Passing game ground to a halt

Passing game ground to a halt
December 3, 2012, 1:45 am
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The Ravens had first-and-goal from the 10-yard line early in the second quarter. After Ray Rice ran for 4 yards on first down, Joe Flacco twice threw incompletions intended for Anquan Boldin in the end zone, and the Ravens had to settle for a field goal.

It was that kind of missed opportunity that defined the Ravens on Sunday in their 23-20 loss to the Steelers.

Flacco finished 16-for-34 for 188 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. His quarterback rating of 61.9 was his worst at home this season and his second-lowest at home in the past three years.

Flacco, who also lost a fumble after James Harrison rushed from the blind side and knocked the ball from his hand, said, “I think we missed a couple of opportunities early in the game to take a better hold of the game. I thought we could have put up 30 or 40 points today, and we didn’t do it. That’s probably the best reflection that we hurt ourselves a little bit.”

The Steelers brought the league’s No.1-ranked defense to Baltimore, but the feeling in the Ravens locker room afterward was that this was one that got away.

“It shouldn’t have been close. If we execute, it wouldn’t have been a close game,” said Ravens receiver Torrey Smith.

“Everything’s about execution,” Smith added. “They didn’t do anything special. We stopped ourselves. They made plays. We didn’t.”

The Ravens indeed had their chances. The Steelers lost starting cornerback Ike Taylor to an ankle injury early in the game, and the Ravens at times picked on his replacement, Cortez Allen. Anquan Boldin caught a 28-yard touchdown pass against Allen, but the Ravens also missed  other opportunities.

They came out firing, throwing on their first six offensive plays, including a deep pass that went in and out of the hands of Smith, who was covered by Taylor. Ray Rice and Tandon Doss both dropped passes while open, and Flacco underthrew Smith a couple of times, allowing Steelers defensive backs to break up the pass.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” said Smith, who was targeted eight times and finished with three catches for 33 yards. “Regardless of how tough it might be, it’s my job to make a play. More often times than not I make it. A couple of plays I left on the field I’m very upset about.”

Boldin, who finished with a team-high five catches for 81 yards, was also upset with the officiating, still hot afterward about a pass interference call against him that nullified a 17-yard gain. Boldin said he was being held.

“They were making bad calls all night,” Boldin said. “They may not want me to say it, but it’s just what it was. You can’t allow a guy to hold, and then when a receiver breaks free, call pass interference. I mean you can’t have it both ways. If you’re going to allow us to play football, let us play football.”

In the end, though Boldin, like others, lamented the missed chances.

“We felt like we left plays out there,” Boldin said. “We felt like we could have put them away early. (We) missed opportunites here and there.”