EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — For one week, John Harbaugh's decision to replace offensive coordinator Marc Trestman with Marty Mornhinweg led to a slightly larger run/pass ratio, more deep shots down the field and the offense playing with a little more rhythm and decisiveness.
It, however, didn't cure everything that ails these Ravens. Those factors — too many penalties, not enough of a pass rush, an onslaught of injuries to prominent players — are arising every week. They cost the Ravens in a 27-23 loss to the New York Giants in front of an announced 78,487 Sunday at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, and they are threatening to ruin the team's 2016 season.
The Ravens, who had a 10-0 lead late in the second quarter and a 23-20 advantage with just over two minutes to play following Terrance West's second touchdown run, couldn't stop Odell Beckham Jr. when it counted and dropped their third straight game to fall to 3-3.
More and more, they are resembling their 5-11 team from last year, rather than a group of players that learned valuable lessons from the 2015 debacle and was ready to alter the narrative.
"It's just so disappointing because you prepare so hard. Good teams don't make the same mistake twice," said Ravens rush linebacker Terrell Suggs who hurt his left arm in the fourth quarter and didn't return, adding to the team's injury woes.
Multiple outlets have reported Suggs tore his biceps, a serious injury, but one he played through in 2012.
After the game, Suggs brushed off his physical status and expressed his frustration for what took place on the field.
"If you're a good team, you make different mistakes," he said. "You don't want your offense to take the lead and give up a 75-yard slant. It's just very frustrating. You don't want to lose a game like that."
The decisive play that Suggs was referring to was Odell Beckham Jr.'s 66-yard touchdown catch on fourth down that gave the Giants a 27-23 lead with 1:24 to play. Beckham had a 75-yard touchdown reception, too, but that was on a double move past Will Davis late in the third quarter.
The receiver finished with a career-high 228 receiving yards, 211 of them — and the two touchdowns — coming in the second half. A Ravens' defense that lost two cornerbacks, Jimmy Smith (concussion) and Jerraud Powers (groin), to first-half injuries was powerless to stop Eli Manning who threw for 403 yards and three scores to help the Giants improve to 3-3.
"It's disheartening when you don't have the full guys out there, but we built this team with depth," safety Eric Weddle said. "The backups aren't as good as the starters, but they should be able to be in there and play the way we want them to play. It's unfortunate for ourselves."
Buoyed by a fourth-down roughing the passer penalty on linebacker Owa Odighizuwa, the Ravens got inside the Giants' 30 in the game's final seconds, but Joe Flacco threw three straight incompletions with the final one being knocked away before tight end Dennis Pitta could make a play on the ball.
"We've been there before, man," Flacco said. "It's a tough league. It's a lot of tough games and a long road again. We've got to stay as confident as we can and we've got to move forward and just keep our head down. Our division is still up for grabs."
About the only positive news for the Ravens on Sunday was that the Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2) and Cincinnati Bengals (2-4) both lost, meaning the Ravens are still in decent position in the division. However, it seems silly to give that more than a casual mention when the team might again have to play a road game here against the New York Jets next week without six or seven starters, and they continually make the same mistakes every week.
Those indiscretions Sunday included 15 penalties for 111 yards. The Ravens jumped on the Giants by scoring on each of their first two drives. The home team spent much of the first quarter being booed by its impatient fans. However, the Ravens never took full advantage because they continually set themselves back with special teams or offensive penalties.
"That's our season, honestly. We eliminate those and we're, like, 6-0. We do that every single game," said wide receiver Mike Wallace, who had four catches for 97 yards. "Honestly, we're so close. We can be the best team in the league and we can be the worst team in the league. It's up to us and stopping these penalties."
Even against a Giants team that turned the ball over three times and gained just 38 rushing yards, the Ravens simply didn't have the luxury of making so many mistakes. They started the game with six key players on the inactive list — wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., offensive linemen Ronnie Stanley and Marshal Yanda, linebackers C.J. Mosley and Elvis Dumervil and kick returner Devin Hester Sr.
They ended with three more guys — Jimmy Smith, Powers and Suggs — unable to finish the game. A case could be made that the collision Smith had with teammate Za'Darius Smith in the second quarter, which knocked the cornerback out of the game, was the biggest play all afternoon. After that, Manning went to work on Young, Will Davis and Shareece Wright, who didn't stand a chance against Beckham.
"I think we had 44 healthy guys for this game, and that makes it a challenge, but we're certainly capable of not giving up big plays," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "It's not going to be OK. We get the ball thrown over our heads in double moves and all that. We're not going to give up long touchdown passes. It's not going to be the case. You're just not going to do it."
If the Smith injury was the biggest play, the biggest sequence came late in the third quarter and early in the fourth. After Beckham's 66-yard touchdown gave the Giants their first lead at 17-13, Flacco immediately answered with a 70-yard connection to Wallace. Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins took down Wallace by his facemask, saving a touchdown.
The Ravens had four shots to pound the ball in from inside the 3-yard line, but West was stopped on first down, Flacco was denied on second and West was unable to get in on both third and fourth downs.
"I wish I could get that one back, put my foot in the ground and go get it," said West of the ill-fated fourth-down play. "That was eating me up all day after that play. I've just got to look forward and let it go."
As the Ravens left MetLife Stadium late Sunday, that's all they could do — look forward, beyond the plethora of mistakes that have figured prominently in three straight losses. A change in offensive coordinator wasn't going to fix everything that has plagued this football team in recent weeks.
"We've all got to take a look at ourselves and see what we could do better, so we can stop losing these games," said Suggs who had the Ravens' lone sack. "This is very unfortunate, but this isn't a death sentence. We're just not playing very good football. Until we start playing better football, the results aren't going to change. We can't do the same things and expect different results."