OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens keep finding ways to lose, and coming close is of no consolation to coach John Harbaugh.
Off to the worst start in franchise history, Baltimore (1-5) bumbled its way to a 25-20 defeat Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. The Ravens’ five losses have come by a total of 22 points, in part because they couldn’t come up with a big play when it mattered most.
In three of the losses, Baltimore blew a fourth-quarter lead. In the other two, the Ravens staged comebacks that fell short.
“It’s disappointing to lose these close games the way we’re losing them,” Harbaugh said Monday. “The bottom line is we’re not good enough to win them right now.”
The Ravens have reached the playoffs in six of seven years under Harbaugh. His eighth season, however, is unlike the rest.
“It would nice not to go through adversity. It would be nice to go through every season here and be on top,” Harbaugh said. “We strive to do that, but we don’t always get that. So you’d better be ready to face the hard times, too.”
This version of the Ravens is allowing 288.5 yards passing per game, carrying a minus-5 turnover differential and seemingly incapable of taking control of a game in the waning minutes.
Offense and special teams have contributed to the demise, but the most notable shortcoming is the defense. The unit was ranked an uncharacteristic 24th among 32 teams before allowing 391 yards Sunday to the league’s 29th-ranked offense.
Granted, Baltimore lost standout linebacker Terrell Suggs to a torn Achilles tendon in Week 1 and the secondary has been decimated by injuries. But really, there’s no excuse for allowing 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to throw for 340 yards, including a combined 198 yards to former Ravens Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin.
“I’m tired of saying the same thing,” cornerback Jimmy Smith said, “but we have to come through. It’s unacceptable.”
Back in the summer, the Ravens spoke about their quest to win the AFC North and secure home-field advantage in the playoffs. At this point, Baltimore would have to make a run of historic proportions to reach the postseason.
Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, only one team started 1-5 and made the playoffs: the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals, who finished 8-6. Since the schedule was expanded to 16 games, no team has reached the postseason after a 1-5 start, according to STATS.
At this point, the Ravens aren’t thinking about playoffs. They’re merely focused on getting out of this unprecedented rut.
“We know what kind of team we’re going to be. We have a vision of what it looks like,” Harbaugh said. “We haven’t been able to get there yet. We think we’re going to get there every week.”
And yet, Baltimore keeps coming up short.
“It’s frustrating, but at the same time we know we just need to get better,” said Joe Flacco, who threw two costly interceptions Sunday. “That’s all we can do is put our head down and continue to try and get better. Just go out there and win a football game. We just haven’t found a way to do that yet.”
According to Harbaugh, it’s not for lack of effort.
“We practice, we prepare, we plan, and we haven’t seen the fruits of our labor yet,” he said. “We have to get that done. We will get it done. We can’t say when.”
Maybe it will next Monday night against the Arizona Cardinals. And it not then, well, Harbaugh insists the Ravens won’t stop trying.
“We’ll fight, man. We’ll come out swinging,” the coach said. “We’ll find a way to win, and we will turn it around. There’s no doubt about it. It’s going to happen, no matter how much some people doubt us.”
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