BALTIMORE (AP) — One week removed from a rousing division victory, the Baltimore Ravens got off to a great start in their effort to open the season at 3-0 for the first time in seven years.
Lamar Jackson passed deftly, ran efficiently and capped a crisp 80-yard opening drive with a touchdown run that put the Ravens ahead of the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
That, unfortunately for the Ravens, would be the high point of an afternoon in which Baltimore fumbled four times, frittered away the lead in the final two minutes of regulation and failed to get a single first down in overtime.
The result was a 22-19 defeat that pretty much erased the feel-good vibe from a 27-24 victory at Cincinnati just seven days earlier that put Baltimore alone atop the AFC North.
“The not-funny part about this league is every single week, you don’t get any layups,” safety Kyle Hamilton said. “There’s no real bad teams in this league. It didn’t go our way, but it’s kind of a lesson we can learn from. Never get too high, never get too low. Every single week is a challenge, so you’ve got to bring it.”
Oh, the Ravens sure looked as if they brought their A-game at the outset, and their second drive advanced into Indianapolis territory before newcomer Kenyan Drake fumbled.
Jackson recovered his own fumble on Baltimore's next possession, then lost a fumble to begin the Ravens' next march. By halftime, Baltimore had more fumbles (four) than scoring plays (one) and trailed 10-7.
“If we’re going to be a winning football team then we have to understand you can’t have possessions like that,” coach John Harbaugh said. “You’ve got to hold onto the football. It’s a tough game, but that’s the No. 1 challenge.”
In spite of it all, the Ravens went up 17-16 with 7:33 left and increased the margin to three points with a safety. The play appeared to occur with 1:58 left, but a replay changed the time to 2:03 when the Colts launched their free kick from the 20.
Devin Duvernay called a fair catch, which prevented the clock from winding down. It was a costly mistake, because the two-minute warning followed and the Ravens went three-and-out, leaving the Colts plenty of time to move into position for the game-tying field goal.
Harbaugh explained that he instructed Duvernay to make the fair catch because initially it appeared that the two-minute warning had come and gone.
“We were going to fair catch that ball because it was 1:58,” Harbaugh said. “The return team was on the field when they pumped (the clock) up over two minutes. We were unable to communicate to him. We were trying. That was unfortunate.”
Jackson finished 22 for 31 for 202 yards, and he ran for 101 yards and two touchdowns. But he also fumbled twice and was rendered ineffective in overtime, going 0 for 5 — including misfires on third-and-3 and fourth-and-3 from the Colts 47.
“We had plenty of opportunities to put the game away, especially after our defense did a great job of stopping those guys and giving us great field position. We didn’t move the ball at all,” Jackson said. “That ticked me off, that ticked all of us off.”
After Jackson's final misfire, Matt Gay kicked his fifth field goal of the game — the fourth from beyond 50 yards — to give Indianapolis the surprising victory.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the (kick) block. We had a lot of opportunities, a lot of rushes from guys inside, but he never flinched,” Hamilton said. “At the end of the day, we shouldn’t have been in position to lose on a game-winning field goal. It was a bunch of stuff to improve on.”
Hamilton had nine tackles, including three sacks. He also had a forced fumble. But his exceptional performance came in a losing effort, and that's his takeaway from this game.
“It’s Week 3 now,” he said, “and hopefully Week 13 we won’t even be remembering this.”
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