New co­or­di­na­tor, but same old story

Baltimore Sun - - RAVENS INSIDER - By Jeff Zre­biec jeff.zre­biec@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/jef­fzre­biec­sun

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.

LLOYD FOX/BAL­TI­MORE SUN PHO­TOS

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.

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