The Ravens have suffered three gut-wrenching losses this season, but Head Coach John Harbaugh said the players and coaches will grow from the experience.
At 3-3, the Ravens have 11 games to decide what kind of season they will have. The Ravens have lost fourth-quarter leads in every defeat this season and made costly fourth-quarter mistakes during Sunday's loss to the Giants. However, Harbaugh said it was a positive sign that the team has yet to be severely outplayed.
"Half of it makes you feel better about it because you know you'll get it cleaned up," Harbaugh said. "Half of it makes you feel worse, because it's like 'Why didn't you have it already cleaned up?'
"I think we're in a place right now in our development as a team where there's a number of moving parts. There's growing pains. I've never been one to say, 'Oh, you're a young team.' But there's truth in it. As a coach, I just have to do a really good job of being understanding, but not accepting of those types of things."
Rookies have been at the center of some of the Ravens' letdowns this season. Safety Kyle Hamilton had a coverage breakdown versus Miami. Against the Giants, Tyler Linderbaum snapped the ball too early before Lamar Jackson made things worse with his interception. Cornerback Pepe Williams ran into a pick on the Giants' first touchdown of the game and gave up a third-down conversion on a fourth quarter Giants touchdown drive.
Harbaugh said red-zone efficiency would be a point of emphasis. The Ravens could have taken a 10-point lead early in the third quarter on Sunday, but failed to score a touchdown after marching to first-and-goal at the five-yard line. Meanwhile, the Giants finished two fourth-quarter drives with touchdowns that sent Baltimore to defeat.
"We have to get better in the red zone, both sides of the ball," Harbaugh said. "We've got to get better on third down, both sides of the ball. We can't make critical errors on fourth down situations on both sides of the ball."
After Sunday's game, veteran defensive end Calais Campbell said it's up to the Ravens to decide how they'll react to another gut-wrenching defeat.
"We know what we're capable of doing, we've made some mistakes and let some ballgames slip away," Campbell said. "We can use it as fuel to get better. Or you can let it eat at you and make more mistakes.
"It's still early in the season. We're not going to hit the panic button. You feel like you have the game won, and you give it away late in the game, it's a story we've seen too much this year. We've just got to improve, just keep getting better."
Harbaugh has full belief the Ravens will become a team that consistently finishes games the right way.
"I'm really confident our guys are going to take to heart the lessons, coaches and players, (that) make us the team we can become," Harbaugh said. "It's very obvious to me, you watch the tape, what we're capable of. You've got to get there somehow, some way. Sometimes it's through adversity."
Harbaugh Still Irked by Critical Illegal Formation Penalty
A costly illegal formation penalty on the Ravens late in the fourth quarter Sunday led to their demise. On third-and-1 with 3:09 left to play, Jackson gained two yards on a quarterback sneak for what would've been a first down. However, the penalty nullified the first down, and on the next play Jackson threw the interception that set up the Giants' go-ahead touchdown.
Harbaugh was irked that the Ravens did not line up properly in such a critical situation.
"A head coach looks at it and says, 'How can that happen on a basic offensive play?'" Harbaugh said. "That's still one that I'm really reeling over. That's one that's really churning me up. We get that done, there's a high chance we're going to go win that football game.
"It's not acceptable. It is explainable when you dig and you see the chain of events that happened in terms of how we lined up. Someone tries to make up for how somebody else lines up. A mistake gets made. Someone tries to correct it, that's really another mistake. Then we don't finally fix it, in the simple way it's taught to be fixed. And something like that happens. Just a terrible error. There's no way that should happen. That's one that I'm probably not going to get over, but ultimately it's my responsibility. I'm the head coach, I'm responsible for all that stuff. It can't happen, that's not okay. Our guys feel the same way."
Harbaugh Discusses Run/Pass Play Calling Against Giants
The Ravens rushed for 211 yards on Sunday and averaged 8.8 yards per carry, led by Kenyan Drake who had a season-high 119 yards on just 10 carries. Yet, the Ravens still had more passing attempts in the game (32) than rushing attempts (24).
One sequence that came under scrutiny occurred early in the third quarter. A 21-yard run by Drake, two completions to Mark Andrews and an 11-yard run by Jackson quickly marched Baltimore to a first-and-goal at the five. However, the Ravens never ran the ball again during that drive. After three straight incompletions, they settled for a field goal.
Harbaugh pointed out that rushing yards are often much harder to come by in the red zone.
"You run the ball down there, all of a sudden that box starts to stack up a little bit," Harbaugh said. "They're not going to let you run the ball down there inside the 15-yard line, the 10-yard line. You can still try to run it. You might get it, or you might say, 'You know what? I can throw against this.'
"We've gone down to the one-yard line and run it and not gotten it in. We're not afraid to throw the ball down there just because we've been running the ball. I think a play caller has to make that decision."
Marlon Humphrey's Cryptic Tweet Doesn't Bother Harbaugh
Following Sunday's loss, All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey posted a tweet that quoted Albert Einstein.
That led to fans and media speculating on what message Humphrey was trying to send. Harbaugh was asked for his take on it, but said he had not spoken to Humphrey.
"No I haven't," Harbaugh said. "P.R. sent it to me. I looked at it and went, 'Hmm, OK.' I'm sure if he wants me to understand it, he will.
"But we've given up leads in the fourth quarter [in] three different games. That's not something that I've ever experienced, and that's something that keeps happening, We've got to get it fixed. We have to get it cleaned up. It's all of us. I'd say we've got just the right men for the job."