It's 9:45 p.m., and the Monday Night Football game is already over. The Steelers have a four-touchdown lead, but it's not nearly that close. The Ravens are virtually disintegrating at Heinz Field, especially offensively. The defense isn't much better but at least it has the excuse of having had to defend a short field against a superior team that was attacking downhill the entire first half.
In the final item yesterday, I fretted about the cornerback situation. I underestimated the impending disaster on the outside. Corey Ivy as a fill-in for either Samari Rolle or Chris McAlister might be adequate, but with Ivy, Derrick Martin and David Pittman having to shoulder the load … it was simply embarrassing for the Ravens.
There's no overemphasizing how much trouble the Ravens are in –- both short term and long term.
Short term, meaning this season, the Ravens have a desperate lottery ticket holder's chance of making the playoffs. Their 4-4 record means almost nothing with a 1-4 AFC albatross hanging around their necks. And the prospect of New England and Indianapolis in back-to-back games in a few weeks should make any Ravens fan queasy. Long term, does it look like Steve McNair (left) can make it though this season, let alone play another year? Is he capable of throwing the ball beyond 20 yards? If not, can Kyle Boller begin to play like a first-round draft pick? Can the offensive line, with all its best players together for the first time, regroup from the pounding that Steelers linebacker James Harrison administered single-handedly?
Just the fact that so many questions can be posed indicates the Ravens are in deep, deep trouble. A month ago, I wrote about the Ravens going 0-5 against the spread even though their record was 3-2. They had been favored in four of them. My point then had nothing to do with wagering. The point was this: When a team fails to cover in games when it is the favorite, it portends problems, major problems. That team is either grossly underachieving or its talent was overvalued. The former is bad, the latter is worse. And that's why the Ravens were 9- to 10-point underdogs last night –- and apparently even that was giving them way too much credit.
Photo credit: Karl Merton Ferron/Sun