In four games this season, the Buffalo Bills have had the outcomes of their games decided by a total of 13 points. Today, they circled the wagons and stunned the Baltimore Ravens 23-20 in Orchard Park, New York.
This was a game where neither team seemed to actually want it more than the other, as it seemed like a teeter-totter battle between the two teams. Buffalo dominated the stat sheet, but they hurt themselves with silly penalties and not being able to capitalize off turnovers and silly dropped passes.
There were several deciding factors as to why the Ravens fell to the Bills, but the two biggest reasons were five interceptions by quarterback Joe Flacco and nine running plays that totaled 24 yards.
Yes, you can’t entirely blame Flacco as the Ravens’ wide receivers weren’t able to gain separation against a battered and bruised Bills secondary that featured backups across the back-end of the defense. It also doesn’t help when tight ends Dallas Clark and Ed Dickson botched two passes in their hands that fell into the arms of defenders.
However, Flacco was dialed in to several receivers and stayed on them today. Going through progressions wasn’t entirely possible today, but if the first read wasn’t there, the play was over from the start. Flacco did airmail his fair share of throws today though, and the one interception on a crossing route intended for wide receiver Marlon Brown that linebacker Kiko Alonso picked off was historically bad.
As much as Flacco can take the blame for this game, his supporting cast wasn’t exactly stellar as well. In particular, the offensive line is the culprit. Yes, there were times where the line held up and Flacco held onto the ball for quite long, but silly penalties and constant pressure from the front seven of Buffalo hurried and hindered the way Flacco was able to have success through an aerial attack.
Despite the Ravens being inclined to call a one-dimensional offense and play from behind virtually the entire game, nine running plays is inexcusable and unacceptable.
Currently, Baltimore finds themselves in an identity crisis as this football team in the past has been relegated to running the football, playing good defense and solid special teams. While the personnel is different from year to year, the Ravens have virtually the same talent they had last year on the offensive side of the football with the exceptions of center Matt Birk, tight end Dennis Pitta and wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
The offensive coordinator could have returned to the running game once the Ravens pulled to within six, but he abandoned it. Yes, it wasn’t working all afternoon, but why not try it? I mean, the Bills entered the game 30th in the league against the run.
As the Ravens head back to Baltimore, head coach John Harbaugh has to be concerned with the direction his offense is going. Sure, he can take the blame for the product that was out on the field, but it may be a personnel issue with this team this season. Maybe the guys that brought them that Super Bowl XLVII title just aren’t as good as they were last season. Maybe, the Ravens need to make some changes in the lineup and to the game plan.
Time will tell, but the tests keep coming as the Ravens travel to south Florida to take on the Miami Dolphins in Week 5.