Why Did The Offense Stumble?


The Ravens offense roared into Sunday's game as one of the best units in the NFL, ranked second in average yards per game.

So what happened in Kansas City? Why didn't the Ravens score a touchdown when they had done so in its previous 42 straight games?

Different Ravens pointed to different offensive deficiencies after the 9-6 victory, mentioning anxiousness, an inability to convert on third down, penalties and turnovers.

Just about all of them started by giving kudos to the Chiefs defense.

Head Coach John Harbaugh said the team will go back to the tape and see where they need to get better, but said he's giving Kansas City credit.

"We have to be better than nine points, no doubt. We have to score touchdowns, there's no question about it. We can't turn the ball over in critical situations," Harbaugh said. "But that's a good defense."

Harbaugh mentioned the Chiefs' long, physical corners such as Brandon Flowers, who picked off quarterback Joe Flacco in the second half. Harbaugh said Derrick Johnson is one of the best middle linebackers in the game. Outside linebacker Tamba Hali is a Pro Bowler and second-year rusher Justin Houston is among the league-leaders in sacks.

"They've got first-rounders all over the place," running back Ray Rice said. "They've got great talent, great guys, great chemistry on defense. That defense played phenomenal."

While the Chiefs deserve credit for making it hard on the Ravens, Baltimore believes it needs to convert despite good defensive play. And the Ravens even made it easy on Kansas City at times.

The Ravens had just 106 total offensive yards in the first half. They picked up just two first downs in the first quarter.

Wide receiver Anquan Boldin said they came out "flat" after having a long layoff between games. Baltimore had extra rest considering their last game was Thursday, Sept. 27. Boldin said they weren't rusty following a good week of practice, but a little overeager.

"The layoff kind of made us anxious," Boldin said. "Guys were out there wanting to make plays. Plays were there, we just didn't finish it."

Penalties were also an issue. A block in the back by Boldin wiped out a 25-yard gain by wide receiver Torrey Smith. Rookie Kelechi Osemele was flagged for two false starts in the loud Arrowhead Stadium. One made a third-and-10 an even tougher third-and-15. The other happened just as the Ravens got in the red zone.

Baltimore also struggled on third down. It was just 1-of-6 in the first half and 3-of-11 overall. Two of the Chiefs' four sacks came on third down.

"The bad job was where we just didn't really execute in the first half," Flacco said. "We had some close, contested plays and we didn't make them. It kind of led to bad down-and-distances and we didn't do a good job."

Baltimore was also plagued by drops. The usually sure-handed Boldin had a long first-half gain go through his hands. He also dropped another potential first-down catch in traffic. Rice had a drop on third down and Leach let one get away inside the red zone.

"We never really got in a rhythm in the first half and it was because of some of our hiccups," Flacco said.

Baltimore did have more success in the second half, however.

They put up 192 total yards after the halftime break and were able to hit a few big plays.

There was a 43-yard pass to Bolin on Baltimore's first drive in the third quarter. The Ravens stalled following Osemele's penalty and a couple of unsuccessful runs, leading to a 26-yard field goal.

The Ravens opened with passing gains of 11 and 16 yards on the next drive, quickly moving into Chiefs territory. But Flacco was picked off on the outside by Flowers. Flacco's throw was not far enough outside.

On the next drive, Flacco found Smith for a 26-yard gain across the middle that set up the 39-yard field goal. That scoring drive stalled after the Leach drop, an incomplete pass to Rice and a sack.

But Baltimore picked up first downs when it needed it most on its final, clock-killing drive. After taking a sack, Flacco scrambled 16 yards on third down to move the sticks. Then Rice ran three straight times, including a third-and-1 plunge that he converted on a second effort, to seal the win.

"In the second half I think we played pretty well," Flacco said. "We kind of got rolling a little bit and we kind of stopped ourselves a little bit when we got down in the red zone.

"There's just a couple plays we can make here or there and play a little better, and I think we'll be a lot more happy. But it's a win."

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