Five thoughts on the Ravens' 35-6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium:
Elite Seahawks On A Whole Other Level
Toto, we're not in Miami anymore. Or Cleveland. This was a game against the two-time defending NFC champions, an elite squad gathering momentum for a playoff run. The Seahawks were dominant on defense, slick on offense, way too good for a Baltimore team reaching into the bowels of its depth chart at key positions. The Ravens needed a whole lot to go right if they were going to make things interesting, but they didn't check off any of the boxes. They had to avoid turnovers, but lost a key fumble in the second quarter. Their offense had to produce under its third starting quarterback in four games, but it never reached the end zone. The defense needed to dial up a strong performance against Russell Wilson and Seattle's offense, but the Seahawks moved the ball all day and Wilson threw five touchdown passes. "It was bad," Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said, "the worst we played all year by far." As a result, the Ravens' run of last-second losses came to a thudding halt. This one was over early in the third quarter.
Clausen Almost A Bright Spot; Earned Chance To Start Again**
The Seahawks' top-ranked run defense came as advertised, stuffing the Ravens' ground game. Baltimore backs gained 28 yards on 14 carries, sending a clear message that the Ravens had to move the ball in the air if they were going to move it at all. That put quarterback Jimmy Clausen in the toughest of spots, especially with Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman's game plan calling for him to make many play-calls at the line. But just 19 days after joining the Ravens, Clausen was almost a bright spot. He never reached the end zone, but he did throw for 274 yards, a career high. There were some mistakes, including an interception, but tackle Kelechi Osemele called the performance "phenomenal" and said Clausen "did a great job." Harbaugh said it's too soon to know whether Clausen or banged-up Matt Schaub will start next week, but my two cents, Clausen earned another shot.
A Move That Could Have A Major Long-Term Effect
On a dismal day, the Ravens made a move that could have major, long-range implications. They moved Osemele from left guard, where he has played all season, to left tackle, replacing James Hurst. "The idea is to get your five best guys out there," Harbaugh said. It's interesting because the Ravens could be in the market for a left tackle even though Eugene Monroe is under contract for 2016 and beyond. Monroe has struggled with injuries since signing a big contract extension and went on injured reserve last week. If they parted ways with him, the Ravens would take on a significant amount of "dead money" under the salary cap, but they might be willing to do it in order to get more consistency at a vital position. Osemele hasn't played much tackle in the pros, but he did at Iowa State and broke into a broad grin after Sunday's game when asked about making the move. "I had fun," he said. It appears he held up nicely against a tough defensive front, as Clausen was sacked just once. "I think he can be a left tackle," Harbaugh said. Of course, the big issue is Osemele is due to hit free agency after this season, so the Ravens would have to ante up to keep him. I can think of far worse ideas. Osemele is a homegrown talent and one of the team's most rugged performers, a natural fit.
Worst-Case Scenario Before Half
The Ravens were down by just four points when they forced a punt and started a drive at their 23 with exactly 60 seconds left in the first half. They went aggressive, calling a timeout to stop the clock before the punt and then attempting a pass on first down. The aggressiveness was no surprise, but I wouldn't have minded seeing Clausen take a knee, especially after a penalty set the offense back – a four-point halftime deficit seemed like a triumph. Yes, the Seahawks still had all three timeouts left, so they might have used them and forced a punt, but in any case, the worst-case scenario ensued when Buck Allen fumbled and the Seahawks recovered at the Baltimore 14. It took them just two plays to score a touchdown, and they then took the second-half kickoff and drove to another touchdown, effectively blowing the game open. "If you give up turnovers against a team like that, you have no chance," Harbaugh said.
You know it's a rough day when your most-talked-about play is a by-the-hair tackle. Receiver Chris Matthews, a former Seahawk, employed that strategy to bring down Seattle's Richard Sherman after Sherman picked off a Clausen pass in the third quarter … Clausen exhibited a nice rapport with receivers Jeremy Butler (seven catches for 72 yards) and Kamar Aiken (five catches for 90 yards). Rookie Daniel Brown contributed a long downfield reception for the second straight game, and unlike a week ago, this one wasn't nullified by a penalty. Brown is turning some heads … The Seahawks started out running the ball effectively but averaged less than 3 yards per carry after Thomas Rawls left with a broken ankle ... Under the radar, defensive end Brent Urban was a factor with three solo tackles and four overall.