Ravens only have themselves to blame for loss to Falcons – not refs

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 11: Roddy White  of the Atlanta Falcons pulls in this reception against Lardarius Webb  of the Baltimore Ravens at Georgia Dome on November 11, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Some will focus on Michael Jenkins’ catch on a 3rd and 10 that wasn’t overturned by replay. Others will talk about the pass interference call on Tavares Gooden.

Most will fixate on Roddy White’s push-off.

But they shouldn’t. The Ravens didn’t lose to the Falcons on Thursday night because of the refs. They lost because they were dominated for most of the night and couldn’t catch a break or two down the stretch.

Here’s the way I would tally the final drive of Atlanta’s dramatic 26-21 win:

Jenkins’ Reception: It was a catch. The second replay showed that Jenkins kept a kung fu grip on the ball with his fingers and secured it while getting both feet down.

Pass Interference Call: I’m surprised Gooden didn’t get stopped at the Atlanta airport and picked up for the molestation of Tony Gonzalez. It was a good call – Gooden was draped all over him.

White’s Push-Off: It was clear as day – the ref missed it. I think a stiff wind could have knocked Josh Wilson down, but nevertheless White pushed off and it was a bad no call. He should have been flagged, the Falcons should have been backed up and who knows – maybe Baltimore is 7-2 and Atlanta is 6-3.

But you know what? The Ravens have nobody to blame but themselves and here’s why:

Time of Possession: 35:09 (Falcons) to 24:51 (Ravens)
Turnovers: Ravens (2); Falcons (0)
Penalties: Ravens (6 for 51); Falcons (1 for 5)
Third Down Conversions: Falcons 12 for 20; Ravens 6 for 11

The Ravens and their fans can bitch and moan about the refs but the fact is that Atlanta dominated this game for nearly three quarters. They had the better game plan, they executed better, they kept drives alive by converting third downs, they pressured Joe Flacco – they just played better.

It was a great comeback by Baltimore, but something that will be lost in the discussion is White’s dropped pass on 3rd and 4 with just over three minutes remaining in the game. He catches that pass for a first down and maybe the Falcons put the game out of reach up 20-14 and we’re not talking about Jenkins’ catch, Gooden’s pass interference or White’s push-off. The game of football is never decided by one play – that’s the beauty of the sport.

Regardless, why wasn’t White being double-teamed on that final drive? Even the horrendous announcers (Bob Papa had himself a rough night – who is Harry Davis, Bob? Do you mean Harry Douglas?) pointed out that White should have been double covered. The guy had 11 catches for over 100 yards and a touchdown at that point and you’re going to go single coverage on him with Wilson? I would have had a small army guarding White on that final drive plus three snipers in the rafters. He was destroying Baltimore’s secondary the entire night, yet he was in single coverage for most of that drive. That’s just bad coaching.

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that Matt Ryan put together one hell of a game. His protection was outstanding the entire night and he picked apart Baltimore’s secondary. The Falcons knew the Ravens would be keying on Michael Turner, so they took the ball out of his hands (which goes against everything they want to do offensively) and put the game on Ryan’s shoulders. He responded by completing 32-of-50 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns while resembling Peyton Manning with his audible at the line of scrimmage. It was a marvelous performance by a quarterback that is heading down the road of becoming elite.

I don’t blame the Ravens (or their fans) for being upset about White’s push-off. If I were a Baltimore fan, I’d probably be pissed too. But then I’d take a step back and observe the entire picture and realize that my team didn’t show up for 60 minutes. If they had, maybe the result would have been different.

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