The Baltimore Ravens have never started a season with two losses under head coach John Harbaugh. As the saying goes, there’s a first time for everything. The Ravens now sit at 0-2 after a 37 – 33 loss to the Oakland Raiders. The offense was able to produce 33 points, but it wasn’t enough.
Things got off to a rough start on offense for the Ravens. Joe Flacco connected with Kamar Aiken on the first play but he fumbled and the Raiders recovered. Steve Smith Sr. came up with some big catches on the following drives and had 104 receiving yards in the first half. Crockett Gillmore emerged as a legitimate threat as well. Gillmore rumbled through the Raiders secondary on his way to scoring two touchdowns in the first half.
The game was a seesaw battle with the Raiders taking the lead, only to have the Ravens tie the game multiple times. Will Hill came up with a fourth quarter interception of a Derek Carr pass to give the Ravens the ball with a chance to take the lead. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Ravens took the lead by way of a 31 yard field goal by Justin Tucker.
Flacco had Steve Smith open in the corner of the end zone earlier in the series, but put a little too much air on the pass that landed incomplete. Smith continued to be a threat for the Ravens in the second half but the Raiders made an adjustment to slow down Gillmore. The Raiders started to double team Gillmore and get physical at the line to keep him from getting a free release. As a result, Gillmore had one catch for nine yards in the second half.
The running game continued to be an area of improvement for the Ravens. Justin Forsett came up with some timely runs that got a couple of first downs but he only had 68 yards rushing on the day. Lorenzo Taliaferro made his debut and scored a seven yard touchdown on a draw play. Buck Allen gained five yards on his only carry. Collectively, the Ravens rushed for 109 yards.
There were some plays that the offense left on the field, but they did more than enough to win the game. The Ravens secured 29 first downs and put up 493 yards of total offense. Flacco passed for 384 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Smith hauled in 10 receptions for 150 yards.
The Raiders put together a game winning drive that started from their own 20 yard line. Derek Carr completed seven out of nine passes on the last drive. They worked the two minute drill to perfection. Carr connected with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree along the boundary.
A holding call against Will Hill negated an interception by Hill that would have sealed the game. He finished the drive on the next play when he found Seth Roberts across the middle for a 12 yard touchdown that put them ahead for good.
There is no room to point fingers or place the blame on offense or defense. The bottom line is that the Ravens didn’t play well enough to win. They will return to M&T Bank Stadium next week when they host the 2-0 Cincinnati Bengals.
As Flacco pointed out, it doesn’t get any easier for the Ravens. “We have a tough road ahead. We have to claw our way back into it. We have to take it one game at a time,” Flacco said. “We’ve been in tough spots before. We have to make sure we don’t lose any confidence in any situation and stay tight knit.”