By Ben Butanis
I just couldn't bring myself to blog about this game until Wednesday.
Steve Hauschka effectively eliminated the Ravens' comeback hopes with a missed 44-yard field goal at the end of regulation as the Ravens fell to the Vikings, 33-31, on Sunday in Minnesota.
Against the Patriots, the Ravens lost because of their offense (Mark Clayton's drop). Against the Bengals, the defense gave up the game-winning score with less than a minute left. And against the Vikings, it ultimately came down to Hauschka's leg -- and the special teams unit failed.
The loss drops the Ravens to 3-3 heading into their bye week.
Joe Flacco: Flacco had another career day, completing 28-of-43 passes for 385 yards and two touchdowns. Flacco completed several tough passes across the middle and withstood pressure all day to make great plays. He threw for 196 yards in the fourth quarter alone.
Ray Rice: This game was Ray Rice's best game as a pro. He only carried the ball 10 times, but gained 77 yards on the ground and scored twice (see 1:42 and 4:11). He also led the team in receptions and yards (10 catches, 117 yards) for the second straight week.
Ravens' Defense: After not allowing a 100-yard rusher in 39 straight games...they have two runners in consecutive weeks reach the century mark. The secondary is playing terrible football. Fabian Washington was benched in favor of Frank Walker in the second half. For the second straight week, the defense was unable to stop their opponent when they needed it.
T Michael Oher: Granted, Oher had to go up against one of the premier defensive linemen in the league in Jared Allen, but Oher garnered two false-start penalties in the first half. Allen finished with 7 tackles: a sack, four tackles for losses and two quarterback hurries. Oher will be a terrific tackle in the NFL, but he had a rough game on Sunday. Incidentally, Allan and Oher shared some words after the game.
Greg Mattison: Mattison isn't to blame for the defense's inability to stop the Vikings. But Mattison is responsible for the "vanilla" defense we're seeing on the field. In order to mask the weaknesses in the secondary, Mattison needs to dial up more exotic blitz packages.
CB Frank Walker: Walker was playing because John Harbaugh benched Fabian Washington. Walker was called for pass interference (39 and 58 yards) in the fourth quarter alone. But good news Ravens fans: he's moving past the calls...I don't usually like to question John Harbaugh's decisions, but Walker was torched in preseason by third and fourth-string receivers -- why is he even on the roster? Walker should've been cut...but who should have his roster spot?
K Steve Hauschka: Missing the game-winning 44-yard field goal is horrific. Missing it in a dome -- no wind or weather -- is inexcusable. The snap from Matt Katula wasn't great, but Sam Koch was able to get the ball down. If Hauschka hopes to have a career in the NFL, he has to make this kick -- it doesn't get much easier. No wonder Joe Flacco didn't watch. (WNST.net) Of course, John Harbaugh is sticking by his kicker...but for how long?
Notes: The NFL trade deadline has passed with no big news...The Baltimore Sun's Jamison Hensley wonders if the Ravens defense is beyond repair...the AP's David Ginsburg says the Ravens' biggest problem is giving up the big play...SportingNews' Dennis Dillon says Ray Rice is an up-and-comer in the NFL...CB Samari Rolle probably won't play for the Ravens this season...CBSSports.com writer Peter Prisco has the Ravens at 15 in his power rankings.
The Ravens are off next week. Check back the following week for the keys to the game against the undefeated Denver Broncos.
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