Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ravens' offensive line struggles

It resembled an old-fashioned stampede, and the Baltimore Ravens got trampled.

Quarterback Joe Flacco was battered, harassed and practically imbedded in the turf by a ferocious Pittsburgh Steelers pass rush.
The Ravens' offensive line had zero answers for a formidable front seven as they were dominated by blue-chip outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley.

During a 31-24 loss in an AFC divisional playoff game Saturday night at Heinz Field, the Ravens surrendered five sacks.
"It's an elite pass rush," offensive tackle Tony Moll said. "They come off the ball so fast. That's what makes them really good. There were mistakes up and down the board that we would love to have back.
It was Moll who was dusted by Woodley on a blitz off the right edge.
Harrison did plenty of damage, too.
He sacked Flacco three times for 21 yards of losses, recording seven tackles, two quarterback hits and two pass deflections.
Harrison consistently beat left offensive tackle Michael Oher.

"Great player, great player," Oher said. "That guy's almost unstoppable. We got to finish people off and get better as the game goes on."

Woodley finished with three tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery.
"Yeah, we hit Flacco a few times," Woodley said. "We applied a lot of pressure to him, sacked him a few times, got some bad passes. So, it worked out in our favor."
With Flacco under so much duress, the Ravens rarely were able to build any rhythm with their passing game.
Flacco passed for only 125 yards, completing 16 of 30 passes for one touchdown and one interception for a 61.1 passer rating.

"I feel like they played tough the whole game," offensive tackle Marshal Yanda said. "Obviously, frustrated. We couldn't get it done. It's tough to go out like that, but it is what it is."
Plus, six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk flubbed a snap when he delivered the football too early to Flacco.

Overall, it was a rough night for an offensive line that allowed 40 sacks in the regular season and nine sacks in two playoff games.
The Ravens had problems all season and seemed affected greatly by the season-ending back injury to left tackle Jared Gaither.

"Some mistakes, things like snapping it early, that's a self-inflicted wound," Birk said. "But they're making plays, you know. Playing a good team on the road, especially in the playoffs, you've got to be at your best.

"In the third quarter, they got back in the game score-wise and momentum-wise. We just had a hard time getting going after that. They're good, so we've got to play better. We didn't win enough battles to win the game."
source:  National Football Post
author:  Aaron Wilson

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