Despite two interceptions by Joe Flacco that bounced off of his wide receiver’s hands, a fumble by Maxx Williams deep in Chicago Bears’ territory and the offense not finding the end zone all afternoon, the Ravens had the ball on their 40-yard line with a chance to make three-plus hours of offensive ineptitude moot.
They had all the momentum in a game that should have long been over and a shanked punt gave them great field position, too. They didn’t even need a touchdown. Two or three first downs and arguably the best kicker in the league, Justin Tucker, is trotting on the field with the game on his right foot. There’s been no surer scenario for the Ravens in recent seasons than that.
But we’re talking about the Ravens offense, for which nothing comes easy. Two runs by Buck Allen totaled eight yards, Flacco threw an incompletion on third-and-short and out came Sam Koch to punt the ball away.
“You need a field goal, and we can’t get it,” said Flacco. “It’s definitely a tough pill to swallow, but you have to do it.”
The Bears got the ball and didn’t give it back as a Jordan Howard’s 53-yard run set up Connor Barth, who ended a mistake-filled game with a 40-yard field goal with just over two minutes left in overtime that lifted Chicago to a 27-24 victory in front of an announced 70,616, many of whom left M&T Bank Stadium before the Ravens mounted a comeback to force the extra session.
“This one definitely hurts,” said Ravens rush linebacker Terrell Suggs. “Despite everything that happened, we still had a chance to win the game, and we didn’t do it. It sucks to lose a game when the defense is on the field. It’s just unfortunate. This one sucks.”
That was the consensus throughout the home locker room as the Ravens (3-3) lost to a previously one-win Bears team and rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who completed eight passes. Yet the Ravens still needed a near-miraculous comeback to force overtime.
Trailing 24-13 with just over five minutes remaining after Baltimore native and former Calvert Hall standout Adrian Amos picked off a pass by Flacco and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown, the Ravens scored 11 points in 1:19 late in the fourth quarter. Tucker kicked a 50-yard field goal to make it 24-16 and then Michael Campanaro returned a punt 77 yards for a touchdown with 1:37 to play, the Ravens’ second return score of the game. Bobby Rainey had the other with a 96-yard kickoff return late in the third quarter to cut the Bears’ lead to 17-10.
When Flacco hit tight end Nick Boyle for the two-point conversion, the game was tied. Tucker nearly had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Flacco was unable to spike the ball in time after Mike Wallace’s catch put the ball on the Bears’ 40.
“All losses sting,” Flacco said. “You do not feel good coming in the locker room after a game like that. That fact that you are feeling a little hopeful there at the end, I don’t know if that makes it any worse. It is just all bad.”
There was plenty of blame to go around. The Ravens allowed 231 rushing yards — the most in franchise history — and Howard’s 53-yard run in overtime came after he appeared to be stopped by safety Eric Weddle for a modest gain. But Weddle tried to strip Howard rather than wrap him up and Howard got all the way to the Ravens 40. An 18-yard third-down catch by Kendall Wright over Lardarius Webb set up Barth for the field goal.
“It’s an unacceptable play,” Weddle said. “I have to make the tackle. I had a good hand on the ball, but you just can’t do that in that situation. You have to get him down. We were playing so well as a defense. It’s unfortunate to lose the game because of that, but I’ve got big shoulders and I can man up to my mistakes. I’ll move on from it.”
Otherwise, the Ravens’ problems started and ended on offense. After playing a clean game in last Sunday’s victory over the Oakland Raiders, the Ravens turned the ball over three times. Amos’ 90-yard interception return on a ball that went off reserve receiver Chris Moore’s chest was the big one.
However, Perriman also juggled a potential third-down reception in the second quarter and Bears cornerback Bryce Callahan caught the ricochet and returned it 52 yards to the Ravens 20. Two plays later, the Bears called a halfback option and running back Tarik Cohen found tight end Zach Miller in the back of the end zone for a 21-yard score and a 10-0 Bears’ lead. Ravens safety Tony Jefferson, who was also beaten on Dion Sims’ 27-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter, allowed Miller to get behind him.
Williams then lost a fumble on a third-down reception deep in Bears’ territory in the second quarter. Both Perriman (concussion) and Williams (foot) did not return after the turnovers.
“I think every turnover is frustrating,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, whose team lost a game to a backup quarterback at home for the first time in his tenure. “It’s about as frustrating as it can get.”
Flacco finished 24 of 41 for 180 yards and two interceptions and a 48.8 quarterback rating. But during many of the offense’s tough sequences Sunday, it was hard to pin much of the blame on the quarterback.
Jeremy Maclin’s injury forced the Ravens to rely on secondary wide receivers and what remained of the receiving group struggled to gain separation and make contested catches.
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg didn’t show a whole lot of confidence in the pass game as the Ravens stuck to a relatively conservative game plan. That was evident in the team’s one possession in overtime as the Ravens ran the ball twice up the middle and then tried a quick pass to Moore. The ball fell to the ground and the Ravens’ final chance to win the game went with it.
“When you get the ball like that, you automatically think you’re going to win the football game,” Wallace said. “You make a couple plays and the game is over. Obviously, we didn’t get that done.”