Oakland, CA – The long ball, a crucial turnover and an unpredictable pass led to a outstanding start by the Baltimore Ravens. The Derek Carr-less Raiders looked great behind EJ Manuel, but it was the combination of mistakes and bad defense in the secondary that failed against a dominant offense in the first half.
“Pretty disappointing,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “Started the game the way we did, allowing big plays over the top of us. Getting fumbled recovered, coming back for a touchdown. Down 14-0 before second quarter, fans are sitting down. Tough way to start.”
Joe Flacco bounced back after last week blowout, and led his offense past the Raiders today. The Ravens 30-17 victory is another crushing blow to Oakland who falls 2-3 in five weeks. This is the first time they have fallen below .500 since the 2015 season.
“We gave up a deep ball the first play of the game,” said safety Karl Joseph. “We can’t do that.”
On the first play of the series, Flacco went deep to Reggie Nelson for 52 yards. Terrance West rushed for 13 yards before being carried off the field, he injured his calf and did not return. Vince Mayle followed with the 2-yard carry for the touchdown. Baltimore set the tone early with five plays for 75 yards.
The Raiders used their running game down field before EJ Manuel found a open Jared Cook who fumbled the ball. Jimmy Smith recovered for the 47-yard touchdown giving the Ravens an easy 14-0 lead. Oakland used both the running and passing to power down field. But unable to convert on third down, Giorgio Tavecchio kicked a 32-yard field goal to make it a 14-3 game in the first quarter.
“I was just trying to put the ball on my outside arm and the defender came through and swiped it, tackled me at the same time,” Cook said. “That was my fault. Self-inflicted wounds is not something we need on this offense and that definitely was a huge mistake that turned into points for them.”
During the next series, on third down, Flacco tripped off his own feet, got sacked and threw the ball up which landed in the hands of Jeremy Maclin who got the first down. That play alone stunned the Raiders and fans. Javorius Allen followed with a 1-yard touchdown to extend the Ravens lead 21-3.
Manuel clapped back with a 41-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree. But Flacco who has no fear tossed another long ball, this one for 54 yards to Mike Wallace. Oakland’s defense held Baltimore and forced them to kick their first field goal. Justin Tucker kicked a 22-yard field goal making it a 24-10 game to end the half.
It’s the nature of the beast,” said Manuel. “I’ve been in every situation you can think of in this league, for the most part, so it wasn’t something to get me rattled or our offense rattled. There’s no such thing as a 14-point touchdown or anything like that, so you just have to go one touchdown at a time.”
The Raiders returned with better defense in the second half, forcing the Ravens to punt twice giving Oakland a chance to get back in this game. That’s when Manuel took over, mid-way through the third quarter, connecting with Seth Roberts for 26 yards. Then he found Crabtree for back-to-back passes for 9 and 7 yards. That setup Maunel’s 10 yard quarterback scramble before Marshawn Lynch’s 3-yard touchdown.
But that exciting series wasn’t enough to hold Baltimore’s offense. Tucker kicked a 21-yard field goal making it a 27-17 game in the fourth. Then followed with another field goal for 44-yards. At that point nothing went right for the Raiders leaving them with more questions on just where this team stands.
“Yeah, play with more confidence. Fluttered balls in the air, not coming up with them. To me it’s a confidence thing,” Del Rio said.
Oakland recored their third straight loss and will host the Los Angeles Chargers next week. If it’s a confidence thing, than that is something that can be adjusted quickly. However, as far as their secondary, Sean Smith has the pressure on him while Gareon Conley (shin) and David Amerson (concussion) are out. Smith has not been successful in the last three games but this too can change.