Is it possible that I am the only Ravens fan in Baltimore or in the nation that is disappointed with the game on Sunday? Are their others?
How, you are asking, how can it be possible for a fan to be disappointed over a team's performance that resulted in a win? I am not upset at the outcome of the game, I am glad they won; however, I am more upset about how the game was won for many reasons.
The Ravens only winning by fourteen points is one thing that piles on the disappointment. Yes, I did say winning by only fourteen points. That fourteen points could have easily been only seven or the shoe could even be on the other foot with the Chiefs walking away with the 1-0 record.
Baltimore had to score twenty-one points in the fourth quarter for the win. Those twenty-one points consisted of fourteen coming in the final two minutes of the game with a touchdown being tacked on at the end with thirty-one seconds left on a Willis McGahee run.
The Ravens trailed as late as the third quarter with 8:52 left as Brodie Croyle connected with Sean Ryan for a score. They were tied with KC two different times in the 4th quarter including once with only five minutes and some change left. Unacceptable for a eleven point favorite ... a very generous eleven point spread for the Chiefs by the way.
All the blame has to be pinned on the defense - the same squad that has been the bearer of all the Ravens' successes its entire franchise history.
The defense allowed 188 total yards which is decent for an average defense. However, it is not decent at all for easily the 2nd best defense in the NFL or arguably the best. The rush defense looked fine keeping Larry Johnson and Jamaal Charles to only twenty-eight yards combined on fifteen carries. It was the passing defense that let down ... the passing defense that includes not only the secondary but the linebacker group.
Is it believable that this defense allowed Brodie Croyle to pass for 177 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions? Brodie freakin' Croyle. The same Brodie Croyle that was a career 0-8 in his career prior to the game. The same Brodie Croyle who's career passer rating is 71.6 AFTER that big game he had on Sunday. The same Brodie Croyle who's career high in touchdowns is at six.
The Ravens allowed Brodie to have the best game of his career. He posted a 116.1 passer rating while his previous high was 99.2 against Indianapolis in 2007. Hell, not even in that game did he have two touchdowns or as many yards.
Brodie Croyle had only passed for two touchdowns in a game one other time in his NFL career. That was in 2007 against the Titans when he also threw two interceptions.
They couldn't even stop the lowly Brodie Croyle. Coming up on the Ravens schedule? Phillip Rivers, Tom Brady, Carson Palmer twice, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger twice, Aaron Rodgers, and Jay Cutler. Look on the bright side, at least they don't have to face Drew Brees ... right?
Not only was the passing defense pitiful for the Ravens, but so was the redzone defense. They allowed the Chiefs to be a perfect two-for-two in the redzone on Sunday. How is that going to go down next week with Phillip Rivers passing the ball, Antonio Gates running his routes, and Darren Sproles and LaDanian Tomlinson ready to run the ball? Not too swell as you can imagine.
How about the zero turnovers forced by the Baltimore defense? The last time the Ravens defense didn't force a turnover in a game was in week six of 2008 when the Indianapolis Colts lit up Baltimore for a 31-3 murdering. Let's think about this one ... Peyton Manning > Brodie Croyle. I'm not totally sure on that one, I may have to check the stats, so I will get back to you on that one. Please.
Ed Reed was just about absent, Ray Lewis was no where to be found, and the corners must have ... I'm not really sure what they were doing as I mentioned before. Ed Reed hung around for only five tackles, zero passes defended, and zero interceptions while Ray Lewis punched his card with six tackles. None of those numbers are typical for these players.
Let's stray a bit away from placing the entire blame on the defense and place it more on the entire team here. The Ravens committed eight penalties for 65 yards including an unnecessary roughness call on Jarrett Johnson for hitting Brodie Croyle in the head giving the Chiefs fifteen free yards. All penalties are uncalled for. Sure, one or two penalties will happen during the course of the game. But not eight for 65 yards.
Here is a question that has been bugging me ever since the game ended. Why in God's name did the Ravens decide to let Joe Flacco throw the ball 43 times? The previous high in attempts during his NFL career was 38 against the Colts in that 31-3 loss and the highest attempts during a win was 29 (twice). Every time the Ravens lost last season, Joe Flacco had at least 27 passing attempts. Including the postseason, Flacco averaged 24.3 attempts in wins while averaging 31.2 in losses. Correlation? I think so.
Why would the Ravens stray away from the running game that got them so far last season? The Ravens, including Le'Ron McClain, Ray Rice, and Willis McGahee combined for 2,376 yards on the ground in 2008 and ranked 4th in the NFL while Joe Flacco and the passing game wallowed at 28th. The result of this was a spot in the AFC Championship game. Why change it now?
On top of that, Ray Rice ran for 108 yards on 19 carries and McGahee ran for 44 on 10. Giving the ball to them more, especially Rice, would have resulted in way more yards for them.
Yeah, the Ravens did well with their passing game. They threw for over 300 yards and broke the franchise record for total yards in a game. But, let's remember, this was against the Kansas City defense that isn't, well, good. They were 28th in passing defense last season while giving up more than 230 passing yards a game. This will not fly against tougher opponents.
All these things combined in a game against any opponent better than Kansas, there are a lot of them, and the Ravens have a huge problem on their hands. The standings may be 1-0 in favor of the Ravens, but this may be a long season if stuff like this continues to happen.