BALTIMORE (AP)The play that most summed up Baltimore’s loss at Pittsburgh last weekend may have occurred at the end of the second quarter, when the Ravens went for it on fourth down – by accident.
It was fourth-and-2 from the Pittsburgh 23, and with little time remaining, it appeared obvious Baltimore would kick a field goal and go into halftime up 10. Instead, the ball was snapped to Lamar Jackson, who threw incomplete.
“The idea was to run the clock down and not leave them time to come the other way and then just call a timeout and kick the field goal,” coach John Harbaugh said. “They jumped the neutral zone, and guys thought they were in the neutral zone and went ahead and snapped it. So, that wasn’t what we were planning on doing. You see Lamar was surprised by the snap, so that was just one of those things operationally that we just have to get better at. That’s kind of an example really of where we’re at.”
The Ravens are 3-2, and before the season many fans might have found that kind of start promising, given the team’s injury issues and the fact that all three divisional road games were scheduled for the first five weeks. But Baltimore’s two losses – at home against Indianapolis and at Pittsburgh – felt extremely avoidable, and now it seems like the Ravens have missed a big opportunity to open a nice lead in the AFC North.
Against the Colts, Baltimore mismanaged the clock at the end of regulation and gave up a tying field goal, then lost in overtime.
The 17-10 loss to Pittsburgh was even harder to explain. Lamar Jackson was generally sharp, but the Ravens dropped several key passes and lost two fumbles. Up 10-3 in the fourth, Baltimore was still in good shape as it lined up to punt. The Ravens hadn’t allowed a touchdown in over 154 minutes and the Steelers hadn’t scored one in over 127. Then Pittsburgh blocked the punt for a safety and converted a field goal on its next drive to cut the lead to two.
Baltimore then wasted a great chance after a fumble gave the Ravens the ball at the Pittsburgh 7. Baltimore inexcusably came away with no points when Jackson’s third-down pass intended for Odell Beckham Jr. was intercepted in the end zone. It was Jackson’s first interception since the first quarter of Week 1.
The Steelers finally reached the end zone on the ensuing drive and went on to win.
“It just felt like at times that it was just too many things going wrong. It’s almost like a sleeping giant,” tight end Mark Andrews said. “We need to wake up.”
The Ravens have certainly shown they can be an excellent team at times, but it’s easy to anticipate the losses to the Colts and Steelers coming back to haunt them.
The Ravens have faced their share of rookie quarterbacks, backup quarterbacks and otherwise limited quarterbacks, but they deserve a lot of credit defensively. Only Indianapolis has managed 300 yards of offense against Baltimore, and the Colts needed overtime to do it.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The Ravens have now lost six fumbles in five games. Only Minnesota has given away more.
Jackson averaged a season-high 7.7 air yards per completion, which suggests the Ravens are making some progress in trying to throw deeper. If not for all the drops, this could have been a very impressive game for him, even with the costly interception in the end zone.
Baltimore dropped seven passes Sunday, according to Pro Football Focus. Those accounted for about half of Jackson’s 15 incompletions.
The drops clearly cost the Ravens points. Rashod Bateman dropped a pass in the end zone in the second quarter and Nelson Agholor had a ball go through his hands on a deep pass in the third.
Beckham, the team’s big offseason signing at wide receiver, had only two catches for 13 yards in his return from an ankle injury.
CB Marlon Humphrey (foot) was able to play for the first time this season. He was beaten on the winning touchdown, but his presence on the field is a good sign for Baltimore going forward.
42:23 – Baltimore’s scoreless stretch after taking a 10-0 lead over Pittsburgh.
The Ravens play in London next weekend against the Tennessee Titans.
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