Cam Cameron

OWINGS MILLS -- Cam Cameron stuck out his chin and he didn't duck. Lambasted publicly for the Baltimore Ravens' offensive failures during a 13-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the offensive coordinator pointed the finger in one direction Friday. At himself.

Criticized privately by players for the direction of an underachieving offense that much was expected of given the presence of several Pro Bowl skill players, Cameron is aware of the growing discontent about the offense he supervises.

"I'm not naive," an emotional Cameron said. "I knew exactly what happened and I knew why it happened. No one wants to hear any excuses about why it happened. I know where the accountability lies on what happened. I've been in it too long, it's my responsibility to get it fixed. And that's the good news.

"That's the important thing. You're in this business long enough you're going to get hit in the teeth every now and then. You look it dead in the eye and you get it fixed. I think the important to know is that it wasn't a fatal blow for this team, and I'm not going to let it be a fatal blow for this offense. It ain't going to happen, not as long as I'm here."

The Ravens ultimately lost the game on a Ben Roethlisberger touchdown pass that was set up by a sack and forced fumble of quarterback Joe Flacco by strong safety Troy Polamalu. Polamalu was left unblocked and blindsided Flacco as offensive tackle Michael Oher slid inside to account for outside linebacker James Harrison. Cameron said the botched protection was definitely his fault on the crucial 2nd-and-5 play.

"You're looking at the guy responsible," Cameron said. "There was a flaw in that protection. We don't have a protection where 43 [Polamalu] comes unblocked. We don't have a run play where 43 comes unblocked in that game. There are some cases where guys can be unblocked. Not him. There was a flaw there that I did not catch for some reason. In 25 plus years, I've never seen that happen. "It showed up at the worst time it possible could have. It's my job to catch that flaw and that flaw has been corrected. Now, they aren't going to get us from the quarterback's backside. The next time you see a guy unblocked in that protection, it will be where the quarterback is expected it to be unblocked." At the time of the turnover in 2nd-and-5, the Ravens were leading 10-6 in the fourth quarter with 3:22 remaining.

Cameron was asked why run it all with a lead and possessing the football at the Ravens' 43-yard line.

"I think football is way beyond running and throwing," Cameron said. "Let's say it like it is: It's executing the run and executing the pass. This is 2010. That's just the way it is. You call a run, you execute it. You call a pass, you execute it. It sounds like they were expecting run there. Next thing you know, hey, all of a sudden, you execute it, and the game is over potentially.

"So, it's about execution. That's the thing we have to remember. Because we all know what happens if that's a five-yard loss on a run. So, I don't worry about that. The confidence that I have, starting with Joe all the way through this offense, ain't changing. You can look at it however you want to look at it. We come off that field, we're going to give our players a chance to have won the game for us. And I trust these guys. Didn't work out the other night, but it's going to work out a lot more than it isn't." Despite having former Pro Bowl selections in wide receivers Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason and T.J. Houshmandzadeh and running backs Ray Rice, Le'Ron McClain and Willis McGahee and tight end Todd Heap, the Ravens are ranked 14th in total offense. They're averaging 341.7 yards per game, ranking 16th in rushing (108.4) and 15th in passing (233.3).

Does it fall on Cameron's shoulders?

"It doesn't matter," Houshmandzadeh said. "He's the offensive coordinator. At the end of the day, he can call the worst play in the world. If we execute it, it's a great play. He can call a great play and if we don't execute it, it's a bad play. So, when you're an offensive coordinator, you're in a lose-lose situation unless you have tremendous success.

"With expectations, people want results. I get frustrated. I'm sure everybody does, but I'm not a fool, either. I think I understand football very, very well. I know there's going to be good plays and plays, bad calls and good calls. If we execute they're all great calls. We play well Monday, all this is forgotten. If we don't, I'm sure the fire will get a little hotter for everybody." Ravens coach John Harbaugh was extremely direct Monday, saying the offense must improve in the areas of yards per carry, red zone and converting third downs.

He has also suggested the playbook and game plans could be simplified. "This time of year, you can't afford to be carrying anything you don't need in your offense," Cameron said. "You have an extensive package, an extensive system that you feel good about, that you've run for years, but the players have to learn it, and you need to trim it down toward the end of the year. We'd be doing that anyway. We all know the other side of that. Now, you become predictable. And I'm OK with that, too. "The old conservative, predictable, I don't worry about that because I understand, and I think our players and our coaches definitely understand, the simplest, most predictable play executed looks unpredictable and imaginative. It comes down to execution. We all understand that. We're just the men for the job, and we're going to do everything we can to get it solved and get this thing offensively where it needs to be. I understand the expectations, but I can remind you on this about those expectations: Nobody's expectations are higher than ours as coaches and players. We understand the expectations, but our expectations are even higher."

Cameron has taken a lot of heat this week. The offense scored only three points in the final three quarters against Pittsburgh. They generated only 96 yards after halftime. "Absolutely not," Cameron said when asked if the criticism is unfair. "There's nothing that's been said that I wouldn't have already said. You just didn't get to me first. I mean that sincerely. I would have said all that before anyone else could have said it. That's the bottom line." The Ravens rank 17th in scoring, averaging 21.7 points per game.

Over the past eight quarters, the Ravens have scored only 27 points. During the previous four games, the Ravens averaged 31.5 points per contest.

"For whatever reason right now, it's not where we want it to be," Cameron said. "There's glimpses of it, which leads to we're too inconsistent. You can't flash and be inconsistent and think you're going to score points. To me, that's the only stat that ultimately matters. You got to find ways to score points and at the same time not turn it over.

"There's nobody pointing fingers at anybody. We're all a part of it, the guy calling the plays to the guy who runs the ball to the people who block for him, plain and simple. The good news is it was a heckuva blow the other night, but it wasn't a fatal blow That's what's important."

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