As the Ravens stare at an 0-3 record for the first time in franchise history, they are wrestling with yet another one that got away.
For the second straight week, the Ravens failed to win despite leading late in the fourth quarter. Against Cincinnati on Sunday, the Ravens twice took a fourth-quarter lead, only to surrender it on touchdown catches by A.J. Green. His second score, a 7-yarder with 2:10 left, sent the Ravens to a 28-24 loss.
This comes one week after the Ravens gave up a game-winning touchdown to the Raiders with 26 seconds left in a 37-33 loss.
“We gotta get better as a secondary, as a defense,” safety Kendrick Lewis said. “We gotta know how to put the fire out, how to stop people when the game’s on the line especially. We did a poor job of doing it these last two weeks.”
Lewis wasn’t with the Ravens last year, so he might not realize this trend isn’t new; the Ravens lost a fourth-quarter lead at New England in the playoff loss last season, and they gave up a game-winning touchdown to the Chargers in the final minute late last season. And in the game at Cincinnati last season, the Ravens led 24-20 with under four minutes to play before Andy Dalton engineered an 80-yard drive that ended with Dalton scoring in the final minute for a 27-24 Bengals win.
“We had the lead twice in the fourth quarter and couldn’t hold on to it,” Harbaugh said after Sunday’s game. “It’s happened too much lately. So it’s on us.”
The Ravens did come up with a huge defensive play early in the fourth quarter, when Elvis Dumervil stripped Andy Dalton on a sack and C.J. Mosley scooped up the fumble and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown with 6:49 left to give the Ravens their first lead at 17-14.
The lead lasted one play.
On the very next snap, Dalton fired a bullet through a Ravens zone that found A.J. Green, who beat Lewis early, and then broke away from a tackle by Jimmy Smith late for an 80-yard touchdown.
"You have the lead in the fourth quarter, you have to play the kind of defense that gets them stopped," Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh pointed out that they did get the big defensive touchdown -- their second in three games -- but, "You have to come out and stop them again,” he said. “You have to come out and stop them if you want to win. They had one more stop than we did, and that’s why they won.”
And that’s why the Ravens are 0-3 for the first time in franchise history.
“We’re in the games, we’re just not finishing in the end,” running back Justin Forsett said. “Guys know that we got a good team. We just gotta go and put it together. That’s the frustrating thing. We know that we can be good. We’re not finishing and not showing it when we need to.”