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Too Little, Too Late From Ravens Offense

Posted Oct 13, 2013

The slow start continued a season-long trend, scoring just 16 first-half points in the last five games.

After the first three quarters of Sunday’s game against Green Bay, the Ravens had more false starts than points. They had three points and six offensive penalties.

The offense had just seven first downs and converted twice on third down up to that point, and had only 31 rushing yards. The Ravens went three-and-out or turned the ball over on nine of their first 11 possessions. 

The slow start continued a season-long trend for the Ravens, who have scored just 16 first-half points in the last five games combined. 

“It’s been like that for almost every game this year,” right guard Marshal Yanda said. “We did some good things in the second half, but it was just way too late. We needed to have a better first half. We’ve just not been getting it done as well as we want in the first half.”

The Ravens offense got it together in the fourth quarter, putting up 150 yards and 14 points in the final frame to make a late-game comeback effort against Packers. The rally fell short, as the Packers wore down the Ravens defense and they picked up key first downs to run out the clock for the 19-17 victory.

“It was too little, too late,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “We’ve just got to find a way to get it going for all four quarters.”

A big problem for the offense was the struggles in the running game.

Running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce combined for just 43 rushing yards on 20 carries. Their longest run of the day was an 11-yard carry by Rice.

Rice and Pierce were routinely bottled up in the backfield and did not have holes to get to the second level of the defense. The running game has been an issue all season, as the Ravens have averaged just 72.6 rushing yards per game.

“We just have to execute,” Rice said. “We’ve got to execute at a high level. We don’t ever plan on going out there and messing up. It’s a problem that we have to get fixed.”

Despite the struggles in the running game, the Ravens did not abandon the run. Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell continued to pound the football on the ground on early downs, but the Ravens were unable to break big gains. The problems in the running game led to long down-and-distance situations on second and third downs.

“In order to sustain drives, you need to [convert] on first and second down, and you need to get a couple chunks in there, and we’re not doing that,” Flacco said. “We’re getting one big chunk, and then we’re putting ourselves back in third-down-and-long situations and not getting it.”

Another issue on offense were penalties, as the Ravens had four false start penalties and also a hands-to-the-face penalty. In one sequence, Yanda and left guard Kelechi Osemele were flagged for back-to-back false starts.

“Penalties are a part of [starting slow],” Yanda said. “It’s a guy here, a guy there, a penalty here, a penalty there, and it’s tough to get into a rhythm when you do that. We just need to tighten it up.”

After struggling through the first three quarters, the offense picked up the pace in the fourth quarter and made some big plays to lead to points. Wide receiver Tandon Doss caught a 63-yard pass on fourth down. Tight end Dallas Clark caught an 18-yard touchdown. Wide receiver Marlon Brown had a 59-yard catch and run, and receiver Jacoby Jones caught an 11-yard touchdown.

“We got into a little bit more groove,” Flacco said. “A little bit of our quick game got going, and I think it opened up some holes in the run game. We’ve just got to continue to work and continue to have faith and go out there and play hard [and trust] that we’re going to get the drive done.”

Flacco finished with an impressive day if just looking at the statistics. He completed 20-of-34 passing for 342 yards and two touchdowns, but he stressed that the inflated numbers were more a product of the situation.

“That’s what happens when you’re losing a football game,” Flacco said. “I try to tell you guys it’s not about stats and throwing for a lot of yards and throwing for touchdowns. Usually when you’re behind, you have to throw the ball a little bit, and something can happen like that.”

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