The Baltimore Ravens' offense failed to show up again in Sunday's 19-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers, putting the defending Super Bowl champions in unfamiliar territory. They dropped to 3-3 for the first time since 2009 and fell a full game out of first place for the first time this season. The Ravens now trail the Cincinnati Bengals (4-2) in the AFC North and are tied with the Cleveland Browns (3-3), even though they technically hold the tiebreaker advantage.
Sunday's loss was Baltimore's only home game of the month. It marked just the eighth home defeat in coach John Harbaugh's five-plus seasons in Baltimore. The Ravens take their third road trip in four weeks when they play at the Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4) on Sunday.
Here's your Wake-up caw ...
The Baltimore Sun's Mike Preston takes Harbaugh to task for going for it on fourth-and-goal from the Packers' 1-yard line. "It's one thing to be an advocate of a strong running game and it's understandable giving the ball to [Ray] Rice or [Bernard] Pierce on two of three plays, but one also needed to be a pass," Preston wrote. "And once it got to fourth down, it was time to kick the field goal. It shouldn't have been that hard of a decision."
John Eisenberg, of the team's website, believes the running game was the culprit in Sunday's loss. For the season, Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce are averaging fewer than 3 yards per carry. "That’s not acceptable," Eisenberg wrote. "And things aren’t getting better; on Sunday, things got worse. The Ravens offensive line was dominated. Here’s the stat of the game: the Ravens ran the ball on 16 of their 27 first-down snaps, and averaged just 1.9 yards on those 16 rushes."
As The Baltimore Sun pointed out, the Ravens' offense was shut out for the game's first 40 minutes. “You can’t expect to play that badly for that long and win a game," quarterback Joe Flacco said.
Wide receiver Torrey Smith was held to one catch for 12 yards. "Give the Packers credit," Comcast SportsNet's Clifton Brown wrote. "Cornerback Sam Shields was excellent in coverage, and the Packers rolled at least one safety toward Smith on most plays, determined not to let the Ravens’ best receiver get off."
Matt Elam's low hit on Randall Cobb's right knee knocked the Packers wide receiver out of the game, and prompted Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers to call it a "questionable play. Ravens safety James Ihedigbo told The Baltimore Sun: "We try to play within the rules of football. That's on [NFL commissioner] Roger Goodell. He wants us to hit low, we'll hit low, and guys will keep getting injured."
Slow starts have hurt the Ravens, according to The Press Box. The Ravens watched their opponent score first for the fourth time out of six games, and their offense was shut out in first half for the second time this season.