Even as a turnover drought that had stretched over 61 series and five games came to a merciful end in the first half, the Ravens defense blamed the balls that slipped out of their hands Sunday afternoon as the main reason why the game did the same.
Cornerback Lardarius Webb's second-quarter interception helped the Ravens back into the game early, but so many lost opportunities to get off the field and four third-quarter turnovers by the offense were enough to gift the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars their third win of the season and drop the Ravens to 2-7 with a 22-20 loss at M&T Bank Stadium.
"Now, you can just sit and think about what could have been," cornerback Jimmy Smith said. "Every pick, I dropped one that could have been six — two of them, really. There's all kinds of situations where we think now, 'we could have played better and it could have made a difference in the game.'"
Smith's dropped interceptions weren't the only ones. Overall, the Ravens were credited with 13 pass defenses in which a defender got his hand on the ball.
"We definitely missed opportunities," inside linebacker C.J. Mosley said. "We batted balls down. We were all over the field. We can say if we had made this play, that wouldn't have happened, but it's football. Everybody makes those mistakes. We can't be perfect on every play, but we had the opportunity to do it. We've just got to make the extra play."
The final missed opportunity was perhaps the worst. Safety Kendrick Lewis went horizontal to the ground in an attempt to bring in a catchable interception on the game's third-to-last play that would have essentially ended it.
He couldn't come in with it, however, leaving the door open for the improbable 15-yard facemask penalty on outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil that set up Jacksonville kicker Jason Myers' 53-yard game-winning field goal.
"I had a chance to seal it, and I'm always going to look at myself first," Lewis said. "No matter what happened in the game, I had an opportunity. … It was just frustrating. You want to make plays and then when the plays come to you, you've got to make those. That's why we're here. That's why they pay us. And I didn't today."
Only Webb, who jumped a pass from quarterback Blake Bortles on the sideline and set up the Ravens' first scoring drive, came through.
By contrast, the Jaguars took advantage of several Ravens errors in the third quarter for takeaways of their own. The four turnovers yielded 10 points and prevented the Ravens offense from putting the game away.
Wide Receiver Kamar Aiken went up to attempt a catch on the first play of the second half, but the ball bounced off his hands and into those of Jacksonville cornerback Davon House.
"I hold myself to a higher standard," Aiken said, admitting it was a difficult play. "If I get my hands on it, I've got to make the catch. That's on me. I'll do what I have to do to make sure I put myself in a better position to make that catch."
The Ravens' next drive ended with another interception by quarterback Joe Flacco, who this time failed to connect on a deep shot down the right sideline to wide receiver Chris Givens. Flacco said he was trying to throw the ball away, while Givens was unsure of what happened.
Flacco was sacked and fumbled the ball on the ensuing series, and after a three-and-out to end the third quarter, wide receiver Jeremy Ross muffed a punt to give Jacksonville the ball back.
"They made it tough and had some balls bounce their way," Flacco said. "Obviously, we turned the ball over, and I think our defense did a great job there, limiting them to like three points on those turnovers. But they probably took points away from us."
Those mistakes loomed large over a locker room full of bewildered players who were trying to process another unthinkable loss.
"I felt like we lost the game way before that," Aiken said. "It should have never gotten to that point. … We should have never been in that situation in the first place. That's all on us."