The Baltimore Ravens committed a season high 136 penalty yards in Sunday’s 24-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Penalties were not just a problem on Sunday, they have been a problem all season. This is the fourth game that the team has committed over 10 penalties in a game and man is it frustrating to watch. The Ravens are on track to commit a franchise record 134 penalties for 1,166 yards this season. They sit second only to the Oakland Raiders in penalties committed.
The Ravens kept the game close in the first half, but shot themselves in the foot with penalties. They were not able to put up any points in the second half and the Cowboys were able to pull away. A game that could have been won was thrown away because of a lack of discipline. A mistake free game was the difference and the Cowboys were able to accomplish that.
The absence of number one corner-back Jimmy Smith definitely hurt the secondary, but most of the penalties came on the offensive side of the ball. Center Jeremy Zuttah was a major culprit, committing three penalties during the game. The most notable came on an unnecessary roughing penalty on Cowboy’s safety J.J Wilcox. There was absolutely no need for Zuttah to make the hit. It had no affect on the outcome of the play and negated a nine yard run by Kenneth Dixon. Zuttah also tacked on two holding penalties, one of which nullified a 15 yard screen play by Kyle Juszczyk.
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The offense has struggled mightily this season and penalties are a direct cause of that. It also does not help that the Ravens have started seven different offensive line combinations this season. False starts and holding penalties can be the difference in having a 2nd or 3rd down and short to 2nd or 3rd down and long. Unfortunately, the Ravens are still inconsistent on the offensive side of the ball and lack a big time play-maker.
At some point the blame must come back on to the coaching staff. The team clearly lacks discipline on both sides of the ball. It is obvious that there are penalties stem from other problems such as injuries, but some are just silly. The Ravens pride themselves on playing physical football, but sometimes it can cost them. John Harbaugh and the coaching staff need to correct these problems or the Ravens are going to continue to struggle.
The good news for the Ravens is that they still sit atop of the AFC North. They come up against a struggling Bengals team who just lost two of their best offensive weapons in A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard. It is not too late for John Harbaugh and the coaching staff to fix some of these problems, but they will need to ASAP. The Ravens travel to New England in two weeks to take on the Patriots and will need a mistake free game if they want to have any chance to win.