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Penalties Hindering Ravens Offense


On the Ravens' first offensive play from scrimmage, left guard Kelechi Osemele was flagged for a personal foul for grabbing a facemask. Before the next snap, running back Ray Rice false started. 

It was that kind of day for the Ravens offense Sunday in Buffalo, one in which it shot itself in the foot too frequently. 

Joe Flacco's five interceptions were obviously difference-makers. But the Ravens' six offensive penalties also hindered the unit's ability to gain rhythm, and they're contributing to the team's slow starts. 

Head Coach John Harbaugh was not happy about the penalties Monday, and made it a point to address them with his team. 

"We had some offensive penalties that are just unnecessary," he told reporters. "We have a facemask penalty the first play of the game. It's absolutely unnecessary. Ray gets a little jumpy and jumps offside. Now we're backed up inside or right around our 5-yard line. We've got to start faster." 

It didn't get much better from there. 

"How about the first play of the second half?" Harbaugh said. "We come out, and we jump offside." 

The Ravens kicked off three offensive drives with penalties. There was Osemele's to open the game, a hold on tackle Michael Oher and a false start on tight end Ed Dickson to start the second half. Those penalties drive the percentages down in terms of converting a first down. 

The penalties haven't been limited to one player this season. 

Last week, tackle Bryant McKinnie was flagged twice for 15-yard personal foul penalties for grabbing pass rushers' facemasks. In Week 1, center Gino Gradkowski got a personal foul for unnecessary roughness after the play was over. Even Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda was called for a false start in Buffalo. 

The offensive line has specifically had problems. Osemele was also flagged Sunday for not lining up on the line of scrimmage, something hardly ever seen for a guard. 

The Ravens offense has 13 penalties so far this season, compared to eight on defense. Baltimore's 12 offensive penalties are tied for 12th most in the league. 

Wide receiver Torrey Smith said he felt it was the biggest thing holding the offense back. 

"We have to find a way to win the tough games, but at the same time find a way not to shoot ourselves in the foot with penalties," he said. "Same thing two games in a row in terms of offense. We're starting from behind in the count because we're having penalties."

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