5 things we learned from the Ravens' loss to the Raiders

1.) Shockingly, John Harbaugh still doesn't like drive-killing penalties.

The Ravens had hoped to get off to a quick start on offense Sunday, but instead they had two significant gains negated by penalties in their first drive. They had a 6-yard run by Terrance West negated by a holding penalty and had a 20-yard pass completion from Joe Flacco to Kamar Aiken marched back because Aiken pushed off before the catch.


No doubt, John Harbaugh wasn't smiling after the Raiders got 15 yards tacked on to the kickoff return after Justin Tucker's first field goal. Maxx Williams was called for an after-the-whistle unnecessary roughness penalty.

"We kept the pressure on ourselves too much and what we need to do is put the pressure on our opponents rather than on ourselves,'' Harbaugh said. "Those are the things that hurt us. We know what those things are and those are things we need to do better at to play the kind of football that we are capable of playing to win those kinds of games."


The flags continued to fly early in the second half. Jeremy Zuttah was called for holding on a 10-yard first-down run by West during the Ravens first drive, and Aiken interfered with a fair catch at the Raiders 8-yard line to improve their field position for their first possession of the third quarter.

To top it all off, Mike Wallace caught the two-point conversion pass after the Ravens' go-ahead touchdown and both spiked the ball near the Oakland defender and then taunted him for a double unsportsmanlike conduct call. The Ravens had to kick off from the 20-yard line.

2.) Ravens defense was better than the final score might indicate.

Statistically, the Ravens defense continued to play like one of the best units in the league, allowing a total of just 261 net yards to a very good Oakland Raiders offense. They stopped the run – giving up just 62 yards – and held quarterback Derek Carr under 200 yards passing.

That's important because it was difficult to gauge just how good the defense has been over the previous three games because of the quality of the competition. In this case, they knew that Carr was very capable of moving the football down the field, and they had good success slowing him down.

The Raiders did score four touchdowns, but one of them came after the Raiders returned a punt to the Ravens' 6-yard line and another was set up by a sack and a Joe Flacco fumble at the Ravens' 29.

Still, the defense allowed the Raiders' game-winning drive, and that is what made it impossible for the players to feel like they did their jobs.

"That's not the way we want to be remembered,'' defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan said. "We've come too far and we're too proud to have that on our record. It's a team game, and we need to get back to what worked for us the first three games. There's a lot of pride in this locker room, and there are good things ahead for this team."


3.) Yes, Virginia, there is a Ravens running game.

Despite their three-game season-opening winning streak, the Ravens have struggled to mount a productive running game, averaging just 3.3 yards per carry and 82 yards per game on the ground. That's why Justin Forsett was inactive Sunday and West was given the opportunity to turn things around.

It was starting to look like the same old song and dance in the first half, when the Ravens gained just 33 yards on the ground, but West left some hints that the narrative was about to shift with a 5.2-yard average in five carries.

The Ravens offensive line struggled to keep the Raiders off Joe Flacco throughout the first half, so offensive coordinator Marc Trestman put more emphasis on the run in the third quarter, and it paid off. West carried the ball 10 times for 56 yards in that period, 42 of them during the Ravens' 72-yard touchdown drive.

West broke off an 18-yard gain on the Ravens' final drive of the game and finished with a career-high 113 yards on 21 carries. It was only the second 100-yard performance of his NFL career.

4.) No, Virginia, the Ravens offensive line has not been fixed.


The undermanned offensive line did open up some holes for West, but the Raiders spent way too much time harassing Flacco for anyone to take any consolation in the improved running game. Flacco's  sack/fumble was one of the key moments in a one-point loss that is going to sting for a while.

"Obviously, we want to keep Joe clean,'' guard Marshal Yanda said. "He definitely got hit out there too much today. I haven't seen the tape yet, but obviously, we were seeing him down on the ground. We want to keep him upright as much as we can. That makes him play better. That makes us play better, and it eliminates turnovers, too."

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The Ravens were playing without both of their left-side rookies. Top draft choice Ronnie Stanley was inactive because of a nagging injury and Alex Lewis did not play because he was not able to practice last week. James Hurst and Ryan Jensen struggled in their place.

"We just felt like the guys that had practiced all week – that didn't have any particular issue all week – would have a better chance to perform and play better," Harbaugh said.

5.) Buck Allen is still on the Ravens' 53-man roster.

Running back Buck Allen was not active for any of the first three games of the regular season after being the odd man out when West had a strong preseason and Justin Forsett was brought back after being waived at the final cut.


His performance on Sunday obviously was overshadowed by West's 113-yard afternoon, but Allen made his handful of touches count. He looked strong on three carries inside and caught two passes for first downs.

He might have had more exposure if not for the way West slashed through the Raiders' line all afternoon, but there is plenty of time for that, even though Harbaugh hinted that the West/Allen backfield pairing might not be a permanent arrangement.

"We were looking for a spark, I guess, more than anything,'' Harbaugh said. "It's nothing against Justin Forsett, for sure. Justin came out this week and he knew the situation, practiced great and did a great job, like he always does. He's a stand-up guy and that's where we decided to go. Gave Buck a chance, see what he could do, and see if we could kick start or running game. That was the idea."