One of the hallmarks of the Baltimore Ravens squad is Lamar Jackson’s dynamic quarterback play. Another hallmark, apparently, is losing games by a painfully close margin.
The Ravens fell to the Bills 23-20 in Week 4 in a game the Ravens will desperately want back. For the second time this season, the Ravens blew an enormous lead, albeit against one of the best teams in the league, and the end result has many scratching their heads trying to figure out what went wrong.
The leaky defense was the culprit in the Ravens’ meltdown against the Dolphins in Week 2. This time around, it was Lamar Jackson and the offense who came up short.
CBS Sports’ John Breech gave the Ravens a failing grade for their Week 4 performance, and it was specifically targeted at the team’s disappointing offensive display:
"“The Ravens are going to be asking themselves a lot of questions after this loss. After dominating for most of the first half, the Ravens looked like they forgot how to play football. Offensively, they couldn’t move the ball in the second half (They totaled just 127 yards) and it definitely didn’t help that Lamar Jackson threw two interceptions.This is the type of loss that’s going to sting for a while because the Ravens know they were good enough to win.”"
Lamar Jackson, Ravens offense sputtered in second half of Bills game
A note must be made about the poor officiating throughout the game, particularly one roughing the passer call that extended the Bills’ game-winning drive.
The refs didn’t lose this game for the Ravens, though. The Ravens did it to themselves, and their downfall wasn’t necessarily brought upon by John Harbaugh’s questionable fourth-quarter decision.
Harbaugh has gained a reputation for his aggressive late-game playcalling, but the analytics did indeed back him up in his decision to go for it on fourth down. He’ll naturally draw scrutiny for that call, yet all the blame shouldn’t be placed on that single moment alone.
Carrying a 17-point lead against a Super Bowl contender, Baltimore’s offense broke down and ended up getting shut out in the second half.
Harbaugh and Greg Roman failed to draw up effective plays for the offense, which started the third quarter with a three-and-out sequence. Rashod Bateman notched several key drops (in the pouring rain, nonetheless) that dampened the Ravens’ momentum. And Lamar Jackson didn’t look at all like 2022 MVP contender Lamar Jackson in the latter portion of the game.
Baltimore’s first five drives of the game ended in touchdowns or field goals; their last five drives of the game ended in punts or interceptions.
Once the Ravens lost their offensive edge, they also lost control of the game, and all other factors — the officiating, the fourth-down decision — merely sped up the team’s gut-wrenching downward spiral and eventual collapse.
Let’s see if the Ravens can actually hold a lead and secure a critical divisional win against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 5.