Sat, 02 Dec 2023

Mistakes Cost Ravens Dearly in First Loss

Baltimore Ravens
25 Sep 2023, 23:25 GMT+10

Clifton Brown

The Ravens made costly mistakes in Week 3 and paid dearly for it.

Turnovers, missed opportunities, troubles on special teams and with clock management were part of a 22-19 overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts (2-1) that left the Ravens (2-1) frustrated by their first loss of the season.

"We had plenty of opportunities to put the game away, especially when our defense was doing a great job stopping those guys," said Lamar Jackson, who had 101 yards rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. "We had great field position [and] we didn't move the ball at all. That ticked me off. It ticked all of us."

Baltimore squandered a golden opportunity to seal victory in regulation, after Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew stepped out of the back of the end zone for a safety that gave put the Ravens ahead, 19-16, with the clock showing 1:56 left in regulation when the play ended.

However, that's when the time management blunder came into play. The Ravens were celebrating and the crowd was going crazy. The Colts only had one timeout remaining, and Baltimore needed just one first down to run out the clock. However, on the Colts' free kick following the safety, Zay Flowers called for a fair catch instead of burning more time off the clock by returning the kick. That essentially gave the Colts an extra timeout with the mandatory two-minute warning timeout.

When asked why Flowers made the fair catch, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said Flowers was following instructions he was given when the scoreboard clock was showing under two minutes to play following the safety. However, before the free kick, the scoreboard clock was switched to 2:03, and Harbaugh said Flowers didn't get the communication to not make the fair catch.

"We were going to fair catch that ball because it was 1:58 [left on the clock]," Harbaugh said. "After the kick return team was out there on the field, [the officials] pumped the clock up over two minutes, and we were unable to communicate to him (Flowers). We were trying, but we couldn't communicate to [Flowers]. That was unfortunate."

After the fair catch blunder, the Ravens only burned 15 seconds off the clock on their final three plays of regulation, going three-and-out. On fourth down, Jordan Stout's punt only traveled 34 yards, giving the Colts the ball at their own 38-yard-line with 1:48 to play. That left plenty of time for Minshew to put the Colts in position for Gay's 53-yard field goal late in regulation that forced overtime.

For the second straight week, the Ravens had costly special teams struggles. In the third quarter, they give up a 32-yard punt return that set up a 54-yard field goal by Gay. In Week 2, they gave up an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown in Cincinnati.

In overtime, Baltimore's problems were mainly on offense. They never registered a first down on two possessions in overtime, and Jackson had several throws he'd like to have back. He missed a wide-open Flowers with a pass thrown well behind him on third down. Then on Baltimore's final possession in overtime, Jackson and Flowers failed to connect on fourth down, although it appeared Colts linebacker E.J. Speed should have been called for pass interference.

That no-call gave the ball back to the Colts, who sealed the victory on their next drive when Gay kicked his fourth field goal of over 50 yards, a 53-yarder with 1:09 left in overtime.

That winning field goal ended an agonizing day for the Ravens, who outplayed the Colts for long stretches but kept making early.

The Ravens were cooking early, taking an early 7-0 lead after marching 80 yards on their opening drive, capped by Jackson's 8-yard run.

But the game's momentum changed on Baltimore's second possession when Kenyan Drake fumbled after gaining 22 yards on a pass from Jackson, and the ball was recovered by the Colts at the Indianapolis 46-yard line.

Instead of moving back into Colts' territory and potentially taking a two-score lead, the Ravens gave Indianapolis the ball back and the game was a dogfight from that point on.

"One thing is for certain, you can't turn the ball over," Drake said. "I take pride in that. You touch the ball, it's a privilege. We had two turnovers today. That was the difference in this game."

The Ravens must regroup for a key AFC North game at Cleveland (2-1) next week, knowing they still have 14 games left to write the story of their season. But some losses seem more irritating than others, and Week 3 is one they will remember as an opportunity squandered.

"It was a crazy game," tight end Mark Andrews said. "You look at the chances that we had, and there were many of them. At the end of the day, we fought, but it's all about finishing for us.

"It's just about finishing. It was right there to be had, and this is the type of game you learn from. You grow from it and get better as a team. We're not going to take this one lightly."

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