Twelve Ravens thoughts following Week 13 loss at Pittsburgh

0
1269

With the Ravens falling to 8-4 with a 20-19 loss at Pittsburgh on Sunday, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Having won six straight one-score games since the season-opening loss at Las Vegas, Baltimore was due for a market correction, which is what we saw at Heinz Field. Winning ugly won’t endure without losing your share of coin-flip outcomes over time. The game felt familiar despite the negative outcome.

2. Citing being “pretty much out of corners” as his reason for going for the 2-point conversion, John Harbaugh probably noticed his defense allowing 17 points and 7.4 yards per play in the fourth quarter. I was fine with going for the victory instead of playing for overtime. It didn’t work.

3. You wonder if the loss of Marlon Humphrey is the breaking point between “next man up” being an effective rallying cry and just another t-shirt slogan. Baltimore remains in good playoff position and certainly won’t give in, but you hardly recognize this secondary from what it was in August.

4. There are multiple problems on offense, but the quarterback isn’t a big enough part of the solution right now. Lamar Jackson has been erratic since his brilliant Indianapolis performance and plain bad since the Minnesota game. The Ravens aren’t doing anything meaningful without him playing better. The interception was unthinkable.

5. We know this offensive line has been a major problem all season and again could be without Patrick Mekari “a few weeks,” but Jackson held the ball too long in the pocket on a few of those seven sacks allowed. The ball must come out quicker and in rhythm.

6. After the defense allowed three points with an 18-plus-minute advantage in time of possession through three quarters, Harbaugh was asked what happened in the final period. “They hit zero coverage a couple times. You go to the well too many times, and they get you.” Some shade toward Wink Martindale?

7. Ben Roethlisberger showed his age for stretches of Sunday’s game, but he is still capable of leading an offense taking advantage of missed tackles and miscommunication in the secondary as the night progressed. The Ravens were also fortunate Diontae Johnson dropped a sure touchdown late in the first half.

8. The silver lining of a struggling offense these last few games has been an ability to sustain drives and drain clock despite the lack of touchdowns. Leading 13-12 with 7:18 remaining, Baltimore’s four-minute offense had a chance to smother Pittsburgh’s hopes. Instead, the Ravens went three-and-out in 47 seconds.

9. While Harbaugh said offenses run into trouble chasing targets for specific receivers, Rashod Bateman showed too much promise over his first four games to become an afterthought, especially when this passing game isn’t exactly clicking. He saw only 33 snaps and one target against the Steelers.

10. The 99-yard touchdown drive was a 16-play grind lasting over 10 minutes, but it epitomized how difficult everything feels offensively. The Ravens have failed to score 20 points in five of their last six games. Counting postseason, they failed to crack 20 just four times over the previous two seasons.

11. With the Steelers having surrendered 41 points in each of their previous two losses, the number of empty seats at kickoff was noticeable. Had the Ravens finished that opening drive with a touchdown, the home fans likely sour quickly and the Steelers quite possibly wilt. Instead, the interception energized them.

12. T.J. Watt dominating wasn’t exactly shocking against this offensive line — especially when Tyre Phillips replaced the injured Mekari — but who would have predicted we’d also witness the Chris Wormley Revenge Game on Sunday? His 2 1/2 sacks matched his total in three seasons with the Ravens.