Midway through Sunday's fourth quarter, Mark Andrews ripped off his helmet and threw it to the ground in disgust on the Ravens sideline. Baltimore had just been stopped on fourth down, on a play where Andrews and Lamar Jackson weren't on the same page, resulting in Jackson throwing an errant pass that was nowhere in the vicinity of Andrews.
"Miscommunication, bad on my behalf," Jackson said. "(I need to) hold the ball a little longer, or just get off it, go through my progression."
That was just one offensive misfire for the Ravens. But there were others during a 40-25 loss to the Cleveland Browns that left Baltimore with plenty to fix on both sides of the ball.
Baltimore clearly had issues on defense, and the offense didn't play well enough to compensate. The Ravens entered Week 4 with the NFL's No. 1-ranked offense, but Jackson was intercepted twice, Mark Ingram II lost a key fumble, and Andrews had a crucial drop on the Ravens' second series.
The Ravens didn't have a turnover in their first three games, but the mistakes made in this game were costly.
Andrews left the locker room quickly following the game, one of many Ravens players who were frustrated by the outcome. From the first quarter, the normally superb chemistry between Andrews and Jackson wasn't clicking. Trailing 7-0, the Ravens had a nice drive going on their second offensive series, but on second-and-seven from Cleveland's 46-yard line, Andrews dropped a pass from Jackson that would have resulted in a first down. On the next play, Jackson was sacked to end the drive.
Baltimore missed another chance on its next possession, when a 26-yard completion from Jackson to Chris Moore on third down was nullified when the Browns successfully challenged the play. Television replays clearly showed that Moore landed with one foot out of bounds after he made the catch.
Had Jackson made a more accurate throw, there would have been no need for Moore to tightrope the sideline. He was standing wide open on a busted coverage by Cleveland. However, Jackson forced Moore to jump trying to make the catch. Instead of a nice gain for the Ravens and a potential scoring drive, they were forced to punt, still trailing 7-0.
That incompletion to Moore was one of a few throws that Jackson (24 for 34, 247 yards, three touchdowns) wanted to have back. His improvement as a passer compared to last season is obvious, but when a receiver is wide open, Jackson knows he needs to capitalize.
"Sometimes the ball wasn't placed right, I didn't throw a good ball," Jackson said. "[I've] just got to execute, finish the throws, keep the drive going."
Ingram's fumble may have been the most important miscue of all. Trailing 17-10 midway through the third quarter, the Ravens were driving at Cleveland's 32-yard line when a tackle by Browns safety Jermaine Whitehead caused Ingram to fumble. The ball was recovered by Browns defensive end Chad Thomas, ending Baltimore's drive. The Browns responded by marching 74 yards in 10 plays, putting the Ravens in a 14-point hole from which they never recovered.
Ingram (12 carries, 71 yards) is off to a terrific start this season and rarely fumbles, and he offered no excuse for the turnover.
"I fumbled and it really proved detrimental to our team," Ingram said. "We were down one score, moving the ball well. They were able to get a touchdown out of it, so I put our team in a bad position."
Jackson said he didn't feel more pressure to produce offensively, with the Ravens struggling to stop Cleveland's offense. Jackson's approach never changes. When Baltimore has the football, Jackson expects every drive to end in a touchdown. However, the Ravens came away empty on nine of their 13 possessions Sunday. Jackson put the onus on the offense to improve, prior to their Week 5 matchup against the Steelers.
"Our job is to score points," Jackson said. "Our defense gets motivated by us. If we're not scoring points, I would be down, too, if I were on defense. The frustrating part is losing…We just have to execute."