Five thoughts on the Ravens' 24-16 loss to the New York Jets Sunday at MetLife Stadium:
Recurring Problems Lead To One Conclusion: Ravens Not Very Good Right Now
This wasn't just a scene out of the movie "Groundhog Day." This was an entire feature-length reprise of the story about a day that grimly keeps recurring. One week removed from a loss to the Giants at MetLife Stadium, the Ravens took the same train trip at the same time to the same destination, stayed at the same hotel Saturday night, dressed in the same color scheme (white jerseys, black pants). Then, just as they did against the Giants, they took an early 10-point lead Sunday but soon found themselves trailing when their offense sputtered, mistakes (key penalties, turnovers) piled up and their defense gave up big plays. It ended up pretty much an exact replica of the loss to the Giants, only this one was worse because the offense really came to a halt in the second half and the Ravens only had a longshot comeback chance at the end. They keep saying they can fix the problems doing them in, but the same problems keep arising. I was going to say something about what two straight losses in New Jersey and four straight overall indicates, but Joe Flacco said it for me: "We're just not very good right now."
**Ravens Got Whipped By 1-5 Team
Some people are going to say the Ravens let this one slip away because they had an early lead and set themselves back with some mistakes, but my two cents, they got whipped here – yes, whipped by a 1-5 team going nowhere. On 12 offensive possessions, their offense never reached the end zone – in fact, never snapped the ball inside the Jets' 25-yard line. The running game was completely stuffed, leaving it up to Flacco and his receivers to move the ball, and they did that less and less as the game progressed. The Jets defense had the upper hand physically and seldom seemed flummoxed by Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg's calls. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, the Jets' moribund offense, which had scored the fewest touchdowns in the league through six games, dominated up front and looked quicker on the outside than the Ravens defense, especially on a couple of big plays that led to touchdowns. The Ravens defense kept the team in the game when the offense collapsed in the second half, but the defense also yielded against the run, giving up 155 yards on the ground. Outside of the Ravens special teams, which were strong, the Jets deserved to win.
Joe Flacco's Clunker Performance Can't Be Blamed On Injury
Flacco had one of his roughest games, completing a few nice deep balls but otherwise struggling to move the chains. I don't think the issue was the shoulder injury that kept him out of two practices during the week; Flacco was adamant that his shoulder felt "fine." No, this was just a forgettable clunker of a performance marked by two interceptions and errant tosses at key moments – the kind of game a quarterback of his caliber isn't supposed to have. The usual excuses were there, key injuries, missing pieces, no running game, shaky protection, but this felt like a day when the offense could have overcome all that if Flacco had been sharper. He had just set a franchise record by going 176 pass attempts without an interception when he threw one in the second half, then quickly threw another. "I have to be better than that," he said about the second pick, but it was really true for his entire day.
More Mistakes, But They Come In Different Stripes This Time
If we've learned anything this season, it's that there are a whole lot of ways to lose a game, or certainly, hurt your chances of winning. The watchword for Sunday was "fewer penalties" after the Ravens were flagged 15 times in the loss to the Giants, and they cleaned that up fairly nicely (4 penalties for 35 yards). But a couple of flags still were killers, especially a holding call on rookie offensive lineman Alex Lewis that wiped out a 49-yard run by Terrance West in the second quarter. And this time, the bigger problems were shoddy tackling – a first for that issue this year – and three turnovers. For the second time in three games, the Ravens forced a key turnover (this one on the goal line when Timmy Jernigan recovered a fumble) only to give the ball back by the end of the play. Raise your hand if you had that as an issue liable to haunt the Ravens this year. No, didn't think so. It's weird stuff, but also the mark of a team generally making too many mistakes of all stripes.
Strangely, it was a pivotal play when the Ravens knocked the Jets' starting quarterback, Geno Smith, out of the game on a sack. Their defense had Smith's number, it appeared. His replacement, Ryan Fitzpatrick, who had been the starter, was much more effective … This is the first four-game losing streak for the Ravens under Head Coach John Harbaugh … It makes a statement when your only touchdown is a complete gift. The Jets punter, Lachlan Edwards, dropped a perfect snap inside his 10 and chased after the ball. The Ravens' Chris Moore pushed Edwards out of the way, grabbed the loose ball at the 2 and stumbled into the end zone … For the season, the Ravens have scored just 10 touchdowns on 86 possessions.
Check out the photos from MetLife Stadium as the Ravens battle the Jets.