Instant Reaction to Ravens’ Heartbreaking Loss
The Baltimore Ravens lost in heartbreaking fashion to the rival Pittsburgh Steelers 39-38, ending their chances at winning the division and forcing the Ravens to win out to make the playoffs. Here are my instant reactions to tonight’s game and I apologize in advance because, like every other Ravens game, they point me into the direction of alcohol.
Alex Collins is the Real Deal
Running back Alex Collins had a career day tonight, rushing for 120 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown, and 46 receiving yards on only two receptions. Collins seemed to consistently stay patient long enough to find the hole and continued to fight for every yard, breaking what seemed to be at least one tackle per play.
I was thoroughly amazed at Collins’ 37 yard reception as he somehow broke two tackles at once while tip-toeing the sideline just long enough to extend the play a good 20 yards. He has cemented himself as the starter for years to come barring anything insane happening to him.
Buck Allen has genuinely surprised me byshowing up week after week. To go from only making the roster cause of injury, to now being a weekly threat. Although he has been a pleasant surprise, I believe the Ravens should trade Allen during the offseason. His value has never been higher, and with Kenneth Dixon coming back, Allen seems to be the odd one out.
I am disappointed that Marty Mornhinweg thought it was a good idea to go away from Collins late in the game when it would have been the smart option to keep giving the offense’s greatest weapon the ball. Do not worry, I will go way deeper into this later on.
We Finally See how Important Jimmy Smith is
Ben Roethlisberger had a field day against a Jimmy Smith-less secondary, completing 44 of 66 passes for 506 yards and two touchdowns. Antonio Brown had a Madden-esque game, catching 11 balls for 213 yards and routinely burnt corner Brandon Carr like he was a piece of Wonder Bread.
Le’Veon Bell was almost shut down by rushing for only 48 yards on 13 carries and scoring two touchdowns, but was a threat, (like everyone else), in the passing game, catching nine passes for 77 yards and yet another touchdown. Brandon Williams continues to prove to be the life of the Ravens’ run defense. In the last meeting, where Williams was inactive, Bell ran for 144 yards on 35 carries. The Ravens’ defense continues to let tight ends have big days across the middle, as Jesse James and Vance McDonald combined for 149 yards on 14 receptions.
We saw the defense stumble last week after Smith tore his Achilles, but nobody would have guessed this kind of air assault on the Ravens. In light of the lackluster defense, Marlon Humphrey proved he was worth a first round pick. While covering Antonio Brown, Humphrey allowed six receptions on 12 targets for 37 yards.
The pass rush was virtually ineffective tonight, as Terrell Suggs was shut down by a backup and only had half a sack on the night. Tony Jefferson looked like a practice dummy out on the field. He, along with many other players, had a handful of their tackles broken by Steelers players. But the best part was when Jefferson got bulldozed and “Mossed” at the same time by a fullback. Jefferson has yet to live up to his lucrative contract and seems to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Hopefully he comes around, cause he seems to be a fan favorite.
Tonight’s Play-calling was Reminiscent of 2016
The play-calling was absolutely terrible on both sides and brought back the nightmares that last season created. Marty opened up the game thinking the Ravens could go pound for pound against the Steelers in throwing the ball, which caused a Joe Flacco interception deep into Pittsburgh territory on the opening drive, instead of giving the ball to Collins on a third and short. Marty seemed to get away from the run game when it mattered most. Alex Collins sat for a drive or two after having the ball pop out from a hard hit after catching a checkdown pass, that was later recovered by Mike Wallace.
Late in the fourth quarter, leading 38-36, the Ravens started a drive with just over three minutes left, and instead of doing the smart and most effective option in handing the ball to Collins, Marty decided to throw a deep out route on first down and followed up throwing the ball again on a third and three. The Ravens gave up the ball to the Steelers with the two minute warning and all three timeouts left, instead of giving the ball to their best playmaker and running out the clock during the process. Yes, if you were wondering, there is a pattern here, and I will run it into the ground, unlike some coordinators.
Now to Dean Pees and the defense, my oh my us fans are living in the definition of insanity. The Ravens spent most of this past offseason focusing on the secondary and lone behold, Dean Pees turned back the clock to 2016 as well. After noticing the pass rush was nonexistent, Pees decided to put all his linebackers and safeties up on the line to try and confuse Roethlisberger, but guess what everyone, Carr kept getting burnt and even better, there was no safety around for help.
I do not care how much you know about football, everybody knows you cannot cover the leagues best receiver one on one without any help whatsoever. Especially when he kept lining up in front of and beating the same corner over and over. Pees went back to his favorite “nothing behind us” play calls once the Ravens took the lead, but who would have guessed that leaving the middle of the field wide open and Antonio Brown singled covered the whole time would let plays get behind you.
Now I know Pees has had a very good year with the defense and that tonight was just one of a very few bad games this season, but the Ravens’ weakness on defense has been the same since the beginning of the year. They somehow leave the middle of the field wide open play after play. Marty, on the other hand, he is as good as gone after this season and after tonight, I could not be any happier.
One silver lining on tonight, the Ravens have proved they are a playoff caliber team and with the luck of the draw, could make a decent playoff run and thank lord they do not have to face a receiver as dominant as Antonio Brown until then. The Ravens have the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, and Cincinnati Bengals to end the season. Win all three, which is expected, and they make the playoffs again.
Again, I apologize for this long rant. It just sickens me seeing this team sign all these new additions, just to have them fall short when it mattered most. This game was the hardest on the schedule no doubt, but it stings even more by how it happened. This was almost exactly like last year’s Christmas Night heartbreaking loss. Thank the lord the Ravens have one of the more easier schedules for the remainder of the season, but knowing the Ravens, they are going to screw it all up somehow.