Fool Me Once
If games ended at halftime, the Ravens would be 4-0. They’d be the top seed in the AFC, Lamar would be hailed as the MVP, and the Ravens’ defense would be considered one of the league’s top units.
Unfortunately, the 10 minutes the Ravens spend in the locker room have a transformative effect on the team. John Harbaugh doesn’t bother with a rallying halftime speech; instead, he delivers a somber reading of the Baltimore Sun’s obituary section. The Ravens have been outscored by 38 points in the second half of their losses this year.
The collapse versus Buffalo wasn’t quite a Miami-level meltdown, but it was still disastrous.
Foot off the Gas in the Second Half
How does an offense score 0 second half points after dominating in the first half?
In short, the Bills’ defense put on a clinic. The Ravens took the ball over midfield twice in the second half and both drives ended in interceptions. Bills defenders kept everything in front of them and forced Baltimore to drive down the field without the aid of explosive plays. They banked on Baltimore committing a penalty or making a costly mistake, and to their credit, this strategy proved effective.
Even the Ravens’ 14-play, 93-yard drive that sucked up over half the fourth quarter ended without points. Harbaugh’s decision to go for the touchdown on 4th down of that drive has been heavily criticized, but I agree with his decision 100%. As long as the Ravens didn’t lose yardage or turn the ball over on that play, the worst possible result would have been the Bills’ recieving the ball on their own 2 yard line.
In typical Ravens fashion, however, we managed to do the one thing we shouldn’t have and turned it over in the endzone, shortening the distance Buaffalo needed to set up the game-winning field goal. On that play, Lamar figured he had nothing to lose by just chucking up the ball for grabs in the endzone but in hindsight, a throw-away would have been preferable.
In the second half especially, Josh Allen’s mobility constistently foiled Baltimore’s coverage on the back end. The Ravens D-line somehow managed to generate minimal pressure while also opening up massive lanes for Allen to exploit when the play broke down. It was unfortunate that the one time the D-line did manage to tip a pass at the line of scrimmage, it bounced off Patrick Queen’s facemask.
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) October 3, 2022
It’s a very frustrating loss, but I’m not concerned about this Ravens team.
There are plenty of positive takeaways from this game. For one, the running game has now been solid two weeks in a row. Cornerback Marlon Humphery is back to shutdown form, playing as well as he has since being an named an All-Pro in 2019.
Offensive tackle Daniel Faalele looked better on Sunday than in his impromptu debut against the Patriots. After taking two of the best teams in the conference to the wire, the Ravens are more clearly contenders now than when they entered the season. We are far from seeing the best verison of the 2022 Baltimore Ravens. And when we do, it will be scary.
What to make of Season’s First Quarter
Entering the season we knew that the first five games of the season would be the toughest, so being .500 at the moment isn’t the end of the world, especially considering how close their two losses were. Hosting the Bengals on Sunday night is a big one. Two teams who truly don’t like each other, fighting for first place in the division and a winning record? That’s a huge game in gauging just how good this Ravens team is. So put this ugly loss behind you, and check back in later this week for a preview of that heavyweight matchup.