By John EisenbergRavens InsiderCSNbaltimore.com
NASHVILLE, Tenn. You know they enjoyed this one in Pittsburgh.
A week after the Ravens opened the season with a brilliant victory over the Steelers that seemed to suggest a magical season might be in the offing, they were humbled by the Tennessee Titans, 26-13.
The only thing magical about this was the snap-your-fingers disappearance of the Ravens who routed Pittsburgh.
Their new-look offensive line opened few holes for Ray Rice and couldnt keep Tennessee from pressuring Joe Flacco. The Ravens quarterback had little time to throw, few open receivers to target, no running game to support him and hurt himself with a pair of bad reads that produced interceptions.
Meanwhile, the Titans controlled the ball with a possession passing game orchestrated by veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who looked extremely sharp, beating Baltimore blitzes all day. The Ravens did a nice job of slowing Chris Johnson, the Titans game-breaking back, but they had no answer for receiver Kenny Britt, who was too fast and physical for their secondary.
Jimmy Smith, when thats ankle going to be healed?
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said during the week that the team knew it was in for a tough game in Tennessees home opener, and also said the Ravens wouldnt suffer a letdown after their emotional performance against Pittsburgh. But the Titans played with more energy and emotion, while the Ravens looked lethargic.
The defeat leaves the Ravens with a 1-1 record going into next Sunday's game against the Rams in St. Louis. No game this early in the season is a must-win, but if the Ravens were to lose again, they would have a 1-2 record going into their Oct. 2 home game against the Jets, a tough opponent.
They don't want to start the season 1-3.
"We'll watch the film of this one and move on," running back Ray Rice said. "But it's a film we can learn from."
Is it ever.
The Ravens have fashioned a fine record against opponents with losing records in the John Harbaugh era; this was just their second loss under Harbaugh to a team with a sub.-500 record coming into the game.
But this defeat was especially disappointing. The Ravens hinted that they might be ready to become an elite team in week 1, but no elite team performs so inconsistently.
Cary Williams, whom the Ravens plucked from the Titans practice squad in 2009, had a rough homecoming. He was hit with a couple of penalties and beaten on a couple of long passes. Hasselbeck picked on him all afternoon. "A humbling defeat," Williams said.
I had to laugh when the Titans Rob Bironas missed a 34-yard field goal in the first quarter. Theres a long history of quality Tennessee kickers missing field goals against the Ravens, usually at crucial moments in playoff games.
If the Ravens new-look offensive line had played this poorly in its first game together, people would have said, I told you so. But since it was in the second game, after a strong performance in the opener, people said, What happened?