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Seahawks 22, Ravens 17
4. The Ravens defense can look good at times, but they also have a lot of holes, including a few they probably can't fix.
One of the reasons it would be silly to try and blame this loss entirely on one person -- like Cam Cameron, Joe Flacco or David Reed -- is because of how poorly the defense played in important moments. Two third downs, in particular, stick out.
In the second quarter, the Ravens had just scored a touchdown to pull to within 10-7. Baltimore's offense was showing signs of life, and Seattle was facing a 3rd-and-9 from their own 22-yard line. All the Ravens had to do was get the Seahawks off the field and they'd have not only great field position, but also a ton of momentum. It was one of those moments you could almost feel Seattle wobbling a bit. If this was a boxing match, that would have been the moment the Ravens had Seattle leaning back against the ropes.
But Tarvaris Jackson hit Baltimore's defense with a stunning haymaker. Pernell McPhee flushed him out of the pocket, Jackson rolled to his left, essentially jumped in the air, and threw an incredible pass to Daniel Baldwin for a 50-yard gain. It was clearly a blown coverage of some sort, since Baldwin got wide open before Bernard Pollard dragged him out of bounds, but the throw was remarkable. That one throw completely changed the dynamics of the second quarter. Suddenly, Seattle looked fearless.
The other troubling third down came late in the game, when the Ravens desperately needed the ball back, and Marshawn Lynch caught a pass and faked Ray Lewis and Jarret Johnson out of their socks. It could not have been pretty to watch as a Ravens fan. But there is really no fix in either situation. The Ravens coverage schemes are limited by Pollard's below-average cover skills. And the Ravens linebackers struggle in space because they're either aging (Lewis, Johnson) or imperfect (Jameel McClain).
Also, has anyone seen Ed Reed? He's been a non-factor lately. Reed (pictured) had two interceptions and four passes defended in Week 1 against the Steelers. In the eight weeks since, he's had only one pass defensed. That's it. Time to start making some plays, playmaker.
That fact that the defense couldn't get off the field during the final six minutes of the game has to be a little embarrassing.
November 13, 2011