The Baltimore Ravens lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars 28-27 in their latest game. Baltimore were clearly the better side for most of the game, but they were unable to take their chances. They settled for field goals after strong drives and, ultimately, did not play complementary football.
The Ravens’inability to finish off their 3-7 opponents meant that the Jaguars managed to stay afloat throughout the game. They ultimately secured the win with a late two-point conversion. Doug Pederson’s side could have tied the game up with an extra point but, instead, put their fate in the hands of the offense. This was a tactic that the Ravens tried twice last season but failed on both occasions.
— Sunday Night Football on NBC (@SNFonNBC) November 27, 2022
If Baltimore is to solidify their status as a Super Bowl contender, they need to finish their opponents off. Currently, the Ravens lack the clutch mentality that playoff teams should have. They need to find a way to address the issue down the final stretch of the season.
The loss puts the Ravens at 7-4. They continue to sit atop the AFC North, but their record is now tied with the Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens path to the playoffs is a comfortable one. However, if they want favorable seeding for a Super Bowl run, they will need to up the ante. With the Bengals hot on their heels, the divisional games are more important than ever. The Week 18 matchup against the Bengals could be the ultimate decider.
The Ravens have a chance to regain their momentum against the Denver Broncos this week.
Baltimore Ravens Stall in Fourth
Baltimore’s most obvious defect is their lack of execution in the fourth quarter, especially when they have a lead. The Ravens lack the clutch mentality to close out games.
Against the Jaguars, the Ravens held their opponents to zero points in the first and third quarters. However, they conceded 18 points in the fourth quarter. This included the late two-point conversion. It meant that they relied on Justin Tucker to make a 67-yard field goal to win the game, a big ask even for a future Hall-of-Famer.
The blame should not be put on Tucker. Indeed, the blame can only partially be put on the two-point conversion defense. The game should not have come down to either play to be decided. The Ravens had been dominant all game but, ultimately, could not see off their inferior opponent.
The Ravens run game was very weak at the start of the season. However, with Kenyan Drake improving and Gus Edwards showing up, Greg Roman needs to find a way to control possession and clock in the fourth quarter. As it stands, they turn the ball over far too much.
Baltimore Must Extend Leads
The comment about the run game is not only relevant to the fourth quarter. Baltimore needs to develop and rely on their run game whenever they have a lead. This will allow them to control the clock better, as well as increase their lead.
The Jaguars were the weaker side throughout the game, but the Ravens could not see off their opponent when they were ahead. It meant that Jacksonville stayed within one score of the Ravens throughout most of the game.
Many have pointed fingers at Lamar Jackson. The argument is that elite quarterbacks should be able to close games out when they can and that the Jaguars should never have even had a sniff of victory given the opportunities presented to Jackson and the offense. There is no excusing these criticisms. Jackson and the offense stalled again and again. The three fumbles (two lost) say it all. While Jackson is the easy target for blame, offensive coordinator Greg Roman also deserves blame for his (lack of) offense when leading games.
— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) November 27, 2022
Given how many stops the defense got throughout the game, the Ravens needed to capitalize with some points to extend their lead. They failed to play complementary football and it cost them. The Ravens lack the clutch mentality to extend their leads currently. They must work on this to avoid losing games where they have dominated.
Comebacks and Blown Leads Haunt Ravens
The biggest issue the Ravens face? Blown leads. They seem so vulnerable when they hold a lead, regardless of its size. The Ravens’ lack of clutch mentality makes them susceptible to comebacks against any opposition.
Four teams in NFL history have led by more than one possession in each of their first 11 games
1942 Bears 11-0
2009 Saints 11-0
2011 Packers 11-0
2022 Ravens 7-4 pic.twitter.com/dqScZE14cm
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) November 27, 2022
While the Jaguars are the freshest example of this, this has generally been the story throughout the season. Week 2 against the Miami Dolphins saw the defense fall apart, resulting in a 20+ point comeback. Week 4 against the Buffalo Bills was another blown lead in the fourth quarter.
In both games, the Ravens offense failed to see off their opponents when they were ahead. They needed to do a better job of closing out the game in the fourth quarter, as well as extending their lead. However, their defense needed to clutch up too. Against the Dolphins, in particular, the Ravens defense proved leaky, and blown coverages allowed the opposition receivers to get open deep.
It seems then, that while the Ravens can stem the issue by improving their control over games when they are leading, the fundamental issue is team-wide. The Ravens must look to improve their clutch mentality if they are to be considered serious Super Bowl contenders.