The Ravens have obviously played over their heads this season. A 2-0 start with a hurricane bye week to boot has this Baltimore team we all thought would finish last in the AFC North on the top of their division, an awkward position considering the circumstances.
They were playing without their top two quarterbacks, the star running back was struggling with estranged injuries and the defense was aging faster than Blink-182. That is why, when facing what appears to be the cream of the crop in the AFC, no matter their injury struggles, you don't sit on the ball with 1:30 left in the 4th quarter with a chance to beat the defending division champions. You don't. You just don't.
What you need to do is give Joe Flacco a chance. The guy looks as awkward as a virgin in a strip club behind center, dumping off five yard check downs all night long against a Steelers defense with nothing but intensity and a little nastiness. The rookie quarterback from Delaware with nothing to hang on his hat on needed a rack and this was the chance to give it to him. Win or lose you're telling Flacco he is the quarterback you're putting your trust in and no matter if Troy Smith comes back in a week or two, this is your man right now. Running the ball in hopes of something positive happening in overtime isn't professional football and it definitely isn't taking advantage of what food is being served in front of you.
Mike Shanahan showed us two weeks ago what you do with house money. It might have been a moronic decision to go for two when an extra point ties it, but the Broncos head coach realized that he'd just been given free parking in a huge game of Monopoly. John Harbaugh had a chance to do this, and as good as the Ravens defense looked, failed with his decision.
Irony hit an all-time NFL high when the overtime kickoff penalty brought the Ravens back to their own 15. First and ten, 15-yard line, same smell, different cologne.
The Ravens lost the game because their offense is clearly inferior. They might have just as well tossed an interception in those final 90 seconds of regulation and had the Steelers set up for a field goal. The difference is, they controlled their own destiny with that decision. Instead, they left the outcome up to a coin flip and special teams. Flacco will go to be a little less of a man as his head hits the pillow tonight than he was this afternoon. For that, the Ravens will go back to being just another AFC team instead of a serious threat in 2008.