[Originally posted Jan. 22, 2012]
This loss against the Patriots is too painful for much comment. [However, I need to moderate the strident initial tone here as I edit this after a day’s cooling off period!] As always the play calling was too conservative and Cam did not let Joe Flacco compete until it was too late. Instead of starting the game strong, we called running plays on first down on the initial three drives. But to Cam’s credit, he did finally get Flacco out of the pocket with some rollouts that were effective. He also took some shots downfield that were wide open. The defense kept us in the game, but we did not have time to recover from last second miscues. That is what happens when your tendency is to allow for so little margin of error.
In keeping with my penchant for alliterative outlines, I will sum up the game in this agonizing three point picture portrait:
I. OOPS — Evans has the winning TD stripped from his hands in the end zone. But I was glad to see him get a chance to shine in this game after his one-handed grab against the Texans. He has been dying for a chance to contribute to this season and has had such a frustrating time of it with his injuries. I agreed with the decision to target him in the end zone and you have to give Joe all the credit in the world for bringing the team back to what should have been a win. But as Ray Lewis points out with such a mature perspective — it is either God’s time for you or it is not. Evans stood in front of the reporters in the locker room afterwards and took the heat for what was a lucky swipe by the rookie db.
II. OUCH — Billy Cundiff chokes on his last second tying field goal and yanks a chip shot wide left. This mistake is hard to explain. But in sports like in life it does not always go the way you want. I guess in retrospect it would have been better to use the final timeout and allow him to gather himself. But the unit is used to practicing at a frenzied pace in getting off these short field goals. Billy seems like such a nice guy and stepped up to the podium to take his whipping like a class act. I hope his family can recover without too much heartache because a miss like this makes it tough to continue to live in such a rabid football city. I like the way the players rally behind one another because it certainly is true that a game does not really revolve around a single play. We had many opportunities to put away the Patriots. We win as a team and we lose as a team. Billy, I wish you the best!
III. OINK — What a stinking way to finish off a great season! We played hard as always and we have a great bunch of guys that exhibit good character both on and off the field. As fans we can be proud of their accomplishments this year. But the dreams of what could have been will linger for a long time.