Black Friday came a bit early this year, didn’t it? In an ending that showed a strange reversal of fortune (more on that later) the Atlanta Falcons hold serve and beat the Baltimore Ravens at home, 26-21. I know firsthand that the traffic in and around Atlanta is pretty bad, but that should be no excuse for why, by and large, the Ravens defense didn’t make it to the game last night.
Reversal of Fortune
So, when was the last time the Ravens offense handed the defense a one score lead with less than 2:00 minutes and the defense can’t hold? Technically, last night was the last time, but I mean before that, of course. Many people are already pointing out some officiating head-scratchers, but for the sake of argument, I’m taking officials decisions out of the equation. Because even without a couple of those calls, the Falcons were still moving the ball inexorably down the field.
“We Let ‘Em Off The Hook!”
-Raven’s FS Ed Reed, doing his best Dennis Green impression, in the background during the 98 Rock Locker Room show while LB Jarret Johnson was being interviewed.
The special teams unit play has really established itself as the clearly weak cog. While the offense and the defense have both had bad games, the special teams have had 9 bad games straight. This has to be frustrating to no end for Ravens HC John Harbaugh, given his background. But every game, again and again, the special teams make gaffe after gaffe. Last night they put the ball on the ground early, setting the Falcons up, and then very very late there was a really bad decision made on bringing the ball out of the end zone. I have to wonder if it’s too late to get them to even “okay” status, which is a problem. Championship caliber teams can have one of their units have bad games, but they generally don’t make decent runs when one unit is consistently bad.
Say It With Me: Hell-O-Tee Nah-Tah
That’s just for the broadcast teams out there. Drives me crazy. Joe Thiesmann last night in a 2 minute span managed to say Ravens DT Haloti Ngata’s name about 5 different ways.
I Probably Shouldn’t Have Said That…
I apologize to the screen play, as my gushing over its merits obviously jinxed it last night. I saw a grand total of one screen, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a designed screen, as the receiver didn’t have any real blockers. Looked more like a coverage check down in the backfield. Which is frustrating because screens would have helped immensely against that Falcons defense last night. As much pressure as they were throwing at Ravens QB Joe Flacco, a few screens would have helped keep them honest, and they may have been forced to cut back on the number of blitzers to take away screens.
A few quick notes.
- Has anyone ever seen Falcons HC Mike Smith and comedian Steve Martin in the same place at the same time?
- Maybe Baltimore LB Terrell Suggs should get called for a goofy penalty (last night’s really odd facemask call, where I can’t not see how it was missed that both players were grabbing each others mask) a lot earlier in every game. He played like a man possessed after that.
- There was a fairly large Raven’s fan presence in Atlanta last night. Or at least, a lot of people really liked to yell “Heeeeap” whenever Ravens TE Todd Heap got his hands on the ball.
So, pretty long week until the Ravens take on the Panthers at home. Hopefully they’ll figure out a few things before then. I mean, it’s one thing to lose against another good team in their own house, but it’s an entirely different beast when you put the pieces together late, and then can’t hold a lead with 1:05 left to play.