Ravens come up empty in Green Bay

Just when you thought the Ravens could crawl out of the mess they created in Green Bay Monday night, they fell back in and may sacrifice a playoff berth because of it.

This is a team that cannot handle success very well. They had a chance to come back from a 17-0 deficit in the second half, but self-destructed after getting within 3 points in the third quarter.


The implosion started when veteran Derrick Mason lost his composure -- again -- after a call went against him. When quarterback Joe Flacco followed that up by throwing interceptions on consecutive passes, the Ravens were done. The Packers deserved their 27-14 victory; they made more plays, they took the game to the Ravens.

But just like they have done all season, the Ravens will look back at the ways they could've won this game and wonder why it all went so bad.


Let's count the ways:

(1) Mason was called for a double penalty -- offensive pass interference and unsportsmanlike conduct -- on a 47-yard pass from Flacco in the fourth quarter with the Ravens trailing by 3. They go from threatening to take to lead to facing 3rd-and-32 from their own 6. Inexcusable, especially from a veteran like Mason.

(2) Flacco's two interceptions both came on throws to the middle of the field. It's become his Bermuda Triangle. After a 68-yard kickoff return by Lardarius Webb and a pass interference call against the Packers' Tramon Williams gave the Ravens first-and-goal at the 1. Willis McGahee lost 2 yards trying to go wide, and after taking a timeout to avoid a delay penalty, Flacco made a horrible decision. With no receivers open, he rolled right and threw back across his body to the middle of the field. The pass was a floater and was picked off by Williams.

On the first play after the Ravens got the ball back, Flacco threw for Todd Heap down the middle of the field, but A.J. Hawk made a good athletic play to take the ball away.

Flacco has to be able to throw in the middle of the field if he's going to be considered even a good NFL quarterback, let alone an elite quarterback. It's not happening right now.

(3) The secondary was flagged for four pass interference penalties -- in addition to Mason's penalty. The Ravens lead the league with 12 pass interference calls, a staggering number. Domonique Foxworth, Frank Walker, Webb and Dawan Landry all were guilty. Ray Lewis had a bad face mask penalty. Dwan Edwards had an illegal hands to the face penalty.

You can't win with defense like that.

(4) The offensive line was manhandled. The Ravens came in wanting to run, but couldn't budge the Packers. Ray Rice finished with 54 rush yards and 17 receiving yards, but lost a fumble early. McGahee had four carries for minus-4 yards. The line was terrible.


(5) No separation for the receivers. Charles Woodson owned Mason (2 catches, 13 yards), and only Kelley Washington (4 catches, 1 touchdown) was able to get open. Flacco was 15 for 36 for 137 yards and three interceptions, but it wasn't all on him.

(6) Game-ending scenario. After the Packers kicked a field goal for a 13-point lead with 1:56 to play, the Ravens showed little urgency and no common sense. They had to get the ball deep to have a chance for an on-side kickoff, but Flacco threw short, safe, sideline passes that used up the clock. Very questionable play-calling in that situation.