Defense Puts It On Them

The Ravens offered up another fourth-quarter lead.

Posted by Mike Duffy on Friday, November 12th, 2010 at 6:18 pm | Categories: 2010 Season, Mike Duffy, Week 10 at Falcons

Typically, if the Ravens’ defense was put in a position to salt away a game with a fourth-quarter lead, there would be no question of a Baltimore victory.

That didn’t happen Thursday night, when the Ravens relinquished a 21-20 lead to the Atlanta Falcons with 65 seconds left, eventually falling 26-21 at the Georgia Dome.

Safety Ed Reed might have summed it up best, shouting “We let them off the hook!” as he walked through the post-game locker room.

“He’s right, we let them off the hook,” said linebacker Jarret Johnson, who was within earshot of Reed’s comment.  “They’re a good team, especially at home.  We had them and didn’t finish them.”

It was the fourth fourth-quarter lead the Ravens’ historically solid defense has given up this year, and three of those games resulted in losses. The Ravens surrendered a late lead to the Buffalo Bills and needed an overtime field goal to beat them.

Baltimore, which entered Thursday’s contest as the NFL’s No. 9 defense in yards per game (310.8), let Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan march 80 yards in seven plays immediately after Joe Flacco hit Todd Heap in the end zone for a one-point advantage at the 1:05 mark.

Ryan did benefit from two controversial calls.  His 24-yard completion to Michael Jenkins was reviewed by officials when he seemed to bobble the ball as he went out of bounds, but the catch stood.

And Roddy White’s 33-yard touchdown catch caused an uproar in the press box when he made contact with Ravens cornerback Josh Wilson, causing Wilson to hit the turf as White broke free to the end zone.

“You could say a lot of things. It’s the easy way to point your finger at the refs,” said linebacker Terrell Suggs, who was called for a facemask penalty on another Falcons touchdown drive even though replays clearly showed his facemask was also grabbed.  “I think us as professionals got to do a good job of looking at ourselves.

“What did we do that cost us the game?  We got to do a good job of not beating ourselves.”

After a first half where Atlanta converted eight of 12 first downs and jumped to a 10-0 advantage, the Ravens held strong for four more third-down conversions.

But one of those was a result of Jenkins’ sideline grab.  Atlanta got another set of downs on third down on that drive when linebacker Tavares Gooden was flagged for pass interference.

“When you give up the points like we did in the first half, it’s extremely hard to come back and beat somebody at home,” said linebacker Ray Lewis.  “You always want that chance. The disappointing thing is that you can’t start like that, because the game is going to play out the way the game is going to play out.

“That was a game we were supposed to close out.  We need to come back and correct what we’re supposed to correct, no matter what it was we were supposed to do.”

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