3 & Out: Ravens need to improve pass rush
With the trade of Anquan Boldin and the injury to Dennis Pitta, the Ravens lost their two most reliable, chain-moving receivers. Someone would need to step up to make those key third-down catches.
Brandon Stokley was seen as one such option, but he's been banged up and inactive for the past five games.
At Chicago, Tandon Doss had a chance to shine in that role, but he literally dropped the ball. Quarterback Joe Flacco looked to Doss on two critical third-down plays late in the game, and in both cases Doss failed to come up with the catch.
"I just have to start making those plays," Doss said after the game, according to the team Web site.
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With the Ravens facing third-and-1 at their own 19 midway through the fourth quarter, Flacco threw for Doss on the right side. The pass might have moved in the ferocious wind, but it bounced off Doss' fingertips and fell incomplete. To his credit, Doss didn't using the weather as an excuse.
"No matter what the conditions are, we’re supposed to be able to play ball, and be able to make plays when the ball is thrown to us," he said.
In overtime, Flacco looked to Doss over the middle on third-and-5 from the Bears' 46. Doss was tightly covered by Tim Jennings, but the pass hit Doss in the hands and fell incomplete again. That turned out to be the Ravens' last offensive play. The Ravens were forced to punt, and the Bears proceeded to drive 60 yards for the game-winning field goal.
Doss, who had an outstanding catch along the sideline earlier in the game, finished with three catches for 37 yards. And while he's enjoyed quite a career revival, with 18 catches for 305 yards and a punt return touchdown since being cut in August and then re-signed after Jacoby Jones' injury in Week 1, the two throws that slipped through his hands in Chicago were costly and he knows it.
“It was one or two plays on either side of the ball," he said. "I couldn’t make the catch at the end to keep things going."