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Dennis Allen, Jason Tarver, Steve Hoffman
In an overall implosion like this, the blame must first be laid at the feet of the coaches. I give Greg Knapp a pass this week as it was not the offensive play calling that lost this game, it was pretty much everything else.
For Dennis Allen it started in the week leading up to the game with regard to the running back situation. Don't get me wrong, Marcel Reece played great. But he is not a game breaker as a running back. His strength is as a receiver in the open field. He could have brought in a bonafide starting caliber running back and didn't even put out feelers. He could have given Taiwan Jones a shot and didn't. Instead he called up practice squad back Jeremy Stewart who got carries before Jones did. The Raiders also had 10 penalties in the game so discipline was lacking. And it was yet another third quarter in which the Raiders were thoroughly outcoached.
Jason Tarver is the chemist mixing up concoctions for the defense and he really put together a rotten batch in this one. Whatever the Raiders defense did, the Ravens were a step ahead. The Raiders blitzed and Joe Flacco threw to the man the blitzer left open. When they didn't blitz, and Flacco just sat in the pocket and found his receivers deep. He also was finding every soft spot in the zone to be had. It seemed like there were more soft spots than not. The Ravens didn't punt once in the first half. By the time the punter took the field, they had already scored 34 points.
Speaking of punts, that first punt of the day was muffed by Phillip Adams, which led to another Ravens touchdown. It was just one of many crucial mistakes by Steve Hoffman's special teams units. The Ravens next touchdown came off a fake field goal which completely fooled the Raiders. And the final touchdown was a 105-yard kick return. That's the final 21 points of the game given up by the special teams. That should never happen.
This was easily Wheeler's worst game as a Raider. He is usually considered quite good in coverage but the Ravens saw something and exploited it. On the Ravens' first two drives, he was victimized for both of their third down conversions. He was out of position on an 18-yard catch and a few plays later gave up a 40-yard catch which put them in scoring position at the 4-yard line. They would then run it in on two plays.
On their next touchdown drive, he gave up another third down conversion on a 19-yard catch to put them in position at the 5 yard line and they scored a touchdown on the next play. The next drive he was called for a personal fould penalty for contact with the helmet on third down. It set up a field Ravens field goal. The drive after that he gave up a 26-yard catch. It was the longest catch on a drive that took just 1:10 and seven plays to score a touchdown. That was all in just the first half.
The first play of the second half Wheeler was called for a facemask penalty on a 5-yard screen. The Ravens would score a touchdown on a long pass on the next play. According to Pro Football Focus, Wheeler allowed a perfect 8 catches on 8 targets for 88 yards to go along with his two personal foul penalties.
It would be another rough day for Brisiel that started very early. The Raiders had driven into Ravens territory on their first drive. They decided to go for it on fourth and one from the 44 yard line. Then when Palmer snapped the ball, Brisiel immediately stepped back onto his foot causing him to fall flat on his back where he was touched down for a sack. It ended the promising drive and gave the Ravens great field position which they would use to score on a field goal.
Two drives later, on third down, he was called for holding though it was declined because the Raiders hadn't picked up the yardage necessary. Not like it would have mattered as the holding penalty would have had them facing third and 17. Next drive he was called for a false start which is odd for a guard considering he is right next to the man snapping the ball. Then on the next drive he was again called for holding. Then to finish things off, he gave up a sack to begin the fourth quarter.
When Flacco wasn't victimizing Wheeler, he was going after Burris. He was either out of position, missed a tackle, or gave up several catches and runs to help the Ravens score their first 20 points. Then in their final drive of the first half, he gave up a 12-yard catch, an 11-yard catch, and was out of position for the 8-yard touchdown run. Actually it was more of a touchdown jog as Rice easily frolicked into the endzone untouched. In the third quarter he gave up a wide open 26-yard catch which led to the Ravens final offensive touchdown and a 48-17 lead.
He gave up the 5-yard touchdown catch to put the Ravens up 17-3. He was out of position to give up a wide open 47-yard touchdown to begin the third quarter for a 34-10 deficit. He was late coming over to help out Ron Bartell on the next touchdown from 21 yards out. Giving up three touchdowns is not good. Not much more needs to be said about that.
Adams was chosen as the next man off the bench at corner over Pat Lee because of his ability to return punts. I wonder if the coaches are in any way re-thinking that opinion after this game. He was back to return three punts in this game. The Raiders didn't force a punt until the third quarter and he muffed it to give up another Ravens touchdown. His next attempt went for a negative four yards. Then the final went for no gain. That's some fine return work, right there.