OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Baltimore Ravens embarrassingly stumbled in their new era of defense.
It's been 17 years since Baltimore didn't have either Ray Lewis, Ed Reed or Terrell Suggs on the field, and the Ravens looked confused and frustrated -- like someone without their leader -- in allowing the Oakland Raiders score on seven of their 10 drives in a 37-33 loss.
There was no explaining why Ravens cornerback Kyle Arrington allowed Raiders wide receiver Seth Roberts -- a practice squad player last year -- to run free over the middle for the winning touchdown with 26 seconds remaining.
How gut wrenching was this defensive effort? The Raiders were the only NFL team who hadn't scored more than 36 points since 2011. That is, until they played the Ravens on Sunday.
Life without Suggs started on a historic note, just not the one the Ravens want to remember.
"You can’t replace a Hall of Fame caliber player," defensive end Chris Canty said. "We understood the challenge that was ahead of us. We understood that we had to find a way to win. Guys had to step up. Quite frankly, we didn’t do that today. We took a step backwards."
This was a head-shaking type of performance for a Ravens secondary that followed up a sterling performance in Denver (no offensive touchdowns allowed) with an exasperating one in Oakland (the most points allowed by Ravens in a regular season game since last November). By leaving Raiders receivers open, the Ravens made life too easy for Oakland quarterback Derek Carr (351 yards passing), who threw for 176 more yards against Baltimore than Peyton Manning did.
"Our secondary, we had some miscommunications and gave up too many big plays. When we didn’t give them a big play, we gave them a penalty," cornerback Lardarius Webb said. "We can’t do both. You can’t do one. If we’re going to make the mistake, we can’t give them a penalty to keep the drive alive. [The] secondary, we’ll take this one. We just made too many mistakes."
The Ravens barely got a hand on Carr, which is where Baltimore really missed Suggs. Baltimore sacked Carr only once, which made the decision to make linebacker Jason Babin inactive even more curious. The one time the Ravens did hit Carr resulted in a roughing-the-passer penalty on Timmy Jernigan, which moved Oakland farther into Baltimore territory on the final drive.
The last time the Ravens were without one of their defensive icons -- Lewis, Reed and Suggs -- was October 1998. Now, because of this haphazard defensive performance, the Ravens are faced with a first under coach John Harbaugh -- an 0-2 start. Since 1990, only 12 percent of the teams that started winless after two games made the postseason.
"We got out-played and we got out-coached," Harbaugh said. "There's no doubt about it."