Here are 10 takeaways from the Ravens' 25-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, giving Baltimore a league worst (tied) 1-5 record.
1) Myriad Of Mistakes Dooms Ravens … Again
It's the same old story with the 2015 Ravens: so close, yet so far away.
It was another loss by less than six points, and the fifth such loss resulted from the same weekly mistakes that haven't been fixed, says The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
"The Ravens vow to fix them, yet seven days later, there they are again for all to see — turnovers, dropped touchdown passes, dropped interceptions, blown coverages, costly penalties, missed field-goal attempts. It's a cycle that these Ravens can't escape," he wrote.
To their credit, there was no shortage of players and coaches lining up to take accountability. Quarterback Joe Flacco called his interceptions "stupid" and "really, really dumb." Kicker Justin Tucker wouldn't use a sinkhole (see below) as an excuse for a missed field goal. Receiver Steve Smith Sr. took blame for his dropped touchdown passes. While he referenced it, newly-acquired cornerback Shareece Wright wouldn't use his short time on the team as justification for getting lit up. Cornerback Jimmy Smith said he should have had an interception and the defense as a whole gave up too many big plays.
Despite losing all five games by a total of just 22 points, there are so many mistakes and miscues from so many people that Zrebiec says it's time to come to a realization:
"The reality is that the Ravens are a bad football team, and bad football teams find ways to lose games, which is what the Ravens are doing on a weekly basis," he concluded.
2) Surprise Sinkhole Tries To Eat Justin Tucker
Tucker won't use the sinkhole at Levi's Stadium for his missed 45-yard field goal, but I will.
How can you successfully kick a ball if the earth literally gives way underneath your planted foot? I mean, look at this sucker.
"So Levi's Stadium's turf definitely tried to eat the Ravens kicker's foot," tweeted USA Today Sports.
Levi's Stadium, which reportedly cost $1.3 billion (that's billion with a B), has had field issues since opening last year. It isn't the first or even second time the turf caused issues for an opposing team. Former 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh even pulled his players from the field due to safety concerns last season. They've re-sodded it four times to help, but it clearly it hasn't.
This is the site of Super Bowl 50, people.
"It wasn't the only distraction for the kicker on Sunday, either," wrote the peeps at CSNMidAtlantic.com. "As the teams were getting ready for the second half and Tucker was warming up, a parachute jumper was landing on the field as part of a halftime show."
Oh, well, parachuting is clearly more important. Makes sense.
3) Got To Respect Banged-Up Playmakers
When a coach says his team has "heart like you can't believe" after the fifth loss in six weeks, it usually qualifies as "coach speak."
But in Sunday's case, Russell Street Report's Brian Bower says you "gotta respect the play" from three leaders that gritted it out through injury in an attempt to spark the team: Smith Sr. (back microfractures), running back Justin Forsett (ankle) and tight end Crockett Gillmore (calf). The three combined for 268 total yards and one touchdown on offense.
And, shoot, I'll throw in outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil who fought through a groin injury to be out there Sunday.
Smith had a chance at two more touchdown catches – one which he had no explanation for dropping and another in which he said his face was in the ground when it hit his hands. But then he caught an impressive 35-yard touchdown … while falling on his broken back … and did the Pee Wee Herman dance to celebrate.
Sunday marked his 50th career game with 100 receiving yards. He also became the 16th player in NFL history to reach 950 career catches.
Ugh, does he really have to retire?
Also, a quick look at Gillmore's return … he finished with just three catches for 30 yards, but he landed on his head after one and made it look like no big deal. He just popped right back up and signaled for the first down.
That's straight-up country strong right there. Welcome back, Crockett.
4) Kendrick Lewis Seen Using Crutches
While Head Coach John Harbaugh indicated that Kendrick Lewis' knee injury isn't too serious, the Ravens starting safety was seen by The Baltimore Sun's Jon Meoli using crutches as he exited the locker room.
Harbaugh was asked whether the injury was severe after the game.
"I don't think so, but we'll see," he said. "We'll know more tomorrow when he gets the MRI, but I can't give that kind of indication right now."
Lewis declined to speak with reporters after the game.
He was injured while attempting to tackle former Ravens and current 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin mid-way through the third quarter. Reserve safety Brynden Trawick mainly took Lewis' spot in the defense with second-year player Terrence Brooks out with a thumb injury and Matt Elam (biceps) on injured reserve.
The secondary is being struck by the injury bug for the second year in a row. The unit was also without cornerbacks Lardarius Webb (hamstring) and Will Davis (knee – injured reserve) Sunday.
5) Ross Deserves More Offensive Snaps
Receiver/returner Jeremy Ross has been a bright spot during a grim stretch of the season.
After injuries to Smith, Webb and Michael Campanaro, Baltimore was forced to promote Ross from the practice squad to the 53-man roster in order to be a returner. For the second week in a row, Ross notched a kickoff return of at least 40 yards.
"It makes you wonder why he was on the practice squad for the first four weeks," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
Ross has had limited opportunities on offense, but he's made the most of them. With just four targets, Ross notched three catches for 34 yards with an 18-yard first down as the highlight. He out-produced both Marlon Brown and Kamar Aiken, who combined for 31 yards on 12 targets (although Aiken did have a spectacular touchdown catch seen below).
The Baltimore Times' Turron Davenport was asked whether Ross has shown enough to deserve more offensive snaps.
"Without a doubt," Davenport replied.
6) Did Kamar Steal TD Catch From Brown?
The Ravens kept things interesting in the fourth quarter when Flacco extended a fourth-down play as long as he could and until Brown seemed to get some room in the end zone. Flacco tossed it up, and it was caught … only not by Brown.
Aiken leapt and made a backwards-diving catch to haul in the 2-yard score, bringing the score to 25-20 with five minutes, 14 seconds left.
7) Boldin Says 49ers Targeted Shareece Wright
The media talk leading up to the game was centered around how newly-acquired Wright might be able to help the Ravens with some 49ers intel.
Turns out, the opposite happened.
"When a guy's on your team that long, you definitely know his weaknesses, and strengths," Boldin said after the game. "That was one of the things we wanted to attack today."
Wright was in coverage when receiver Torrey Smith scored a 76-yard touchdown, and he fell when receiver Quinton Patton scored a 21-yard touchdown.
8) Defense Giving Struggling Quarterbacks Boost Of Confidence
The Ravens secondary again allowed an opposing quarterback to march up and down the field, but Hensley points out that it's not the likes of Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers.
Colin Kaepernick had been struggling all year, but put up a season high in passing yards. He was the fourth quarterback in the last five games to put up a season high.
"The last-place Ravens (1-5) have made the likes of Derek Carr and Josh McCown look like Pro Bowl quarterbacks," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "This time, Baltimore made life too easy for Kaepernick, who was struggling so much that Niners fans called for him to be benched a couple of weeks ago."
9) Why Were Offensive Linemen 'Jogging' In Final Minute?
Everyone watching the game from their television sets could hear CBS commentator Rich Gannon yelling at the Ravens offensive line for not hustling down the field with 19 seconds left in the game.
"These guys aren't even running!" Gannon exclaimed. "Go back and show these guys jogging to the football."
Flacco had just completed a 22-yard pass to receiver Steve Smith Sr., putting the Ravens in striking distance of a potential game-winning touchdown. The clock was running and everyone needed to get set as soon as possible so he could stop the clock.
But some of the offensive linemen seemed to be taking their time.
"I could complain about a bunch of aspects of this game," wrote Russell Street Report's Tyler Lombardi. "But none of those bothered me more than the offensive line lightly jogging down the field when the team needed every precious second to give itself a chance to win the game. Inexcusable."
Added his colleague Drew Forrester: "Someone will hopefully show that final minute of tape to the likes of [Kelechi] Osemele and [Jeremey] Zuttah and ask them what, exactly, they were doing on the final five plays of the game when they were essentially strolling around like they were walking through Central Park on a Saturday morning."
10) Ravens Locker Room Silent
Clifton Brown has been reporting on the Ravens for years, and he's never seen a locker room like the one he saw Sunday after Baltimore's loss to San Francisco.
"In the three years I've been covering the Ravens, this is the quietest locker room I'd ever been in," he says in the video below.