Ravens fall in Buffalo; The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

It is never easy to win in the National Football League, and that is certainly true on the road. That said, a win in Buffalo was expected for the Ravens today. Buffalo has plenty of young, skill position talent – but they entered today with real issues in their defensive run coverage, and also had a banged up Secondary.

It was expected that Baltimore would be able to take advantage of those weaknesses. The running game never got going. For most of the game, the Ravens had trouble passing as well. Flacco’s 5 interceptions only complicated matters further.

Still, the Ravens continued to battle, and found themselves in a position to leave Buffalo with the win. Ultimately, there were too many self-inflicted errors to get past and the Ravens lost 23-20. It was an ugly game, and there are going to be plenty of issues on tape to address.

(You can discuss this post on the BSL Board here.)

The Good:

1) I give the Ravens some credit for continuing to fight, mainly through their own errors. The Ravens really had no excuse being in the game, and they were in position to try and tie or take the lead in the final 90 seconds.

2) Flacco rolled out, and found Brown on 3rd and 13 on the Ravens opening series. Going high to his tall receiver, and moving the chains. While the Ravens would eventually have to punt, this 1st down prevented them from being extremely backed up when they did.

3) Buffalo had driven to the Ravens 7 yard line on their opening series, and faced 3rd and 3. Suggs came up with a sack, forcing Buffalo into a FG attempt.

4) Jones had a stop behind the line of scrimmage on the Bills 2nd series. Buffalo’s drive started at the 25 following their pick of Flacco. The Ravens defense did well to hold the Bills to a second FG. 6-0 Buffalo.

5) The Ravens got the big play they needed, when Canty forced a fumble, and Williams recovered to start the 2nd Quarter. This gave the Ravens a 1st and 10 from the Buffalo 27.

6) Using the excellent field position coming off the recovered fumble by Williams; Flacco connected with Clark for 17 yards, and then went over the middle to Brown for the 10 yard TD. The TD to Brown came off of play action, and the rookie WR made a beautiful play on the ball using his size, and showing good hands. Good job from Flacco moving in the pocket. Baltimore 7-6.

7) Following the Ravens initial TD, the Baltimore defense came up with a 3rd and 1 stop.

8) In his first game back in the active lineup, Thompson had a couple of positive plays. His first catch came on a nice short route outside for 8 yards.  After the Bills took the 13-7 lead, Thompson had a nice KR out to the Ravens 30. His 2nd catch (another short 5 yard route) coming late in the 3rd. Late in the 4th, Thompson came up with a big catch down the sidelines for 33 yards, and held on against a helmet-to-helmet hit.

9) The Ravens would give up a TD on the series, but Elam had a nice tackle in run coverage in the 2nd Quarter.

10) Buffalo was up 20-7, and had the ball with just under 6 minutes to go in the half. The Ravens defense came up with a good series to get the ball back.

11) Another strong 3rd and 1 stop from the Baltimore defense with under 2 minutes left in the 1st half. Buffalo would go for it on 4th down, and be charged with holding. Buffalo had started their drive in Baltimore territory. The Ravens coming away without having allowed more points there was huge.

12) Baltimore’s last drive of the 1st half, started with Smith gaining 23 yards underneath on a crossing route. This took the ball out to the Ravens 38.

13) Great defensive series to start the 2nd half, with Graham beating the block from Woods and making a play on 3rd down.

14) The defense stepped up, and again helped the offense when D. Smith came up with his 3rd Quarter interception. The Ravens offense took over in the red zone (the Buffalo 19).

15) Despite allowing 1 large reception after Flacco’s 3rd pick, the Ravens defense was again able to get Buffalo’s offense off the field. Good coverage from J. Smith on 3rd down, as the Ravens continued to take Stevie Johnson out of the action.

16) Clark had his 2nd and 3rd catches as the Ravens took over with 8:48 let in the 3rd Quarter. Gaining 17 yards on those grabs, the Ravens had a 1st and 10 at their 37. That was followed by a 22 yard gain from Smith. Buffalo was charged with a horse collar on the Smith grab, taking the ball to the Buffalo 26.  Flacco beat the blitz, and found Smith on the inside release for the 26 yard score. 20-14 Buffalo.

17) Following the TD to Smith, the Ravens defense had a 3 and out – helped by the holding penalty on Buffalo.

18) Right before Flacco’s 4th pick, the QB and Doss had a nice 17 yard hook-up.

19) J. Smith’s play on the ball in the end zone vs. Woods, took a TD off the board for the Bills. The Bills would kick the FG for the 23-14 lead, but Smith’s efforts there were important.

20) Baltimore completely abandoned any pretense of attempting to rush the ball in the 3rd Quarter. I think this was the right call.

21) Graham, the Buffalo native, came up with an important 4th Quarter pick. This gave the Ravens the ball back with 8:33 left in the game, still down two scores.

22) Despite being picked off 4 times, Flacco showed he remained confident in his arm, using the superior arm strength to hit Smith for a 74 yard gain. The drive would stall, but the FG made it a one score game. 23-17 Buffalo.

23) Huff came in and brought a pass rush on 3rd down, causing Manuel to dump the ball off. The Ravens made the tackle short of the marker, and the Baltimore offense took over down 23-17 with 5:43 left. A short 30 yard punt had the Ravens starting at their 44.

24) Rice had a 7 yard gain late in the 4th, after not being used previously in the 2nd half. Tucker’s FG made it 23-20 Buffalo with 4:04 left.

25) Facing 3rd and 18 from the Ravens 29, Smith came up with an outstanding 21 yard catch to midfield. Great job getting his hands underneath. This set-up 1st and 10 from the 50 with 1:34 left. Smith finished the game with 5 grabs, 166 yards, and 1 TD.

The Bad:

1) The Ravens first drive started with a personal foul (face mask) penalty on Osemele. This set-up 1st and 18 from withing the 10 yard line. That was followed by a false start on Rice, backing the Ravens up even more. After the Ravens gained a 1st down, Yanda was charged with a false start on 3rd and 5. Unable to pick up a second 1st down, Baltimore had to punt.

2) Spiller started Buffalo’s first series with 10 yards up the gut. On 3rd and 2, Chandler got inside Smith and moved the chains with his 14 yard catch. On 3rd and 9, pressure was picked up, and Webb was beat by Graham for a large 26 yard pick up. A 6 yard gain from Spiller took the ball to the Ravens 8. Buffalo would kick the FG for a 3-0 lead.

3) Facing 3rd and 7 on their 2nd series, Flacco was picked. Flacco looked like he keyed on Doss, and threw into double coverage.

4) Flacco’s 1st pick allowed Buffalo to begin their 2nd drive at the Ravens 25. Jimmy Smith was called for a penalty, giving the Bills a 1st down. A 5 yard gain from Spiller, again between the tackles, set up 2nd and 5 from the 12. The interception would result in Buffalo getting points.

5) Down 6-0, Baltimore went 3 and out on their 3rd series of the 1st Quarter. The Ravens offensive line was getting worked, and not opening up running lanes. It seemed apparent that Baltimore was going to have to pass to pull defenders from the box, and help the rushing attack.

6) Baltimore went 3 and out on their 2nd series of the 2nd Quarter.

7) Buffalo grabbed back the lead, with a 42 yard strike from Manuel to Woods. Woods just running past Graham on the play. With the xp, Buffalo took the 13-7 lead with 8:40 left in the 2nd Quarter.

8) Trailing 13-7, Yanda was called for another penalty. His holding backed the Ravens up to 1st and 20, from their 20.

9) On 1st and 20, Flacco dropped back and hit Dickson in his hands. Dickson was not able to make the catch, and Buffalo came up with the interception the deflection. The Bills again had excellent field position, beginning their drive at the Baltimore 28.

10) Manuel completed 3rd and long, finding Chandler for 14 yards. That was followed by Jackson’s TD run. Taking full advantage of Flacco’s 2nd interception, Buffalo took a 20-7 lead with 6:52 left in the 1st half.

11) Down 20-7, Baltimore again went 3 and out. The Ravens managed to hold the ball for 42 seconds on the series.

12) Poor decision from Doss to not let Bills PR late in the 2nd Quarter go into the end zone. Instead of taking the Touch-back, he brought the ball out to just the Ravens 11 yard line. Doss was lucky to have not compounded that mistake on the following play, when his apparent fumble was overturned.

13) Baltimore again went 3 and out, when Dareus sacked Flacco for an 8 yard loss on 3rd and 10. A relatively short punt, and good return from Leonard; had Buffalo starting from the Baltimore 37 with 3 minutes left in the half.

14) The second to last play of the 1st half saw Flacco delivering a poor pass to Doss on 3rd and 5. There was an opportunity to complete the pass, move the chains, with time still existing to get into FG territory. With the poor pass, Baltimore elected to run the clock down, prior to taking 1 last play. Posters on our Message Board believed the Ravens should have called a Timeout after Brown’s 5 yard gain on 2nd down, with 57 seconds left.

15) Dickson was called for a false start on the Ravens 1st drive of the 2nd half. Baltimore would go 3 and out.

16) After D. Smith’s 3rd Quarter interception, the Ravens faced 2nd and 3 from the Buffalo 11. Busted coverage allowed Flacco to be sacked by Lawson for an 8 yard loss. That was followed by Flacco’s 3rd pick, this time in the end zone. Flacco did face pressure on the play. T. Smith could have fought harder for the ball.

17) Buffalo declined the penalty, but Osemele was called for an illegal formation, with the Ravens down 20-14 in the 3rd.

18) Flacco was picked for a 4th time, when Alonso stepped in-front of an attempted crossing route. That interception seemed to be solely on Flacco.

19) The Bills took over at the Baltimore 48 following Flacco’s 4th pick. Over 9 plays they marched right down the field, eventually settling for a FG. 23-14 Bills.

20) Bynes was called for encroachment early in the 4th. Arthur Brown (Chest) was inactive today. The Ravens really could use Brown to come on after the bye.

21) On 3rd and 6, Woods beat C. Brown on a crossing route for 9 yards. This allowed the Bills drive to continue, as Buffalo had the ball at around mid-field with under 10 minutes remaining.

22) Webb apparently hurt his hamstring early, and missed a lot of the game.

23) Trailing 23-20 with a little over 2 minutes remaining, Flacco was sacked by Dareus for a 2nd time. Dareus beat Gradkowski on the play. This set up 2nd and 18 from the Ravens 29 after the 2 minute warning.

The Ugly:

1) Buffalo entered today 28th in Total Defense. They’ve had issues against the run, and had a depleted Secondary on the field today. Still, the Ravens offense could not take advantage of those deficiencies.

1a) Ravens fans were rightfully not pleased with the Baltimore offensive line today. My take is that the oline has their issues, but I think a large part of it is defenses stacking the box and not respecting the passing attack. Teams are committed to taking away the run game, because they don’t believe the Ravens have the weapons outside to beat them. I think it is a tactical mistake for the Ravens to not come out, spreading the field, and attacking through the air. I think that is what you need to do, to help the run game.

1b) 9 rushing attempts for 24 yards. It was so evident that the Ravens could not run today, that the right call was to totally abandon the running game after half time.

2) Dickson’s lack of hands continue to hurt the offense. He has good athletic ability. He caught over 50+ passes two years ago. You would like to think he has the skills necessary to help. However, the progression has not occurred, and the drops (and the lack of trust Flacco must have in him at this point), is limiting to the offense as a whole.

3) The Bills entered today 31st in time of possession, but dominated the ball today. Buffalo gained over 200 yards on the ground.

4) Baltimore was 3 of 16 on 3rd down.

5) #5 was picked off 5 times. Not each of them were his fault, but you can’t turn the ball over that much vs. anyone.

6) The Ravens missed an opportunity to gain ground on the Bengals, who lost in Cleveland today.

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About the author


Chris Stoner   

Operations Manager

Chris Stoner founded Baltimore Sports and Life in 2009. He has appeared as a radio guest with 1090 WBAL, 105.7 The Fan, ESPN 1300, FOX 1370, WOYK 1350, WKAV 1400, and WNST 1570. You can reach him via email at Chris.Stoner@baltimoresportsandlife.com.


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