Ravens open playbook, but offense remains a mystery

Ravens open playbook, but offense remains a mystery
November 10, 2013, 6:15 pm
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Rices maintains confidence in Ravens after win

The Ravens opened up the offensive playbook on Sunday – using a flea-flicker and an end-around starring backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor – but one troubling fact remains: The basic offense is still a mystery more than halfway through the 2013 season.

The Ravens escaped with a 20-17, overtime win over Cincinnati at M&T Bank Stadium despite going scoreless and totaling 57 yards of offense in the second half.

For most of the game, the Ravens’ best offense was the penalty flag. The Bengals were whistled for nine penalties for 134 yards – near as much as Joe Flacco threw for (140).

The biggest penalty came on the Ravens first razzle-dazzle play. On the first play of the Ravens’ second possession, Flacco handed off to Ray Rice, who ran forward, then turned and lateraled back to Flacco, who threw deep for Jacoby Jones. The ball was underthrown, but Bengals safety Reggie Nelson was called for pass interference – a 48-yard penalty that gave the Ravens first-and-goal at the 5. That led to a 1-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to tight end Dallas Clark.

The Ravens also showed a little more trickery later in the first half, with Taylor gaining 18 yards on an end-around.

“It’s a little changeup, and it’s awesome to put some wrinkles in, something that’s not really traditional,” wide receiver Torrey Smith said. “You have to sneak in those plays at times. Luckily for us today, they were both productive.”

Harbaugh said there was a conscious effort this week to shake things up offensively.

For the most part, those are all plays that we’ve practiced before, and have been in game plans,” Harbaugh said, “You have to cause some problems for a defense, and those plays got some yards for us.”

Little else did, though, and that has to remain the troubling thing about the win, which snapped a three-game losing streak.

Flacco was 20-for-36 for 140 yards, with two touchdowns and threw two interceptions. He was sacked five times and lost a fumble. He again missed some open receivers and made some ill-advised throws.

The running game again got virtually nothing going, with Ray Rice (18 carries, 30 yards)  and Bernard (8-31) averaging 2.3 yards a carry.

So the razzle-dazzle helped, but the basics are still a struggle.

“We’ve got to run the ball better,” said Harbaugh, echoing what has become a weekly theme. “We’ve got to get our passing game going, too. Those two things go hand in hand. … We’ve got to find a way to move the ball better. We will We have to.”