Flacco, Baltimore offense struggles in red zone vs. New England

Flacco, Baltimore offense struggles in red zone vs. New England
December 22, 2013, 10:30 pm
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Joe Flacco: "My knee felt great"

(Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports)

BALTIMORE--The Ravens have scored one touchdown in their last eight quarters. Does that sound like a playoff team to you? Against the Lions, the Ravens got away with not reaching the end zone, as Justin Tucker kicked six field goals. But Sunday against the Patriots, the Ravens paid dearly for their lack of offense.

Converting in the red zone continued to be a major problem for the Ravens. Actually, getting to the red zone was also a problem. The Ravens did not penetrate inside the Patriots’ 20-yard line until late in the third quarter. And on that trip, the Ravens came away empty.

On third-and-one from the Patriots’ four-yard line, the Ravens went to an empty backfield, not even giving the illusion that they might run. Joe Flacco’s pass intended for Dennis Pitta sailed high over his head, bringing up fourth down.

[RELATED: Flacco says knee 'felt great' in loss to New England on Sunday]

The Ravens decided to go for it, already trailing 20-0. First they showed an empty backfield again. Then they called timeout, and put Ray Rice in the backfield. Rice took the handoff but what stopped short on fourth down. Rice thought he made it and wanted coach John Harbaugh to challenge he spot. But Harbaugh did not challenge, and the Patriots took over on downs.

“They told me upstairs that we wouldn’t have gotten it, that it was short,” Harbaugh said.

The Ravens ‘ offense came up short in general. Their only touchdown came on a Flacco one-yard sneak with over nine minutes to play, pulling the Ravens to within 20-7. At that point, the Ravens were still in it. But the Ravens stalled on their next drive, and over the last 2½ minutes, the Patriots scored three touchdowns to put the game out of hand.

The Ravens thought their offense would be more productive once Pitta was back in the lineup. However, that has not happened. They still struggle in the red zone. They still have a weak running game. The Ravens have clearly not solved their offensive problems. But this much is clear. They are running out of time.

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