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Quick hits: The Ravens suffer another road letdown

Oops, they did it again. In a 22-17 loss to Tarvaris Jackson and the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday evening, the Ravens beat themselves in all three phases in another head-scratching road letdown against a lesser team. This is now officially a trend, one that could threaten to keep the Ravens out of the playoffs if it isn’t reversed.

Here’s the down and dirty after the Ravens followed up that big win over the Pittsburgh Steelers with a loss:

1. Where do I begin? The offense sputtered out again. The defense allowed 22 points against one of the NFL’s worst offenses. And the special teams unit gave away a pair of fumbles and missed two field goal attempts. Add it all together and you have another frustrating loss against an awful, awful team. Fingers will be pointed at each of Ravens coach John Harbaugh’s three coordinators. However, his players should shoulder most of the blame for not being ready to execute and outwork their opponents. They have now been embarrassed by three teams that have a combined record of 11-16, and the fact that they were playing out on the West Coast is not an acceptable excuse. If the Ravens want a home playoff game, they have to take care of business against bad teams. They did that in Harbaugh’s first three seasons. I wish I could tell you why they aren’t in his fourth.

2. Poor special teams play finally cost the Ravens a game. Kick returner David Reed lost two fumbles in the first half that led to a pair of Seattle field goals (remember Steve Hauschka?). And Billy Cundiff missed two long field goals tries -- and when the first one came up short, the Ravens handed over the momentum to the Seahawks, who scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive. Hey, at least they didn’t allow another return touchdown. That's a positive.

3. If the rumors about Harbaugh having a doghouse are true, expect David Reed to take up residency there for a while after those two fumbles and an idiotic taunting penalty he was flagged for in between fumbles. His miscues will hopefully open the door for Tandon Doss and LaQuan Williams to get more opportunities.

4. We saw on Sunday why the talk about Joe Flacco being an elite quarterback was a bit premature. He was hamstrung by more drops from his wide receivers and the lack of a running game, but he was erratic while throwing for 255 yards and a touchdown. Flacco threw an interception, but the Seahawks should have picked off at least two more, including one in the third quarter that Roy Lewis -- that’s Roy, not Ray -- could have taken to the house.

5. Speaking of the lack of a running game, it blows my mind that Ray Rice carried the ball just five times. Rice is a Pro Bowl back and the most dangerous player the Ravens have on offense. But with Flacco operating out of the shotgun, the running game wasn’t even an afterthought. Flacco threw 52 passes and handed the ball off 10 times, and two of those were on end-arounds to receivers. Whatever happened to the Ravens getting back to running the ball, as Steve Bisciotti, Ozzie Newsome and Harbaugh said the team would do after last season? Some situations call for throwing the ball all over the place, but why waste a playmaker like Rice?

6. Cam Cameron was so hell-bent on throwing the ball, even Rice got into the act. On a clever play down at the goal line, Rice took a handoff, rolled to his left and threw a touchdown pass to tight end Ed Dickson, who was wide open in the back of the end zone. And I had started to think Cameron had emptied his bag of tricks. Well, unless you consider calling a draw play to Rice after throwing 45 straight passes out of the shotgun to be magical.

7. Dickson was one of the few bright spots. The second-year tight end caught 10 passes for 79 yards and two TD. He had six catches for 49 yards on the Ravens’ first touchdown drive. Fellow tight end Dennis Pitta added four catches for 49 yards. Those two have really opened up the middle of the field for Flacco, who never seemed comfortable throwing between the hashmarks until this season.

8. Don’t look now, but the Ravens have allowed 69 points in their past three games. That might not concern you, but Sunday’s final drive should. After the Ravens pulled within five points, the defense couldn’t get off the field against the Seahawks. The Ravens had several chances to get the ball back on the drive -- including one third-down play where both Ray Lewis and Jarret Johnson whiffed after a nasty head fake by Lynch -- but they came up empty. The immortal Tarvaris Jackson completed the passes he needed to make to move the chains, and the Ravens had no answer for the physicality of Marshawn Lynch as the clock ticked down to zero.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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