You can puff out your chest about September victories over the New York Jets and the post-Tom Brady New England Patriots all you want, but the Ravens look like a team that doesn’t know how to win against a top-shelf competitor. And while we were understandably quick to chalk up everything about that six-game losing streak to close last season to their many injuries — none more significant than Jackson missing the last four contests, of course — some of the late-game shortcomings have carried over to 2022 with the Ravens having lost eight of their last 10 regular-season games. Even Jackson — off to an MVP-caliber start overall — made a brutal mistake in a critical moment.
Neither side of the ball played a complete game against Miami or Buffalo, and it cost them dearly in both losses. And while it’s important to acknowledge the other team tries too, the coverage busts against the Dolphins and Oweh’s late-game tackle on Sunday are just two examples of what you wouldn’t expect to see from a well-coached team with the game on the line.
No, the Ravens haven’t done the little things — or the big things — well against their toughest opponents, which leaves them still searching for their place within the AFC hierarchy nearly a quarter of the way through the season. They’d better figure it out quickly with division rival Cincinnati coming to town for Sunday Night Football next week.
If you don’t look at it analytically, here’s what John Harbaugh might as well have said after his fourth-and-goal decision failed to produce the desired results in a 23-20 defeat to Buffalo.
“If you look at it analytically” — Harbaugh’s words after this game — smart people might make the same choice.
The Ravens do make decisions analytically, but Harbaugh would not have been lying if he had said something along these lines: “As you know, we are not what we used to be on defense. Maybe we do miss Wink Martindale since canning him and replacing him with a less-experienced coordinator off my brother’s staff. Look, we were facing a top-five QB today in Josh Allen and like the rest of you, I had zero faith we could hold him to a mere field goal. It’s not 2000 around here, or even 2020. We just gave up six touchdowns to Miami, after all. And sure enough, Josh Allen did lead Buffalo right down the field. The only reason the Bills did not score a touchdown was because they did not want or need to score one.”
Harbaugh probably won’t have to make the same decision again. According to TruMedia, this was the fourth time since 2000 that an NFL team faced fourth-and-goal from the 2 with between 2-5 minutes remaining in a tie game. The last time was 2018, when Cincinnati kicked a field goal for the lead over Miami, then won the game 27-17. The Ravens were the only team to go for it in that situation.
Rashod Bateman is a tremendous talent, but the Ravens need more consistency from him.
Of the six balls thrown Bateman’s way, three skipped off his hands, an unacceptable percentage for the team’s No. 1 wide receiver.
Bateman’s most harmful drop came in the third quarter, when Jackson hit him in the hands, in stride, on a third-down play that might have ended in the end zone and would surely have extended a crucial drive. Instead, the Ravens punted, and the Bills marched 80 yards to a game-tying touchdown.
To be fair, this was a difficult day for every pass catcher on the field thanks to slick conditions created by the remnants of of Hurricane Ian. The Bills dropped plenty of Allen’s passes.
But we did not see Bateman the next time the Ravens had the ball, with the game hanging in the balance. We did not see him on their final drive.
He was moving uncomfortably after the game, so health might have been a factor in his absence. He declined an interview request. “I’ll have to go back and look at that,” Harbaugh said when asked why Bateman did not return to the game. “I’m not sure why.”
The Ravens cannot allow Bateman’s difficulties to fester. He came into the game averaging 28.3 yards per catch and is easily Jackson’s top downfield target. At his best, he extends to snatch the ball out of the air like no one else on the team. But reliability is just as important as brilliance for a No. 1 receiver.
Ravens Need to Take Back Their Home Field Advantage - Todd Karpovich
Baltimore has lost those five games by a total of 12 points
The Ravens have not won a home game since beating the Cleveland Browns 16-10 on Nov. 28, 2021.
Entering the game against the Bills, the Ravens had the NFL’s third-best home winning percentage (.719), going 82-32 at M&T Bank Stadium under Harbaugh since 2008.
NFL contenders or pretenders? Jaguars, Falcons in playoff mix; Jets, Seahawks aren’t postseason teams - Adam Schein
Baltimore has problems. Two weeks after blowing a 21-point lead in a home loss to Miami, the Ravens choked away a 17-point edge in a home loss to Buffalo. That is not Ravens football. And John Harbaugh’s late decision to eschew a chip-shot field goal in favor of an ill-fated fourth-down pass made no sense to me — not in a tie game, with just over four minutes remaining.
Baltimore’s defense has serious issues, especially against the pass. Heavy rain helped the Ravens keep Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs in check on Sunday, but this D has legit question marks in the secondary and among the edge rushers not named Odafe Oweh. That’s a bad combo with the resurgent Bengals coming to town this week for Sunday Night Football.
All that said, the Ravens have something no one else has: Lamar Jackson. Sunday wasn’t his best effort — again, the rain kind of put a damper on the highly anticipated Allen-Jackson QB showdown — but he remains as sensational a talent as the league has today. I didn’t pick the Ravens to make the playoffs before the season kicked off, but I appreciate the fact that they’re always postseason contenders when No. 8 is upright and doing his thing.