All Too Familiar Losses Piling Up
The Ravens had the makings of another blowout victory Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. Heading into the fourth quarter, they held a two-touchdown lead over the Browns. But Cleveland gave Baltimore a 60-minute battle, and as it hit the sixtieth minute, Browns kicker Dustin Hopkins booted through a game-winning 40-yard field goal to complete the comeback, 33-31.
The blown leads have disappointingly become a worrisome trend, and The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec, among others, revealed the ugly numbers.
"With the Ravens, though, these games happen far too often. In seven of their 10 regular-season losses dating back to the start of last season, they have squandered two-possession leads," Zrebiec wrote. "That includes two of their three losses this year. In the one exception, a Week 3 overtime defeat to the Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore blew a three-point lead over the final two minutes of regulation. The Ravens also have blown a league-high nine games with a seven-point or more lead in the fourth quarter since the start of 2021."
The Ravens' loss didn't knock them out of playoff contention or boot them to the bottom of the AFC North. After all, they are still the No. 2 seed in the playoff picture with a 7-3 record. But, they have not demonstrated the ability to separate themselves from other teams in games and in the win-loss column.
"This is who the Ravens have been," Zrebiec wrote. "When everything is going right and they're not making mistakes, they've shown an ability to pound teams — good ones, too — into submission. Yet, when teams have been able to keep the game close in the fourth quarter, the Ravens have too often buried themselves amid a flurry of mistakes. A clear pattern has emerged for opponents. Keep it close and see if the Ravens fold. They sure did Sunday."
Now, the Ravens hold only a half-game lead in the division over the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) and Browns (6-3), with a Thursday Night Football game days away.
"The Ravens had an opportunity to go into that Bengals game in firm control of the AFC North," Zrebiec wrote. "Instead, they're dealing with the same old questions about the reality that they've become a very hard team to trust."
"Eerily Familiar Collapses" for the "Fourth-Quarter Ravens"
It wasn't just Zrebiec who shared concern regarding the performance of the Ravens in Week 10. Numerous pundits published their takes on the team after the loss.
The Baltimore Banner's Jonas Shaffer: "They had a two-touchdown lead over the Cleveland Browns. They were at home. They had the better quarterback, the better offensive talent, maybe even the better defense. All they had to do was fluster an inconsistent quarterback protected by third-string offensive tackles. All they had to do was contain a running game that they had bottled up a month earlier. To keep a lead the Ravens had held since the game's opening minute, only the bare minimum was required. And then, poof. The AFC-leading Ravens, the do-they-even-have-a-weakness Ravens — those Ravens stepped aside for the Fourth-Quarter Ravens, and calamity ensued in a stupefying 33-31 loss that made perfect sense only to those familiar with this team's strange variant."
"It was a shocking result, and a concerning one for a team many saw as one of the NFL's best. Title contenders don't let wins slip away, especially at home."
ESPN’s Jake Trotter: "The Browns trailed for 59 minutes and 20 seconds. No NFL team this millennium had won while trailing for that long in a game, according to ESPN Stats & Information. For Baltimore, it marked the second-largest blown fourth-quarter lead in John Harbaugh's 16 years as coach."
NFL.com’s Nick Shook: "Baltimore's three losses have each included eerily familiar collapses. While Sunday's wasn't the most embarrassing, it certainly was the most dramatic of the three. The Ravens seemingly had the game in hand after Gus Edwards' 1-yard touchdown run, making it 31-17 early in the fourth quarter. But a defense that propelled Baltimore to an early lead wilted down the stretch, allowing Cleveland to piece together a six-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that included a big chunk of yards gained via defensive pass interference."
The Baltimore Sun’s Brian Wacker: "Lastly, the Ravens have to find a way to close out games. Blowing leads of 24-9 and 31-17 in the second half is unacceptable, no matter what."
Baltimore Positive’s Luke Jones: "The Ravens really should be better than 7-3, but they're not, which is what makes one reluctant to fully embrace them as one of the top Super Bowl contenders. One had hoped over the last month that they'd finally outgrown this disturbing part of their identity that dates back a few years now, but that proved too good to be true."
Baltimore Beatdown’s Frank Platko: "Another blown two-score lead in the fourth quarter is all too familiar territory. After riding high heading Week 10, today's collapse is a stern reminder that the Ravens are far from being the league's cream of the crop. While they still sit atop the division standings, this was a squandered opportunity to widen the gap."
Russell Street Report’s Darin McCann:"This is the third face-plant of the season, and it's even more alarming when considering the brilliance they often do show. It's all out there for this team still, but these kinds of performances have to stop. Losing is one thing. Constantly pulling the pin on your own grenade is a different animal altogether."
The Baltimore Sun’s Jacob Calvin Meyer: "Nothing like a fourth-quarter collapse to really ruin a Sunday afternoon, eh? It appeared as if the Ravens were going to win their fifth straight game and improve to 8-2. Instead, it was another late collapse. For the third time this season, the Ravens have let what seemed like a sure win slip through their fingers."
Nguyen: "I Still Think the Ravens Are the Best Team in the League"
The Ravens remain 7-3 and in control of their own destiny. They have a top offense and defense in the NFL. And for The Athletic's Ted Nguyen, the loss on Sunday doesn't have him wavering from believing in Baltimore.
"The Ravens game was a wonky one in which they were in control for almost the entire game," Nguyen wrote. "Jackson made some uncharacteristic mistakes, throwing a pick-six in the fourth quarter. I think the Ravens are still the best team in the league."
It will take others some time to give their trust to the Ravens, but a victory against the desperate Bengals (5-4) on Thursday would be an excellent start.
Early Ravens vs. Bengals Expectations
Speaking of the Bengals, The Athletic's Mike Jones and Dan Pompei shared their early predictions on the Week 11 primetime matchup.
"We can expect a physical, hard-fought, signature AFC North battle. Sure, Joe Burrow is going to sling it around, and Lamar Jackson is going to make plays with his arm and his legs," Jones wrote. "But there will be key battles in the trenches and some game-defining defensive plays to help determine the outcome."
"We should expect another game like both teams played Sunday," Pompei wrote. "It was a perfect AFC North Sunday with back-and-forth battles, hard-to-believe plays and raging intensity. We also should expect redemptive performances from Burrow and Jackson, who threw two interceptions each. Both quarterbacks are too good for that to happen again. There is a temptation to say the winner of the Ravens-Bengals game Thursday will be positioned to win the division, but there is way too much football to conclude that. The division is entirely up for grabs, and the Browns and Steelers will be heard from."
Browns Head Coach Calls Kyle Hamilton Victor Wembanyama, Plus More Reactions to Ravens' Big Plays
There were some exciting highlights from the Ravens in Week 10 to not forget so quickly.
Kyle Hamilton pick six
NBC Sports’ Peter King: "We got in that hole early," [Cleveland Browns Head Coach Kevin] Stefanski said [to King]. "That first pass play, you gotta tip your cap to Kyle Hamilton. He's like [Victor Wembanyama] [the 7-foot-4 Spurs rookie] out there playing nickel. You gotta just say 'All right, let's go start this game over.'"
Keaton Mitchell 39-yard touchdown run
Reaction to Mitchell screen pass
Odell Beckham Jr. 40-yard touchdown