As a University of Maryland student, one of the privileges is a free student
ticket to the basketball games. Last week however, I chose not to attend the
Maryland Terrapins 90-88 thrilling overtime victory over the Florida State
Seminoles because it didn't start until six and I worried I wouldn't make it
home in time for the start of the Ravens-Colts barn-burner. Smart move huh?
Ok, maybe not. The Ravens 20-10 loss might have ended any chance of making the playoffs, but the defeat certainly didn't come as a surprise, especially considering the offensive inconsistency and the recent struggles in the defensive secondary. However, the Ravens played so well in the first half, especially defensively, that I couldn't help but think they were going to win the game.
Then came the second half, and that was all she wrote.
The theme of this game was missed opportunities. The Ravens had their chances, but never could seem to take advantage. Where do I even begin?
How about the Colts opening possession, where Chad Williams and Will Demps both dropped interceptions in the end zone. Those are plays you have to make if you want to beat one of the top teams in the NFL in their own house. The Colts ended up kicking a field goal to take the lead and never trailed.
What about the numerous offensive drives into Indy territory, only to end in Dave Zastudil trotting out onto the field for yet another punt?
Or what about the sack of Kyle Boller that pushed the Ravens out of field goal range, or Clarence Moore stopping his route short, resulting in another interception that set up a Colts' field goal at the end of the first half?
Then there was the Matt Stover blocked field goal that led to a short field for the defense and a Colts' touchdown. This was basically a ten-point swing.
Maybe it was just me but was Todd Heap MIA in the first half? Or maybe offensive guru Matt Cavanaugh forgot he was even on our team. I wouldn't put it past him.
That leads me to the play calling, which was terrible as usual. This game was no exception to what Ravens' fans are used to offensively. A recent article in a Pittsburgh newspaper places Cavanaugh as one of the top candidates for the head-coaching job at the University of Pittsburgh. Have him. I'll personally help him pack his bags.
Better yet, I'll even pay for his airfare.
Explain this to me Mr. Cavanaugh. Jamal Lewis had 90 yards on just 13 carries in the first half and we scored just three points? Three? The Colts couldn't stop the run. Cavanaugh should have been running the ball on almost every play, whether it be with Jamal, Chester Taylor or even Jamel White.
But of course not, instead we throw to Travis Taylor. Not only can Taylor not hold onto the ball, an important skill for a receiver to possess, but he also falls down after every reception. How about staying on your feet and running up the field once in a while?
Kyle Boller isn't Dan Marino, but he has shown vast improvement since the first few weeks of the season and this team can win with him at quarterback. All it takes is a little help from some of his teammates.
With that said, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the defense and applaud their performance against a record-setting offense. This was without a doubt their best game of the year. No, they didn't make any big plays or force any turnovers, but they confused Manning in the first half, and played almost flawlessly with the exception of the Marvin Harrison touchdown off play action on 3rd and one.
It is difficult to continue to shut down your opponent when your offensive coordinator is incompetent and the offense has so few weapons in the passing game. Nonetheless, the Ravens defense went out and played one heck of a game, and they deserve a lot of credit for their efforts.
But back to the bad news. With the loss, the Jacksonville Jaguars jumped ahead of the Ravens to claim the sixth and final playoff spot, and their schedule doesn't help the Ravens' cause. The Jaguars finish their season home against Houston and at Oakland, two teams that are not exactly the class of the AFC. The Ravens still have to travel to Pittsburgh and find a way to win to have any chance at all of sneaking into the playoffs. It isn't over yet, but it doesn't look good. The holidays might not be so happy in Baltimore this year.
But hey, look at the bright side. At the least the Terps won.
Steve DeClue is a junior journalism major at the University of Maryland College Park. If you are a fan of the Ravens and would like to see your thoughts in writing here on RavensInsider, drop us a line.