Two Sundays ago, in a Ravens' loss to Pittsburgh, Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu came on a blitz around left tackle Michael Oher, was completely unblocked, and sacked quarterback Joe Flacco.
Polamalu's hit knocked the ball from Flacco's hand, the Steelers recovered and went on to win the game.
Days after the loss, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said that he had never seen a protection breakdown like that in 25 years of coaching, and vowed to get it fixed.
Monday night, we saw nearly the exact same situation unfold in the Ravens' win over the Texans.
Late in the second quarter, Houston strong safety Bernard Pollard came down towards the line of scrimmage and blitzed around left tackle. He came in completely untouched, sacked Flacco and knocked the ball loose.
This time, the Ravens recovered the fumble, and this time they got the win. But the sack was still concerning, given that it was nearly an exact replica of the one that had ruined the Ravens' chances of a win over the Steelers just a week prior.
Yesterday, Cameron explained the situation surrounding the sack, and said that while the Polamalu one was his own fault, the Pollard sack was more a result of a decision that Flacco had made.
"Two different protections, all right?" Cameron said. "The great thing is here's exactly - I think you guys will appreciate this - Joe comes off the field two plays later, because he threw a touchdown the next play. So he comes off after throwing the touchdown and I said, 'Joe?' He said, 'I know, I knew he was unblocked, but I thought I could beat (him).' He's got an opportunity; he knows he's unblocked, and he's got a couple options.
"He thought he was going to be able to beat the blitz with the ball - which we all do, to some degree - and he said where he was going with the ball got hung up and he held it just a count (too long) and got hit. And you've got to appreciate that. He knew exactly what the potential was that happened."
Cameron says that this safety blitz was different than the Polamalu one in that this time, Flacco knew that he would be getting the defender coming in unblocked, and he just chose to stay with the play that had been called.
"By scheme, he saw the strong safety right there," Cameron said. "He just thought he was going to be able to put his right foot in the ground and get the ball out, because he had single coverage on Derrick (Mason) and he was just going to plant his back foot and throw it."
The safety blitz has been something that has plagued the Ravens recently, but they've had trouble keeping Flacco off the turf regardless of which defenders - or how many of them - are rushing the quarterback.
The Ravens have allowed 13 sacks in their last three games, and while they've tried reshuffling the offensive line, using more unbalanced looks and going back to more of a max-protect scheme at times, they have yet to yield positive results in the pass protection department.
"Yeah, we've got to continue to get that solved, bottom line," Cameron said. "And sometimes, it was a single block, sometimes it was a combination block. At the end of the game, it was a combination block.
"There was nothing they did earth-shattering, scheme-wise, but there are some things we need to clean up - clean up technique-wise. As you can see, Joe was getting the ball out. It wasn't a case of holding the ball. It's just a matter of sustaining blocks longer and getting the ball to come out."