|Ravens learn valuable lesson in loss to Giants|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 20 August 2007 06:39|
Their 29-3 rout of the Philadelphia Eagles fueled the confidence of a team eager to build on a 13-3 season. The offense was sharp, the defense impenetrable, and miscues on either side were kept to a minimum.
There was only one problem: There wasn't much to learn from a game like that.
If the Ravens were to receive a lesson they could use for the regular season, it would have to come in a game in which they struggled - a game such as Sunday night's 13-12 loss to the New York Giants.
Baltimore failed to score a touchdown, was penalized 11 times, and permitted 182 yards rushing to a team looking to replace star running back Tiki Barber.
Ravens quarterback Steve McNair, who produced a touchdown on his only drive against the Eagles, failed to come up with an adequate encore. He was intercepted after throwing into double coverage, failed to convert a fourth-and-1 and could not get Baltimore inside New York's 20-yard line.
``I think last week we set a tall bar. You're going to have games like this,'' he said. ``That's why we play the preseason - go ahead and get it out early and be done with it. This shows you turnovers and mental mistakes will kill a team, regardless of how good you are. This is something that we can all get better for.''
The defense was guilty of being overzealous on several occasions. During New York's lone touchdown drive, three different Ravens jumped offside before the snap.
``The first thing you cannot do is go out there and try to be overaggressive. That's just the bottom line,'' linebacker Ray Lewis said. ``We're out there just trying to bust somebody in the mouth. You're going to be offsides every time, and when you do that you make your team vulnerable. As a veteran ballclub, we just can't go start games like that, when you're pretty much controlling the game defensively.''
Which is why, in retrospect, the Ravens were glad to have a night like this.
``If you don't have one of these games in preseason, it's just going to sneak up on you in the regular season,'' Lewis said.
Besides, what good would it be to go unbeaten in the preseason? That might create an improper mind-set heading into the season opener on Sept. 10 in Cincinnati.
``This type of thing is good for us. It's good for football teams to face adversity in the preseason, because you see teams go 4-0 and (stumble) when the season starts,'' defensive tackle Trevor Pryce said. ``At some point you want to get it out of the way, address all the mistakes and all the things that you did wrong, and address it in the preseason instead of Week 1.''
The one downside to Sunday's ``learning experience'' was that cornerback Samari Rolle and wide receiver Mark Clayton both left with sprained ankles.
Then again, better that happen now than during the regular season.
``I don't know the extent of it. I think we should be OK,'' coach Brian Billick said. ``Obviously one of the good things about preseason is that we still have three weeks before the opener. So hopefully they can bounce back from them.''