Five thoughts on the Ravens' 27-23 loss to the New York Giants Sunday at MetLife Stadium:
No Excuses In Game Ravens Could Have Won
Through the first five games of the season, the Ravens secondary compiled some nice statistics and achieved high rankings. But their opponents had missed a handful of opportunities and still made enough plays that you couldn't help wondering whether troubled times might lie ahead. Well, those times arrived in the second half of another crazy, back-and-forth game. On a day when the Ravens did enough to win but offset that with too many self-inflicted wounds, they were done in by their inability to corral the Giants' Odell Beckham Jr. who decided the outcome with two long scoring plays. Yes, it was true the secondary simply was outmanned once cornerback Jimmy Smith left with a concussion at halftime. It also was true the Ravens' tepid pass rush left the secondary hanging. But after the game, Head Coach John Harbaugh referenced bad technique by defensive backs, citing eyes in the wrong places, and safety Eric Weddle talked about bad tackling. In other words, there are no excuses. Beckham is terrific, but the Ravens had the lead early and late and probably would have won if their secondary was just a tad tighter. But it wasn't.
**Ravens Caught Some Breaks, But Not Enough To Overcome Self-Inflicted Mistakes
**It was a day when the Ravens needed a little magic fairy dust to come floating out of the New Jersey industrial sky and land on their shoulders. They had some things going against them, starting with the injuries that devastated their secondary. Their offensive line also was banged up, and they continually set themselves back with penalties, amassing 15, a season high. Throw in a royally botched red-zone opportunity in the second half and you're looking at the classic recipe for how to lose a winnable game. So they needed that magic dust, i.e., a break or two. And they got them! Trailing late in the fourth quarter, they saw a key drive extended by a phantom pass interference call, which ended up leading to a touchdown that gave them the lead. Then another dubious call, for roughing the passer, gave them new life on their final drive and a chance to win in the end. My two cents, both those flags were breaks, but the Ravens had left too many points on the table with their penalties and other mistakes earlier in the game. "That was the difference between taking a knee at the end and needing a Hail Mary to win," Weddle said. Too true.
Ups And Downs In Marty Mornhinweg's Debut
There were things to like about the offense's first game under Marty Mornhinweg. The new coordinator was much more committed to the running game and received a nice dividend as Terrance West rushed for 87 yards and two touchdowns. Mornhinweg also unlocked the deep passing game, which had been in hibernation all season. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco completed passes of 70 and 41 yards and threw that deep ball that drew a controversial pass interference flag worth 42 yards. The offense was more balanced and dangerous, which bodes well for what lies ahead. On the other hand, some problems that bedeviled the unit under Marc Trestman persisted, starting with the penalties. Also, there was the inability to finish off drives, which resulted in too many field goals (three) instead of touchdowns and the failure to get the ball in the end zone on three chances from the 1 midway through the second half. Those failings kept the offense from deserving a higher grade on a day it produced 22 first downs and 391 yards.
Penalties Could Bring Down Season
It's impossible to overemphasize the impact of the penalties. They could bring down this season if the Ravens don't get them under control. On a day when the Giants didn't register a first down in the first 20 minutes, the Ravens dominated early and had a chance to blow things open, but penalties got in the way. "We didn't extend the lead like we needed to do," Harbaugh said. A false start flag slowed a promising opening drive and forced the Ravens to settle for a field goal. Then, with the Ravens up by 10, Flacco completed a pass for a first down at the New York 29. An illegal formation penalty wiped out the play and ended the drive, keeping the Giants in the game. In the second quarter, two penalties wrecked a drive that had pushed into New York territory. The Ravens' first drive of the third quarter was done in by a holding penalty. Another holding penalty forced the offense to settle for a field goal after Tavon Young's interception set up the offense with a first down in New York territory with the game tied. On and on and on.
Quick TakesThe Ravens won the turnover battle, 3-0, with two interceptions and a fumble recovery, which ordinarilyis a recipe for success … With Mosley out, linebacker Zach Orr led the defense with his finest performance of the season … Breshad Perriman's on-the-job apprenticeship continued with a big downfield reception but also a couple of whiffs on shorter balls he should catch … Terrell Suggs registered the Ravens' only sack in the fourth quarter and Giants quarterback Eli Manning was hit only twice. Flacco was hit six times … The patchwork offensive line deserves kudos for the most part. Playing without anchors Marshal Yanda and Ronnie Stanley, it opened holes for West and gave Flacco enough time to throw on most plays. Oh, but those penalties.