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Further review: Late-game defense letting Ravens down


Further review: Late-game defense letting Ravens down

OAKLAND - Since late last season, the Ravens haven’t been able to count on their defense in late-game situations.

Simply put, the Ravens haven’t protected leads like they used to. It started last season, even before they lost linebacker Terrell Suggs to his season-ending Achilles injury. Dating back to 2014, the Ravens have lost their last four games that were decided by six points or less, and the fourth-quarter defense in all of those losses was suspect.

Watching the Ravens give up killer drives late in games has become a familiar sight. It happened again Sunday during their 37-33 loss to the Raiders.

After the Ravens took a 33-30 lead with 2:44 left, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr methodically led a game-winning touchdown drive – nine plays, 80 yards, in just one minute, 44 seconds.

RELATED: Ravens pass rush in trouble without Suggs

Had they at least held the Raiders to a field goal, perhaps the Ravens would have won in overtime. But the Ravens’ defense couldn’t contain Carr all day - 30 of 46, 351 yards, three touchdowns, one interception. Now the Ravens are 0-2, in as much September trouble as they have ever been under coach John Harbaugh.

Consider this snapshot of the Ravens’ recent late-game defense:

 - Against the Broncos in Week 1, Denver milked 10:56 off the clock in the fourth quarter with a 17-play, 81-yard drive. The Broncos settled for a field goal. But burning almost 11 minutes off the clock left the Ravens with just one more possession. That final drive ended with Joe Flacco throwing an interception, and the Ravens lost 19-13.

- In last season’s playoff loss to the Patriots, the Ravens twice led by 14 points, but couldn’t hold either lead. The Ravens led, 28-14, in the third quarter, but the Patriots outscored the Ravens 21-3 from that point and escaped with a 35-31 win that ended the Ravens’ season.

-  Last November 30th against the Chargers, the Ravens led 33-20 with just over six minutes left. But Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers engineered two late scoring drives and the Chargers won, 34-33, at M&T Bank Stadium. That loss may have cost the Ravens a division title.

Last year, the Ravens’ secondary was ravaged by injuries. But with corners Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb healthy, Carr still picked apart the Ravens’ secondary, and there was plenty of blame to go around.

“Our secondary, we got some miscommunication, and they got too many big plays,” Webb said following Sunday’s game. “If we didn’t give them a big play, we gave them a penalty. You can’t do both.

“Right now, everybody’s sad, everybody’s down. We’re 0-2. I don’t know what this feeling feels like. But I know I’m coming back on Monday and Tuesday, ready to get my boys ready…We will be back.” 

The motto “Play like a Raven” is supposed to include playing stellar defense in clutch situations. But unless the Ravens’ defense improves in late-game situations, recovering from a 0-2 start will be extremely difficult.

MORE RAVENS: Flacco on late-game loss to Raiders: 'It stinks'

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Ravens agree to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst


Ravens agree to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst

The Ravens have their entire 2018 draft class locked up.

The team agreed to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Hurst's rookie contract - like all first-round picks - is a four-year deal with a team option of a fifth year. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the 25th overall pick is due $11.1 million. 

The 24-year old, who was a walk on at South Carolina at 21-years old after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012, finished his three-year career with 100 receptions, 1,281 yards and three touchdowns.

Standing at 6-foot-3, Hurst will be a nice addition to the TE corps with Nick Boyle and third-round draft pick Mark Andrews. 

Fellow first-round pick Lamar Jackson signed his rookie contract on June 5th.

Training camp kicks off for the Ravens July 19th. 


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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

Since drafting Lamar Jackson, the Ravens have made it clear that Joe Flacco is their starter. That doesn't mean they're not experimenting with having them both on the field at the same time, however. 

During this week's minicamp, the team has been lining Jackson up at multiple positions. 

"Gosh, I sure like him out there helping us," coach John Harbaugh said of Jackson during Tuesday's minicamp, via ESPN.com.

"If you put two quarterbacks on the field at once, what options does it create for our offense? That's what we're trying to figure out."

While at Louisville, Jackson rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns in three seasons. That's more rushing yards than No. 2 overall pick Saquon Barkley. That unique skill set could be the creative options the Ravens are looking for. 

While at the NFL Combine, however, Jackson refused to workout at any other position than QB. 

"I have a lot of fun seeing what they come up with and what they're going to come up with next," Jackson said. "We'll see where it goes. You have to use your good players."

The Ravens are already viewing Jackson as one of those 'good players.' 

"Once he gets out of the pocket, it's like watching a young Michael Vick," LB C.J. Mosley said after minicamp practice. "It's amazing to watch. When you're defending him, you just have to act like you're tagging off -- you don't want to be on the highlight reel."

Harbaugh has alluded to the fact that the rookie will be active on game days, just exactly how they get the most out of him is what's in play.

"There's a lot of considerations that go into that," Harbaugh said of using two QBs at the once. "Everybody has an opinion. I've read a few. You want to find a way to get the most out of all your guys."

While Flacco isn't the fasted QB in the league, he has shown glimpses of running ability in the past. Figuring out how to utilize Flacco when Jackson is under center is where things will get interesting.

Interesting - as long as it works - is what Ravens fans have been searching for over the last several seasons. 

"Joe has to be able to do other things if [Jackson is] throwing the ball," Harbaugh said. "It gets the creative juices flowing for our offensive coaches, and they've worked hard on that."