Sunday, October 17, 2010

Coordinators play not to lose, then lose anyway

It was setting up perfectly. The Ravens were on the verge of improving to 5-1 on the season. They were close to achieving John Harbaugh's trifecta - road wins against the Jets, Steelers and the Patriots. With the not so mighty Buffalo Bills up next on the schedule, the wonderful aroma of a 6-1 start was wafting towards us.

Ah yes, it's getting better all the time.

Three seconds into the final quarter the Ravens took a 20-10 lead at Gillette Stadium.

And then, it couldn't get any worse.

Beginning with Billy Cundiff's ensuing kickoff that ran out of bounds at the 2 yard line giving Tom Brady and the Patriots a fresh start at their own 40, slowly but surely the Ravens tightened. One by one, coaches included, their collective hind parts tightened like a Stewart Copeland snare drum.

Then came a phantom pass interference call against Lardarius Webb.

Six plays later Tom Brady connected with Deion Branch from five yards out to make it 20-17. On the scoring strike defensive coordinator Greg Mattison committed a major tactical error rushing only three from the 5 yard line.


With the back line as a defender Mattison opted to give one of the game's most poised quarterbacks a coffee break in the pocket to complete a 5 yard pass! That is the equivalent of flunking Football 101.

Fast forward 2 game minutes to the 9:10 mark of Q4 when the Ravens faced a third and less than one from their own 47. Now in similar circumstances in prior games, Joe Flacco has raced his team to the line of scrimmage to get off a quick quarterback sneak. This time, the team chose to huddle up and then empty the backfield.


No element of surprise.

No keeping the Patriots front 7 honest.

No, instead Cam Cameron decides to tell the entire galaxy that the Ravens were going to run a quarterback sneak.

No surprise, no trace of doubt for the defense, no gain.


Seven minutes later after defensive play calling that suggested Mattison was scared to death of Brady, tie game.

In a game where the Ravens played clean, not giving the ball away even once they gave away something worse - the game.

On the death wings of a gutless second half the promise of that wonderful aroma was gone.

And now we're left with the nasty stench - the wretched byproduct of playing not to lose.

We'll likely point back to this game one day in a few months when it's the difference between hosting a playoff game and going on the road.

This one is not going to go away easily.


Scott said...

While you can make a claim that the goat of the game was Mattison, I don't know how this one doesn't fall on Cam. The offensive plays called throughout the fourth quarter and in overtime were mind-boggling dumb. Why were there no plays called to run someone across the middle, as had been so effective earlier with Heap? Why was Willis McGahee and his fresh pair of legs not on the field AT ALL (this one really astounds me... I mean, isn't this why we kept the guy)? Why doesn't Cam realize that the check-down to Rice doesn't work as well as last year because teams have learned to keep a spy on him for a most of the game?

Mattison may have screwed the pooch by not blitzing Brady towards the end of the game, but Cam rolled over and played dead with his play calls.

Harryos29 said...

SCOTT IS RIGHT ON !!! I could not believe my eyes, as the fourth quarter evolved. I kept looking at the Sidelines for Brian Billick or Ted Marchabroda. Those of you who remember the COLTS of the MID-70's and the First years of our Ravens in 1996. PLAYING NOT TO LOSE...always works in Reverse!!!!!
..I listened to Rob Long on Monday and it was great to see and hear our fearless Leader TONY LOMBARDI on the air-waves once again....

Harryos29 said...

Harry OS 29 Oct 20th
Ed Reed and Brendon Ayanbadejo, return. A week late ...but we need them badly.
Can anybody on this TEAM RETURN a KICK?
He is on the TEAM..but the Ultra-conseravtive HARBAUGH is keeping David Reed # 16 on the Bench. Look 40 miles down RT 95, for # 16, BANKS on the Redskins. He is returning kick offs to the 40 yard line. I rest my case!