Ravens crumble late in 42-38 loss to Dolphins: ‘It sucks, but they beat us’

The Ravens’ collapse Sunday was so swift, so decisive, so all-consuming that it felt inevitable even earlier than it was full. The Ravens had been up large, after which they weren’t. They had a field-goal lead with simply over two minutes remaining, after which their backs had been to their objective line. They had Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa double-clutching, after which their lead was gone.

By the top of the Ravens’ 42-38 loss inside M&T Bank Stadium, a lot had gone unsuitable that it was arduous to recollect simply how a lot had gone proper for 3 quarters. A nightmarish fourth quarter appeared to unfold in gradual movement, descending deeper into chaos with each drive, each play fraught with the potential of worse coming to worst.

It takes a particular type of wrestle to blow a three-touchdown lead, to waste a historic afternoon from quarterback Lamar Jackson, and the Ravens obliged. Their short-yardage dashing assault and late-game offense fizzled. Their go rush by no means materialized. Their secondary took on much more accidents, blew coverages and made a middling quarterback appear like Dan Marino.

Dolphins vast receiver Jaylen Waddle’s 7-yard landing catch with 14 seconds remaining turned the Ravens’ early dominance into mud, only a haunting reminiscence of one of many worst losses in franchise historical past. Only as soon as earlier than, in 1997, had the Ravens blown a 21-point lead.

“It’s going to be one of the biggest comebacks probably in the history of the National Football League, and we’ll give them credit for it,” coach John Harbaugh mentioned after the Ravens turned the primary NFL crew in 12 years to lose a recreation during which they led by not less than 21 factors. “We should personal it, each single individual. I informed the fellows within the locker room, ‘How we respond to this, that will be the story.’ …

“We have a 17-game season; this is the second week of the season. What we do from here on out, everyone taking a hard look at what we did — coaches, players, everyone, calls that we made, plays that we made, plays that we didn’t make — and let’s come out of here a better football team for it.”

They had been the higher crew for 45 minutes. They actually had the higher quarterback for 45 minutes. Jackson entered the fourth quarter with an ideal passer ranking and the sport’s defining spotlight, a career-long 79-yard landing run that prolonged the Ravens’ result in 35-14. Jackson completed with 437 yards of whole offense and 4 scores, turning into the primary participant in NFL historical past to run and go for a landing of not less than 75 yards in the identical recreation.

With Miami’s heavy-pressure seems lastly discovered, Jackson and the offense had cruised for a lot of the afternoon, redeeming a forgettable night time and gorgeous upset in Miami Gardens, Florida, a 12 months in the past. The Ravens scored a landing on six of their first eight possessions, and a type of drives got here inside a yard of constructing it seven scores. When Miami crossed midfield because the third quarter ended, the Dolphins had only a 1.3% win likelihood, in line with ESPN.

“We were moving the ball, putting points up,” mentioned Jackson, whose eleventh profession 100-yard dashing recreation (9 carries for 119 yards) broke a tie with Michael Vick for the NFL record. “We’ve just got to finish. It came down to the fourth quarter.”

And in these remaining quarter-hour, the 2022 Ravens was the end-of-2021 Ravens. The protection was already short-handed by that time within the late afternoon, having misplaced cornerback Kyle Fuller in Week 1 to a season-ending knee harm, cornerback Brandon Stephens in follow to a minor quadriceps harm and outside linebacker Steven Means to a second-quarter ankle injury.

Worse but, the cornerbacks who had been out there had been both restricted (Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, making his season debut) or rookies (Jalyn Armour-Davis and Damarion “Pepe” Williams) or follow squad signings (Daryl Worley). The secondary’s saving grace by way of three quarters had been security Marcus Williams’ two highlight-reel interceptions.

But with the Ravens’ go rush (one sack, two quarterback hits) unable to bother Tagovailoa, Miami’s offense had sufficient time to put sticks of dynamite. Wide receiver River Cracraft’s 2-yard landing catch lower than three minutes into the fourth quarter lit the fuse.

The Ravens’ short-yardage offense might’ve doused it. But after a fourth-and-goal fumble from the 1-yard line value the Ravens a shot at a 14-0 lead early within the second quarter, a fourth-and-1 cease of Jackson simply previous midfield ceded a brief subject to Miami with over 9 minutes to go. With operating again J.Ok. Dobbins (knee) sidelined once more, the Ravens’ operating backs struggled early and light from view late, combining for 28 yards on 14 carries.

Not even 4 minutes later, the rating was even. On third-and-10, vast receiver Tyreek Hill (11 catches for 190 yards), a frequent thorn within the Ravens’ facet when he was in Kansas City Chiefs colours, ran by Peters and security Kyle Hamilton for a 48-yard landing. After a Ravens three-and-out, he ran by Armour-Davis on third-and-6 for a 60-yard, game-tying landing catch. Miami’s 21-0 run took slightly below seven minutes.

The offender on each bombs seemed to be the identical: miscommuncation, which had dogged the Ravens of their upset loss to Miami final season. Hill’s second rating was particularly egregious; Hamilton and Marcus Williams, who lined up close to the road of scrimmage earlier than the snap, each dropped in zone protection after the snap. As the play unfolded, Damarion Williams shaded over to 1 half of the sector, leaving Hill’s facet fully uncovered past Armour-Davis.

“There was a miscommunication,” Hamilton mentioned of the second rating. “It’s something that we preach, and we practice every day, but we’ve just got to be about it in the game, and I think that showed towards the end.”

“We’ll watch the film,” mentioned Humphrey, whose lingering groin harm, together with Peters’ ramp-up from final 12 months’s knee harm, compelled the Ravens right into a cornerback rotation. “We obviously know it’s really bad, but we’ll watch the film, and then we’ve got to go from there, figure out what went wrong.”

The Ravens mustered one final punch, organising kicker Justin Tucker for a go-ahead 51-yard subject objective with 2:23 remaining. That was loads of time for Tagovailoa (36-for-50 for 469 yards and 6 touchdowns) and the Dolphins.

Their remaining 68 yards got here simply, as in the event that they had been again in seven-on-seven work at coaching camp: 3-yard go to Waddle, 21-yard go to Hill, 9-yard go to Hill, 28-yard run by operating again Chase Edmonds. Even the Ravens’ one cease was bittersweet, as Damarion Williams left the sport with an ankle harm after forcing an end-zone incompletion.

With 19 seconds remaining, Tagovailoa dropped again, began to wind up, gathered himself, stepped up within the pocket and regarded for Waddle (11 catches for 171 yards), who’d began towards the nook of the top zone earlier than curling again inside, Armour-Davis a step behind. His leaping seize gave the Dolphins their first lead all recreation. He celebrated along with his arms splayed above his head, as if to indicate simply a lot floor the Ravens had misplaced.

“We have a lot of corrections to make, but you have to give them the respect,” Harbuagh mentioned. “They made the plays. They kept fighting. A lot of times, you get a big lead like that, and you know teams just try to get out of the game without stopping the bleeding, but they just kept fighting.”

After Jackson’s Hail Mary try to vast receiver Rashod Bateman (4 catches for 108 yards and a rating, together with a 75-yard catch-and-run) fell incomplete, the Ravens had been left to contemplate the implications of their collapse and the sum of their shortcomings.

They’d allowed 547 yards of whole offense, third most in franchise historical past. They’d stopped simply 4 of Miami’s 11 third-down alternatives — and given up 4 touchdowns on late downs. They’d gone simply 1-for-3 on fourth down. They’d squandered the momentum they’d constructed over their season’s first seven solid-to-impressive quarters. Next would come an disagreeable movie overview. Seven lengthy days separated them from their subsequent recreation, a highway journey to face the New England Patriots.

“We have to wear that one,” defensive finish Calais Campbell mentioned. “It sucks, but they beat us.”

Week 3

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