Last Sunday, the Ravens suffered a tough loss at the hands of the Titans, falling 26-13. The Titans opened up with a 3-0 lead in the second quarter on a Rob Bironas field goal. The Ravens would respond soon, as Ray Rice took a screen pass to the end zone for a 31-yard score. The Ravens defense would continue to get beaten though, allowing another Titans score, and a last-second Cundiff field goal would send the teams to halftime tied at 10. But the Titans would waste no time, scoring on a fourth down from inside the ten, and a Bironas field goal extended the lead with one quarter left. With only seven minutes left on the clock, and trailing 23-10, the Ravens faced a fourth down and goal from the Titans 11-yard line. It seemed like a touchdown was necessary, in order to make it a one-possession game, and the way the Ravens defense was getting thrown around, two stops within seven minutes seemed highly unlikely. But John Harbaugh went against the grain and kicked the field goal. The Ravens defense could again do nothing, and a late field goal sealed the win for the Titans. The Ravens defense seemed lethargic all game, and seemed to be one second behind the Titans on every play. Plain and simple, they got beat bad. The Ravens offense played exactly how they didn't last week, turning the ball over three times. Between the two, the Ravens simply didn't deserve to get this win. This loss shows how much of an any-given-sunday league this is, any team can really beat any team.
Player of the Game: Titans QB Matt Hasselbeck-30/42, 358 yards, 1 touchdown
Last Week's Key to the Game: Last week, I said that the Ravens needed to avoid a hangover from the Steelers win. That is exactly what they did not do. They came out way too confident, and the Titans made them pay for it.
Next Sunday, the Ravens travel to face the 0-2 St. Louis Rams, who had high expectations coming into the year, but have yet to fulfill them. QB Sam Bradford had a breakout rookie season last year, and many thought he would pick up where he left off, but he's yet to play at that same level. One aspect of the Rams offense is their no-huddle attack, which they have used to confuse defenses this year. Since the Ravens defense is slow at times, reacting to the hurry-up offense will be a key to a win against the Rams. RB Steven Jackson is the biggest playmaker on their offense, but has been limited this year with a quad injury, and will be questionable for Sunday's game. Cadillac Williams, his replacement, has rushed for 127 in the first two games. The Rams defense has been a low point so far this season, giving up an average of 177 rushing yards and 29 points per game. QB Joe Flacco needs to lead the Ravens offense to an early start, and try and get the Rams out of the game early by tiring out their defense, and sucking the life out of the stadium. Flacco needs to take advantage of the weak Rams defense by having a statement game to prove that last week was just a fluke. Ravens WR Lee Evans has already been ruled out, so Flacco will have to rely on a thin receiving corps that could see guys like Torrey Smith and Dennis Pitta getting more looks. You can also expect Ray Rice's load to increase after a bad game last week. Ravens WR Anquan Boldin has over 1,000 career receiving yards against the Rams, so he could be vital in the Ravens gameplan. In a win that the Ravens really need, I have them taking it with a score of 24-13.
Key to the Game: This game will really come down to which Ravens team takes the field Sunday. The team that beat the Steelers can beat any team in the NFL. On the other hand, the team that lost to the Titans can lose to any team in the NFL. We'll see.
Key Matchups for Ravens at Rams:
Ravens LB Terrell Suggs vs. Rams offensive line Edge: Suggs
Ravens LB Ray Lewis vs. Rams RBs Cadillac Williams/Steven Jackson Edge: Lewis
Ravens T Bryant McKinnie vs. Rams DE Chris Long Edge: Long
Ravens RB Ray Rice vs. Rams LB James Laurinaitis Edge: Rice
WR Lee Evans-Ankle-OUT
WR David Reed-Shoulder-OUT
CB Jimmy Smtih-Ankle-OUT
CB Chris Carr-Thigh-QST
G Ben Grubbs-Toe-QST
WR Danny Amendola-Elbow-OUT
RB Steven Jackson-Quad-QST
LB Ben Leber-Groin-QST
RB Cadillac Williams-Hamstring-QST
That's it for this week's version of my Ravens Report, see you next week and Go Ravens!