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Preston: To beat good teams, Ravens need to find a passing game quickly

Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston talks about the Ravens' 23-16 win over to the Houston Texans. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)

It appears that punter Sam Koch is more in sync with the Ravens receivers than quarterback Joe Flacco is.

Koch completed a pass on a fake punt for 22 yards against the Houston Texans on Monday night and is now 2-for-2 this season for 38 yards. Now, if only the Ravens had a real passing game.

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That is the missing ingredient heading into the final five games of the 2017 season. If the Ravens had just an average passing game, they would be considered serious contenders, especially with this defense.

Instead, they keep struggling. The situation has to get better during the next two games because the Ravens host Detroit and Pittsburgh, and that means dates with Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger.

The Ravens have a good defense, but they’re going to have to score some touchdowns to win against quality teams. More teams are crowding the Ravens at the line of scrimmage and daring them to win with their passing game.

The passing game is so out of rhythm that it is impossible to blame one player or one position. The timing between quarterback Joe Flacco and his receivers is off. The offensive line has problems in pass protection. Flacco is inaccurate. Receiver Mike Wallace can’t hold on to passes.

We can go on and on …

The Ravens are into Week 12 of the NFL season and you would figure all the kinks have been worked out. But that’s hardly the case. The passing game still looks as if it is in preseason mode.

Wallace caught a 24 yard slant-in pass from Flacco early in the first quarter of the Ravens’ 23-16 win, but it would have been a touchdown if the ball had reached Wallace in stride. Minutes later Wallace short-armed a pass over the middle, possibly in fear of getting hit.

That’s called a business decision.

In the second quarter Flacco lofted a perfect long pass to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin down the middle that should have been a touchdown because there was no safety. There was no Maclin either because he cut off the route.

It got worse in the first half as Flacco threw a fade pass to wide receiver Breshad Perriman down the right sideline, but the ball sailed 3 yards out of bounds. And then there was the 60-yard pass down the middle to Wallace, who had a step or two on the defender but Flacco threw the ball too much on a line drive instead of allowing Wallace to run under it.

These miscues happen every week, and the Ravens got away with it against the Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins and Green Bay Packers, the three opponents they have shut out this season.

But on Monday night they had problems against Houston, which came into the game with the No. 26 pass defense in the NFL. Everybody lights up the Texans.

Throughout his 10-year NFL career, Flacco always seemed to operate better out of the shotgun and no-huddle offense, but that wasn’t the case Monday night. On Sunday, he should be able to take advantage of Detroit, which is ranked No. 26 in total offense, including No. 23 in passing with a 243.2-yard average.

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Pittsburgh is ranked No. 4 in overall defense and third in pass defense with a 193.4-yard average, but the Steelers can be beat. Cornerbacks Artie Burns and Coty Sensabaugh were torched several times by the Packers on Sunday night.

Eventually the Ravens are going to have to score some points and put together a strong passing game if they are going to match up against a Roethlisberger or Tom Brady.

Koch just isn’t good enough.

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