NASHVILLE, TN — Coming off a huge 40-0 win against the Dolphins, the Ravens were looking to keep their good fortunes going in Tennessee, but the offense fell asleep at the wheel and the Titans walked away with a 23-20 win.
Joe Flacco suffered a concussion during last week’s game against but somehow managed to make a comeback for this week’s game. A longer week certainly helped with that recovery process. Before exiting in the second quarter last Thursday, Flacco put together a strong outing and he carried that into the first half at Tennessee. Had it not been for Breshad Perriman’s extremely unreliable hands, Flacco would have had an even better half. The third year wide receiver dropped three very catchable passes and created an interception.
Flacco would go on to finish the game 34-for-52 for 262 yards, two touchdowns. The Ravens gun-slinger also threw a second interception in the third quarter and there was absolutely no excuse for it. Flacco threw a bad pass off of his back foot while trying to force the ball to a well-covered Ben Watson down the sideline and it went about as well as you would expect. The veteran QB has now thrown ten interceptions in nine games this season.
The Titans took a 16-6 lead by the half thanks to some sloppy play by the Ravens. Flacco’s first interception was turned into a touchdown. Then, the Titans found the end zone again after a pair of untimely penalties and a shanked punt by Sam Koch.
It’s important to note that Koch’s bad punt should not have happened. An illegal formation penalty on Tyus Bowser negated a great 50+ yard punt by Koch and gave the Titans the ball at Baltimore’s 26-yard line. After being set up with great field position, the Titans found themselves in a third down situation pretty quickly but a penalty would come back to bite the Ravens once again. Za’Darius Smith was flagged for a late hit on Marcus Mariota that gifted the Titans a first-and-goal situation.
Tennessee held this lead for the rest of the game. The Ravens’ defense gave Flacco and company a handful of opportunities to crawl back into the game in the second half but almost every one was squandered. One of the most notable chances took place at the end of the third quarter and spilled over into the fourth.
Faced with a fourth and inches scenario in Titans territory, John Harbaugh made the decision to go for it instead of kicking a field goal. Given the Ravens’ previous fourth down success and the score, the decision wasn’t very controversial but the play calling and referees were. Buck Allen took the handoff from Flacco and ran up the middle where he was immediately stuffed by defenders. Allen managed to stay on his feet and scrap his way to what appeared to be a first down, but the officials spotted him shy of the marker. Harbaugh challenged but the call was held up in New York.
Following the turnover on downs, an Eric Weddle interception gave the Ravens yet another opportunity to come back. This time, Flacco and the offense took advantage. A six play, 42-yard drive was capped off by a three-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to Allen, and the Ravens found themselves down by just three.
With under eight minutes to play, Mariota showed a lot of poise; putting together what would end up being a game-winning drive. The third year quarterback rebounded from his interception, throwing for 63 yards and a touchdown. More importantly, the drive took just under five minuets off the clock, leaving Baltimore with almost no time to make a 10-point comeback.
A garbage time touchdown put the Ravens back within three points but it was too late. Justin Tucker and the special teams unit attempted a trick play while going for the onside kick but the ball failed to travel ten yards, securing a 23-20 Titans win.
The Ravens will take their bye this coming week. With just seven games remaining in the season, the Ravens will need a record of 5-2 to finish 9-7. This is usually the worst record you can have if you want to make the playoffs, but the Ravens aren’t looking very capable of reaching the postseason right now.
If there is one thing the Ravens have in their favor, it’s their schedule down the stretch. Four of the final seven games will take place at home, and only two of Baltimore’s future opponents currently have a winning record.
Image Credit: Wade Payne / Associated Press