Five thoughts on the Ravens' 25-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers Sunday at Levi's Stadium:
Season Spiraling In Wrong Direction
A season gone badly awry continued to spiral in the wrong direction, dropping the Ravens' record to 1-5. They cut way down on their penalties, which undercut them a week ago, but they were undone by a slow start, turnovers, missed opportunities and their pass defense getting torched. There's always something this year. The 49ers weren't exactly a formidable opponent, entering the game ranked 29th in the league in offense and 31st in defense. But in a rough first half, the Ravens left plays on the field and fell behind by double digits for the fourth time in six games – hardly a stat you want to generate. New cornerback Shareece Wright had a brutal debut, getting beaten for two touchdowns on technique mistakes that Head Coach John Harbaugh called "below the line" of acceptability. The Ravens rallied late, but once again, the hole was too deep and the loss was deserved. "Way too many mistakes," Harbaugh said.
Little Things Turn Into Big Problems
You could argue that the Ravens' rally was undone by a mere slip in the grass. Trailing by six points late in the third quarter, their drive stalled and Justin Tucker lined up a 45-yard field-goal attempt. It was a safe bet he would make it, as he hadn't missed from inside the 50 in two years. But his plant foot slipped in the grass, taking up a huge divot and throwing off his timing. The attempt fell short, and the missed points proved huge later, as the Ravens could have attempted a field goal to tie or win instead of having to put the ball in the end zone on their final, late drive. (The 49ers had gone for two after their last touchdown, but likely wouldn't have done that if Tucker had made the field goal.) The way the Ravens are going, they need little things to go their way, and Tucker's slip was a little thing that went against them and became oh-so big.
Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin Get Last Laugh
Neither side has benefitted in the divorce between the Ravens and receiver Torrey Smith. With rookie Breshad Perriman injured, the Ravens have really missed Smith's speed, big-play knack and ability to draw flags for pass interference. Until Sunday, Smith also had missed the Ravens, having caught just 11 passes in the 49ers' first five games. But he had the last laugh and then some against his former team. Finding himself in single coverage against Wright in the second quarter, Smith broke into the clear with a double move and the 49ers' Colin Kaepernick hit him in stride for a 76-yard touchdown. It was just the kind of play the Ravens have lacked this year. Anquan Boldin also had a big game with 102 receiving yards, as the matchup of the Ravens' current and former receivers was no contest. For Baltimore, Steve Smith Sr. had another big game, but his receiving yardage total was more than that of the Ravens' four other wideouts combined.
Flacco Continues Streak Of Costly Interceptions
Joe Flacco's two interceptions included one that was among the worst of his career. With the Ravens down by 10 points and driving early in the third quarter, Flacco retreated against pressure and tried to throw the ball away far downfield, throwing off his back foot. The ball sailed straight to the 49ers' Kenneth Acker with no Baltimore receiver anywhere near it. "Just a really, really dumb throw," said Flacco, accountable as always after the game. That interception produced a field goal for the 49ers, as did Flacco's other pick in the first half, when he tried to force the ball to a target who wasn't open. Finishing strong, Flacco threw for more than 300 yards and two touchdowns, but he has thrown costly interceptions in every game but one in 2015. Sunday, he threw two.
Quick HitsAlthough the Ravens played a much cleaner game penalty-wise, a holding call against Jimmy Smith in the final minutes was a killer. The defense had forced a punt, giving the offense more than two minutes to try to score a game winner. The penalty gave the 49ers a new set of downs, and the offense ended up with just a minute to play with. It wasn't enough …The 49ers hadn't beaten the Ravens in 20 years, since their original meeting in 1996. The Ravens had won four in a row, including Super Bowl 47 … Of the 46 Ravens who suited up, five weren't on the 53-man roster two weeks ago and five others were listed as questionable for the game on Friday's injury report … Jeremy Ross had a second straight solid game as the kickoff and punt returner … The offensive line had a strong game in pass protection, as Flacco wasn't sacked … A dose of early playmaking could have altered things, but the Ravens had their hands on two interceptions and two touchdown passes in the first half, and didn't reel any in … Twenty points against a vulnerable 49er defense? Not enough. "There was a lot of room to make plays," Flacco said. "It felt like we could have had 600 yards."