Ravens made us wait all day for this stinker against the Patriots?

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - NOVEMBER 15: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens is tackled by the New England Patriots during the first half at Gillette Stadium on November 15, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - NOVEMBER 15: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens is tackled by the New England Patriots during the first half at Gillette Stadium on November 15, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

We waited all Sunday long for a primetime game against the New England Patriots expecting a well-rounded win and the Baltimore Ravens fell completely flat.

Waiting for your team to play on Sunday Night Football is like watching a 3-year-old in the days leading up to Christmas. There is a lot of anticipatory excitement, periods of frustration and anger over the excruciating wait and, possibly, some nervous peeing.

However you deal with the wait, there is that impending sense that something marvelous is going to happen for your team, and you distractedly watch other teams in the League do battle all day. Maybe you mindlessly monitor your fantasy teams all day. Maybe you go for a walk to get away from it all. Maybe you wake up at 5 a.m. and put on your jersey in anticipation of a game that will kick off more than 15 hours into the future.

What you don’t expect is what the Baltimore Ravens provided against the previously-sad-sack New England Patriots under the lights on Sunday night. The vaunted defense was run over again and again. The offense once again struggled to mount its own efficient running game, receivers dropped passes and the star defending-MVP quarterback failed to make those game-changing plays that star quarterbacks are counted on to make.

It was, to go back to our Christmas metaphor, a stocking full of coal. Covered in tarantulas. Set on fire and left on your doorstep.

It’s beyond time to be realistic about the 2020 Ravens. Two of the top three players on last year’s offense, Marshal Yanda and Ronnie Stanley, are gone. Matt Skura has yet to regain his form following a late-season injury in 2019 to his knee. That is three gaping holes on the offensive line — the only three gaping holes this line has seemingly been responsible for this season.

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The team’s best receiver, if we’re being totally honest here, is Willie Snead. Nothing against Snead. He’s a good player who finds open spaces and runs aggressively upfield when the ball gets in his hands, but a team featuring Willie Snead as its most reliable receiver is not fielding a good receiving unit. Mark Andrews is a very good tight end, but he is finding tougher sledding this season without Hayden Hurst also drawing eyes, and now blocker-supreme (and solid receiver) Nick Boyle is gone for the year.

It’s not going to happen for this offense. Not this season. Not with this line and these targets. Their best hope is competency, some moments of brilliance from Lamar Jackson, and a defense that turns the ball over and limits opponents’ running games to get the ball back to the offense quickly.

Well, that’s a struggle right now, too, isn’t it? The run defense was supposed to get drastically better from those images of Derrick Henry blowing it up in last year’s playoffs. The Ravens added Calais Campbell, Derek Wolfe, and promising rookie Patrick Queen to help with that, specifically. But now Campbell has been out a few days, dependable run-plugger Brandon Williams got hurt early against the Patriots, and Queen’s head is often spinning on where to be at any given time, as most rookie linebackers’ heads are wont to do. Only Wolfe remains from that group right now, and he has seen bouts of health concerns, as well.

This team is good. They will still probably win 10 or 11 games and make the playoffs. The hope is that the defense gets back Campbell, Williams, and linebacker L.J. Fort sooner rather than later and the run defense can get on track. The offensive line is probably what it is this year, and without Boyle now, the team needs to probably spread things out more and focus on the running and receiving skills of rookie J.K. Dobbins. They need Jackson to drop back to pass, check his first two options, and get out of town quickly if they don’t open.

The season’s not over, by any means. The team is 6-3 and has a favorable schedule after these two tough games coming up against the Titans and Steelers. But they no longer appear to be a team realistically capable of competing for a championship this season, and that’s disheartening. Injuries, a lack of dependable weapons on offense, and a rash of penalties and awful snaps are conspiring to lower this team’s ceiling.

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Seasons like this happen from time to time. The 2019 Ravens were the beneficiaries of abnormally good health, an imploding slate of teams in its division, and a spectacular performance from Jackson. Last night was, or should be, a wake-up call on what the 2020 Ravens appear to be right now.

And it was not worth staying up for.