Late in the fourth period, some fans in the upper deck at M&T Bank Stadium were starting to make their way to the parking lot. The Ravens were behind by three points, but there was not much hope for this team. If you lose to the Browns, you're done.
Late in the fourth period, some fans in the upper deck at M&T Bank Stadium were starting to make their way to the parking lot. The Ravens were behind by three points, but there was not much hope for this team.
There is even less after the Ravens lost, 33-30, to the Cleveland Browns Sunday in overtime. There were three certain things in life: death, taxes and the Ravens beating the Browns.
It's a sign that the Apocalypse is upon us and life as we once knew it is over. The Ravens had been to the playoffs six of the past seven years, but this isn't the time to talk about playoffs.
All hope is about gone, fading with Travis Coons' game-winning, 32-yard field goal in sudden-death overtime. All that has to be done now is the mathematical equation of when the Ravens will be officially eliminated from postseason contention.
"I think the record speaks for itself and what kind of challenge it is," Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said.
There was a glimmer of hope after the Ravens beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime last Thursday night. That was made possible because Steelers kicker Josh Scobee missed field goals of 41 and 49 yards in the final three minutes. So, if the Ravens beat Cleveland and the struggling San Francisco 49ers next Sunday, they would have gotten back to .500.
But those dreams disappeared like Ravens inside linebackers Daryl Smith and C.J. Mosley in pass coverage Sunday. The Ravens might have seen star receiver Steve Smith Sr. (back) healthy again for the 49ers. A win might have given general manager Ozzie Newsome some incentive to trade for another top receiver.
Forget that now. Newsome can't mortgage the future for this team. They have too many holes, so he might as well start preparing his NFL draft board. The Ravens don't have enough overall talent and they lack playmakers and discipline.
The veterans are injured and the Ravens can't even win a game at home. It's one thing to lose to Cleveland in Cleveland and another to lose to the Browns in Baltimore. The Browns. The sorry, no-good Browns who came into Sunday's game with the worst defense in the NFL, and the 20th-ranked offense.
But they racked up 505 yards of total offense, including 422 yards passing, and scored on four of six possessions in the second half.
"I put this on the defense as a whole," Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith said. "We didn't come through today. We were supposed to show up and we did not show up in the second half."
Worse yet, the old boys are starting to fall apart, including outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (groin) and cornerback Lardarius Webb (thigh). If you include Smith and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (Achilles tendon), it seems that age has caught up with the Ravens.
When some of these guys miss playing time, the Ravens are forced to use reserves.
"Yes, yes, it changes what you call," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said when asked if the injuries affected defensive coverages.
Harbaugh wasn't using injuries as an excuse, but being honest. Cleveland converted on 12 of 19 third-down situations. But it's just not about personnel.
The Ravens were penalized 12 times for 98 yards. That's partly on the coach and also a sign of stupidity. Why can't linebacker Jason Babin line up onside? Why can't outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith watch the ball instead of jumping offsides?
Here's another one: On the Browns' last drive of the first half, they faced a third-and-13 at their own 38 with 48 second left. Cleveland quarterback threw a 22-yard pass over the middle to receiver Andrew Hawkins, who had beaten safety Terrence Brooks over the middle.
As the play started, Brooks got caught looking in the backfield at quarterback Josh McCown. Why? He should have just dropped into coverage. Instead, he tripped twice as Hawkins got the first down, and the Browns kicked a 37-yard field goal as the half ended.
The Ravens can't win consistently like this. If there was going to be a game where they could win without Steve Smith Sr., this was going to be the one. Kamar Aiken played well with four catches for 78 yards, but No. 2 receiver Marlon Brown had one catch for zero yards and Chris Givens had no catches.
By the end of the third quarter, the Ravens had only one real weapon on offense, and that was running back Justin Forsett, who had 21 rushes for 121 yards. If there was a time for Flacco to step up and show he was a truly elite quarterback this was it, but he again showed that he wasn't. He missed on several passes, including a long one down the left sideline, intended for Aiken.
He can't be so inconsistent if he wants to carry this team. And if Forsett's ankle injury forces him to miss Sunday's game against the 49ers, the Ravens are in bigger trouble.
Because the NFL is filled with parity (which really means bad teams) there is always the possibility a team could get back into the playoff picture with 11 games remaining, especially if they have a quality quarterback.
But after losing Sunday, it's time to sit back and put the 2015 season in perspective. Just about all hope is gone when you lose to the Cleveland Browns.