Everybody wants their team to win it all, but it wasn’t in the cards for the Baltimore Ravens. Did the Ravens actually overachieve just by going 8-8?
The Baltimore Ravens just did not have it this season. With a favorable schedule the Ravens could not take care of business. The difference between the Steelers and Ravens wasn’t just decided on Christmas Day. The Steelers took care of business against the teams they should have beaten. The Ravens lost games they should have won to the Redskins and the Jets. The Steelers blew those teams out of the water.
The Ravens Did Not Take Care Of Their Business
Despite making everything hard, the Ravens had a chance to beat the Steelers and take control of the AFC North. They surrendered a fourth quarter lead and got their playoff dreams destroyed. The Ravens came back against New England only to be deflated more than Tom Brady’s footballs (I have to watch the Steelers play in the playoffs today. I have to be a little snarky just to get by). Then there was giving up the lead against the Raiders at home. The Steelers may not have been all that this season, yet they handled their business better than the Ravens.
The Ravens got away with some suspect wins. They barely beat the Buffalo Bills in the season opener. They got down 20-2 to the Cleveland Browns, before winning 25-20. The Ravens almost lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars after Devin Hester muffed a punt. They only beat the Eagles because of a failed two point try, at the end of the game. The Ravens could have easily lot all four of those games.
The Baltimore offense was horrible for most of the season. The Ravens only punched it into the end zone 32 times this season. The Ravens ranked 21st in the league in points per game, had no commitment to the running game and an inefficient passing attack.
The Defense Did More With Less
The defense deserves a ton of credit for carrying the team. Dean Pees had a top 10 defense this season and he deserves a ton of praise. Still, the Ravens did it without much pass rush. Terrell Suggs miraculously played half the season with a biceps injury. If Suggs couldn’t do that, the defense may have fallen apart. The Ravens only had 31 sacks and Suggs had eight of them. In the one game that Suggs missed, the Ravens could not stop the outside run.
Without Jimmy Smith this team struggled. It just goes to show you how big Tavon Young was for this team though. If the rookie cornerback, a fourth round pick from Temple, could not take a starting role, the secondary would have been in trouble all season long.
That takes me to my next point. Too much hinged on what the Ravens couldn’t count on. They started two rookies on the left side of the offensive line for most of the season. John Harbaugh and company got lucky that Young could step up and outperform his expectations. The Ravens came into the season crossing their fingers that Steve Smith could still be a number one receiver. Thankfully, Smith Sr. is not a normal 37 year old receiver who was coming off a devastating injury.
The Ravens had no clue offensively. They were good defensively but didn’t have enough talent in key positions. This was a glorified rebuilding year. The Ravens went from 5-11 to 8-8. There is a chance that next year could be better (the Ravens have a lot of work to do) but this season the team just didn’t have it.