The worst-case scenario, in Harbaugh’s mind, was that Baltimore can be stopped on fourth down and the Bills would must drive greater than 50 yards for a shot at a field goal of 60-plus yards. However the play had an ominous feel from the beginning, as Jackson took the snap and started to backpedal with Buffalo’s Shaq Lawson closing in from Jackson’s left, and Greg Rousseau closing from his right.
That blocked his vision and caused him to carry the ball a second longer than he wanted. He didn’t see Devin Duvernay initially come open within the back right corner of the top zone, and his delay in delivering the ball allowed Poyer to shut from the center of the top zone for the interception.
“If I might have seen him right off the bat, that may have been a touchdown,” said Jackson, who finished 20 of 29 for 144 yards and a touchdown, with two interceptions. “The lineman had his hands up and was bull-rushing a little bit bit and got in my peripheral. So, I could not really see what was happening and the play was breaking down. I attempted to get back some more however it was too late.”
Said Harbaugh: “It didn’t prove (successfully), unfortunately, and we lost the sport. So, hindsight, you possibly can take the points. But in the event you have a look at it analytically, you understand why we did it.”
One thing the Ravens didn’t envision was the Bills happening a 12-play, 77-yard drive for the decisive rating, or that Buffalo would face just one third down on the march (which Allen converted with a 20-yard completion to tight end Dawson Knox).
A key play within the sequence was a roughing the passer penalty against defensive back Brandon Stephens, who got here on the blitz and hit Allen after the quarterback had released the ball. Multiple Ravens players and coaches said after the sport they didn’t see a forcible hit to the pinnacle or neck area, but referee Jerome Boger disagreed.
Asked afterward if he was confident in what he saw, Boger told a pool reporter: “That’s correct.”
At that time, with Buffalo in field-goal range on the Baltimore 26 with 2:03 to play, the clock became as big an opponent because the Bills. And when Buffalo drove to the Ravens’ 11 with 1:50 to play, Harbaugh called for the defense to either force a strip or allow the touchdown.
Outside linebacker Odafe Oweh thought he had a likelihood for a strip but wound up tackling running back Devin Singletary at the three after an 8-yard gain. One play later, Allen picked up the primary down, which allowed Buffalo to burn the clock and kick the sector goal.
“It is very disappointing to us,” said safety Chuck Clark. “We were preaching at halftime, ‘We have been in this example before, and we’ve got to complete it out.’ So, I feel we all know what we did and didn’t do. We’ve got to complete.”
The explanations they’ve not closed out games vary. Against Miami, injuries compromised the secondary and resulted in breakdowns that were illuminated by a deficient pass rush. Against Buffalo, they were hurt by key penalties on offense and defense, in addition to an inability to contain Allen once he began leaning on his legs to increase plays and gain yards for first downs or the game-tying touchdown.
The excellent news, as Campbell stressed, is that the season stays young and the Ravens are not any worse than they were in the beginning of the day, despite the loss. They’re tied for the most effective record within the AFC North and are optimistic they’re headed in the best direction.
Running back J.K. Dobbins, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, looked nearly as good as he has since returning this 12 months, rushing for 41 yards on 13 carries and gaining 22 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown, on 4 receptions. Jason Pierre-Paul also showed he has something to supply after being signed last week to assist the pass rush. And former Pro Bowl left tackle Ronnie Stanley is predicted to return soon after missing all but one game of last season due to injury.
Jackson, like Campbell, preached patience. He recalled the 2019 season, when the Ravens began 2-2 and were blown out, 40-25, in Week 4 by the Browns.
Baltimore responded by winning 12 in a row. So, perspective.
But when the Ravens hope to make that sort of run again, or just be legitimate contenders, there’s work to be done. At the highest of the list is their need to complete games. Knowing it’s one thing. Doing it, that is still to be seen.