I knew the Ravens would miss the injured Marshal Yanda and Brandon Williams. Yanda is the best blocking lineman in the NFL and no one stuffs the run on defense better than Williams. But I didn’t think Baltimore would miss them this much.
The Ravens were a complete mess Sept. 24 against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. And all of the hopes and aspirations I shared of Baltimore reaching the Super Bowl two weeks ago should be flushed right down the toilet.
Losing to the Jaguars, 44-7, is — hands down — the most embarrassing moment I’ve ever witnessed in Ravens history. I’ve been covering the Ravens as a sports writer for 10 years, and I’ve personally been a diehard fan since 1996. That’s more than 20 years of Ravens games and I’ve literally watched them all, so you can imagine just how bad Baltimore had to have played Sunday for me to tag that performance as the most humiliating of them all. But it really was that bad.
This was supposed to be the best Ravens defense in franchise history. That’s what all the pundits were arguing. That’s what actual Ravens players were proclaiming. I even bought into the hype, and why wouldn’t I? They created 10 turnovers in just the first two games of the season, a franchise record. Not even the 2000 Ravens defensive, which is arguably the best of any team in NFL history, pulled off that feat. But where was that dominant defense Sunday? It wasn’t in London, that’s for sure. Jacksonville scored all 44 of its points offensively. None of their points were scored by defensive touchdowns. They scored five touchdowns on the Ravens’ not-so vaunted defense, four of which were touchdown passes by Jags quarterback Blake Bortles. Baltimore forced zero turnovers. They made Bortles look like Joe Montana. It’s actually laughable when I think back on it.
As for the Ravens offense, it was completely useless. Without Yanda, the offensive line struggled to run block and pass block. Quarterback Joe Flacco had no time to find receivers in the passing game and there weren’t many running lanes for the running backs. But it was beyond just the blocking. Flacco and his weapons simply didn’t make plays. He was inaccurate, forcing throws to covered receivers and it resulted in two boneheaded interceptions that gave a red-hot Jags’ offense more opportunities to pile on points.
It’s amazing how in one week so much can change. I went from believing the Ravens would make it to at least 9-0 before taking a loss, to now believing they’ll have a 2-3 record by Week 6. The way the Ravens’ defense played today, I completely expect them to lose badly to the Pittsburg Steelers and Oakland Raiders over the next two weeks. Both teams have excellent quarterbacks who will rip a new one into the backsides of the Ravens.
The diehard Ravens fan in me wants to claim today as just an aberration. It has to be, right? There’s just no way a team that forced 10 turnovers and allowed only 10 points in two games will then turn around and gives up 44 points in a single game without that being some type of sick joke. I guess we’ll find out the truth next Sunday.