The Ravens made perhaps their biggest personnel change of the season Sunday, inserting left tackle Eugene Monroe into the starting lineup in place of 11-year veteran Bryant McKinnie. Monroe played his first game as a Raven just 10 days after getting traded to Baltimore from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
It was mostly a quiet afternoon for Monroe, with the exception of a costly miscue at the end of the first half. Monroe allowed Nick Perry to get around the edge to apply pressure to Joe Flacco's blind side, which resulted in a strip-sack.
The Green Bay Packers recovered the football and knocked down a field goal just before halftime, a critical score in the 19-17 loss for Baltimore.
"I feel like I played solid, but I had one play at the end of the first half where I took a bad set and the guy was able to strip the ball from Joe and that set up the score," Monroe said. "You never want that to happen."
Head Coach John Harbaugh was pleased with Monroe's debut.
"Eugene played well," Harbaugh said Monday. "He played a good game, pass protection and run. That [strip-sack] was an unfortunate play, obviously. He got beat there by a good pass rusher. But he played a good game."**
The Ravens traded for Monroe to help improve an offensive line that has struggled through the first part of the season, but the woes continued against the Packers. The unit could not open holes in the running game and also allowed Flacco to get sacked five times. Running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce combined for 43 yards on 20 carries.
Monroe, 6-foot-5 and 306 pounds, is known as an athletic blocker who thrives as a run blocker. But even with him in the lineup, the Ravens couldn't churn out consistent production on the ground.
"We have the bodies to run the ball, but we just have to execute more consistently," Monroe said. "Credit to Green Bay for doing a good job, playing solid defense, stopping the run. We've got to start faster. We've got to all be on the same page and execute."
While the Ravens had problems in the running game, they did have success moving the ball through the air in the fourth quarter. Flacco finished the day with 342 passing yards and two touchdowns, and he gave credit to the offensive line for protecting him in the pocket.
"For the most part, the pass protection was pretty good," Flacco said. "Besides the miscues, with the simple cross-dub up the middle, it was pretty good today. I had some time."
Sunday's start was likely the first of many for Monroe, who could end up as a long-term solution for the Ravens at left tackle. With a matchup against the Steelers on the horizon, now Monroe is focused on building off his first performance.
"Now we have to evaluate the film, take a long, hard look at it, be critical for ourselves and get ready for our next opponent," Monroe said. "We just have to keep moving forward, keep grinding and keep working this thing out because we have the bodies to do it."