The Ravens proved they could get up for a matchup with the Steelers in Week One, now they have to prove they are capable of giving a strong effort every week.
They weren’t up to the task against the Titans this Sunday and lost 26-13 as a result. They were lucky to escape a sloppy first half with the score tied at 10 and then got their doors blown off in the third quarter by a Titans team that made a ton of big plays through the air. Matt Hasselbeck hit Nate Washington for 42 yards on the second play of the half en route to a Javon Ringer touchdown and wound up throwing for 114 yards during a quarter that ended with the Titans ahead 20-10.
The Ravens’ last best chance to get back into the game went away on their first possession of the fourth quarter when Joe Flacco was picked off by Jason McCourty. The Titans got another field goal and things were never in any doubt for Tennessee after that point. Hasselbeck wound up throwing for 358 yards and passed the 30,000-yard plateau for his career.
He figures to add quite a few yards to that total as long as Kenny Britt remains in the lineup this season. Britt was a beast for the second straight week — nine catches for 135 yards and a touchdown — and is looking like the kind of player that is going to make life miserable for every defensive coordinator he faces this year. As long as Washington keeps holding onto the balls thrown in his direction and the line keeps his uniform as clean as it was at the end of this game, Hasselbeck is going to put up some numbers for the Titans.
Britt might also help Chris Johnson get on track. He finished with 53 yards on 24 carries this week and gave way to Ringer on the scoring drive that turned the game around. Now that the Titans are showing teams they can move the ball in the air, there should be more room for Johnson to operate on the ground.
It was a big step backward for the Ravens defense, which didn’t record a sack and forced just one turnover, but Flacco’s performance serving as the most troubling of the day. He completed less than half his passes, got intercepted twice and threw for 71 of his 197 yards on one drive when the Ravens were already down 13 in the fourth quarter. Throw in a screen pass that Ray Rice took 37 yards for a touchdown in the first half and you’ve got a pretty bleak majority of the day for the Ravens quarterback who never looked comfortable when the Titans applied pressure against an offensive line that was missing Ben Grubbs.
All in all, it was reminiscent of the start of last season when the Ravens followed up an emotionally charged win over the Jets with a loss to the Bengals. That comparison doesn’t extend to the Titans. They look like they will be a lot better than that Bengals group and the way they performed this week makes you wonder how they managed to lose to the Jaguars a week ago.