Where to begin?
The horrendous performance by the officials? The special teams miscues that pretty much cost the Ravens six points? John Harbaugh’s decision to go for an onside kick with just over two minutes to play when Baltimore essentially had three timeouts (including the two-minute warning) and needed only a field goal to win?
No, no, no. Believe me, we’ll get to that stuff later. The first topic that needs to be addressed this morning, after having some time to let last night’s effort simmer, is the truly embarrassing effort turned in by the Ravens offense.
I thought the days of this type of offensive ineptitude were behind us. I really did. A 4-1 start made me believe that even though this unit had hit some rough patches early on this season, there was no way it would ever reach the lows that we saw at times during the last few seasons.
Boy, was I wrong.
The Ravens just plain stunk in all facets on the offensive side of the ball last night, and against a mediocre opponent who previously had earned just one win on the season, they looked more like a team in the “Suck for Luck” sweepstakes than a Super Bowl contender.
You know the numbers by now. Zero first downs through the game’s first 39 minutes. 16 total yards in the first half, including one passing yard.
Joe Flacco averaged a disgustingly low 3.6 yards per pass attempt on the night, and if you subtract the yardage the Ravens managed on their one scoring drive, Baltimore had just 56 total yards the rest of the game.
All this from a group which put up 29 points and scored on five of its last six legitimate possessions against a strong Texans defense just a week ago.
I’m still just baffled at how an offense can look so strong one week and then be so lost the next, or, more specifically, how an offense can look so strong one quarter and then be so lost the next.
How does Flacco seem unstoppable one drive and so confused the next time he steps foot on the field? How does the offensive line look like a gelled, cohesive unit on one series and then struggle to keep Flacco off his back just minutes later?
I don’t have the energy to break down how the Ravens have fared offensively on a quarter-to-quarter basis, but take a look at the numbers this group has put up from one game to the next this season.
Game 1: 385 total yards, 35 points
Game 2: 229 total yards, 13 points
Game 3: 553 total yards, 37 points
Game 4: 267 total yards, 34 points
Game 5: 402 total yards, 29 points
Game 6: 146 total yards, 7 points
The only thing consistent about those totals - especially when it comes to the yardage - is the inconsistency. You want to make a deep playoff run, gang? There needs to be some kind of positive balance from one week to the next. You can’t drop 385 yards and 35 points on the Steelers or 402 yards and 29 points on Houston and then lay an egg the next week.
“If we don’t get consistency going on offense, we’re not going anywhere,” Harbaugh told reporters last night after the game. “You can’t play like we played tonight on offense and expect to accomplish anything.”
Amen to that.
The Ravens’ defense did all it could again last night, holding the Jaguars out of the end zone and allowing just 12 points, solidifying the team’s standing as the league’s best scoring defense.
But yet again, Baltimore’s offense sputtered. The Jacksonville D had a lot to do with the result last night, but I don’t want to hear anyone throw out that excuse. We got the same exact refrain after the Week 2 loss to Tennessee and after the sloppy Week 4 win over the Jets.
This group is talented enough to move the ball on anyone. We’ve seen it happen. It just needs to happen on a more frequent basis, or else a potentially special season might start slipping away.