Five things we learned from Ravens’ 28-27 loss to Jaguars

The Ravens ultimately lived too dangerously to survive, failing to build a lead over the struggling Jaguars thanks to a sloppy offense and allowing Trevor Lawrence to run over them in the final two minutes. in a 28-27 loss. They’re not exactly a team in crisis, but the good vibes from a four-game winning streak are gone, replaced by serious questions about their viability against the playoff teams they hope to face in January.

If the Ravens have left so many cracks for the Jaguars to exploit, how can they expect to hold up against the best playoff rush in the league?

For a split second, as Justin Tucker’s 67-yard attempt drifted relentlessly toward the center of the crossbar, it looked like the greatest of kickers might save the Ravens on a day when they didn’t deserve to win .

When Tucker’s punt fell a few yards, however, the Ravens were left to lie down in the hard, cold bed they made for themselves. Goodbye, four consecutive wins. Goodbye, good vibes.

Instead of celebrating a miracle, they faced the fact that their disorganized offense went unconverted on a trio of red-zone opportunities, and their defense — so fearsome in recent weeks — squandered a fourth-quarter lead to third time this season.

We figured the Ravens would come out of their bye week ready to go on a run against a string of hapless opponents. Instead, they went to one unsightly 13-3 win over the Carolina Panthers and pounced on the trap presented by a Jacksonville team that had lost six of its previous seven.

Are the Ravens in trouble again, as they appeared to be after a 3-3 start marked by missed opportunities and second-half collapses? Not realy. Their defense is too good and their schedule too weak for us to say their playoff push is in jeopardy. But they certainly haven’t been easy to follow over the past couple of weeks.

What else can we say after seeing them drop passes and rush to give up fumbled attempts before the clock runs out? After watching Lawrence with Marcus Peters all afternoon? Even the Ravens’ league-best special teams faltered, with Devin Duvernay handing them pitiful field position with a pair of ill-judged punt returns.

The problem isn’t so much that the Ravens lost to a team they should be beating. This happens to everyone and we knew the Jaguars, led by an in-form Lawrence, were underdogs. No, the concern is that we’ve seen the cracks that Jacksonville has exploited in all of the Ravens’ losses this season. and in some of their victories. Imagine how the Kansas City Chiefs or the Buffalo Bills or the Miami Dolphins could punish those same failures — the incomplete drives, the misplaced deep hits, the early confusion, the coverage lapses — in January. The Ravens consider themselves a legitimate contender, but they don’t play like a team that will hold up against the NFL’s best when it matters most. They still have time to build up, but not that much.

Even if the Ravens’ offense isn’t broken, it’s being three-wheeled too often.

A week after struggling to 13 points against the Panthers, the Ravens took their fans to dark places with another crazy afternoon that kept them out of the playoff field.

We can’t say their offense is a lemon. They outgained the Jaguars, 415 yards to 332, and quarterback Lamar Jackson gave them a chance to win with clutch scrambles and a gutsy 62-yard throw to DeSean Jackson to set up a late touchdown and start. But the Ravens could have avoided these heartburn moments entirely if they had worked through the first three quarters.

Lamar Jackson hit Mark Andrews for 25 yards on play action on the first snap of the game and narrowly missed Demarcus Robinson for a potential touchdown on the very next play. So the Ravens clearly saw the vulnerability in Jacksonville’s pass defense, which was ranked 31st in DVOA by Football Outsiders.

But they continue to injure themselves with disorder from before. On that first drive, a delay of game pushed them from second-and-goal at the 10-yard line to second-and-goal at the 15. They ended up with a field goal. Later in the second quarter, they excused themselves on a fourth-and-1 after looking disorganized and rushing the line of scrimmage.

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman is getting some overheated criticism, but it’s fair to call him out on this lack of sustainable accuracy.

The Ravens failed to finish in the red zone again on second down when a diving Robinson couldn’t pull down a zinger from Jackson. The Ravens finished 21st in the league with a 52.6 percent touchdown rate in the red zone, so it’s a trend that’s holding them back and could bite them against elite competition in the playoffs.

The result was a 7-6 deficit after they had dominated the first 20 minutes of play.

The Ravens had one more chance at the six to start the third quarter, but tight end Josh Oliver couldn’t drop a big offer from Jackson in the end zone and they punted again.

Jackson couldn’t explain why his streak came up short: “I don’t know. It looks good in practice.” His frustration seemed to boil over later when he sent a washed-up, profanity-laced response to a Twitter critic who said the Ravens would be better off not signing him to a lucrative extension. He has since deleted the tweet.

With the Ravens up by two in the fourth quarter, running back Gus Edwards, whose value as a short-yardage converter is beyond reproach, fumbled to give Jacksonville a field goal. The Ravens responded with their only long touchdown drive of the day, highlighted by that Jackson-to-Jackson bomb, but by then, they had left too many points unclaimed.

Two former Jaguars showed their old team what is missing.

The loss cost Oliver and defensive end Calais Campbell their chance to celebrate an appearance against a former employer.

The experience could have been especially sweet for Oliver, a 2019 third-round pick whom Jacksonville traded away for a conditional seventh-round pick after a pair of injury-riddled seasons. He’s established a home in Baltimore with violent run blocking, but on Sunday, he showed the receiving talent that made him a top-end prospect in the first place. Oliver galloped into an open space along the sideline for a 40-yard grab on the Ravens’ first drive of the second half and capped the day with a 12-yard catch-and-run that would could have been the game-winner and another 12-yard catch to set up Tucker’s 67-yard field goal. He led the Ravens in receiving yards with 76, and if he had caught Jackson’s throw in the end zone in the third quarter, we would have called it a perfect afternoon.

Campbell, on the other hand, wasn’t fighting for his NFL life when he moved from Jacksonville to Baltimore. He was a star in one house and expected to remain one in the next. Still, we probably take the 36-year-old mountain man for granted sometimes.

He led the drive with a pair of carries as the Ravens stopped the Jaguars on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 on their first defensive series. He flattened Lawrence in the final two minutes, loosening the ball on a play that could have ended the game had it gone more favorably for the Ravens. After fifteen years in the NFL, Campbell still leaves his mark on every game he enters.

In a short stretch on the sideline, Marlon Humphrey reminded us why he is the team’s most important quarterback.

The Jaguars tried to make a move, down nine in the fourth quarter, but Humphrey continued to back them up, sacking Lawrence and leaving wide receiver Christian Kirk for a 5-yard loss on a run attempt. Then Humphrey twisted his ankle and the defense was immediately worse, allowing Lawrence to complete four of his next five passes, the last for a touchdown to cut the Ravens’ lead to 19-17.

It’s not like the Ravens were perfect with Humphrey. He was on the field when Lawrence cut them in the two-minute drill. But his versatility was on full display for the Jaguars. With Kyle Hamilton sidelined by an ankle injury, Humphrey was supposed to be the Ravens’ primary answer to Kirk, one of the league’s most productive slot receivers. Sure enough, Lawrence had to look elsewhere as Kirk caught just four passes on nine targets. We’re so used to Humphrey seamlessly switching inside when duty calls, we might assume every top cornerback can do it. Not like this.

In addition to his work in coverage, Humphrey has become more of a threat to blow up opposing quarterbacks and blow up plays behind the line of scrimmage. His two tackles for loss against Jacksonville were a career high and he entered the game with the best passing grade in high school, according to Pro Football Focus. He was the Ravens’ best defender in their narrow win against the Panthers and again at Jacksonville.

After a modest decline in performance last season, Humphrey is on pace for a third Pro Bowl appearance and makes the Ravens look smart for investing in him as a franchise quarterback.

As bad as they were in Jacksonville, here’s why the Ravens are still in line to take the AFC North.

It is a wonderful feeling to be so good that you are sure of the schedule. The Ravens have reached this rarified air for part of their 2019 season. They are too much of a leak now. But here’s the thing: So are most NFL teams, including their arch-division foe, the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bengals did a good job as the Ravens came unstuck on Sunday, holding on for a road win over the ever-challenging Tennessee Titans. They pulled even with the Ravens at 7-4. But what does the schedule say about next weekend? The Ravens will host the Denver Broncos, who can’t score on their best day and looked on the verge of a complete collapse in a 23-10 loss to the Panthers. The Bengals, meanwhile, will face the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes, who will certainly be eager to serve up success after last season’s playoff upset.

Program, program, program. It determines so much at this stage of the NFL calendar. Want to look ahead? On Christmas Eve, when the Ravens host the deeply mediocre Atlanta Falcons, the Bengals will travel to face the New England Patriots and their gnarly defense. On Jan. 2, the day after the Ravens invite the offensively challenged Pittsburgh Steelers to Baltimore, the Bengals will face the Bills.

So yes, Cincinnati has won five of six with an offense that thrives in the red zone rather than self-destructs. Many pundits will spend the next week telling us they are ready to pass on the Ravens. Remember: context matters.

Week 13

Broncos at Ravens

Sunday, 1 p.m

TV: head. 13, 9

Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM

The line: Crows until 7


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