A familiar formula played out for the Raiders Sunday in Baltimore that led to another bad loss. The way the game played out was one that we had grown accustomed to over the first part of this season. They scored early, then struggled for a while, but still managed to keep it close until the second half when the Ravens made some adjustments and left them in the dust.
A touchdown on the opening drive was followed up by four straight punts. One of those punts was returned 75 yards for a touchdown that gave the Ravens a 10-7 lead. They wouldn’t relinquish the lead after that.
A touchdown drive late in the third quarter would bring the Raiders to within three at 20-17 to keep it interesting. But come the fourth quarter it was the same old story. It was all Ravens from there on out, first by dominating the ground game and then the pass rush.
The nail in the coffin came when Ravens linebacker Matt Judon would beat Raiders rookie tackle Brandon Parker on three consecutive plays for sacks. The first was a strip sack which Terell Suggs picked up and returned 43 yards for the score.
“It’s disappointing,” said Gruden. “You give up a 75-yard punt return, a 75-yard pass to a tight end, you can’t get off the field and stop the inside running game and you can’t protect when you have to. Those are the storylines to me. Those are the things I got to figure out. And until we do, we’re going to have a lot of long faces.”
There you have it.
- Give up Special teams TD
- Give up explosive play
- Can’t stop the run
- Can’t protect the quarterback.
That long completion to a tight end Gruden is speaking of was the 74-yard play to Mark Andrews in the second quarter. The big tight end got wide open behind Rashaan Melvin and no one was there to help and he had a country mile to run before Melvin caught up to him and stopped him at the 9-yard-line. They would luckily settle for a field goal.
The next two Ravens possessions would end with interceptions — first by Reggie Nelson after both Erik Harris and Tahir Whitehead got a hand on the pass over the middle, then Marcus Gilchrist in the end zone, also off a deflection by Gareon Conley. The Raiders got a field goal out of the first one, and kept the Ravens from scoring on the other to keep it a one-score game at the half.
That pass breakup by Conley was intended for Michael Crabtree, who he had covered well most of the day. But the former Raider receiver would eventually get his. But it was how the Ravens got there that was most impressive.
Their drive started in the third quarter and lasted 17 plays, taking 8:53 off the clock. Running back Gus Edwards and quarterback Lamar Jackson churned out yards and ate up clock, culminating in the 8-yard touchdown pass to Crabtree.
On the play, Daryl Worley gave Crabtree a cushion to protect the fade. Nick Nelson didn’t come up to protect the post and Crabtree easily walked in for the score.
Edwards would finish with 118 yards on 21 carries, and Lamar Jackson had 71 yards on 11 carries.
Meanwhile Derek Carr completed few balls than fell incomplete (16/34) and was sacked three times, all late in the fourth quarter when the Raiders were in obvious passing situations in desperate need of putting points on the board quickly.
The Raiders fell 34-17 and are now at 2-9 on the season, while the Ravens improve to 6-5.