A day removed from the Ravens stunning overtime loss to Cleveland, coach John Harbaugh remained exasperated over the role penalties played in that game, and the role they have played in the Ravens' franchise-worst 1-4 start.
"The ones that were most hurtful were the offsides, where we lined up in the neutral zone, twice in the same drive. That was unfathomable," Harbaugh said at his Monday news conference.
He was referring to penalties on linebackers Za'Darius Smith and Jason Babin that occurred within four plays of each other and essentially handed the Browns 10 yards on a drive that ended with a Browns go-ahead touchdown.
"The penalties, for the most part, were inexcusable – late especially," Harbaugh had said moments after the game on Sunday. "Lining up in the neutral zone, I don’t understand that penalty. How do you explain that one?"
But that was far from the only key penalty against the Ravens, who were flagged 12 times for 98 yards. Lawrence Guy was called for roughing the passer, which negated an interception by Lardarius Webb. Babin was called for a hands-to-the-face penalty on third down that gave the Browns a first down at the Ravens 10-yard line. They scored two plays later.
Earlier, shortly before halftime, receiver Darren Waller was called for an illegal block, which pushed the Ravens back 10 yards. Two plays later, Justin Tucker missed a 51-yard field-goal attempt.
Through five games, the Ravens have been flagged 42 times for 368 yards, the fifth-most in the league. They had more than 100 penalty yards in back-to-back games (vs. Oakland and Cincinnati) for the just the second time in team history.
"Some of them are the cost of doing business, some of them are tough, technique penalties, and some of them are inexcusable penalties," Harbaugh said. "We look at all of them.”
It's pretty clear that for a Ravens team struggling to get off the field on defense, handing the opponent extra plays and yardage will only make a bad situation worse.