May 24, 2024

As the Baltimore Ravens find their lead in the AFC North reduced to just a half-game, concerns arise about their ability to secure a division title in the second half of the season.

The immediate focus for the Ravens is on finishing games, particularly with the upcoming match against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night. Despite being known as strong closers in the past, the team has experienced a shift in the last two seasons, transitioning from being among the best to one of the worst at closing out games.

The recent 33-31 loss to the Cleveland Browns marked the seventh time since the beginning of the last season that the Ravens lost a game when leading in the fourth quarter, tying with the Indianapolis Colts for the most in the NFL. Ravens defensive tackle Justin Madubuike expressed the shock and frustration felt by the team, especially considering their 14-0 lead earlier in the game.

With an 11 minutes and 34 seconds lead of 31-17, the Ravens had a win probability of 98%, a situation they used to excel in under coach John Harbaugh from 2008 to 2021. During that period, the team maintained an impressive 79-0 record when leading by 14 or more points in the second half, making them the only unbeaten team in the NFL in that scenario.

However, Sunday’s collapse against the Browns was the Ravens’ second such incident since the start of the last season, joining the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys as the only teams with multiple losses after leading by 14 or more points in the second half during that span.

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Ravens tight end Mark Andrews emphasized the importance of putting teams down when they’re in a vulnerable position and acknowledged the need to play mistake-free football, especially when facing close situations at the end of the game.

The game ultimately came down to the fourth-quarter performance of the quarterbacks. The Browns’ Deshaun Watson excelled with a 7-of-7 record for 88 yards and a touchdown, while the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson struggled, going 1-of-5 for 11 yards with an interception returned 34 yards for a touchdown.

Jackson’s 6.4 Total QBR in the fourth quarter was the third worst of his career, prompting him to emphasize the team’s need to finish the game. Despite previous resilience following fourth-quarter meltdowns, the Ravens face a critical matchup on Thursday night that could drop them out of first place in the AFC North.

Cornerback Brandon Stephens acknowledged the frustration but stressed the team’s commitment to improvement and readiness for the upcoming Thursday game, highlighting the short week and the need to maintain a positive mindset.

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