Ravens look to avoid 4th-quarter struggles over final stretch

Photo credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

OWINGS MILLS — The Ravens were carrying at least a one-score lead heading to the fourth quarter in all three of their losses this season.

The team needs to avoid similar scenarios over the final four weeks if they want to secure that No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.

“When you’re looking at fourth-quarter drives to win the game, you’re not really thinking in terms of the calls and plays,” Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald said. “You’re thinking [about] players and matchups. Our guys understand it’s hard to stop a team with four downs, so a lot of times, it’s a takeaway or a sack to lead us to the victory in those situations. So, our mindset is to go out and play our technique and be aggressive.”

Here’s a breakdown of the three losses

Week 3: Colts 22, Ravens 19 overtime

  • The Ravens led, 14-10, after three quarters. The Colts stormed back to tie the game and Justin Tucker’s field-goal attempt came up short from 61 yards with one second left in regulation. The Ravens could not take advantage of  possessions from the Indianapolis 48 and Baltimore 46 in the extra period. Finally, Matt Gay’s fifth field goal of the game with 1:09 remaining gave the Colts the victory.

Week 5: Steelers 17, Ravens 10

  • The Ravens led, 10-3, heading into the final quarter. However, the Ravens committed three turnovers and allowed a blocked punt for a safety that sparked the Steelers’ comeback. Lamar Jackson had a chance to put the game away but his attempted pass to Zay Flowers in the end zone was intercepted by Pittsburgh cornerback Joey Porter Jr. with 4:10 remaining. Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to  George Pickens with 1:17 left to seal the win.

Week 10: Browns 33, Ravens 31

  • The Ravens led, 31-17, with 11:35 left in the game. Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson started the comeback when he threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Moore with 8:57 remaining. After that, a pass by Jackson caromed off the defensive line and was returned for a 34-yard touchdown by Greg Newsome. The Browns drove 58 yards in the final minutes to set up a 40-yard, game-winning kick by Dustin Hopkins as time expired. On that drive, the Browns eased a second-and-19 on a 17-yard pass from Watson to Amari Cooper to set up a short first down on the ensuing snap.

The Ravens need to be stronger in the fourth quarter because they play a tough slate of games at Jacksonville (8-5), at San Francisco (10-3), Miami (9-4), and Pittsburgh (7-6).

The Ravens are the ninth team to have a lead in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter in each of their first 13 games of a season, according to ESPN Stats.

Macdonald has a plan to combat those late-game collapses.

“Obviously, there is strategy involved in the things that the offense is doing and the things that we’re countering with on defense,” Macdonald said. “That changes from game to game, but the philosophy is always the same. We want to be in attack mode and stay aggressive. Ultimately, it’s going to take a play to win those types of games.” 

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