Strug­gles con­tinue for Ravens of­fense in over­time loss to Browns

Bal­ti­more has now gone eight quar­ters with­out a touch­down

Cecil Whig - - RAVENS - By JOR­DAN SCHATZ jschatz@ce­ci­whig.com Fol­low Jor­dan Schatz on Twit­ter: @Ce­cil­Whig.com

CLEVE­LAND — The third-down pass from quar­ter­back Joe Flacco to Michael Crab­tree in the back of the end zone sailed just out of the out­stretched reach of the leap­ing wide re­ceiver, who had the ball glance off his fin­ger­tips and fall harm­lessly to the turf.

De­spite the dif­fi­culty of the catch, the near touch­down was a play that Crab­tree, now in his 10th NFL sea­son, has made over and over again in his as­cen­sion to be­com­ing one of the game’s top red zone threats.

On Sun­day, it would have de­liv­ered the Bal­ti­more Ravens the lead with less than a minute re­main­ing in the con­test. In­stead, the team set­tled for a game-ty­ing, 32-yard field goal in an even­tual 12-9 over­time loss to the Cleve­land Browns at FirstEn­ergy Sta­dium.

“You’ve got to fin­ish it. I’ve been there and done that. This goaround, I came up short,” Crab­tree said. “We’ve seem to make a cou­ple big plays, it came down to the end and I should have made that catch. The game would have been over.”

The missed op­por­tu­nity was just the lat­est ex­am­ple of medi­ocrity for a Ravens of­fense that has failed to find the end zone since the open­ing min­utes of last week’s vic­tory over the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers. While not on the same level as the 2000 Su­per Bowl Ravens, who fa­mously failed to score a touch­down over five straight games, the eight con­sec­u­tive quar­ters with­out reach­ing the end zone is rapidly dulling the shine from the sea­son’s first four games when the team set an NFL record by scor­ing a dozen touch­downs on their first 12 red zone trips to open the sea­son.

Since run­ning back Alex Collins car­ried for a 3-yard touch­down to give Bal­ti­more a 14-0 lead over Pitts­burgh with 8:03 re­main­ing in last Sun­day’s 26-14 vic­tory, the Ravens (3-2) have failed to reach the end zone on 22 con­sec­u­tive of­fen­sive drives.

“We’ll look at the film and we’ll find out ex­actly why. We ob­vi­ously did what we had to do last game. This game, we came up against a team that’s play­ing well, feel­ing good, and we just weren’t able to get the ball in the end zone,” said Flacco, who fin­ished 29 of 56 pass­ing for 298 yards. “There are a lot of things that go into that. We’ll have to go in and re­ally grind to see ex­actly what it was.”

On Sun­day, Bal­ti­more failed to score touch­downs on three pos­ses­sions that moved in­side the 20-yard line. The in­ef­fec­tive­ness was made more glar­ing by the fact that Cleve­land was held to just one touch­down and two field goals, in­clud­ing the game-win­ner with two sec­onds re­main­ing in over­time.

An in­com­plete pass across the mid­dle to Michael Crab­tree on third-and-3 from the Cleve­land 7 led to a 25-yard field by Justin Tucker that cut the score to 9-6 late in the third quar­ter. Prior to half­time, Flacco had a 2-yard pass in­tended for tight end Nick Boyle in­ter­cepted at the goal line by rookie first-round pick Den­zel Ward.

“We just have to play Ravens foot­ball. I don’t think it’s frus­trat­ing,” said Ravens run­ning back Buck Allen, who’s tied with John Brown for the team lead with three touch­downs. “We have too many weapons on our team not to score, so we’ve just got to call the right things and put our guys in the po­si­tion to make plays.”

DAVID RICHARD/AP PHOTO

Bal­ti­more Ravens quar­ter­back Joe Flacco (5) re­acts after throw­ing an in­ter­cep­tion dur­ing the first half of an NFL foot­ball game against the Cleve­land Browns on Sun­day in Cleve­land.

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