Sunday was no doubt a happy day in the Baltimore Ravens post game locker room. The Ravens locked up the AFC North Division championship and a first round playoff bye with Sunday’s 24-16 win over the rival Bengals. It was another hard fought win for Baltimore. The Ravens are 12-4 on the season but if there is one criticism of the team it would be that they struggle to put away opponents.
Wide Receiver Lee Evans dropped a sure touchdown catch that would have likely put the game out of reach for the Bengals. Evans dropping passes, or failing to fight for them, has been a recurring theme for the Ravens over the past few weeks. Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome dealt a 2012 4th round pick to Buffalo for Evans during the preseason. Evans and QB Joe Flacco seemed to develop a quick rapport with Evans hauling in long passes in successive preseason contests. Evans missed the final preseason game with a hamstring injury.
The hamstring injury lingered into the season. Evans played the first two games of the year but was largely ineffective. The wide receiver then missed seven straight games as the team attempted to get him healthy for the stretch run. Evans returned to the field in Week 11 but caught just two passes in the season’s final seven games. Flacco and Evans seemed to struggle with their timing as passes in Evans direction seemed be consistently underthrown. When Flacco did get the ball to Evans he either dropped it or allowed the defense to make a play on the ball.
Evans still has the speed to get deep but Sunday’s missed opportunity was nearly a back breaker for the Ravens as the Bengals attempted to mount a second half comeback. With Anquan Boldin expected to return for the playoffs it is likely that Evans role will continue to be marginalized. Flacco may be losing confidence in the struggling veteran, and with good reason. It will be interesting to see if Evans can redeem himself with a game changing play in the postseason.