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Another blown lead, another loss

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Another blown lead, another loss

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.”

MORE RAVENS: Ravens fall to 0-3 with loss: 5 things you need to know

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Dominant defense earns Ravens' Za'Darius Smith AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors

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Dominant defense earns Ravens' Za'Darius Smith AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors

The defensive performance on display by the Baltimore Ravens Sunday against the Tennessee Titans in a 21-0 shutout win was flat out historic. So historic that it's earned linebacker Za'Darius Smith AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

A franchise-record 11 sacks were laid on quarterback Marcus Mariota during the Week 6 matchup, with Smith leading the way with three of them.   

So far this season the 26-year-old has 20 combined tackles, 5.5 sacks, and one forced fumble. As someone who is in the final year of his rookie NFL contract, he's certainly proving he is worthy of getting paid this offseason. 

"It feels great, man. It's big," Smith said of the honor during media availability Wednesday. "I know when I first found out I called my mom and she was already looking at it. But I called her and she was trying to congratulate me and was like 'who would've ever thought the guy that played one year of high school football would be where he at now and making so many goals.'"

But earning AFC Defensive Player of the Week isn't the only goal Smith has in mind. His performance through the first six weeks and assisting the No. 1 ranked scoring defense is just a stepping stone to the ultimate honor.

"I was telling her, 'Ma you know this is a good self-goal but my main goal is to get us to the Super Bowl.'" 

The road to the Super Bowl for Smith and the Ravens continues this Sunday vs. Drew Brees and the Saints. 

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Peter King awards two Ravens with weekly honors for defensive performance vs.Titans

Peter King awards two Ravens with weekly honors for defensive performance vs.Titans

The Baltimore Ravens' Week 6 dominate performance over the Tennessee Titans is gaining national attention. 

A historic game that displayed the offense and defense firing on all cylinders, it's hard to pinpoint who had the biggest impact. 

So in his latest edition of Football Morning in America, NBC Sports' Peter King awarded not one, but two Ravens with weekly honors.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Za'Darius Smith

Against the Titans, Smith led the Ravens defense with three sacks and five tackles in their historic 11-sack game. On of three Defensive Players of the Week, King explained why Smith's performance stood out.

In the most dominant defensive performance of this ultra-offensive season, the Ravens shut out Tennessee 21-0 and had 11 sacks. Another one of GM Ozzie Newsome’s draft gifts that keeps on giving, Smith (2015, round four, Kentucky) contributed three sacks of Marcus Mariota and five tackles in a virtuoso game. Net passing yards for Mariota: 51.

Smith, who's entering the final year of his rookie NFL contract, has shown over six games he deserves to get paid in the offseason. So far this season the 26-year-old has 20 combined tackles, 5.5 sacks and one forced fumble. 

COACH OF THE WEEK: Don "Wink" Martindale

In his first season as defensive coordinator, Don "Wink" Martindale has seamlessly made the transition from linebackers coach to leading the NFL's No. 1 scoring defense (12.8). But what impressed King the most from the 21-0 shutout was how Martindale's squad got to Mariota from every direction. 

When a unit records more sacks (11) than completions allowed (10), the leader gets an award. Those are the rules. Martindale’s pass rushers got to Marcus Mariota every possible way—up the middle, around the edges, in the pocket, on bootlegs, you name it. The total set a new franchise record and was one short of the single-game NFL mark of 12. And it came with a familiar face watching: Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees used to hold the same position in Baltimore. Shout out to the Ravens social media team for renaming the account RavenSSSSSSSSSSS, one ‘S’ for each sack.

This Ravens defense, who has always been known for its dominance, is ranked first in points allowed (12.8), first in yards allowed (270.8), second in passing yards allowed (188.0) and third in rushing yards allowed (82.8) heading into Week 7. In addition, they have yet to surrender a second half touchdown all season. Trusting of the talent this roster holds, the respect "Wink" has for his players is equally reciprocated. 

"It was really emotional when they told us we had 11 sacks," linebacker Patrick Onwuasor said postgame. "We just went out there and we were like, ‘We have to get Coach Wink . We have to put the Gatorade on him.’ So, we tried to turn him around so he couldn’t see it coming, and we had to get him real good."

Martindale will now face the No. 1 scoring offense in the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. 

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