The Ravens stressed all week that their trip to London was a business trip, and that if players wanted to really see London, they would need to come back another time. But it would be hard to blame the Ravens if they never want to set foot in London again after being humiliated by the Jacksonville Jaguars, 44-7, before 84,592 at Wembley Stadium.
“We played poorly, they played very well, and that’s reflected in the outcome of the game,” head coach John Harbaugh said.
Here are five impressions after one of the worst losses in franchise history:
1. This season feels completely different now.
The optimism was flowing after the Ravens started 2-0 and exhibited suffocating defense and a passable offense. But then Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles destroyed the Ravens defense (20-for-31, 244 yards, 4 TDs) and Joe Flacco and the Ravens' offense was utterly inept.
Now the Ravens limp back to Baltimore 2-1, with a home game against the Steelers and road game at Oakland coming up in the next two weeks. The Ravens could easily be looking at 2-3, with their strong start perhaps just a memory.
“One loss, or one win, never defines a season,” Harbaugh said. “What defines a season is how you respond to the adversity that you face. … We go to work on the Pittsburgh Steelers. That’s how we respond.”
2. What happened to that defense?
A Ravens defense that shut out the Bengals and forced 10 turnovers in two weeks was carved up by Bortles. Misdirection confused the Ravens, and Bortles had all the time he needed. He found soft spots underneath and huge swaths of open territory in the middle of the field. The Ravens didn’t tackle well.
“That might be one of the worst losses if not the worst loss I've ever been a part of,” safety Eric Weddle said.
The Ravens also gave up several big plays during a 24-10 win against Cleveland, and after that game, players and defensive coordinator Dean Pees made clear that despite generating five turnovers, they were not happy with their performance. They certainly can’t be happy with this performance, either. So for all the talk about this vaunted defense, it has looked suspect and vulnerable in two of three games.
3. The offense can’t possibly be this bad. But can it be good?
The Ravens' offense was historically terrible against the Jaguars; they finished the first half with 15 yards of offense, their lowest total ever for a half. Flacco, in the first half, was 4-for-12 for 8 yards and one interception. He finished 8-for-18 for 28 yards with two interceptions. Ryan Mallett came on in the fourth quarter, and only his garbage-time touchdown pass to tight end Ben Watson prevented the Ravens' first shutout loss since 2002.
Three games in, there is still no sense of how good this offense can be -- or whether it can be good. Flacco was off-target even on short throws, perhaps rushed by breakdowns on the offensive line. Mike Wallace, a 1,000-yard receiver last year, was again a non-factor, with one catch for 6 yards.
One throw intended for Wallace was intercepted. In fact, receivers caught only four passes, and none for longer than 8 yards. Terrance West had six carries for 26 yards and lost a fumble. There was some curious play-calling, such as a 3-yard throw on fourth-and-8.
Other than a long, run-heavy drive against Cincinnati in Week 1, the Ravens' offense has done little to impress or inspire confidence.
4. Terrance West might have lost his starting job.
Perhaps the only positive aspect of the game was running back Alex Collins, who carried nine times for 82 yards. Terrance West carried six times for 26 yards and lost a fumble. That is usually a fast track to Harbaugh’s doghouse. Through three games, West has 33 carries for 128 yards. Collins has 16 carries for 124 yards, an average of nearly 8 yards a run. Buck Allen, meanwhile, remains the Ravens leading rusher with 43 carries for 152 yards.
With Collins running well, and with Allen used as the primary pass-catching back, it’s possible West’s role will be reduced going forward.
5. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti weighed in on anthem protest.
Several Ravens kneeled during the playing of the national anthem, in what evolved into a league-wide show of solidarity in Week 3 after President Donald Trump criticized NFL players who kneel during the anthem, going so far as to say those players should be fired.
Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti released a statement through the team which read: “We recognize our players’ influence. We respect their demonstration and support them 100 percent. All voices need to be heard. That’s democracy in its highest form.”
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