11:50 AM EDT, September 17, 2012
The Ravens had the Eagles down and close to out when they opened the third quarter with an abortive drive that ended when Joe Flacco threw an interception into stiff coverage in a third-and-2 situation that just might have been the pivotal moment in the game, which leads me to the same question a lot of fans are asking in the wake of a disappointing defeat.
What’s up on third down and short, other than a bunch of errant passes? The Ravens had six third- or fourth-down situations where they needed 2 yards or fewer and Flacco threw five incomplete passes and that one costly pick in those situations.
Meanwhile, Ray Rice spent much of the afternoon slicing through the Eagles defensive line for 99 yards and an average of 6.2 yards per carry. You can make the case that if the Ravens had gotten a first down on just one of those plays, the Eagles might not have had time to come back and win the game. And that’s assuming the Ravens don’t end up extending a drive and adding to their lead.
Of course, I’m not the offensive coordinator or the quarterback. They know what they’re looking at out there and they make those calls on the fly, but the play-calling became so predictable in those situations that the Eagles had a blanket over the receivers in the drive-extending zones.
Throw in the fact that Flacco wasn’t sharp in the second half and that would appear to be another argument for trying to grind out a first down or two with Rice or fullback Vonta Leach.
Maybe we’ll have a little better idea of what was going on after John Harbaugh’s afternoon news conference.
CORRECTION: Earlier versions of this item had "Orioles" accidentally in place of "Ravens" in the second paragraph. My bad. Thanks for your love and understanding.