Prior to today's game, I was of the belief that the only way the Titans would topple the Ravens would be if electrifying running back Chris Johnson had one of his typical ... well ... electrifying days.
That didn't happen.
The Ravens shut Johnson down, holding him to just 53 yards on 24 carries (2.2 yards per rush), and the lightening-quick back's longest run of the day was only seven yards.
Despite the quality work done to hold Johnson in check, the Ravens still leave Tennessee with a 26-13 loss.
So, what went wrong? Where can we point the finger?
There are multiple fingers to be pointed, and we'll have plenty of time to analyze all the subpar areas of performance over the next couple days. But I'll volunteer one finger to start with (the index one; don't go thinking anything crazy), and I'll direct it at the Ravens' pass rush.
I wrote this week that new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano seemed to have restored the aggressiveness and the swagger to the Baltimore defense following the four-sack, seven-takeaway, guys-flying-around-like-their-hair-was-on-fire performance against the Steelers last week.
Today, that swagger was quickly zapped and the aggressiveness didn't pay off.
Pagano continued to send blitzes at the quarterback, just as he did last week, but the pressure never got there. Matt Hasselbeck wasn't sacked once all game, and the game book credits the Ravens with just two quarterback hits.
I feel like Baltimore got two quarterback hits every single play last week.
The result of the decreased pass rush was a clean throwing lane for the veteran Hasselbeck, allowing him to pick apart a beaten up and apparently overmatched Baltimore secondary to the tune of 358 yards and a touchdown.
Hasselbeck did throw one interception, but guess what caused it? The Ravens getting a decent push on the pocket and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata sticking his hand in the throwing lane, deflecting the ball up in the air and allowing Terrell Suggs to make the pick.
It's unreasonable to expect the Baltimore defense to snare seven takeaways, as they did last week. That was a freakishly impressive performance, and won't be repeated again anytime soon.
But it is reasonable to expect the Ravens, of all teams, to get at least an average rush on the opposing quarterback and take some pressure off their defensive backs. With Jimmy Smith and Chris Carr out, there will be a lot of weight on the shoulders of Cary Williams, Lardarius Webb and Domonique Foxworth, who is still working back from a torn ACL and doesn't yet look like his old self.
The big guys up front need to get to the QB, or we might see a few more crooked numbers being put up on the Ravens this year.