Ravens can’t com­plete come­back in loss to Raiders

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By JOR­DAN SCHATZ

jschatz@ce­cil­whig.com

— 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-

BAL­TI­MORE

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.

Fol­low Jor­dan Schatz on Twit­ter: @Jor­dan_Whig

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