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5. Those struggles in short-yardage situations are something that are going to cost the Ravens again

Let me start off by saying that I agree 100 percent with John Harbaugh’s decision to go for it on 4th-and-1 from the New England 33-yard line. The Ravens were down by nine points with 11 minutes left, but with the way the Patriots were moving the ball at that time, it seemed like a sure thing that they would at least tack on another field goal before the game ended. People are going to second-guess the play call, but they would have second-guessed it if they threw an incomplete pass there, too. I would have liked to see them give it to Rice there; instead, he stood on the sideline with his helmet in one hand and his hands on his hips. But I understand why rookie Bernard Pierce got the carry; he is their new Ricky Williams, their new big-bodied back. Now that we got all of that out of the way, let’s discuss the consequences. Whether it has been due to poor decisions, poor design or poor execution by the players, the Ravens have struggled in short-yardage situations the past two weeks. In the 24-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last week, there were six situations when they needed to pick up two yards or fewer on third down or fourth down and they did not convert a single one. If this is not your first time on our website, then you probably know by now that they passed on all six plays, including their final two offensive plays of the game. On Sunday night, the Ravens converted a 3rd-and-2 when Flacco hit Torrey Smith on a crossing pattern. But Pierce was stuffed for a loss on that 4th-and-1 play early in the fourth quarter -- a decision that would later be scrutinized had the Ravens lost. “I think that’s something we need to do well,” Harbaugh said. “I really do believe that we will be very good on 3rd-and-1 and 4th-and-1. I think that’s something we have the offensive line and the running backs to do. ... So I think we’ll go for those a lot. I want to go for those.” The Ravens won, though, and that fourth-down failure will get glossed over because a thrilling, emotional, back-and-forth battle with the hated Patriots ended in their favor. But these issues in short-yardage situations already cost them dearly against the Eagles. The Ravens need to make sure that not being able to pick up that longest yard won’t cost them again in the future.
Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun
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