The Ravens thrived on the edge through the first three weeks, but it caught up to them in Week 4.
During a back-and-forth fourth quarter Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium against the Oakland Raiders, the Ravens were on the wrong side of the difference-making plays in a 28-27 loss at M&T Bank Stadium.
After a 3-0 start, the Ravens took their first loss against their toughest competition yet, and it was a tough one to swallow.
Baltimore drove to midfield with less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter and looked to be on its way to putting kicker Justin Tucker in range for yet another game-winning kick, but the Ravens offense stalled behind a dropped pass, followed by a poor pass and then a physical pass breakup.
The Ravens came back from 9 points down to take a six-point lead, but they couldn't pull it off a second time.
Baltimore's offense struggled throughout the first half and managed just six points. It found its legs with new starting running back Terrance West in the second half, but the passing game never quite clicked behind a banged-up offensive line and fell flat in the waning minutes.
Rookie receiver Chris Moore dropped a pass that would have been for a modest gain. Then, under a heavy blitz, quarterback Joe Flacco floated a pass that was nearly intercepted. Flacco left a pass too short on third down, then tried to squeeze one to Kamar Aiken on fourth down, but it was broken up.
Flacco finished 32-of-52 for 298 yards and one touchdown. He also added a 1-yard touchdown plunge. West ran 21 times for 113 yards and a touchdown as he replaced Justin Forsett as the starter.
The Ravens defense played well for much of the game and came up with a big late turnover, but allowed Oakland to march down the field on just six plays for the game-winning score.
- In what was a penalty-ridden, defensive slugfest for most of the first quarter, the Raiders got a big play when Jalen Richard returned a punt 47 yards to Baltimore's 6-yard line. The Raiders put it in the end zone on the very next play with a touchdown pass to wide receiver Seth Roberts in the back of the end zone. Oakland took a 7-0 lead.
- The Raiders went up 14-3 thanks to wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who made a spectacular leaping catch to pick up an early first down on the drive, then finished it by getting behind cornerback Shareece Wright for a 5-yard touchdown. It was the first of three touchdowns for Crabtree.
- Baltimore's running game brought the Ravens offense to life in the third quarter. West ran six times for 41 yards on Baltimore's second drive of the half and Flacco plunged into the end zone from 1 yard out on fourth down, pulling it to 14-12 after an unsuccessful two-point conversion that was intercepted.
- Flacco was sacked and stripped by outside linebacker Bruce Irvin, who had a looping rush around Rick Wagner and came up from behind Flacco to force the ball out. The Raiders offense took over in Ravens' territory. Baltimore had the Raiders stopped for what would have been a field-goal attempt, but accepted a penalty to try to drive the Raiders out of field-goal range. The move didn't pay off. The Raiders hit a 14-yard gain, then moved the chains via a Brandon Williams penalty on fourth down. Oakland then went up 21-12 on a 13-yard third-down touchdown pass to Crabtree with 11:11 left.
- Trailing by nine points, the Ravens went to their playmaker. Steve Smith Sr. caught a comeback pass, stiff-armed a defender and scampered 52 yards into the end zone to draw to within two points at 21-19 with 6:37 remaining.
- Baltimore's defense came up with a big play as defensive end Lawrence Guy ripped the ball out of running back DeAndre Washington's arms and cornerback Tavon Young came up with the recovery. Baltimore's ground game finished it off as West bulldozed into the end zone from 3 yards out. The two-point conversion was good, giving the Ravens a 27-21 lead with 3:41 left.
- Oakland's offense cruised down the field on a six-play, 66-yard drive in just one minute, 24 seconds and quarterback Derek Carr hit Crabtree with a 23-yard game-winning touchdown to take a 28-27 lead for good with 2:12 remaining.
Impact Player of the Game
RB Terrance West
The Ravens weren't getting the job done through the air because of Oakland's pressure, so West put it on his back, rushing 21 times for a career-high 113 yards. Baltimore gave him the starting job over Forsett, and West made it count. The Ravens' struggling run game may have found its way.
On The Horizon
The Ravens will stay home for the beltway rivalry game against the Washington Redskins next Sunday.
Check out the best photos from M&T Bank Stadium as the Ravens take on the Raiders in week 4!