"O" enters playoffs without much mo'

Facing a four-win Bengals team with the league's 19th-ranked defense, the Ravens had a chance to roll into the playoffs with a big offensive effort and get some momentum on their side.

Yeah, about that ...

As has been the case quite a few times this season, the Ravens struggled mightily on the offensive side of the ball yesterday. They put up 199 yards of total offense, went 2-of-11 on third downs, and forced their defense to do the heavy lifting.

Quarterback Joe Flacco was pressured all day and sacked four times, never found any sort of rhythm in the passing game and posted under 130 yards through the air for the second straight week.

Don't look now, folks, but we're through 16 regular season games, and despite all the Pro Bowl performers on the offensive side of the ball (there are nine of them), Cam Cameron's group has yet to truly find its groove.

The players are well aware that with the playoffs here, that needs to change.

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"We can't allow ourselves to go into next week and play the way that we played today," wide receiver Derrick Mason said. "We've got to go in there clicking on all cylinders. We've got to make some things work, regardless of what is called.

"We can no longer point the finger. We've got to make it work as an offensive unit. There's no more excuses, because excuses are going to get you beat. The teams that make excuses are going to have to sit at home next week. Whatever play is called, we've got to make it work, so you can't blame Cam (Cameron). Whatever it is, we have to make it work."

What makes yesterday's result all the more frustrating is that other AFC powers - the Patriots, Steelers and Jets - all posted huge offensive games yesterday and rolled in their games against mediocre teams.

Pittsburgh dominated the Browns from start to finish and won by 32. New England and New York both crushed their opponents by 31.

That's how the Ravens wanted to look. Instead, they put up 13 points and punted or turned the ball over on nine of their 12 possessions.

"We need to play better," right tackle Marshal Yanda said. "I need to play better. I had three penalties today. I think I've had two all year and I had three today. That's ridiculous. We can't have that late in the year. That's not me. I'm pissed about it. I'm still mad. I'm happy we won, but I wish we didn't have to have the defense out there all the time.

"We all want to do more as an offense, that's for sure. We're all trying to help them out, because they're playing awesome. We need to step it up. That starts with me, and that starts with us."

While the members of the Ravens' offense clearly weren't thrilled with their performance yesterday, many were quick to qualify their disappointment by saying that they're looking forward to starting with a fresh slate this week.

"Sure, we would've liked to play better. We probably would feel a little better about ourselves," center Matt Birk said. "At the same time, regardless of how we played today - and we did not play well - that has no bearing on next week. So, we'll look at the film and we have a lot of things to work on and get better at. Maybe that's a good thing because we'll be pretty focused on doing all the things we need to do to get better."

There's still plenty of optimism in the Ravens locker room - wide receiver Anquan Boldin said he doesn't think his NFC Champion Cardinals team of two years ago "had half the talent that we have here" - but things will need to change for the better pretty quickly.

The Ravens might be able to get by the Bengals by scoring 13 points, but that method won't fly against many of the teams they'll face on their run to the Super Bowl.

The offense couldn't consistently find its groove throughout a 16-game regular season. Can it flip the switch on now that the playoffs have arrived?

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