Thursday, April 17th, 2014

What’s Important Now: Cleaning Up the Silly Mistakes

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While the obvious subject for this week’s installment of “What’s Important Now” with the Pittsburgh Steelers next on the schedule would have been improving the atrocious pass-blocking of the offensive line, with the news today that neither James Harrison (9 sacks in 10 career games against the Ravens) nor LaMarr Woodley (9.5 in 10) that issues becomes just a tad less pressing.

Of course, protecting Joe Flacco better will be key to long-term success of this team not only this week but moving forward, but when I went back and re-watched the Ravens-Cardinals game yesterday, another glaring issue jumped out at me: the ridiculous amount of times the purple and black shot themselves in the foot Sunday.

Let’s look at the list of only OFFENSIVE penalties the Ravens racked up against Arizona:

  • 2-3-ARI 3 (12:55) PENALTY on BAL-78-B.McKinnie, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at ARZ 3 – No Play.
  • 2-2-BAL 17 (9:07) 5-J.Flacco sacked at BAL 8 for -9 yards (50-O.Schofield). FUMBLES (50-O.Schofield), RECOVERED by ARZ-90-D.Dockett at BAL 2. 90-D.Dockett to BAL 2 for no gain (84-E.Dickson). Penalty on BAL, Illegal Formation, declined.
  • 3-10-BAL 28 (6:51) (Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco pass short middle to 27-R.Rice to BAL 34 for 6 yards (94-S.Acho). Penalty on BAL-78-B.McKinnie, Illegal Formation, declined.
  • 1-10-ARI 42 (2:00) (Shotgun) PENALTY on BAL-65-A.Gurode, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at ARZ 42 – No Play.
  • 1-10-BAL 47 (3:12) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco pass short right to 34-R.Williams to BAL 50 for 3 yards (27-M.Adams). PENALTY on BAL-65-A.Gurode, Illegal Use of Hands, 10 yards, enforced at BAL 47 – No Play.
  • 1-10-BAL 20 (8:48) (Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco pass short middle to 27-R.Rice to BAL 27 for 7 yards (79-D.Carter). PENALTY on BAL-27-R.Rice, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 14 yards, enforced at BAL 27.
  • 3-7-ARI 40 (3:25) (Shotgun) PENALTY on BAL-77-M.Birk, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at ARZ 40 – No Play.

Seven penalties (5 accepted) on the offense, and this on a day where Michael Oher miraculously managed to keep his number out of the official’s mouths. Five of the seven were pre-snap flags (3 false starts, 2 illegal formation), which is completely unacceptable for a HOME GAME! It’s gonna be a heck of a lot louder when you’re on offense in Pittsburgh Sunday night than it was in B’More the other day, fellas.

When you’re struggling as an offense, and have shown to be prone to falling into deep and extended lulls of production as the Ravens have this season, the last thing you can tolerate is these kinds of self-inflicted wounds.

Yes, the taunting call on Rice was B.S., but that was just one of the seven infractions against the offensive unit Sunday.

And then you have Bryant McKinnie, who has been playing in the NFL for 10 years but still can’t figure out how to line up legally?

Come on, man.

Throw in the four defensive and two special teams penalties Sunday, and the Ravens were flagged a total of 13 times. Eleven of those were accepted for a total of 99 yards.

And yes, granted the officials on Sunday were WAY too involved in the game, as anybody watching would attest. For proof, look no further than the fact that the Ravens, despite their sloppy play, actually accepted more flags than the Cardinals did (12 Arizona penalties for 92 yards.)

The fact remains that they need to get these things cleaned up, and quickly. Ravens-Steelers games are ALWAYS tightly called, as the referees know the bad blood that exists between these two teams and will attempt to keep things from getting too chippy on the field. Infractions like the two “Taunts” called on Baltimore last week, while seemingly minor and ticky-tack, are just as likely to be flagged up at Heinz Field.

We’ve had more than enough games against Pittsburgh through the years decided because of the whims of the guys in stripes. Let’s get these things cleaned up so Sunday night isn’t another in the long line of Ravens-Steelers games that have us hating yellow flags nearly as much as we hate yellow rags.

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