Ravens stumble into bye week following fourth straight loss

 

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Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa dashes past Ravens safeties Eric Weddle and Anthony Levine Sr. on a 69-yard touchdown reception in the first half. Credit: Newsday.

After starting the season 3-0, the Baltimore Ravens lost their fourth consecutive game on Sunday, falling to the New York Jets 24-16.

Once again, the Ravens were able to take a 10-0 lead early. The Jets’ first possession ended with a turnover, as punter Lachian Edwards fumbled a snap that was recovered by Ravens wide receiver Chris Moore. Moore and Edwards stumbled back to the end zone, where Moore was able to fall on top of the ball for a Ravens touchdown.

That touchdown would be the only time the Ravens would find the end zone in the game.

The Ravens extended their lead on their next offensive drive with a 50-yard field goal from Justin Tucker. The Ravens had a 10-point lead, but the question was going to be whether or not they would be able to keep it.

Turns out, they would not be able to. On the fifth play of the Jets’ next drive, quarterback Geno Smith found wide receiver Quincy Enunwa on a slant route. Enunwa broke through Ravens defenders and raced all the way to the end zone for a 69-yard score.

Smith, making his first start of 2016, would have to leave the game in the second quarter with a knee injury. He would not return, meaning that Ryan Fitzpatrick, NFL’s interception-throwing leader (11), would take over.

Smith’s absence was a good thing for Fitzpatrick, who performed well after being benched over the week. He threw for 120 yards and a touchdown, and avoided throwing an interception.

Baltimore would add two field goals in the second quarter of 49 and 44 yards, the latter one coming in the final seconds of the first half. The score at the break was 16-14 Baltimore, and it was looking like the game would go down to the wire.

Needless to say, the second half was a disaster for the Ravens offense. Baltimore ran 42 plays in the second half that gained 42 yards from scrimmage. Quarterback Joe Flacco threw two costly interceptions that led to 10 points for New York. The Ravens punted four times in the second half and had their last drive of the game stall on a loss of downs.

Throughout the entire game, the Ravens finished with six rushing yards. Six. Starting running back Terrance West carried the ball just eight times for 10 yards (Flacco ran the ball twice for -4 yards). The Jets have the sixth-ranked rushing defense in the NFL, but the Ravens have the third top rushing defense. New York finished the game with 155 rushing yards, led by Matt Forte’s 100-yard day.

“We’re not playing good right now,” Flacco said after the game. “That’s the biggest thing. We gotta find ways to move the football, and to give ourselves more opportunities. When you start to play winning football, the mistakes diminish, guys get confident, and you turn it over.”

Defensive tackle Brandon Williams said after the game that “It’s us against ourselves.” This point was demonstrated in the third quarter when defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan recovered a Matt Forte fumble that was lost at Baltimore’s three-yard line. Jernigan picked up the football and started to run, but when he was brought down he fumbled the ball himself. New York receiver Brandon Marshall recovered the ball, and the Jets scored a touchdown two plays later.

“From now on, I don’t care if I have 100 yards in front of me, I’ll fall on the ball,” Jernigan said in the locker room.

After committing 15 penalties in last week’s loss to the Giants, the Ravens finished Sunday’s game with just four penalties for 35 yards. However, one of these penalties was a killer. In the second quarter, Terrance West broke through for a 52-yard run that would have given the Ravens the ball just four yards from the end zone. However, tackle Alex Lewis was flagged for holding, and the play was negated. Lewis was also flagged for a false start on the previous play. The drive ended in a punt, and the Jets scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive.

“We are not going to be a margin-for-error team,” head coach John Harbaugh said after the game. “We need to be a sound, tough-minded, fundamentally smart football team. We got the penalties knocked way down in this game, I’m happy with that. But I do not like the penalties.”

Following this four-game losing streak, the Ravens head into their bye week with a lot of improvements to make. Yes, the injuries are piling up. Corner back Tavon Young (concussion) and safety Lardarius Webb (hamstring) were the latest victims of the injury bug. However, the Ravens are not playing winning football. All four of these losses have been winnable for the Ravens, but there are too many mistakes being made on the field and on the sideline for the team to overcome.

Following Baltimore’s bye week, the Pittsburgh Steelers will come to town for the classic AFC North battle. Kickoff on Sunday, Nov. 6 is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.

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