The disappointment was evident inside the Ravens' locker room following Sunday's marathon game at Chicago's Soldier Field.
The Ravens fell to the Chicago Bears, 23-20, in overtime in arguably their most crushing loss of the season. A 38-yard field goal by Bears kicker Robbie Gould ended the game after a windy, muddy contest that took nearly five and a half hours to complete.
"There's a lot of anguish after a game like that," Head Coach John Harbaugh said to open his post-game press conference.
The loss put the Ravens playoff hopes in grim shape, as they fell to 4-6 on the season and 2.5 games behind the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North race.
"You can tell the frustration around the locker room," cornerback Jimmy Smith added. "Everyone knew we should have won this game. We felt that way, but they came out and made more plays."
The Ravens had their share of chances, specifically at the end of regulation when they could have won the game with a late touchdown. Trailing by three points, they drove 82 yards down to the Bears' 2-yard line with a minute left to play.
The Ravens had three tries to score from the 2-yard line but were unable to get the touchdown. Running back Ray Rice, who had his best game of the season, was stuffed twice at the line of scrimmage.
On third down, center Gino Gradkowski put a shotgun snap at quarterback Joe Flacco's feet, delaying the play from the start. Flacco picked up the snap and tossed a pass over the head of an open Torrey Smith in the end zone. The Ravens ended up settling for a field goal to force overtime.
"The ball got stuck in a little hole there, but that's no excuse," Gradkowski said. "We have to overcome all of that stuff."
Once the Ravens got into overtime, they had another chance to win the game or at least put points on the board. They opened overtime with the ball and took their first possession to Chicago's 46-yard line before a third down pass bounced off the hands of wide receiver Tandon Doss. Doss and quarterback Joe Flacco both thought he was held on the play.
"I came off the ball and as soon as I crossed his face he just grabbed me, but I just have to start making plays," Doss said.
The Bears took over possession on a punt and made the Ravens pay. Backup quarterback Josh McCown hit tight end Martellus Bennett on a 43-yard pass, which he completed over cornerback Lardarius Webb. The big play set up Gould's game-winning field goal.
"It's very frustrating man," Webb said. "I was there. He just made a big catch. The quarterback put it in a nice spot and I couldn't get to it, and he made a great play."
The game carried a similar tone to the Ravens' previous losses, as critical mistakes and missed opportunities doomed them. They started the game fast, jumping out to a 10-0 first-quarter lead, but the Bears erased that lead after the two-hour weather delay and then the two teams went back and forth in the second half and extra period before the game-winning field goal.
"It sucks to drop a game like this," safety James Ihedigbo said. "This has been the Achilles heel all season, where we get to the close games and we have to make plays to win. So it is what it is."
No players pointed to the weather delay as the key in their loss Sunday, but some did acknowledge that it wiped away their early momentum. After the Ravens rattled off two early scores, the Bears quickly tied the score at 10-10 after play resumed.
"The delay always stops something," Rice said. "When you've got momentum and your juices are flowing, you want to keep going."
The Ravens also victimized themselves with costly turnovers.
Flacco had two interceptions on the day, including a pick-six the first half. On the interception return for touchdown, Flacco threw the ball right into the hands of defensive end David Bass, who avoided a chop block by Rice to pick off the pass.
Flacco then had another interception in the first half, as he lofted a pass over the middle of the field for tight end Dallas Clark that got picked off by linebacker Jonathan Bostic. The Bears then converted that turnover into a field goal just before halftime.
"It's frustrating because I felt like we had the opportunity to really let it go today and just explode on offense, and we just didn't do it," said Flacco, who finished the game 17-of-32 passing for 162 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
The loss overshadowed improvements in areas that the Ravens have stressed in recent weeks. The offense started fast and finally found success in the running game, as Rice carried the ball 25 times for a season-high 131 yards and a touchdown.
On a sloppy field with wind gusts of more than 45 miles per hour, pounding the football with Rice was the best recipe for success on offense.
"We showed a lot of improvement – drastic improvement – in the run game today," Rice said. "That's something we've been criticized a lot on, so for us to go out there and do what we did in the run game, that's a positive."
The Ravens now return home for a critical three-game stretch against the Jets, Steelers and Vikings. Their playoff hopes are not dashed yet, but they are running out of time to make a run to get back in the division race or make a play for a wild-card spot.
"We got to win the next three at home," Ihedigbo said. "We have to. There's no ifs, ands or buts about it."