EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – After winning their first three games of the 2016 season, the Ravens suffered their third consecutive loss on Sunday, falling to the New York Giants 27-23. The loss drops Baltimore’s season record to 3-3 with one game remaining before their bye week.
The Ravens allowed New York’s top play-maker, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., to have a career day. Beckham Jr. caught eight passes from quarterback Eli Manning for 222 yards and two touchdowns. Beckham Jr.’s touchdowns, which were receptions of 75 and 66 yards, both came in the second half. Ravens corner-back Jimmy Smith left the game in the second quarter with a concussion and did not return. Before Smith’s exit, Beckham Jr. was held to two receptions for 11 yards. After Smith left the game, the likes of Shareece Wright, Tavon Young and Will Davis could not contain the speedy wideout.
Smith was not the only Ravens defender to suffer an injury on Sunday. Linebacker Terrell Suggs left the game in the fourth quarter and did not return. NFL FOX reporter Jay Glazer reportedly said on TV that Suggs tore his left Biceps. Suggs tore his right biceps in 2012 and played through the injury. It is unknown at this time if this tear will require surgery.
Aside from Suggs, corner-back Jerraud Powers left the game in the first half with a groin injury and did not return. The two injuries to the secondary occurred before the Giants got on the scoreboard. The first four Giants’ drives ended on a fumble and three punts, and New York’s first offensive touchdown came on their fifth drive.
It is safe to say that Smith and Powers’ injuries opened things up for Manning and the Giants offense.
“[Injuries] make it a challenge,” head coach John Harbaugh said after the loss. “But, we are certainly capable of not giving up big plays. You can’t let that happen.”
Injuries certainly took their toll on the Ravens on Sunday, but penalties were once again a problem. Baltimore committed 15 penalties in the loss to the Giants, including 10 on offense. There were two false starts, five holding penalties, two delay of games and an illegal formation. These penalties forced the Ravens to face several situations where they were more than 10 yards away from the first down markers. This made it extremely difficult for new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg to get the Ravens’ offense going.
“We’ve been running into [penalties] for the first six weeks now,” quarterback Joe Flacco said after the game. “There were a couple of time
s where we get down there with good field position and [went] backwards instead of forwards. It definitely hurts, its frustrating.”
The Ravens were missing three starters on the offensive line for this game. Tackle Ronnie
Stanley and guard Marshal Yanda were already doubtful to play, but tackle Rick Wagner dressed for the game. Wagner would not play, however, which left backup James Hurst to play right tackle.
Missing three starters on the offensive line was something the Ravens could not control, but the penalties were. According to NFL Penalties.com, the Ravens are tied with the Oakland Raiders for the most penalties committed in the NFL this season (52).
For the second week in a row, the Ravens’ offense got off to a good start. Baltimore got the ball first to start the game, and the Ravens ran 10 plays to go 70 yards, including two third down conversions. The Ravens got the ball down to New York’s 10-yard line, but after an incomplete pass the ball was moved to the 15-yard line because of a false start on second down. The Ravens could not get the ball into the end-zone, and settled for a field goal.
On New York’s first offensive play of the game, Beckham Jr. fumbled the ball after a reception, and linebacker Zachary Orr recovered the fumble to give the Ravens the ball on the Giants’ 30-yard line. Baltimore would score a touchdown on a one-yard run by Terrance West, giving the Ravens a 10-0 lead with 6:42 remaining in the first quarter.
After the first two drives, however, the Ravens’ offense stalled. Baltimore would not score at all in the second quarter and was held to a field goal in the third quarter before scoring 10 more points in the fourth quarter.
Another crucial coaching decision was made in the third quarter. Trailing 17-13, Flacco threw a 70-yard bomb to receiver Mike Wallace, which gave the Ravens the ball at New York’s three-yard line. Following that pass, the Ravens unsuccessfully tried to get the ball in the end zone on a quarterback sneak and a run by West. Instead of kicking the field goal and cutting New York’s lead to one, Harbaugh decided to go for it on fourth down, and the Ravens ran a pitch-out to West, who was tackled at the two-yard line.
On Baltimore’s ensuing drive, they kicked a field goal, but had Harbaugh decided to kick the field goal on the previous possession, the Ravens would have had a 19-17 lead. There is no way of telling how the game would have played out from there, but the decision to go for it on fourth down ended up coming back to haunt the Ravens.
This is the third week in a row now that coaching decisions have had a negative impact on the Ravens. The play on the field certainly has to improve, but the coaching staff continues to out-think themselves, and the team has not shown that they have the talent to be able to overcome the coaching decisions. Going forward, the coaching decisions should be monitored more closely than they have in recent history.
Next week, Baltimore will play its final game before their week eight bye. The Ravens will return to MetLife Stadium next Sunday, but this time they will face the New York Jets. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.