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ExtremeRavens: The Sanctuary

5 Things We Learned from the Ravens loss


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This is a great blog post by Kevin Van Valkenburg. I think most of it is spot on (especially the 1st post about team discipline) and I thought it was funny because you could tell he was ranting a little bit as a fan.


Five Things We Learned from the Ravens' loss to the Steelers


1. The discipline on this team is atrocious. But that is nothing new. It's been that way all season. But this time, it not only cost the team, it kind of embarrassed the fans.


First off, let's address some things in regards to the referees. I didn't grow up in Maryland, but I am finally starting to understand why every Ravens fan seems to believe they'll never get a favorable call to go their way, especially against the Steelers. I don't believe there is some absurd conspiracy against Baltimore, handed down from the days of Paul Tagliabue, and I never will. But I can understand why it feels like the Ravens are playing 11 against 14. Because some of the calls in this game were not good. The illegal contact call on Frank Walker at the end of the game shouldn't have been called. Period. Ben Roethlisberger was running around in circles, well outside the pocket, and that means a receiver can get bumped -- not held, but bumped -- past five yards. You could see Ravens coach John Harbaugh screaming at the referees "Read the rules!" and he was right. It was bogus, and it bailed out Roethlisberger from one of the dumbest throws I've ever seen. The holding call on Kelley Washington -- which negated Willis McGahee's touchdown was pretty chippy as well. Even if it was holding, and it could have gone either way, the defender was pretty much out of the play. Heap got mauled on an early route in the end zone when the Ravens were forced to settle for a field goal, held in a way that was much worse than anything Walker or Chris Carr did. And there was no call.


That said, if you strictly blame the referees -- and not the coaches and players -- for the 113 yards in penalties, you're insane. Seriously, don't do it. It makes you seem like one of those people who barks at the moon. The referees didn't force Haloti Ngata to blast a guy on a punt return after Carr was well out of bounds. The referees didn't tell Oniel Cousins to completely lose his cool and cheap shot a Steelers defensive lineman when the Ravens were possibly in position to tie the game with a field goal. The referees certainly didn't force the Ravens to jump offside late in the first half, giving Roethlisberger a free play to take a shot downfield on Walker. No referee told Terrell Suggs to blast a guy in the back on Domonique Foxworth's interception return for a touchdown, which probably didn't even matter in relation to Foxworth scoring. (Even if Suggs just gets in the way there, Foxworth probably scores.) Those were all crucial plays, and those were all on the players (or coaches, who need to drill it into the players not to do that stuff). The Ghost of Art Rooney himself would have been justified throwing flags on those plays.


But let's get back to the fan's embarrassment for a second. At some point, if you play that sloppy, that careless, that erratic, and you essentially act like you don't care and don't think it's an issue game after game, then you no longer deserve the unambiguous, unequivocal support of your fanbase. The fans have a right to be mad this evening. They have a right to be upset with head coach John Harbaugh, because he's the man who ultimately needs to be accountable for everything that happens. He was chippy in his post-game comments when asked about the penalties, which I thought Billick had trademarked. (Getting grumpy with the media after your team suffers a meltdown? That makes sense.) I still think Harbaugh can be a very good NFL coach, but maybe things came a little too easily last year. This year has been a better test of how well Harbaugh can guide a team through uncertainty and adversity, and right now, he gets a C grade at best. Maybe Rex Ryan really did help him overcome a few things last year we didn't know about. (I'll tell you what, Rex Ryan never would have blitzed Foxworth from out wide on 3rd-and-2 against one of the best quarterbacks in the league when it comes to handling the blitz. That call made zero sense, and Santonio Holmes proved it by walking into the end zone. Even if Foxworth gets there, he'll just bounce off Roethlisberger.) But Harbaugh has to show he's learned from all this and make the right adjustments. Maybe that happens next week, but more likely it doesn't happen until next year.


Fans want a football team they can enjoy watching, but also take pride in. Even if that's absurd on some level, it's the truth. And do Ravens fans feel proud of this team right now? I doubt it. This team clearly had the talent to make the playoffs this year, and they'll probably still get there. (Although the Jets victory doesn't help.) Whether they deserve to go is another issue entirely.


2. Even if Walker wasn't brought here to be a starter, and he's only playing out of necessity, putting him out there is unfair to the rest of the players. Harsh, but true.



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He nailed it.


I'm still pissed and disgusted at that handfull of players who sabotoged a great effort by the rest of the team.

This happened all year. Not to this degree, but it cost them wins.


Harbaugh needs to be held accountable for this because it was a season long pattern. His team paid the price with a loss. Part of the game plan for a road game in Pittsburgh with the playoffs on the line should have been to not commit penalties or to turn the ball over.

That's basic, fundamental football that everybody, fans included, is aware of.

Yet a core of players on this team do not get it.

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