Ravens kicker Justin Tucker’s NFL-record 66-yard field goal in the closing seconds of a 19-17 victory over the Detroit Lions unleashed a shock wave throughout the NFL world Sunday. But it’s hard to hide the fact that the Ravens could have avoided the historic kick altogether.
Ravens receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown dropped three passes in the second quarter, including a potential touchdown that would’ve extended Baltimore’s lead.
“We are going to talk to each other,” quarterback Lamar Jackson said. “It happened. It’s over with. We won the game. It’s on to Denver now.”
With 11 minutes to go in the second quarter and the Ravens facing a second-and-10, Jackson threw a pass into the end zone to Brown, but it was slightly tipped by a Lions defender and bounced off the receiver’s hands. The Ravens settled for a 39-yard field goal.
The Ravens were pinned at their own 24-yard line with 1:50 remaining in the second quarter when Jackson threw a pass downfield to Brown, who couldn’t corral the over-the-shoulder catch. A few plays later, the Ravens were facing a third down at midfield with 37 seconds left before halftime. Jackson rolled to his left, then launched a deep pass to Brown, who turned up the field too soon and dropped a potential touchdown reception.
Away from the prime-time lights Brown seems to thrive in, the Ravens’ third-year receiver was targeted seven times but only had three receptions for 53 yards. Brown was silent in the second half, as he had zero receptions on one target a week afterhe recorded 113 yards and a touchdown against the Chiefs.
“I told [Brown] this thing after the game, when you’re looking back on your career and you’ve had a great career that you’re going to have, this is going to be part of the story,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “This is going to be part of your testimony. You’re gonna be able to talk to people about what you went through and what you overcame here, so let’s go to work starting Wednesday.”
Just like Harbaugh and Jackson, tight end Mark Andrews, who had 109 yards on five receptions, remains confident in Brown’s ability to bounce back.
“Marquise is going to be great, man,” Andrews said. “I told him to just be yourself. Things like that happen. He’s a dog at the end of the day. He’s going to continue to be great, and continue to make plays. This is not going to define him at all.”
Defense struggles in second half
The Ravens defense was sturdy in the first half, holding the Lions to 101 total yards, but fell flat in the second, as Detroit outscored Baltimore 17-9 while recording 184 yards. Lions quarterback Jared Goff looked like a different player after halftime, as he went 14-for-15 with 160 yards in the second half after the Ravens held him to 57 yards in the first two quarters.
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The Ravens were thin on defense because of injuries and four players on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Despite the lack of healthy bodies that required players to play even more snaps, Harbaugh didn’t think fatigue was an issue.
“I don’t think they ran out of gas,” Harbaugh said. “When you are granted that kind of favor, you’re responsible to respond. We got to become a better tackling team. We know that.”
Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey said Sunday that Harbaugh emphasized the fundamentals of tackling during a team meeting Saturday. For the second straight week, however, the Ravens had problems bringing players down, and it cost them. With 5:25 to go in the third quarter, Ravens rookie Odafe Oweh couldn’t bring down running back D’Andre Swift, who powered into the end zone for 2-yard score that cut the deficit to 13-7.
“We did not play very well,” Humphrey said. “I think I had about three missed tackles. I think everybody had a tackle they could have made or tackle they just straight-up missed. We really got to work on that this week in practice.”
The Ravens’ defensive performance against the Lions was similar to their season-opening loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. The Ravens managed to hold the Raiders to 164 total yards in the first half but allowed 327 yards in the second en route to an overtime loss. The efficiency Carr and Goff showed in their respective second halves were alarmingly similar.
Through three games, opponents have outscored the Ravens 54-38 in the second half.
One positive sign from the defense was their ability to contain Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson after Raiders tight end Darren Waller and the Chiefs’ Travis Kelce put up big numbers in the past two weeks. Hockenson was held to 10 yards on just two receptions.