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Welcome Ravens flock to The Crow's Nest, your virtual Baltimore Ravens sports bar.
I realized early in tonight's game it wasn't going to be one of the greatest nights at the Nest. The Ravens traveled down to Miami on Thursday and decided to forget how to play football. It was an abysmal showing for Lamar Jackson and company as the Dolphins pinned their ears back (do Dolphins have ears?) and blitzed on nearly every down as the Baltimore offensive line decided that blocking was an option. The offensive coordinator Greg Roman had an egregiously bad gameplan that had bizarro 3rd down calls (three consecutive wide receiver screens that gained next to nothing in the first half) and absolutely made no adjustments to it when it was obvious it wasn't working. The secondary should be nicknamed "busted coverage" for the number of times they were out of position and allowed big gains in key spots. It was as poorly as coached game, as poorly a played game we've seen from the Ravens in the Lamar Jackson era in tonight's 22-10 loss.
The Ravens were pushed around on both sides of the ball by a 2-7 Miami team. So many of the cracks in this team's foundation were exposed. The offensive line that had performed admirably in the past 3 games was a sieve against a relentless Dolphins blitz. DeVonta Freeman looked great at running back against the Vikings last week but was a non-factor tonight with a paltry 35 yards on 10 carries. The defense inexplicably let Tua Tagovailoa come off the bench after Jacoby Brissett hurt his knee and lead the Dolphins to a game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter. Tua had a fractured finger on his throwing hand! How does this happen?
Yeah, no kidding Harbs.
This team was flat as soon as they got on the plane to Miami. The Ravens have been living dangerously all season long and could not pull off some late-game magic that has given them three wins that should have been losses. The offense refused to adapt to Miami's all-out blitz scheme that started from the beginning of the 2nd quarter on. How much did the Dolphins blitz their safeties? Well, take it away NextGen Stats..
Now I don't make NFL coordinator money but maybe run some slants in the middle when you notice the safeties are blitzing on every down. Maybe put guys in the backfield to pick up the blitz? Something other than watching Jackson run for his life on every down? Something? Were the headsets working from the coordinator's booth down to the field? Inexcuseable.
Everything about tonight was abysmal. The field conditions were terrible. Apparently, the humidity in Miami was at "Amazon Rain Forest" level and guys were cramping. The Ravens offense were actually looking competent for a hot second and were driving the ball down the field when this catch was overturned on replay:
Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, and everyone else in the country besides FOX officials "expert" Mike Pereira (who theorized that the lip of the football may have touched the ground) saw a catch. Instead, the referees went with Pereira's theory and ruled it incomplete to give the Ravens another 3rd and long. Again, it was ruled a catch on the field and there wasn't a single replay that showed the ball hitting the ground. Just a theory.
There are so many players you could point fingers at with costing the Ravens opportunities but Sammy Watkins missing a touchdown catch in the first quarter and then fumbling the ball and the Dolphins scooping it up and running it in for the game's first touchdown was probably the worst individual performance. There were several plays such as linebacker Patrick Queen not diving on a Tagovailoa fumble after a sack and Miami recovered the football back. Usually, Justin Tucker is automatic from 48 yards but he missed a field goal in the first quarter. That probably was the omen that tonight wasn't going to go well for Baltimore.
Games like this happen to good teams. You could take your pick of double-digit favorites Buffalo or Dallas losing to Jacksonville and Denver respectively last Sunday. There's no reason to overreact and think Baltimore can't adjust and get healthy with 10 days between now and when they travel to Chicago next Sunday. What I hope is that there's no hangover from this game. This was a prime opportunity to chalk up a win in the AFC over an easy opponent. With almost all of AFC North division play wedged into late November and December, the Ravens playoff fortunes could turn fairly quickly. How they respond after this will tell us all we need to know moving forward. No one is running away with the AFC but no one is budging quite yet. There probably will be several tie-breaker scenarios at the end of this season and this game might be the make or break of the Ravens making the playoffs.
Well, last call here. Tomorrow's a workday so we have to close a little early. 10 days is a long time to wait until the next game but as much as I hated the game plan and the effort tonight, the coaching staff is a veteran one and they have 10 days to figure out how to get back to winning football. I believe they will and tonight was just one of those games we've seen from time to time in the history of this franchise. It won't mean much if the Ravens win the AFC North but tonight left little room for error moving forward.
See you all back here in a few Sundays. Enjoy the weekend. Browns and Patriots this Sunday, who am I supposed to root for in that one?