Ravens can’t complete comeback in loss to Raiders
— The Ravens only needed a few more yards to enter Justin Tucker’s field goal range.
Trailing by one point with just over a minute remaining in regulation, Baltimore used an 18-yard run play from Terrance West and back-to-back catches by Steve Smith Sr., to move the ball to midfield. But four-straight incompletions by quarterback Joe Flacco, including a final pass that bounced out of the hands of receiver Kamar Aiken, prevented the Ravens from attempting the potential game-winning kick and brought an end to their late-
game rally in an eventual 2827 loss to the visiting Oakland Raiders at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday.
“We’re all just sick that we couldn’t get 10 more yards for Justin. The kicker that we have, we’re hoping to get that last [few] yards,” Ravens right guard Marshal Yanda said. “It’s disappointing that we didn’t make enough plays at the end of the game to give him a shot.” The inability to march down the field came just one week after Tucker connected on a 54-yard, gamewinning field goal against the Jacksonville Jaguars that kept the Ravens (3-1) undefeated on the season.
“There’s no excuse,” Flac- co said. “To not get into field goal range right there, with all that time left, it’s disappointing.”
The ill-fated possession came after the Raiders drove 66 yards in six plays and recorded the go-ahead touchdown to cap the scoring in a wild fourth quarter that saw both teams find the end zone twice.
Oakland quarterback Derek Carr delivered his team the lead for good when he connected for his fourth touchdown of the game— and third to Michael Crabtree—on a 14-yard pass over the top of safety Kendrick Lewis near the back of the end zone.
It followed back-to-back touchdown drives by the Ravens, who found the scoreboard twice in a span of three minutes to erase a two-score deficit and take the lead for the first time in the contest, when just 3:36 remained in the game.
“Obviously, we were able to get the ball in the end zone a little bit down the stretch there, but yeah, not getting the ball in field goal range was big,” Flacco said.
In what has become a theme over the first four games of the season, the Ravens (3-1) struggled to score to begin the contest.
Tucker, who made all seven of his field goal attempts prior to Sunday, connected on field goals of 24 yards and 43 yards, respectively, in the first half, but the Ravens trailed 14-6 entering halftime after a pair of firsthalf touchdown passes by Carr.
Seth Roberts hauled in a 6-yard touchdown pass immediately following a 47yard punt return by Jalen Richard to give Oakland a 7-0 lead late in the first quar- ter. Crabtree then collected his first touchdown of the game on a 5-yard pass that concluded an 80-yard drive midway through the second quarter.
“I feel like we talk about it every week. We talk about starting fast, limiting the penalties and just starting fast. It just seems like we’re in a rut with starting fast,” Yanda said. “We’re going to fix that, obviously. We’ve definitely been stressing, every day in meetings, starting fast. It just hasn’t gone our way yet.”
Carr later gave the Raiders (3-1) a 21-12 advantage when he found Crabtree for a 13-yard score overtop safety Eric Weddle early in the fourth quarter.
The score came after a controversial decision by
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, who accepted an unsportsmanlike conduct following a third-down stop that allowed Oakland another chance at a long pass play rather than settle for a short field-goal attempt. The Raiders, facing third-and-17 from the 36, then completed a 16yard pass, before an offsides penalty against defensive tackle Brandon Williams on fourth-and-short gave the visiting offense a first down.
Three plays later, Crabtree beat Weddle to give his team a two-score lead.
“I like a coach making a decision like that and trying to make it a more difficult field goal,” Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “We just have to execute. That is more on us. We just have to have our coach’s back when he makes a decision like that.”
The Ravens, who began the day ranked second in the NFL in total defense, entered the contest having allowed four total touchdown passes through their first three games. Carr matched that total in just four quarters Sunday.
“Baltimore has had one of the best defenses in the NFL for, it seems, forever,” said Carr, who finished 25-for-35 passing for 199 yards. “You look at their roster, they have Pro Bowlers all over the field. Their defensive staff may be the best I’ve ever seen. They come up with so many different looks to try to confuse you. I’m just very happy we came in here, made some plays and got a win.”
It was a defensive play, however, that paved the way for Baltimore to take the lead.
One possession after Flacco connected with Smith (8 catches, 111 yards) for a 52- yard touchdown pass that closed the score at 21-19, Ravens defensive end Lawrence Guy stripped the ball from Oakland running back DeAndre’ Washington and corner Tavon Young fell on it to give Baltimore the ball at the opposition’s 17-yard line.
West (21 carries, 113 yards) then punctuated a short, four-play drive with a 3-yard touchdown run up the middle, before Flacco connected with receiver Mike Wallace for the 2-point conversion that made it a six-point game.
After the team’s slow start in the first half, the Ravens found the scoreboard midway through the third quarter when Flacco (32-for-52 passing, 298 yards) scored on a 1-yard rush up the middle to finish a 13-play, 72yard drive that ate up seven minutes on the clock.
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