Too Close For Comfort

Featured, Sports and Bets — December 29, 2014 at 5:32 pm by

by Babes

too close

Just like the old TV show, the Ravens’ win was Too Close For Comfort.  I mean, man, the Ravens sure didn’t make it look easy yesterday in defeating the Browns 20-10 and advancing to their sixth playoff appearance in seven years.  In fact, they were down 10-3 going into the fourth quarter, at home against a Browns team riddled with practice squad players.  Thank God they finally woke up in the fourth quarter for a 17 point explosion to win the game.

I can’t help but relate this team to the Super Bowl team of two years ago.  That team had lost four of its final five games heading into the playoffs, and was hardly anybody’s pick to win it all.  This team has the same feel, in the fact that not a single analyst will pick them to do well.  Quite frankly, they haven’t put a complete game together in over a month.  They have spent the last month playing down to their competition, hopefully Saturday night in Pittsburgh will be different than Baltimore’s more recent performances

The first three quarters Sunday were very upsetting to watch.  The Ravens played lethargic and uninspired football in all three phases of the game.  Yes, they are dealing with a ton of injuries, but with the playoffs on the line, I expected a better effort.  The defense played ok, but let the Browns hang around.  Rookie Connor Shaw was serviceable for the Browns, and was able to make a nice play on a scramble to find a wide open receiver for a huge gain to set up a go ahead touchdown in the third quarter. Safety Will Hill was beat on the coverage, as he had that deep half of the field and lost sight of the receiver.  Mental lapses like that will burn us Saturday against Big Ben.

The run defense was not on point like usual  They nearly allowed 100 yards to rookie Terrance West, as he averaged over five yards a carry in falling just short of 100.  The pass rush was its usual stellar self, as they recorded four sacks and countless hits on Connor Shaw.  Pernell McPhee was a beast again, leading the way with 2 sacks.

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Offensively, it’s just getting frustrating to watch the Ravens.  In the first three quarters Sunday they essentially accomplished nothing.  Three points in three quarters was their meager offensive tally, until finally Joe and Torrey hooked up for two huge plays back-to-back that turned the game.  Once again, if the Ravens are playing a good team, they are probably in a fourteen point hole at the point that they finally decide to wake up.

The offensive line was without both starting tackles in Rick Wagner and Eugene Monroe.  Wagner is done for the year, but hopefully Monroe can play Saturday.  In their absence, rookies James Hurst and John Urschel stepped in.  Hurst played left tackle, while Urschel moved into right guard, while Yanda kicked out to right tackle.  It’s tough because you are missing three starters at that point, as Yanda is an all-pro guard, but just an average tackle.  Yanda pass protecting in space is not his best attribute, as can be expected for any guard.  The line was just kind of there Sunday, in my opinion.  They didn’t do terrible, but they weren’t consistently winning the line of scrimmage like they were doing a month ago.

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Flacco salvaged what was initially a very pedestrian day with a huge fourth quarter.  I thought early on that he was just a tad off in his accuracy.  He missed a few throws to Steve Smith and Owen Daniels that should have been big plays.  He did make a very nice read in the first quarter on a third and six play that led to the Ravens’ first field goal.  Pre-snap, Flacco realized he had man coverage with Justin Forsett out of the backfield on pass rusher Paul Krugar, an obvious mismatch.  Flacco read it and executed the short pass in the flat, so that Forsett was able to run for the first down.

I once again have a problem with John Harbaugh going for that fourth and one in the first quarter.  There was no score in the game at the time, and you’re at home playing against a practice squad quarterback.  Not to mention, you have three lineman out of place on your offensive line.  Take the three points early and take some pressure off.  Three points is huge for our defense, and letting them play with a lead makes them better.  I can see going for the touchdown against a top tier quarterback, but not in a game like that.

I also don’t understand why they kept going after pro bowl corner Joe Haden?  I can understand testing him once and a while to keep him on his toes, but it was like they were targeting Haden.  Maybe they knew he was weakened by that shoulder injury, but he was getting the job done until that bomb to Torrey Smith.  Ballsy to the say the least, but hey, maybe that’s what this team needs more of.

I’m really hoping that fourth quarter is exactly what this team needs to catch fire.  If they can somehow harness that momentum, and carry it into Saturday, then maybe they won’t start so damn slow again.  They’ve made it this far, they might as well make some noise in the playoffs.

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cover: pennlive

 

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