clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ravens vs. Bills: Key takeaways from a deflating defeat

Another painful ending

Buffalo Bills v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens failed to capitalize on a chance to secure an all-important conference win, falling to the Buffalo Bills by a score of 23-20. The Ravens went up big early and looked prime for a big statement victory but faltered in the second half.

Here’s some key takeaways from another disappointing finish.

Can’t keep their foot on the gas

You would have had a difficult time scripting a better start to this game for the Ravens. Late into the second quarter, the Ravens led by 17 points having forced multiple turnovers and scored on every offensive possession. Unfortunately, as we’ve already seen before this year, a three-score lead is evidently not enough to be comfortable.

A quick three-and-out preceded the Bills scoring on a 76-yard touchdown drive just before halftime to trim their deficit to 10 points. The Ravens came out completely flat in the third quarter going three-and-out twice and turning the ball over on their ensuing possession. During that span, the Bills put together two more scoring drives to even the score.

Just when it seemed the Ravens may retake the lead, a fourth-down interception in a goal-to-go scenario deflated a 14-play, 93-yard drive that lasted almost 10 minutes. That was the proverbial nail in the coffin as the Bills then drove downfield and kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired.

Both of their three-score blown leads this year have been different circumstantially. Regardless, when they jump out to big leads, the Ravens are now showing a tendency to tighten up offensively and loosen up defensively. That’s not a good recipe at all.

A cratering offensive performance

Another blown lead will naturally direct people’s attention to the defense. However, if you had said before this game that the Ravens held the Bills to 23 points and forced two takeaways, you’d have liked Baltimore’s chances to win. That’s what they did, but the Ravens didn’t score any points after the three-minute mark of the second quarter. That can’t happen in any game, let alone against an opponent of the Bills’ caliber.

Going three-and-out for three consecutive possessions gave the Bills continuous bites at the apple. Even after a slow start, Buffalo was bound to get some semblance of traction going offensively. The Ravens’ defense received little favors by having to quickly go back on the field in short order.

Then, just as the Ravens started to show signs of life by gaining a couple first downs, Lamar Jackson was intercepted on back-to-back drives. The second of the two was the true back-breaker. The Ravens squandered a potential go-ahead scoring opportunity after taking over nine minutes off the clock across 14 plays and 93 yards.

The decision to attempt a fourth-down conversion and not kick a field goal will highly questioned and criticized in the days to come. However, had they put together longer drives earlier in the game and executed better, that decision wouldn’t have had as much bearing in the final result.

The Ravens are a swinging pendulum

For extended stretches of games, the Ravens may be great on one side of the ball. Today, they played tremendously defensively for nearly the entire first half. In Weeks 2-3, their offense was lights out for all but a couple drives of each game. The issue is the lack of consistency. Game-to-game and quarter-to-quarter, we’ve seen different strengths and weaknesses coincide with one another.

For example, they had a season-best 13 rushing first downs today but also season-worst marks in passing first downs and passing yards. Today was their most complete defensive performance since Week 1 but also their worst offensive outing. And after handedly winning the penalty battle for three straight games, they were flagged nine times for 70 yards against the Bills. Some of these calls were questionable sure, but several of them were pre-snap penalties that hadn’t been an issue this year.

There seems to always be one or two facets that are dragging them down and negates some of the successes from other areas. That speaks to their now 2-2 record through four games, which very easily could be 4-0.

A discouraging trend continues

Today’s defeat marked the fifth straight home game that the Ravens have lost dating back to last season. Their three home defeats to end the 2021 season were looked at as a bit of an anomaly given the state of their roster. Of course every one game takes on its own identity in a way, too, but they all have one in common: the Ravens lost by four points or less and the game was decided in the final minutes.

Five straight losses at M&T Bank Stadium would have been unthinkable not too long ago. Blowing one three-score lead? No way. Doing it twice in the span of two weeks? Forget about it. Unfortunately, that is where the Ravens currently are.

This is is a negative trend they need to correct moving forward and quickly. Their next two home games are against divisional opponents starting with the Cincinnati Bengals coming to town next Sunday night. Winning on the road is great but the Ravens simply need to execute better down the stretch in their own stadium, as well.