In a strange game against the Chicago Bears, the Baltimore Ravens came up short in their second overtime game in two weeks. Against the Cincinnati Bengals, they were able to escape with the victory after blowing a double-digit lead, but were not as fortunate this time around.
On the plus side, Ray Rice looked like Ray Rice again, with 131 rushing yards and a touchdown. To put his game in perspective relative to the rest of his season, Rice had 158 yards rushing yards in his eight other games combined, and his 5.2 yards per carry were more than double his season average. However, Rice’s standout performance was not quite enough to carry the Ravens to victory on a bizarre day in Chicago.
All things said and done, the game took about five and a half hours combined, as part of a series of storms that struck the midwest unleashed torrents of rain and intense winds on Soldier Field. The subsequent delay over an hour made the match feel like two separate games.
The “first game” was all Ravens, as they rode Rice to a 10-nothing lead. The second game was marred by Ravens’ mistakes which sparked Bears’ comeback. Joe Flacco had another subpar day, as he threw two more interceptions and completed just 54 percent of his passes. The offensive line, though, had its best day on the season, but was not without its share of the blame for the loss.
While the unit was finally able to generate some push in the trenches, oft-criticized center Gino Gradkowski muffed a snap in the worst possible moment. On third down form the Bears’ three-yard-line, Gradkowki’s snap didn’t get off the ground, which forced Flacco to pick the ball up off the ground and miss Torrey Smith in the back of the end zone for what would have been the game-winning pass. The Ravens had to settle for the tying field goal, and could not execute in overtime.
In spite of the loss, there is light at the end of the tunnel for Baltimore, as the lackluster AFC continues to give the Ravens hope. The second wild-card spot is still up for grabs, as the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets lead a handful of 4-6 teams by a single game with six to go.
With the Jets next up on the schedule, the Ravens will have to hope that Rice’s game was the start of a resurgence, not the last glimmer of a fading star. With two of the team’s old defensive leaders in Rex Ryan and Ed Reed coming to town, Baltimore will need to click on offense to earn the victory and move ahead of New York in the playoff race.
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