“Take the points!” the good people of Baltimore yelled in the aftermath of yet another unspeakable home loss by the Ravens, this time in the driving rain to the Buffalo Bills.
Not only is John Harbaugh now running from people like me in post-game press conferences, he’s now turned full-on-Sammy Sosa-no speaky on not understanding questions in basic English about what it says about his team that they’ve blown a 35-14 lead and a 20-3 lead – both at home – in 14 days. And his Pro Bowl cornerback stalked someone (maybe the head coach?) all over the sidelines and needed physical restraint to keep him away from whomever Marcus Peters was trying to get at from his own locker room.
Welcome to October. The high-ceiling Baltimore Ravens are suddenly a troubling 2-2 and the defending AFC champions are coming to town for Sunday Night Football.
And head coach John Harbaugh is under siege from the Baltimore fan base.
And you wonder why Chad Steele wants less legitimate reporters in the locker room after the game and more of Harbaugh’s underlings and co-workers asking the softball questions?
There were a lot of questions to be asked of the Baltimore Ravens in the aftermath of Sunday’s meltdown against a very capable Buffalo Bills team, who have acquired a January DNA the hard way – by losing hard games on the road to what-is-still-just-a Super Bowl dream. And there are a few glaring facts that led to the purple collapse but no real answers about decisions that were made along the road to defeat – maybe they were those famous gut decisions? – that seemed against the thought processes of all of the great minds of NFL history.
Here’s one key point that I learned from covering the NFL from the inside for 26 years: it’s better to have more points than the other team and when you do, you have a better chance to win the game. Or as Steve Winwood once sang: “While you see a chance, take it.”
All of the brilliance of Lamar Jackson – the stats, his poise in the pocket, the obvious improvement of his game and the MVP march and, yes, even the contract – gets lost when you lose this kind of game. Losing now, or in January – if that ever gets here because these are the kind of losses that send you to Buffalo on a cold winter’s night onto the tundra of the Orchard Park beast – is unacceptable when you have the best player on the field.
And the best kicker, maybe in the history of the game, who never got a chance to kick a game winner.
And instead of another love fest for Lamar Jackson, who unfortunately could only throw it and not catch it for Rashod Bateman and others on Sunday, it was the Bills signed-and-sealed quarterback Josh Allen who delivered like a veteran closer on the road and on the wet turf in Baltimore on Sunday. Allen was frightened of nothing the Ravens had to offer and certainly wasn’t intimidated by the deficit or his inefficiencies and his receivers’ even-more-egregious drops throughout the deteriorating afternoon.
And instead of The Lamar Show, this time it was the other Pro Bowl quarterback who slipped into the phone booth late into a gawdawful afternoon in the wet and wind to put on the cape and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in the downtown gloom.
The Baltimore Ravens were winning 20-3. It looked like easy money for any of the short-term local investors who bleed purple and loved a trio of home points. And, then, the bad weather got worse. Instead for the sharps, the Ravens entered the game a three-point underdog and left a rowdy push – just where Vegas presciently said they’d be all week.
I’m not sure anyone in a Vegas betting house who set the lines had John Harbaugh balking at taking a three-point lead at home late in the rain and then watching Josh Allen make his point for the real MVP of league as the Bills even played mind games with the clock at the end to eat enough turf to make this a life lesson for the elder statesman and Super Bowl XLVII ringholder from the bushy tree of the Andy Reid coaching lineage.
For one day, at least, it was Sean McDermott > John Harbaugh.
Sunday is a prime example of why Chad Steele doesn’t want reporters in the locker room. The truth about the anger of Marcus Peters will become public. It was too public to not become public. He was angry at Odafe Oweh or John Harbaugh or someone about some decision, whether it was to allow the Bills to score or not? (He has a Twitter. I won’t be waiting on that.)
Sure, Coach Harbaugh might have thrown out a reporter who would ask him – and his players and management – some tough questions, but he won’t stop the questions from being asked.
The Baltimore Ravens have lost FIVE games in a row at home. The last time this kinda thing happened, my pal Brian Billick got fired.
John Harbaugh has won two playoff games in 10 years. And, with the game on the line against a conference foe fighting for home field advantage in the playoffs, he let the best kicker on earth ice down while the offense didn’t get it done.
And, then, the defense that he bet against stopping Josh Allen, went out on the field and didn’t. And the decision-making with the clock and the end zone management and the leadership to have a clear defensive message wasn’t heard amongst all of the troops as Bills running back Devin Singletary played some mind games and Allen took a creative first-down knee and Peters seemed biblically incensed that somehow Lamar Jackson wouldn’t touch the ball again.
John Harbaugh used a challenge and a timeout on an almost-unwinnable query with the replay booth for a Lamar “reach” first down. Then, the decision to not send Justin Tucker on for a go-ahead field goal with 4:09 remaining after Jackson had led the team on a 17-play, 9:29 drive that netted nothing in a tied game.
And they lost a very, very winnable – and with that gaudy start and 20-3 lead – game that they had no business losing. This same result happened 14 days ago.
Blowing games and big leads at home is now a trend for the 2022 Baltimore Ravens.
Less than 48 hours before the game, Harbaugh was second-guessing the entire franchise of the Miami Dolphins about their decision making and now he was charged with a decision on the goal line that netted the obvious: a three-point lead at home wasn’t good enough to win on Sunday.
John Harbaugh won’t be answering questions from me but I’m guessing Steve Bisciotti, who was watching from upstairs, doesn’t like what he sees right now.
I know none of us do.
Tough week at The Castle for anyone and everyone.
Coach Harbs had a bad day at the office on Sunday and it cost the whole operation.