Secondary, front seven deserve equal share of blame

It’s almost like one of those chicken-and-egg things.

Which factored more into the Ravens allowing big passing plays down the field in last night’s loss to the Chargers - poor coverage in the secondary or the complete lack of a pass rush?

You could certainly make an argument both ways.

One could point out that Philip Rivers just dominated Ravens cornerbacks Cary Williams and Jimmy Smith and that San Diego’s wide receivers simply outplayed their competition and made them look silly on a national stage.

Williams was burned on a beautiful double-move by the Chargers’ Vincent Jackson late in the first half that went for a 58-yard gain, and looked to be a step behind on seemingly every pass thrown his way. Rivers mercilessly kept attacking Williams, and at one point in the third quarter, the Ravens cornerback was benched in favor of the injured Lardarius Webb.

Malcom-Floyd-tall.jpgBut Williams wasn’t the only Ravens corner who had a rough night. Smith, making his first true start as one of Baltimore’s top two cornerbacks (he had gotten starts in the nickel package the two weeks prior), also was outperformed and allowed Rivers’ lone passing touchdown of the night when Malcom Floyd beat him deep for a 28-yard score.

Unfortunately, Smith’s rough outing came in front of about 40-50 friends and family members who had come from Smith’s hometown of Colton, Calif., to watch the game.

All-Pro safety Ed Reed also looked indecisive at times, and wasn’t there to give help over the top when his cornerbacks struggled to run with the Chargers’ wideouts.

Of course, one could also make the point that Williams, Smith and the rest of the Ravens’ defensive backs didn’t have much of a chance to hang with San Diego’s talented receivers due to one of the worst performances of the year from Baltimore’s front seven.

The Ravens - who led the league in sacks entering this week, mind you - didn’t record a single sack of Rivers last night, and only registered one quarterback hit through the full 60 minutes.

While Terrell Suggs is having a career year and is certainly on his way to another Pro Bowl, he was a non-factor last night. Suggs consistently got chipped by running backs and tight ends and rarely ever faced a true one-on-one matchup, but he failed to put any pressure on Rivers and his personal foul for a helmet slap on tight end Randy McMichael wiped out what would have been Baltimore’s lone sack on the night.

As for Cory Redding, Pernell McPhee, Paul Kruger and the guys who have been Suggs’ support team in the sack department, they were also invisible.

This was with the Ravens going up against a Chargers offensive line which lost two Pro Bowlers for the year due to injuries and has now started 11 different guys over the course of the season.

San Diego did a nice job of going max protect some of the time and keeping in extra blockers to protect Rivers and make sure he had time to look down the field. But the Ravens have had much more success against far better fronts this season, and the guys along the defensive line let their DBs down last night.

Baltimore’s defense is having an outstanding season overall. They’ve been an absolute force up front at times, and the play of Williams, Webb and others throughout the secondary has been strong.

Last night, however, the Ravens were outplayed in all aspects on the defensive side of the ball. A season-high 34 points allowed in a big prime time loss was the result.

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