In the hours after, it’s still difficult to process the Baltimore Ravens’ 42-38 loss against the Miami Dolphins this past Sunday. A lot went right for three quarters, a lot more than things than went wrong. Then, that equation totally flipped in the final 15 minutes of play.
Let’s run through the good, the not-so-good, and the ugly developments from Week 2.
For a second straight week, the Ravens had no issues generating explosive plays. The game began with a 103-yard kickoff return touchdown by Devin Duvernay. The offense had no issues pushing the ball downfield through the air, as Lamar Jackson was firing on all cylinders against the Dolphins’ defense.
Rashod Bateman’s 75-yard touchdown catch and Jackson’s 79-yard touchdown run were the premier highlight moments. In total, the Ravens had about 10 plays that went for 15+ yards, almost all through the air, and even more that went for 10+ yards. Jackson averaged 11.0 yards per throw and 13.2 yards per rush.
A big reason why Jackson had such a successful performance was because he had ample time to throw. The Ravens’ offensive line held up very well in pass protection against a formidable defensive front. Jackson was not sacked nor hit once the entire game.
The Ravens were flagged just once the entire game. It was a delay of game call for negative five yards in the midst of the team’s 18-play drive in the first quarter. After that, they were not penalized again. Meanwhile, the Dolphins were penalized eight times as team for 51 total yards, so the Ravens won the penalty battle handedly.
For a second straight game, the Ravens won the turnover battle. Prized free agent acquisition had two interceptions in the first half, giving him three for the season already. He nearly had a third interception in the second half but a deflected ball dropped through his hands. Williams has been as-advertised as a ballhawk through two games.
Jackson and center Tyler Linderbaum did not cleanly exchange a snap on a fourth-down conversion attempt at the goal line to begin the second quarter. Jackson fumbled but it was recovered by Mike Davis. He was nearly intercepted and pick-sixed by CB Xavien Howard on an out-route pass in the fourth quarter, but Howard dropped it. Aside from that, it was a flawless performance turnover-wise.
As a team, the Ravens ran the ball 25 times in this game. They gained 155 yards but that total is misleading. Jackson accounted for the vast majority of the team’s rushing output with 119 yards individually. His 79-yard breakaway touchdown rush was about the only exciting thing to happen for the Ravens running the football in this game.
Justice Hill was the second leading rusher with 16 yards. Kenyan Drake and Mike Davis combined for 12 yards on 11 carries. For perspective, Mark Andrews and Pat Ricard each rushed once and gained eight total yards, nearly the same amount.
There was just no threat of a rushing attack all afternoon. The offensive line was beaten off blocks and opened up no lanes for running backs. The Dolphins’ defense swallowed up runs at or behind the line of scrimmage on numerous occasions. This is more or less how Week 1 went, too, so the Ravens have a problem on their hands running the ball.
Converting third and fourth downs
The Ravens success generating big plays on offense overshadowed their lack of success converting on third down, which was also an issue in the season opener. They converted just three of 10 third-down attempts in this game. A lot of these failures can be attributed to their inability to pick up rushing yards in short-yardage situations.
This was also an issue on fourth down tries. The offense went 1-for-3 on fourth down conversions, and the two unsuccessful attempts were crushing. The first saw them fail to gain one yard at the goal line after an 18-play, 10+ minute drive. The second, early in the fourth quarter, again was a failure to gain just a single yard.
Both play calls were Jackson running a QB power and neither went anywhere. When the Ravens turned the ball over on downs the second time, Hill scored a 48-yard touchdown just a few plays later, which turned the game into a one-possession difference.
Fourth quarter defense
This has to be in a category of it’s own and is all-encompassing. Everything about the Ravens’ defensive performance in the fourth quarter was ugly with a capital “U.”
They had no answers for the Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins’ offense. In four drives, they gave up four touchdowns, well over 200 yards, and nearly 10 first downs. The Dolphins converted six plays of 10+ yards and four plays of 20+ yards, highlighted by Tyreek Hill’s 48-yard and 60-yard touchdown receptions. On those plays, miscommunications in the secondary led to Hill running free wide open behind the Ravens’ defense. There was no safety help to be found against the fastest wide receiver in the NFL.
Marlon Humphrey sat the entire final frame due to his nagging groin injury, and Marcus Peters rotated series due to a pitch count. That left rookie cornerbacks Jayln Armour-Davis and Damarion “Pepe Williams”, along with safety Kyle Hamilton and veteran cornerback Daryl Worley to play extended snaps. Needless to say, it did not go too well.
There could easily be separate lines in this section for the lack of a pass-rush or coverage breakdowns, but it’s more appropriate to just lump them together. Blowing a 21-point lead with 12 minutes remaining is nothing short of a disastrous collapse.