s eyes after Monday night, but they’re still in good shape.