The Baltimore Ravens (7-4) didn’t just have their four-game winning streak snapped against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 12, it was arguably their worst loss of the season to date. While it marked the fourth blown two-score lead of the year, for the first time, they suffered a defeat at the hands of a team with a losing record.
Although the defense is shouldering the bulk of the blame for giving up 18 points in the fourth quarter alone, the offense played a vital role in letting the Jaguars hang around and eventually be in a position to complete their gut-wrenching comeback.
Even though they didn’t struggle to consistently move the ball, their inability to finish all or even the majority of their five trips into the red zone in the end zone kept the game close enough for Jacksonville to have a shot tie and ultimately win the game in the end.
“We got stopped,” head coach John Harbaugh said in a postgame press conference. “You try to call your best plays. Sometimes you think you can run it in – you run it in [and] it doesn’t work – sometimes you try to pass it in. We just didn’t do a good job in the red zone is the bottom line.
The Ravens successfully converted four field attempts with three being from under 30 yards after they had promising drive stall out inside the Jacksonville 20-yard line. They were 0-of-3 on their first three trips to the red zone before finally finding success on their final two in the fourth quarter.
“Those are big trips down there, and obviously touchdowns are what you’re looking for,” Harbaugh said. “It’s something we have to improve on going forward. That’s really important for us.”
Settling for short field goals didn’t cut against the scrappy yet lowly Jaguars and it certainly won’t keep the Ravens in games or allow them to pull away when they face the top-tier teams in the AFC conference come playoff time. If they don’t get it fixed, this won’t be the only loss to a team with a losing record they’ll suffer down the stretch as they are currently slated to face five ahead of their Week 18 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) in a game that could and likely will decide the winner of the AFC North division crown.
Lamar Jackson Addresses Ravens’ Red Zone Struggles
The Ravens had several chances to get up on the Jaguars early and put the game away well before their latest fourth-quarter collapse. However, a handful of missed opportunities prevented them from taking control of the game in the first three quarters and continued their red zone and overall scoring woes.
“[We] just have to score more points, try to score more points early, if anything,” quarterback Lamar Jackson said in a postgame press conference. “Try not to miss the opportunities. We missed a few opportunities out there. That’s it.”
The Ravens could’ve taken an early lead and set the tone for the game on the second play from scrimmage. Jackson overthrew veteran wide receiver Demarcus Robinson who was streaking wide-open deep down the field with plenty of separation and would’ve waltzed into the end zone for a 50-yard score had his quarterback just hit him in stride.
On the Ravens’ next offensive possession, Dobinson dropped what would have been a four-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone and the team settled for a second-straight short attempt by All-Pro kicker Justin Tucker.
On their first possession of the second half, the Ravens drove down inside the Jaguars’ 20-yard line for the third time when Jackson couldn’t connect with tight end Josh Oliver for what would have been an 18-yard touchdown but the high pass bounced off his fingertips instead and Tucker kicked his fourth field of the game five plays later.
Jackson said that the unit is usually very crisp in practice throughout the week but when it comes to their games as of late, they’ve just but a little off and have failed to consistently execute.
“Sometimes we just didn’t hit it,” He said. “We hit one late in the game [and] went up. But still, I feel like [if] we score early, [the] game looks different.”
He believes that if they can execute early and often on offense, the entire team “will have confidence”. Establishing momentum and leads earlier in games will help them avoid dramatic finishes and increase their likelihood of achieving their ultimate goal of winning a championship.
Offensive Silverlining Despite Defeat
Even though they took a while to finally find the end zone and ultimately came up short in the end, the Ravens still had several players who had impressive performances against the Jaguars in Week 12.
Jackson racked up 343 yards of total offense with his combined yardage totals passing and rushing. He threw for 254 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions and ran for a team-leading and game-high 89 yards. Some of his most impressive plays came as a passer even though he admittedly left some plays out on the field.
His best throw of the day came on an absolute bomb to veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson who was playing in just his second game since signing with the team in October. It was the longest play from scrimmage in the game by either team and helped set up the Ravens’ second touchdown drive. He caught two of his three targets for 74 receiving yards with his other reception going for 12 yards and also resulting in a first down.
The pass catcher that led the team in receiving yards and receiving yards and tied for the lead in receptions was fourth-year tight end Josh Oliver who recorded a career-high 76 yards on four catches including his second career touchdown to give the Ravens a late lead.
It was a timely breakout game from Oliver as the team was without promising rookie tight end Isaiah Likely due to an ankle injury and it just so happened to come against the team that drafted him albeit in a losing effort.
“[It’s] definitely tough,” Oliver said in a postgame press conference on November 27. “It’s a blessing to be back out on the field. I have to thank God. Coming back here healthy is a huge thing for me, but it’s also tough. It’s a loss.”
The Jaguars’ originally selected him in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft at No. 69 overall out of San Diego State but he never realized his potential in Jacksonville before getting traded to the Ravens last year. After earning his way onto the final 53-man roster with a strong training camp and preseason, Oliver is enjoying the best season of his career.
“It was a big game for me coming back to Jacksonville, obviously, but there is no say whether I was going to get the ball more or not. [It] just happened that way,” Oliver said.