The Ravens didn't quite receive the result that they were looking for as they visited the Patriots in Foxborough on Sunday afternoon. After a hard fought game, the Patriots were able to hold off the Ravens last minute scoring attempts to pull off the victory. A lot of people are quick to place blame on different things, as am I, so let's take a look at what could be the problem.
The number one hindrance that the Ravens faced on Sunday was the referees. Every time it looked as if Baltimore's defense was halting a Patriots drive, a piece of yellow laundry would litter the field, giving Tom Brady an extra opportunity to pick on the Ravens' secondary. Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs both were called with roughing the passer penalties on third downs when they barely grazed Brady. On the Suggs "hit", Brady immediately turned around to look at head referee Ron Winter, who waited for Brady to yell at him until he started nodding and reached for his flag. If Tom Brady cries enough, he is going to get his way. This became obvious after this play, and this game for that matter. Even Coach John Harbaugh got in on the action, receiving an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty himself, showing his passion for defending his players. Joe Flacco got hit plenty of times after he had gotten rid of the ball, and only received one penalty flag, showing that the officials were being more biased toward New England. The most notable late hit that stands out in my mind is when both Flacco and Ravens left offensive tackle Jared Gaither got sandwiched by two Patriots defenders. Luckily, from what I've heard, Gaither was able to move his limbs and extremities after being carted off the field. If Gaither is out for a significant period of time, the Ravens' offensive line will definitely feel his absence.
A lot of people are quick to point to certain players, in particular, Mark Clayton. I know that he dropped a crucial pass at the end of the game on a fourth down that could have given the Ravens a first and goal. But give him a break; the ball hit him right between the 8 and the 9 on his jersey, and went right through his hands. It's not his fault. Ok, enough of the sarcasm. He should have got the damn ball, but he didn't, and if Derrick Mason would have caught the ball on the previous play, Clayton wouldn't be the scapegoat. But let's stop panicking. We are 3-1. We are in first place.
Besides the referees, I say we might have to look to our own sidelines and review some of our play calls. The Baltimore Ravens, who going into the games against the Patriots, were the fifth ranked rushing defense in the NFL. And they got off to a great rushing attack against New England, but then just stopped handing the ball off. The Ravens rushed for only 17 times, but for 116 yards, which is an average of 6.8 yards per carry. And with that being said, Willis McGahee, arguably our hottest running back, only had five carries. And our Pro Bowl fullback, Le'ron McClain and his 260-lb frame didn't touch the ball one time. Don't get me wrong, I am a Wacko for Flacco, and he can put the ball where it needs to be, but what was Cam Cameron thinking? We threw the ball 47 times and ran it only 17 times. I wonder why the Patriots defense was so successful. The Ravens offense became a little bit too predictable as the game progressed.
Once again, there is not one thing that lost us this game, but it once obviously a combination of things. Let's hope the boys practice hard out there at The Castle in Owings Mills this week and are prepared to take on the Cincinnati Bengals come Sunday.