Ravens Have To Fix Slow Starts


This year's Ravens offense could go down as the best in franchise history.

But recently the group has been stuck in the mud early in games.

Slow starts have plagued the Ravens the last three games, as the offense has needed to shake off sloppy first quarters before getting into gear.  The last time the offense scored a first-quarter touchdown was in Week 13 against the San Diego Chargers.

In the last three games, the Ravens have put up an NFL-worst 54 yards and no points in the opening quarter.

"We should be ready for that part of the game," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "We come up with the plays that we're going to do and everybody knows what to expect and what to do on those, so it's kind of tough to see that we've started out that way."

Baltimore's only first-quarter touchdown the last three weeks came on a blocked punt against the Jaguars. They struck first in that victory against Jacksonville, but they had to play from behind against the Dolphins and Texans.

"Each game has been different," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "Every play and every series is different. There are different reasons for it."

The most common thread through all three games has been the struggles to establish the run. After being one of the NFL's best running teams for most of the season, the Ravens seem to have hit a wall in that area.

Running back Justin Forsett has averaged just 46 rushing yards per game the last three weeks.

In the first quarters of those games, the Ravens have ran for a total of 18 yards on 10 carries. The longest first-quarter run has gone for 6 yards.

"It has been tough, that's for sure," right guard Marshal Yanda said. "We love to run the ball, and it's a big part of our offense. We need to block better, and that starts with us up front. We have to get it done better."

Starting slow is only a recent trend for the Ravens.

Earlier in the season, the Ravens were one of the best teams in the league in the first quarter. Flacco even threw five touchdowns in the first 16 minutes against Tampa Bay. On the year, the Ravens rank tenth in the NFL with 76 points per game in the first quarter.

But the recent skid has cost the Ravens, especially last week against Houston, and cleaning up those miscues is a top priority heading into the regular-season finale with Cleveland.

"We need to fix what needs to be corrected and step up the next week," Yanda said. "Good or bad, we have to move on. And obviously Sunday wasn't our best game, but we're moving forward to Cleveland, and you just have to keep fighting."

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