Joe Flacco was still fuming about his first-half mistake when he talked to reporters after the Ravens' 23-16 loss to the Bengals.
The play happened at the end of the first half, as the Ravens were at Cincinnati's 15-yard line with just eight seconds remaining in the quarter. The Ravens could have taken one last shot at the end zone and still had a chip-shot field-goal attempt if the touchdown try was unsuccessful.
But the Ravens ended up with nothing because Flacco tried to run out of the pocket to extend the play, and time expired just before he got sacked to end the half.
"That was probably the stupidest play I've ever made in football," Flacco said. "I kind of just got caught up in the play and forgot about the situation. There's no excuse for it, can't happen."
Flacco's miscue capped off a disappointing first half for the Ravens, where they were shutout and collected just 97 total yards. The Ravens dropped passes, turned the ball over and generally seemed out of sync for the first 30 minutes.
Half of Baltimore's six drives in the first half ended with a three-and-out or turnover.
"We just played about as bad as you can, in terms of just simple fundamental things — throwing, catching, running routes, staying up, just running the ball, couple mental busts," Flacco said. "Just fundamental things that you do every day, and it's just part of the routine, and we just weren't doing [them] well."
Part of the issue for the offense was that Flacco's targets couldn't hang onto the football. Owen Daniels, Steve Smith Sr. and Jacoby Jones all had costly drops.
"Offensively, we just couldn't get it done," Smith said. "As receivers we didn't play as well as we could. We screwed ourselves receiver-wise as best as we could; we dropped all the gimmies, but we caught all the hard ones. We just have to play better, but things can happen and you've got to take responsibility."
The offense started to shift the narrative and get into a groove in the second half.
The Ravens came out of the locker room facing a 15-0 deficit and picked up the tempo to try to get points in a hurry. The approach worked, as the Ravens were able to move the football and eventually took the lead.
The Ravens picked up 323 of their 420 yards and all 16 of their points in the second half.
"We got in a situation where we had to get in a little bit of a muddle huddle there and go up-tempo, which we weren't really planning on doing," tight end Owen Daniels said. "But you have to roll with the punches and do what you have to do to get back in the game. We have that in our repertoire and I think honestly that wore them down a little bit. We might look into doing that a little more."
Sunday's game was the debut of the new system put into place by Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak. The gameplan differed from what the Ravens showed in the preseason, where they were much more balanced between the run and pass. On Sunday, Flacco passed the ball 62 times and the team had just 20 runs.
The early deficit partly dictated the shift to the passing game, and the Ravens also wanted to avoid trying to run directly into a stout Cincinnati defensive line.
"We wanted to slow down that front," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "When their linebackers started getting gassed, it helped us a little bit, and we were able to run the ball, but we were behind. But, we ran well in the second half. That's going to be important for us. We're going to be able to need to run the ball."
The new offense was the story of the offseason for the Ravens, and the expectation for the group is to be much better than the group finished last season. The opener provided some positive glimpses, but there is plenty to clean up in the short week before the Ravens welcome the Steelers to Baltimore Thursday night.
"It's tough to look at it too many ways other than the fact that we lost the game, and overall we didn't play very well," Flacco said. "As a player, you don't look for good things in losses. It was a bad day. We got ourselves obviously in position to win the game, but we didn't necessarily play well enough to win it."