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Late for Work 9/20: History Suggests Ravens Will Bounce Back From Painful Defeat

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TE Isaiah Likely

History Suggests Ravens Will Bounce Back From Painful Defeat

The Ravens' fourth-quarter collapse in Sunday's loss to the Miami Dolphins was historic, but history also suggests there is cause for optimism going forward. And for those who bleed purple, an injection of optimism is just what the doctor ordered.

Per ESPN's Jamison Hensley, seven teams have suffered fourth-quarter collapses of 16 points or more, and four went on to reach the playoffs (2015 Seahawks, 2018 Bears, 2018 Eagles and 2020 Bears).

"This shows that teams can take a staggering punch to the gut late in a game, but it doesn't have to be a knockout blow to the season," Hensley wrote.

How the Ravens have responded to adversity in recent years also is encouraging, as our Ryan Mink pointed out.

"The good news is it's Week 2," Mink wrote. "There have been countless 'sky is falling' moments in years past and the Ravens have been just fine. How about the 34-20 loss to the Chiefs in Week 3 of 2020? Or the 40-25 loss to the Browns in Week 4 of 2019? Both seasons ended with the Ravens in the playoffs. As Head Coach John Harbaugh said, the Ravens will be defined by how they rebound, not by a Week 2 loss. Maybe it stings more now, but it's better than getting destroyed and having a million issues. Coming out of this, two items are clearly at the top of the fix-it list: the run game and secondary breakdowns. Those can be fixed, and I expect they will be."

Another example of the Ravens' ability to bounce back is the way they responded after last year's season-opening loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Baltimore blew a 14-point, second-quarter lead, regained the advantage on a Justin Tucker field goal with 37 seconds left in regulation, but wound up losing in overtime, 33-27, in a game in which it had never trailed.

The Ravens followed the deflating loss by winning five straight, beginning with a thrilling 36-35 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. The winning streak also included a memorable come-from-behind triumph over the Indianapolis Colts in overtime and a dominant victory over quarterback Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Ringer's Steven Ruiz said the Ravens are still a "legitimate threat" to challenge the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs — who have both gotten off to strong starts — for AFC supremacy.

"Baltimore will have to fix its run game if it's going to pose a threat to Buffalo and Kansas City, but there is reason for hope: Running back J.K. Dobbins and left tackle Ronnie Stanley were close to making their returns from injury in Week 2 and should be back any time now," Ruiz wrote. "It's hard to feel too good about this team after a loss like that, but if getting this passing game humming again was the chief concern for the Ravens headed into the season—and it should have been—they have to be encouraged by Lamar [Jackson] establishing himself as an early MVP candidate."

Lamar Jackson Among Early MVP Favorites

Speaking of Jackson being in the early MVP conversation, he moved up one spot to No. 4 in NFL.com's Jeffri Chadiha's weekly MVP watch.

Jackson trails Bill quarterback Josh Allen, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Herbert.

Jeff Zrebiec: Going For It on Fourth-and-Short in Fourth Quarter 'Was Absolutely the Right Decision'

There was plenty of criticism on sports talk radio and social media of the Ravens' decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 from Miami's 40-yard line leading by 14 with 9:16 left in the game.

In short, the sentiment went something like this: "Why keep going for it on fourth down when we have the greatest kicker in the history of the game in Tucker?"

Of course, if the Ravens get the first down there — and they used to convert on fourth-and-short all the time — no one would say a word. It's always the right decision when it's successful. However, The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec contended that it was the right decision even though the play (a Jackson run) was unsuccessful.

"Maybe you can question the play call and suggest the Ravens should have rolled Jackson out or perhaps thrown the ball. However, I think going for it was absolutely the right decision," Zrebiec wrote. "Field position meant virtually nothing in that game. Neither defense was stopping the opposing offense, regardless of where the drives started. So even if [punter Jordan] Stout had pinned the Dolphins inside their own 10, would you really have felt good about the Ravens stopping them? If you say yes, you're either kidding yourself or you didn't watch the game.

"As for trying a field goal, we're still talking about a 58-yard kick outdoors. Tucker has spoiled us in even making that an option worth considering. However, if I'm not mistaken, he's made two field goals from 58 yards or longer in his career and both were indoors. That's not to say he wouldn't have made it, but I think you're playing the percentages and the chances of picking up one yard are greater than Tucker making it from 58 yards. You have one of the league's most dynamic players at quarterback and a Pro Bowl fullback [Patrick Ricard]. Jackson had gone 79 yards on the previous third-and-short. To me, that was a no-brainer decision to go for it on fourth down. You just need to execute."

Of course, there will always be those who second guess the play call. The Ravens had first-and-goal at the Miami 2 on their second possession of the game and came away empty-handed after running the ball five times in a row (a 1-yard touchdown run by Jackson on third down was overturned upon review).

Moreover, the Ravens had trouble running the ball for the second game in a row, as running backs Kenyan Drake, Mike Davis and Justice Hill have combined for 74 yards on 29 carries (2.6 yards per carry). Per Zrebiec, 10 of those carries have either gained zero yards or lost yardage and another six have gained just one yard.

Head Coach John Harbaugh agreed that converting on fourth-and-short comes down to execution.

"We've got to be creative; we've got to find a way to block people, because we missed a couple blocks; we've got to find a way not to necessarily run into the teeth of the defense," Harbaugh said. "Sometimes you can. Many times, we've run the ball right downhill into the teeth of a goal-line defense and scored and your back puts it in there. But we didn't do that in this game."

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