Hapless in Seattle: Ravens suffer letdown, lose to Seahawks
SEATTLE - The self-destructive, maddening side of the Baltimore Ravens showed up inexplicably for the third time this season, triggering yet another confusing letdown against one of the worst teams in the league. Despite an intense point of emphasis about not faltering after an emotional victory, the Ravens were unable to handle success and squandered a prime opportunity to separate themselves from the AFC North pack. Not even a dozen shots of strong espresso coffee could have awakened the Ravens as they experienced their third setback of the year following a big win, absorbing a puzzling loss 22-17 to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday before 66,522 at CenturyLink Field. One week removed from sweeping the archrival Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens managed to fall short to a team that entered the game mired in a three-game losing streak.
"There's the hard way and there's the easy way and there's the way we do it," outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "It's like, ‘Let's see how much we can spot them before we come back and win the game. We didn't get it done. It's just terrible. Despite everything that happened, we still had an opportunity to win this game and we didn't get it done. "It really sucks to lose this way. Our fans came all the way out here, they don't deserve this. We don't deserve to do this to ourselves. I'm just disgusted to lose like this, but we got to get over it. This one might be on the defense a little bit." As kick returner David Reed fumbled away two kickoffs and kicker Billy Cundiff missed two long field goals in the first half, quarterback Joe Flacco tossed several errant passes and receivers dropped throws, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron practically ignored Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice in a manner eerily reminiscent to how they lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier this season. The Ravens committed three turnovers. "These are the kind of games you have to have, especially against teams you're supposed to beat," fullback Vonta Leach said. "We came out flat."
The Ravens (6-3) lost for the fourth time in the John Harbaugh era to a team with a losing record despite the Seahawks (3-6) entering the game with more penalties (29) in their previous three games than points (28).
The second-most penalized team in the NFL, the Seahawks won despite committing 13 penalties for 100 yards and going 1 for 5 in the red zone as former Ravens kicker Steve Hauschka booted five field goals.
"We can't come out lackadaisical," free safety Ed Reed said. "You got to win these games to be one of those elite teams like we're claiming to be. If we're claiming to be that team, we got to come out and play week to week. It can't be elite one week and ‘Unnecessary Roughness' the next week. It's got to be every time." It was a somewhat costly defeat. Now, the Steelers (7-3), Ravens and Bengals (6-3) are all fighting for supremacy in the division with the Steelers a half-game ahead.
"We understand we're going to be the target of a lot of criticism," Harbaugh said. "We understand that it's going to be local, we understand that it's going to be national. We understand that the fans are going to be very disappointed in the game and we're very disappointed in the game. "We had an opportunity here to do something, to separate ourselves a little bit in the division. We didn't take advantage of it. That's tough. We know we're fully capable of bouncing back, we have to next week. We have to play our best football. We take full responsibility for this loss." Rice was visibly upset on the field and on the sideline, touching the football 13 times for the same workload from the 12-7 loss to the Jacksonville. He rushed for only 27 yards on five carries, catching eight passes for 54 yards. Afterward, Rice declined an interview request from the Times and apologized for not commenting. He said he'll reserve his comments until Wednesday.
"I don't want to say the wrong thing right now," Rice said. By halftime, Rice had carried the football only four times for 19 yards with two receptions for six yards. "Ray definitely has to get involved," wide receiver Anquan Boldin said. "I guess it was a situation where we were down and it kind of took him out of the game." It was just like the Jacksonville game where Rice finished the game with only eight carries for 28 yards and five receptions for 35 yards. That lack of involvement triggered blistering criticism inside and outside of the Ravens' locker room with Suggs openly ripping the game plan.
"I'm not going to rip the coaches," center Matt Birk said. "Circumstances kind of dictate what happens to a certain extent. Most teams probably want to shut down Ray Rice. We still have to find a way when we do call his number, we got to block it up and get him to the second level and in positions where he's at his best. When you're trying to play catch-up and other teams know that, it's hard to stay balanced." Meanwhile, Seahawks powerful running back Marshawn Lynch punished a traditionally stingy defense for 109 yards and a touchdown while catching five passes for 58 yards. All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis and several other defenders had a rough time tackling or keeping up with Lynch.
"Marshawn played really well, as advertised," Harbaugh said. "He played a heck of a game." It was Lynch who pushed the pile for extra yards on the Seahawks' final drive, picking up first downs to allow them to run out the clock during the final five minutes to end the game. Lynch rushed for 46 yards on 11 carries in the fourth quarter. "He leaned forward and got the extra yards that he needed, especially at the end," defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. "We didn't do a good job of keeping him down when we needed to. He carried that offense on the last drive. He did a great job. He was the key."
The Ravens tried to climb back in the game as they chopped the Seahawks' lead down to five points after an 11-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to Dickson with 5:52 remaining in the game. Dickson finished with a career-high 10 receptions for 79 yards and two touchdowns. Flacco, though, missed too many deep throws despite launching a career-high 52 passes. He completed 29 of them for 255 yards, one touchdown and one interception for a 67.4 passer rating. "We had a long trip out here, we felt confident and to come in here and not be able to get that game of separation on everybody else in your division when you have a good shot to do that, it doesn't feel good," Flacco said. "We know that we have to improve."
The Ravens' offense never got back on the field again after Dickson's second touchdown. And they fell behind 19-7 at halftime, trailing 22-7 with 52 seconds left in the third quarter. "We were down by five, putting our defense back on the field, and expecting to get the ball back very quickly," Flacco said. "They did a good job, and when you leave the game up to that, you're kind of just hoping that you get another shot. "When you don't come out and play the way you need to from the very beginning, when you leave yourself in that kind of position, you have to be perfect. It's tough to do that on a weekly basis." Still, the Ravens lost to a Seahawks team that had scored only 20 points in the first quarter this season. In the second quarter, the Ravens displayed some signs of life.
They manufactured a 13-play, 66-yard drive with familiar weapons: the shotgun formation and the no-huddle offense.
A 19-yard pass to Dickson positioned the Ravens for a bit of sleight of hand. Flacco handed off to Rice, and the diminutive runner threw a lefty pass for a touchdown to Dickson against an unsuspecting Seahawks defense. It was just the Ravens' second touchdown in franchise history by a non-quarterback with former wide receiver Mark Clayton throwing a scoring pass to Derrick Mason against the Bengals three years ago.
That closed the gap to 10-7. After falling behind 16-7 after Reed's second fumble, the Seahawks scored again on a Hauschka field goal. The Ravens were unable to capitalize on a Cundiff field goal attempt as he missed from 52 yards at the end of the first half. "I let my teammates down," Reed said. "It was bad. I don't feel good at all." The Bengals victimized inside linebacker Jameel McClain early in the game, exploiting his lack of range in pass coverage. Lynch burst past McClain twice on catches out of the backfield for gains of 21 and 23 yards. The second short pass set himself up at the Ravens' one-yard line. On the next play, Lynch busted into the end zone up the middle for the touchdown to stake the Seahawks to a 7-0 lead. And that wasn't all the mileage the Seahawks would get out of Lynch. Benefiting from Reed's first of two lost fumbles on kickoff returns when he crashed into the back of fullback Vonta Leach, Lynch carried the football on four consecutive plays. Although he gained a total of only 15 yards, it got Hauschka in place for a 22-yard chip shot for the first of his five field goals. Seattle had built a 10-0 lead in the first quarter with seemingly little effort. The Ravens got off to a horrendous start, a beginning eerily reminiscent of previous road setbacks this year. A promising opening drive was extinguished after rare wide receiver reverses called by Cameron worked on consecutive plays as Torrey Smith and Reed gained 16 yards apiece. From there, though, the series unraveled for Baltimore. The Ravens gained only five yards on the next three plays. Then, long snapper Morgan Cox delivered a groundball fielded by holder Sam Koch. And that disrupted the timing for Cundiff on his 50-yard field goal try that was short of the crossbar. On the Seahawks' final drive, Lynch rushed for five, four, one, two, eight, seven and five yards for a total of 32 yards on seven carries and also caught a pass for eight yards. He picked up four first downs. "Our defensive coordinator [Chuck Pagano], he's coaching his ass off," Suggs said. "He's putting in the work, putting us in the right spots. We can't give teams help beating us. When you get them in third downs and third-and-longs, you've got to get off the field. We've got to reward our coach for the studies he's doing. He's putting us in the right spots. "We're just not executing. You've got to take your hat off to Seattle. They made plays when they needed to, but we consider ourselves a veteran defense, a championship defense, a very stingy defense. We gave them a lot of help beating us."
Now, the Ravens will look to regroup again as they prepare for Sunday's home game against the surprising Bengals. "It's not the end of the world," Suggs said. "I remember the Super Bowl champs [Green Bay Packers] were 10-6. We're not going to lose six games."
Ravens notebook: Kick returner Reed benched in loss
SEATTLE - Seated in front of his locker stall, David Reed spoke in a quiet, dejected voice. It was a troubling game for the Baltimore Ravens' primary kickoff returner as he was benched during a 22-17 loss Sunday for losing a pair of fumbles on kickoffs that directly led to two field goals for the Seattle Seahawks.
"It's a little hump I've got to get over," Reed said. "It's very frustrating, just got to bounce back. I let my teammates down. It was bad. I don't feel good at all." As a rookie last season, Reed led the NFL in kickoff return average and set a franchise record with a 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. However, Reed has now fumbled three times in the past two games with two lost. "I've got to just put two hands on the ball when I'm in traffic like that," Reed said. "Just squeeze the ball tight and keep my hands on the ball. I've just got to get through this. It's a little hump I've got to get over, and I will." In the first quarter, Reed fumbled it back to the Seahawks when he ran into the back of fullback Vonta Leach.
That set up a 22-yard field goal for former Ravens kicker Steve Hauschka, who hit five against his old team. The Ravens had seen enough after Reed fumbled again in the second quarter on a hit by rookie linebacker Malcolm Smith as Chris Carr and Torrey Smith handled the rest of the workload on kickoffs.
Reed stood by himself on the sidelines until director of player development Harry Swayne gave him a pat on the shoulder.
"I think anybody's confidence would be shook," coach John Harbaugh said. "You can't turn the ball over. Hey, this is the NFL. When you run up in there, you have to protect the football. He knows that. He will stop that. "David Reed is a tough guy. He's a competitive guy. I have a lot of confidence in David, I have a lot of respect for David and he's one of our guys." Afterward, Reed's teammates offered him encouragement.
"He's a young guy, he's going to grow from this," Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "Everybody realizes you can't put the ball on the ground. You can't have turnovers, but we're not worried about it. We know David didn't want to fumble the ball. Without struggle, there is no progress." There was no finger-pointing.
"It's the business," middle linebacker Ray Lewis said. "You want to say, ‘Oh, you're the reason,' but no one man is ever the reason. What he has to understand is that he has to ask himself, ‘How do I get better?' I'll probably speak to him so he is not so hard on himself."
Reed also committed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a return after another Hauschka field goal. Smith had one return for 24 yards, and Carr had a 20-yard return.
"He's our guy," Smith said. "Hopefully, nobody will lose faith in David. He's our guy and we need him. We know what he can do. It was a tough one, but we know what he's capable of doing." What can the Ravens do going forward? "I think that fumbles are easily correctable," Harbaugh said. "I also think that we can block better, too. We can hit the holes a little better. We missed some holes in there. We didn't run to the right spot all the time. Those things are correctable, no question."
BIG GAME: Tight end Ed Dickson was the obvious bright spot in an otherwise rough game for the Ravens' offense.
He caught a career-high 10 passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns. However, the disappointment of the loss dampened the moment for the former third-round draft pick from Oregon.
"I would trade that for a victory any day, I'll trade all my stats right now," Dickson said. "I knew a breakout game would come because of the way I work in practice and the way our team works in practice. I'm not at all worried about this team because we're going to get it straight." One of his scores came on a throw from running back Ray Rice on a one-yard halfback pass in the first half.
"We had it in since Week 1, we've worked it a little bit," Dickson said. "It was a prime time to call the play, and Ray Rice threw a good ball and I was wide open. It was a well-executed play." Dickson's other score came on an 11-yard pass from quarterback Joe Flacco in the fourth quarter to close the Seahawks' lead to five points. "The game plan was pretty good, I just exploited whatever they gave us," Dickson said. "A lot of credit goes to Joe for finding me, and the line for giving a lot of protection. It was nothing different, just making plays." For the season, Dickson now has 40 receptions for 356 yards and three touchdowns.
As the primary replacement for former Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap, Dickson now ranks third on the team in catches behind Ray Rice (46 catches, 470 yards) and wide receiver Anquan Boldin (43 catches, 649 yards).
The timing between Flacco and Dickson appears to be improving, but it's a work in progress. "I don't have the chemistry that he had with Heap, but I'm building on it each week," Dickson said. "I'm instilling confidence in him and in himself."
BOTCHED KICKS: Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff missed two field goals against Seattle from beyond 50 yards, including a botched 52-yarder at the end of the first half that sailed wide right. Only one can definitely be called his fault. That was a missed 50-yarder where he kicked it short after long snapper Morgan Cox sent his snap skidding to holder Sam Koch.
CHALLENGE LOST Harbaugh entered the game successful on 7 of 8 replay challenges. However, he lost one at the end of the game Sunday.
Harbaugh challenged whether a first-down ruling after an eight-yard Marshawn Lynch run. The Ravens thought that Lynch coughed up the football prior to going down to the ground, but the ruling on the field was determined to be correct.
"I think at that point in time the guys felt very strongly that the ball was out before he was down," Harbaugh said. "We didn't have a look at it upstairs. We would have liked to have had it back.
"As it turned out, they got the first down anyway. It wouldn't have helped us anyway, so maybe that was our last, best chance to get the ball back. That was probably a low-percentage possibility. We understood that."
EVANS SIDELINED AGAIN: Not surprisingly, the Ravens scratched veteran wide receiver Lee Evans for the seventh game in a row. Evans has been sidelined since the second game of the year with a lingering left ankle injury. He returned to practice last week and was limited for three consecutive days with no apparent setbacks.
Harbaugh had indicated Friday that Evans was unlikely to play. The Ravens want Evans to strengthen his ankle before they put him back on the field. Evans has caught two passes for 45 yards since being acquired via a trade from the Buffalo Bills.
INJURY UPDATE: The Ravens reported no new injuries. Strong safety Bernard Pollard had his knee wrapped in ice after the game, but downplayed the severity of the ailment. "It's nothing," he said.
BACK IN PLACE: After being sidelined for one practice during the week, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (knee) and free safety Ed Reed (shoulder) both started.
Meanwhile, reserve linebacker and Pro Bowl special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo was cleared for contact and played after suffering a mild concussion a week ago against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
LINEUP LOOP: Besides Evans, the Ravens also deactivated rookie wide receiver Tandon Doss, rookie running back Anthony Allen (hamstring), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring, groin), center Bryan Mattison, cornerback Chykie Brown (knee) and linebacker Sergio Kindle. A second-round draft pick from the University of Texas who missed his entire rookie season with a fractured skull, Kindle is a fixture on the inactive list each week.
DECENT WEATHER: Even though the forecast called for heavy precipitation and cold temperatures, it was a dry field and 50 degrees.
QUICK HITS: The Ravens' game captains were former Seahawks defensive end Cory Redding, offensive tackle Michael Oher and reserve linebacker Edgar Jones. ... The Seahawks scratched former University of Maryland quarterback Josh Portis, wide receiver Deon Butler, safety Jeron Johnson, cornerback Ron Parker, linebacker David Vobora (concussion), tight end Cameron Morrah (toe, knee) and offensive tackle Jarriel King. ... The Ravens only sacked Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson once, and he escaped pressure to make several big plays. That included a 50-yard throw to Doug Baldwin. "I thought Tarvaris Jackson did a heck of a job in those two situations, making those two plays," Harbaugh said. ... Tight end Dennis Pitta caught four passes for 49 yards as he and Dickson combined for 14 receptions for 128 yards.
Baltimore Ravens' Report Card
Joe Flacco tossed a career-high 52 passes, but misfired on multiple deep throws. He failed to connect with rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith twice on potential touchdown passes. He should have been intercepted more than once, possibly as many as three times if not for drops by the Seahawks. He passed for 255 yards and one touchdown for a mediocre 67.4 passer rating.
RUNNING BACK: C
Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron affected this evaluation a lot by abandoning the run nearly immediately. Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice was extremely upset after carrying the football only five times for 27 yards and catching it eight times for 54 yards. All-Pro fullback Vonta Leach delivered some good blocks, but isn't utilized enough. Ricky Williams' cameo appearance was relatively inconsequential: three carries, eight yards, three catches 24 yards.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B
Joe Flacco was only sacked once as offensive tackles Michael Oher and Bryant McKinnie did a good job of stonewalling speed rushing defensive end Chris Clemons. It's hard to judge how they run blocked since Baltimore only ran the football 12 times for 75 yards.
Tight end Ed Dickson caught a career-high 10 passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns. However, there's precious little timing between Joe Flacco and rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith on deep throws. Smith was targeted eight times and caught just three passes for 28 yards. Former Pro Bowl wide receiver Anquan Boldin caught only two passes for 22 yards despite being targeted nine times.
DEFENSIVE LINE: C-plus
All-Pro defensive tackle Haloti Ngata led the entire defense with 11 tackles, but many of them were downfield after yardage was gained. He had no tackles for losses and just one quarterback hit. Cory Redding and Terrence Cody were far too quiet and didn't build a wall for the linebackers.
All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis definitely looked his age for the first time in a long time as Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch pounded out 109 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries. His longest run was only eight yards, but his punishing style took a toll on the Ravens' linebackers. Jameel McClain and Jarret Johnson couldn't keep up with Lynch in the open field. McClain improved as the game went on, finishing with nine tackles.
They had to cover far too long, and that contributed heavily to Tarvaris Jackson completing 17 of 27 passes for 217 yards. He threw no touchdowns, but made a few big plays with his feet with his elusive approach to the game. That set up his 50-yard throw to wide receiver Doug Baldwin. Cornerback Lardarius Webb had the top game for the Ravens' defensive backs, deflecting two passes.
SPECIAL TEAMS: F
Kick returner David Reed lost two fumbles that set up a pair of field goals and was benched. Usually reliable long snapper Morgan Cox bounced a snap that led to Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff''s missed 50-yard field goal attempt. Cundiff also flubbed a 52-yard field goal try at the end of the first half on his own, missing wide right. Punter Sam Koch was the main bright spot, averaging 47 yards per boot with a long of 57 yards. It was a rough game for special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg's unit.
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