New coordinator, but same old story
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — For one week, coach John Harbaugh’s decision to replace offensive coordinator Marc Trestman with Marty Mornhinweg led to a slightly improved run-pass ratio, more deep shots downfield, and the offense playing with a little more rhythm and decisiveness.
It didn’t, however, cure everything that ails these Ravens. Too many penalties, not enough of a pass rush, an onslaught of injuries to prominent players — those factors are arising every week. They cost the Ravens in a 27-23 loss to the New York Giants before an announced 78,487 at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, and they are threatening to ruin the team’s season.
The Ravens, who had a10-0 lead late in the second quarter and a 23-20 advantage with just more than two minutes to play after Terrance West’s second touchdown run, couldn’t stop Odell Beckham Jr. when it counted and dropped their third straight game to fall to 3-3.
More and more, they are resembling the 5-11 team from last year, not a group of players who learned valuable lessons from that debacle.
“It’s just so disappointing because you prepare so hard. Good teams don’t makethesamemistake twice,” said outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who hurt his left arm in the fourth quarter and didn’t return, adding to the team’s injury woes.
Multiple outlets have reported that Suggs tore his bicep, a serious injury, but one he played through in 2012.
After the game, Suggs brushed off his physical status and expressed his frustration with what took place on the field.
“If you’re a good team, you make different mistakes,” he said. “You don’t want your offense to take the lead and give up a 75-yard slant. It’s just very frustrating. You don’t want to lose a game like that.”
The decisive play was Beckham’s 66-yard touchdown catch on fourth down that gave the Giants a 27-23 lead with 1:24 to play. Beckham had a 75-yard touchdown reception, too, on a double move past Will Davis late in the third quarter.
The receiver finished with a career-high 222 receiving yards, 211 of them — and the two touchdowns — in the second half. A Ravens defense that lost two cornerbacks, Jimmy Smith (concussion) and Jerraud Powers (groin), to first-half injuries was powerless to stop quarterback Eli Manning, who threw for 403 yards and three scores to help the Giants improve to 3-3.
“It’s disheartening when you don’t have the full guys out there, but we built this team with depth,” safety Eric Weddle said. “The Marty Mornhinweg talks to an official before the game, Mornhinweg’s first as Ravens offensive coordinator. The Ravens lost their third straight game to drop to 3-3. backups aren’t as good as the starters, but they should be able to be in there and play the way we want them to play. It’s unfortunate for ourselves.”
Buoyed by a fourth-down roughing-thepasser penalty on linebacker Owa Odighizuwa, the Ravens got inside the Giants 30 in the final seconds, but quarterback Joe Flacco threw three straight incompletions; the last was knocked away before tight end Dennis Pitta could make a play on the ball.
“We’ve been there before, man,” Flacco said. “It’s a tough league. It’s a lot of tough games and a long road again. We’ve got to stay as confident as we can and we’ve got to move forward and just keep our head down. Our division is still up for grabs.” About the only positive news for the Ravens on Sunday was that the Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2) and Cincinnati Bengals (2-4) lost, meaning the Ravens are still in decent position in the division. But it seems silly to give that more than a casual mention when the team might have to play the New York Jets next week without six or seven starters, and considering it continually makes the same mistakes every week.
Those indiscretions included 15 penalties for 111 yards. The Ravens scored on each of their first two drives. The home team spent much of the first quarter being booed by its impatient fans. But the Ravens continually set themselves back with special teams or offensive penalties.
“That’s our season, honestly. We eliminate those and we’re, like, 6-0. We do that every single game,” said wide receiver Mike Wallace, who had four catches for 97 yards. “Honestly, we’re so close. We can be the best team in the league and we can be the worst team in the league. It’s up to us and stopping these penalties.”
Even against a Giants team that turned the ball over three times and gained just 38 rushing yards, the Ravens simply didn’t have Sunday, 1 p.m. TV: Ch. 13 Radio: 97.9 FM, 1090 AM Line: Pick the luxury of making so many mistakes. They started the game with six key players on the inactive list — wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., offensive linemen Ronnie Stanley and Marshal Yanda, linebackers C.J. Mosley and Elvis Dumervil and kick returner Devin Hester Sr.
They ended with three more — Jimmy Smith, Powers and Suggs — unable to finish the game. Smith’s collision with teammate Za’Darius Smith in the second quarter, which knocked the cornerback out of the game, might have been the biggest play all afternoon. After that, Manning went to work on Young, Will Davis and Shareece Wright, who didn’t stand a chance.
“I think we had 44 healthy guys for this game, and that makes it a challenge, but we’re certainly capable of not giving up big plays,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “It’s not going to be OK. We get the ball thrown over our heads in double moves and all that. We’re not going to give up long touchdown passes. It’s not going to be the case.”
If Smith’s injury was the biggest play, the biggest sequencecamelateinthethird quarter and early in the fourth. After Beckham’s 75-yard touchdown gave the Giants their first lead at 17-13, Flacco answered with a 70-yard connection to Wallace. Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins took downWallace by his face mask, saving a touchdown.
The Ravens had four chances to pound the ball in from inside the 3-yard line, but West was stopped on first down, Flacco was denied on second, and West failed to get in on third and fourth down.
“I wish I could get that one back, put my foot in the ground and go get it,” West said of the ill-fated fourth-down play.
As the Ravens left MetLife Stadium late Sunday, that was all they could do — look forward, beyond the mistakes that have figured prominently in three straight losses. A change in offensive coordinator wasn’t going to fix everything that has plagued this football team in recent weeks.
With no time left on the clock in the fourth quarter, Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta, second from right, is covered by five Giants defenders as the Ravens try unsuccessfully for a touchdown. It was the last of three straight incompletions thrown by quarterback Joe Flacco.