Ravens need to find ways to win close games

Team has struggled to put away teams in two of three three losses

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Ravens have lost three games by a total of 15 points.

They’re ability to flip that script and win those close contests could be the difference between ending a three-year playoff drought and a potential rebuild.

Baltimore (4-3) suffered a heart-breaking 24-23 loss to New Orleans in Week 7 when Justin Tucker missed the first extra point of his seven-year career.

Now, the Ravens need to quickly regroup against the Carolina Panthers, who scored three consecutive touchdowns in the fourth quarter to stun the defending Super Bowl champions, Philadelphia Eagles, 21-17 on Sunday.

“Our guys played hard, they played well,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said at his Monday press conference. “We’re playing really well. Give the Saints credit – we do that. We recognize how well they play. That was a really well-played game across the board. It was played at a very high level. It was played at a high-level chess game, it was played at a high-level effort and a high level of execution.”

Despite the loss to New Orleans, the Ravens are still ranked first in the league for fewest yards (280.6) and fewest points (14.4) allowed. Harbaugh was pleased how the defense performed against the Saints, who own the second highest-scoring offense in the NFL behind Kansas City.

“We can play better,” Harbaugh said. “All the little things that we learned from that game, all the details that we learned from that, that we can take to the next game, is what we are aiming to do – to take those things to the next game and improve. That’s what you have to do.

“The next game won’t be the same game, but many of the things we learned in this last game that we can apply to the rest of the season, we’re going to try to do that and make the game a positive in that sense. We become better coming out of the game going forward.”

Following the game against the Panthers, the Ravens have a huge matchup against the first-place Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2-1) at M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore already won in Pittsburgh 26-14 in Week 4, so the Ravens should have confidence heading into that game.

While the defense has gotten a lot of credit, the Ravens also own the fourth-ranked overall offense with 2,709 yards. Quarterback Joe Flacco is having one of his finest seasons and is also ranked fourth with 2,067 yards, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions.

“There’s good lessons in everything,” Flacco said. “At the end of the year, we can’t be looking back and regretting a game getting away because of how we thought about it the week before. You just have to go, ball out, and at the end of the 16 games you have to be able to look back at what you did and be proud of how you reacted to things. I think when you do that, that’s how you give yourself the best chance of being in the playoffs.”


-- CB Marlon Humphrey (thigh) was inactive Week 7 against the Saints. He suffered the injury during practice the previous week. Humphrey has been the Ravens’ top cornerback this season, and the team struggled in his absence. Jimmy Smith started in his place and had one of his worst games as a pro. He had two pass-interference penalties and allowed several big plays downfield. His status for Week 8 against the Panthers is uncertain.

-- RT James Hurst (back) was added to the injury report Saturday and was inactive against the Saints. It was the first time Hurst missed a game over his five seasons in Baltimore. His status for Week 8 against the Panthers is uncertain. Coach John Harbaugh said Hurst has been dealing with the injury for awhile and got steadily worse.

-- Alex Lewis (neck) did not play against the Saints after suffering a pinched nerve the previous week against the Titans. Earlier in the week, coach John Harbaugh said that Lewis has a chance to play against New Orleans. His status for Week 8 against the Panthers is uncertain.

-- LG Bradley Bozeman got his first career start for the injured Alex Lewis. However, Bozeman, a rookie sixth-round pick from Alabama, left in the fourth quarter with an injured left calf. Hroniss Grasu moved into the spot at left guard. Bozeman was able to finish the game.

-- RT Orlando Brown Jr. made his first career start because in place of the injured James Hurst. The rookie was a third-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft after earning All-American at Oklahoma in each of the last two seasons. He is also the son of the late Orlando Brown Sr., who played six years with the Ravens.

-- CB Anthony Averett was able to practice last week for the first time in almost a month, but he was inactive against the Saints. He has not played since Week 2 against the Bengals. Averett is a rookie fourth-round pick from Alabama.