Ravens' shortcomings obvious in loss to Bears

CHICAGO -- The Baltimore Ravens' enduring shortcomings portray a scoring-challenged, mistake-prone football team that's perpetually unlikely to win. The Ravens' multiple issues are even more glaringly evident following a major setback Sunday against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field that left them shocked and frustrated at their predicament.

Within a 10-6 defeat that represents their sixth road loss in a row, the Ravens faltered badly in the running game, committed crucial penalties and didn't intimidate a rookie quarterback.

Billed as Super Bowl hopefuls all summer, the Ravens (2-4) aren't contenders. Instead, they're tied for last place in the AFC North after losing a struggle between two of the top defenses and worst offenses in the NFL.

"It's real frustrating when you're used to winning and being in winning programs," said running back Jamal Lewis, stymied for 34 yards on 15 carries by Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher and Co. "You can't quit because there is still a lot of season left. We just have to find a way to get rolling."

The reasons behind the loss were as obvious as the damp chill emanating from nearby Lake Michigan.

Whenever the Ravens had a chance to create a positive, they cancelled it out with a negative. They were flagged for 11 penalties for 100 yards.

"We have to figure out how to stop getting penalties and killing ourselves like we have in the last four losses," said quarterback Anthony Wright, sacked three times during the final two drives of an aborted comeback attempt. "Until we stop doing that, it will continue to be tough for us."

With Lewis shut down, the Ravens barely countered with backup Chester Taylor even though he gained 21 yards on his two carries.

"The most disappointing thing was our inability to sustain running the ball," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

Four drives after Lewis was slammed for a loss by Urlacher on the Ravens' first offensive play, the penalties began to crop up.

Shortly after linebacker Adalius Thomas' roughing-the-passer penalty, nickel back Dale Carter was flagged on 3rd-and-8 for holding during an incompletion. The first down gave the Bears life, and rookie quarterback Kyle Orton took advantage.

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs was fooled badly on a play-action fake by Orton, who flipped the football out to fullback Marc Edwards for a 9-yard touchdown pass. Orton and the Bears never turned the ball over.

"I was pretty sure they were going to give it to Thomas Jones again to punch it in, but they didn't do that," Suggs said. "He got outside of me and got the touchdown. Before any team achieves greatness, they got to go through a time of humility. I think right now is our time."

After closing the gap to 7-6 at halftime with a pair of Matt Stover field goals, the Ravens spent the second half struggling to tackle Jones.

With middle linebacker Ray Lewis hobbled by a thigh injury that forced him out of the game in the fourth quarter, Jones had his way with the Ravens. He gained 83 of his 139 yards -- the most any running back has gained against the NFL's second-ranked defense -- in the final period.

"We just fought," Jones said.

The penalty issue was never conquered by the Ravens, who might be under increased scrutiny after their meltdown in Detroit.

Suggs' roughing-the-passer infraction for shoving Orton down after an incompletion on 3rd-and-8 led to former Ravens practice squad kicker Robbie Gould's 23-yard field goal.

"I came through free, momentum was going and [referee Ed Hochuli] said I can't push him so I guess I can't push him," said Suggs, ejected against Detroit for arguing with and bumping into an official. "It was a very unfortunate call, very unfortunate for my team. They're not going to change their call. I learned that the hard way."

The Ravens generated only 199 yards of total offense and 12 first downs.

"To score six points in this league and even college football, isn't going to get you anything," receiver Derrick Mason said. "We've got to find a way to score."

Jones dashed 42 yards in the final minutes and gained another first down on 4th-and-1 to allow Chicago to run out the clock.

"It's all frustrating," Suggs said. "The offense needs the ball and we don't stop them."

Now, the Ravens' dim prospects include an arduous stretch at Pittsburgh (4-2), home against Cincinnati (5-2), at Jacksonville (4-2), home against Pittsburgh and at Cincinnati.

"I'm very shocked," Suggs said. "We don't want to get too many losses out and we ain't got no playoffs and find ourselves hoping somebody else loses so we can get in. A lot of teams aren't going to take us serious because we're 2-4."

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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