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Pass Catchers Need To Make Plays

Posted Sep 17, 2013

Dropped passes have plagued the Ravens offense so far this year.

The Ravens offense was shut out in the first half of Sunday’s game against Cleveland.

But it easily could have been a different story.

The Ravens had two drops in the first two quarters, leaving what should have been 14 points off the board. Instead, Baltimore attempted two long field goals, with each missing the mark.

When evaluating Baltimore’s offense through the first two weeks of the season, there are a number of facets that can still improve, from blocking, cutting down on turnovers, getting better play from the tight ends and improving the running game.

But sometimes it simply comes down to one thing: making plays.

“Making plays is a big part of it,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “When you look around the league, that’s usually the difference if you’re doing all the other things to put yourself in position to win games.”

One thing traded wide receiver Anquan Boldin had a knack for doing is making a play. He wasn’t the fastest, and sometimes had trouble getting open, but more often than not he would win in a matchup with the opposing cornerback when the ball was in the air.

That’s something Baltimore’s younger wide receiver corps is working to gain, and something that comes with more experience.

“That’s really the biggest thing about the offense, especially the skill guys: We just have to make the play,” Smith said. “We know who we can be, it’s just on us to go out there and do it consistently. That’s what we’re working towards.”

Consistency has been a problem for the pass catchers. And it’s not just a youth or inexperience issue.

The Ravens had a league-high five dropped passes in their Week 1 loss in Denver. They were mostly on veteran tight ends Dallas Clark and Ed Dickson (two each), and Smith had the other.

Dickson didn’t get off to a better start in Week 2. Quarterback Joe Flacco targeted him on the first pass of the game, which should have gone for a quick first down over the middle, but Dickson dropped the ball as he went low to catch it.

The Ravens still rebounded on that drive, thanks to a Cleveland penalty, and had a chance for a touchdown to rookie Marlon Brown deep down the left sideline. Brown beat cornerback Chris Owens and Flacco dropped a perfect third-down pass over his shoulder.

“I should have caught it. I slowed down a little bit and it just dropped,” Brown said.

The Ravens offense slogged through much of the rest of the first half, but put together a solid drive at the end of the half. That’s when, from Baltimore’s 29-yard line, Flacco lofted another nice pass over Smith’s outside shoulder in the end zone.

Smith beat Browns top cornerback Joe Haden with his speed to the outside. The ball bounced off Smith’s closing hands and Smith caught it on the rebound, but not in time to get both feet down in the end zone.

“Those are balls we’d like to see caught. Those are balls that have been caught,” Harbaugh said.

“I’ll tell you what, those guys expect to make those plays. Torrey has been talking about it all day; he feels like he should have made that catch, and he makes that catch nine out of 10 times. And those are catches we’d like to see Marlon make.”

The Ravens started clicking on offense in the second half when they held onto the ball.

On their first drive of the third quarter, Smith caught a pass for 23 yards on third down, then Brown held onto one over the middle for 10 yards and another first down. Brown also made a tough hands catch on a short crossing route for his 5-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The Ravens aren’t concerned about their personnel.

“We have playmakers, guys who are capable of doing it, so we just want to see us continue to build on that,” Harbaugh said.

“We’re still good, we’re still growing,” Smith added. “And we know what it takes.”

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