So, my beloved Ravens got whupped last night in Denver, amid sleet and snow and 70,000 screaming Denverians...Denverites? Denverns? Coloradoans?
In any event, a 13-3 loss in Denver is usually nothing to be ashamed about, but it really looked like the Ravens' were not prepared to play. I don't want to mimic one of my favorite writers, Gregg Easterbrook, too much, but if there was ever a game that screamed "Tuesday Morning Quarterback," it was this one.
East Coast Ski Reports Do Not Make Good Football Weather
This loss can firmly be placed on the equipment manager.
The Ravens were slipping and sliding more than B.J. Sams on 695.
The icy conditions clearly affected the Ravens more than the Broncos. One team isn't really more manly than the other - in fact, they're both pretty similar squads, though Denver's OL is clearly better and the Raven's LB are amazing - but because the Broncos had better traction than the Ravens. I counted at least 5 plays in which the Ravens were falling down while the Broncos were able to cut and pivot.
If a Running Back Can't Catch and Doesn't Run Well, Is He A Lineman?
It's been over 20 years since the San Francisco 49ers' pioneered designed passes to the running back. Being able to catch a quick 6 yard pass is something taught to every back from the pee-wees to the pros.
Jamal Lewis couldn't catch crabs in a Thai brothel.
And yet, the Ravens had him out there on three passing downs.
That he dropped two of the passes was not surprising.
"Preposterous Punt?" Try "Pathetic Punt."
One of Mr. Easterbrook's favorite subjects is the punt; specifically those times when punting is the stupid, cowards' choice.
The Ravens had two such occurances last night.
Once, the purple-and-black were near midfield, playing against an offense that had been doing nothing, and they punted. The Broncos returned the ball to midfield. Horrible punt coverage, but a bad call started it.
Second, the Ravens were in Bronco territory, and attempted to aim the punt out of bounds.
The ball travelled about 10 yards. The 5 Paragraph Bitter (insert thing to be bitter about here) Critic wrote "game over" in his mental notebook, just like Easterbrook would...and probably did.
I'm not even IN the NFL and I can punt 11. Maybe 12. In the thinner air of Denver, I might be able to punt it 20 yards.
Pathetic punt. Two bad decisions, and they cost the Ravens the game.
6'5" is Taller Than 5'10", Right?
Clarence Moore is one of the tallest receivers in the league. Champ Bailey is a fine cornerback, but he's not going to be confused with Shaquille O'Neal anytime soon. That interception in the end zone was killer. Sure, Moore made almost no attempt to come back to the slightly-underthrown ball, but McNair has to be able to follow the simple physics involved with a seven inch height advantage.
So, the Ravens are 4-1, which is nothing to sniff at. They could be 5-0, but Denver did outplay them last night...almost as much as they out-thought themselves.