Sat, 02 Dec 2023

Ravens Eye View: Near Misses Overshadow Strong Plays vs. Colts

Baltimore Ravens
27 Sep 2023, 05:25 GMT+10

Ryan Mink

The Ravens' 22-19 overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3 especially stung because Baltimore had multiple chances to close the game out with a win.

Whether it be clock management, dropped passes, miscommunication, or a non-call in a critical situation, the Ravens had numerous near misses in this game.

But while the stats and result from M&T Bank Stadium matched the soggy weather, the film tells a sunnier story about the game the Ravens played.

"From a coaching perspective, it's really important not to let the outcome blur the facts," Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "And when you watch the tape, the fact of the matter is, we've got a bunch of guys that play their hearts out and are physical and tough and accountable and are trying to do everything they can to find a way to win the game. And when you have that as a coach, you're happy, because you can build on that."

Here's a look at what stood out from the tape:

The Ravens offense got off to a hot start, particularly in the passing game, as Lamar Jackson hit tight end Isaiah Likely for a 20-yard gain on the Ravens' opening drive with a crafty play call executed to perfection by Jackson.

That set Jackson up for the first of his two rushing touchdowns. While Jackson will run less in the Ravens' offense, Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken leaned on his quarterback's legs more often in this one with the Ravens dealing with because of running back injuries. Jackson, as usual, showed why he's such a dangerous runner.

The defense started hot too, as safety Kyle Hamilton got the party started with his first of three sacks in the first half. Hamilton said after the game that the Colts had protection issues off the right side of their line. Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald kept dialing up similar blitzes to attack it and Hamilton delivered.

Baltimore's defense had some close calls too. Had they recovered the forced fumble on Hamilton's third sack, the Ravens would have been in field-goal range at the end of the first half.

Linebacker Patrick Queen was in great position for coverage on Zach Moss's 17-yard touchdown before Moss got away with a slight push-off.

The Ravens gave up 122 rushing yards to Moss on 30 carries. Of those yards, 73 came on four carries of 24, 12, 24, and 13 yards, respectively. That's four too many long runs, but outside of those, the Ravens played strong run defense, giving up 49 yards on 26 carries (1.9 per run). The Colts did not control the line of scrimmage. The four long runs had very solvable mistakes.

The Roquan Smith-Queen duo continued to show off, as they each had 12 tackles to lead the team. Queen said after the game that the defensive communication was not good enough, but it was excellent on this pass deflection.

Baltimore's run defense stood strong on the Colts' second possession of overtime, stuffing Moss for no gain on a critical fourth-and-1 near midfield. The Ravens seemed to be very well prepared for this one, as Brandon Stephens shot the perfect gap to meet Tavius Robinson and Queen in the backfield.

Fumbles on four straight possessions were clearly the undoing of the Ravens offense early on. The loss of Gus Edwards (concussion protocol), who had 51 yards on 11 carries, also hurt, leaving Melvin Gordon III and Kenyan Drake as the running backs.

Outside of Jackson's legs, which were the best weapon as he rushed for more than 100 yards, Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken continued to show some unique formations to try to get the Ravens' bang-up rushing attack, which was also without left tackle Ronnie Stanley and center Tyler Linderbaum, going against a stout Colts defensive front.

Now to the end of the game and close calls. The Ravens should have basically won the game on the Gardner Minshew safety.

Despite the Colts getting the ball back and tying the game with a field goal, Jackson and the Ravens offense nearly rallied for a win at the end of regulation.

After a 10-yard sack seemed to doom drive, Jackson completed a beautiful 18-yard ball to Nelson Agholor with seconds left in regulation. Had Justin Tucker made the resulting 61-yard field goal, that completion would have been a major talking point this week.

In overtime, the Ravens offense got two drives. The first started with a miss on a check-down similar to the one early in the game that Drake took 24 yards before fumbling.

Then, facing a third-and-6, it seemed Jackson and Zay Flowers may not have been on the same page about whether the rookie receiver was going to continue running his route in open zone coverage or sit, resulting in the throw being behind him.

On the next offensive drive, Jackson put a perfect pass into the gut of Likely, but he dropped what would have been a first down at the Colts' 38-yard line.

Finally, facing fourth-and-3, Colts linebacker E.J. Speed clearly makes early contact, hooking Flowers on a crossing route, but no flag was thrown. The Colts moved down the field for the game-winning 53-yard field goal.

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