For the better part of three quarters, the Ravens held down Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers’ high-scoring offense at M&T Bank Stadium, only to watch their own offense continue to deal with issues that threaten to derail their season if not soon corrected.
In a 19-17 loss in front of an announced 71,319, many of whom spent part of the afternoon booing the home team, the Ravens’ offense was shut out for the game’s first 40 minutes and kept out of the end zone for the first 48.
Flacco threw for 342 yards and tossed two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, one each to to Jacoby Jones and Dallas Clark. However, for much of the afternoon, the Ravens’ offense was beset by futility and folly.
“We just need to continue to get better,” said Ravens Coach John Harbaugh whose team dropped to 3-3 and lost to an NFC team at home for the first time in 11 games, spanning his six-season tenure. “We’ve got the right people, we’re doing the right things. The thing that we’re not going to do is overreact. You don’t go in there and make any kind of major adjustments when you know you’re doing things well, and you’ve got the people to do it. We’re a work in progress, no doubt about it. We would have loved to have won the game. We had a chance to do it in the end [and] we didn’t get it done.”
The Ravens rushed for just 47 yards on 22 carries, with Ray Rice gaining only 49 all-purpose yards on 17 touches. They were a woeful 2 for 14 on third down. Flacco was sacked five times and found his best receiver, Torrey Smith, just once for 12 yards.
The Ravens’ offensive issues were also compounded by two coaching decisions that left room for second guessing. About midway through the second quarter, the Ravens had first and goal from the Packers 4, thanks to a 45-yard connection between Flacco and Clark. Three straight runs by Rice yielded three yards, leaving the Ravens with fourth and goal from the 1 and Harbaugh with a key decision.
At that point, the Ravens had rushed six times for minus-13 yards, but Harbaugh went for the touchdown instead of sending Justin Tucker out on the field to attempt a game-tying field goal. Bernard Pierce was promptly stuffed for no gain as boos rained down for the first time Sunday afternoon.
“I wanted to go for it,” said right guard Marshal Yanda, who was called for two penalties in the game. “I was excited to get the chance to do it. Up front, we just didn’t get it done.”
The score was still 3-0 later in the second quarter when the Ravens had the ball on their 34 with 12 seconds to go. Instead of running out the clock, the Ravens opted to throw and Flacco was strip-sacked by Nick Perry, who beat new Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe. Datone Jones picked up the ball and rumbled all the way down to the Ravens 13 before being tackled with two seconds left before halftime.
Packers place kicker Mason Crosby, who just missed a 44-yard attempt just seconds earlier, hit this time from 31 yards, allowing the Packers to take a 6-0 lead into intermission.
“We had a better chance to complete a pass [or] get an offensive pass interference than we did to have that happen,” said Harbaugh, explaining the decision to stay aggressive. “You’ve got confidence in your guys. You give your guys a chance to make plays in situations like that.”