USA About: Ravens Publish: 12/21/2021 Edit: 12/21/2021 Author: Gardener
Raven's quarterback Tyler Huntley, center, climbs into the center for an 8-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. The Ravens lost their third game in a row on Sunday, and everyone hit the wire and a crucial 2-point conversion attempt. But during a 31-30 loss to the Packers that put the Ravens (8-6) in the middle of an AFC playoff fight, it wasn't all doom and gloom. Again, the post-game debate will focus on John Harbaugh's decision to score two points when Justin Tucker could have scored a game-defining extra point with 42 seconds to go. But is this the key point after the Ravens once again defeated a preferred opponent after being pounded by COVID-19 for a week on top of an injury to their key player, Lamar Jackson? After three straight losses and weekly slumps in their chances of reaching the playoffs, the Ravens are fed up with their somber, doomed performances. But it's difficult to look at them any other way, considering the injuries number now includes Jackson and a spate of COVID-19 positives who have carved their list even closer to the bone. There are so many ways to sum up the hollowed out state of this team that was # 1 in the AFC just three weeks ago. Every player on Sunday's Ravens roster - Jackson, defensive end Calais Campbell, right tackle Patrick Mekari, left guard Ben Powers, and full-back Patrick Ricard - was a starter. No player in the offensive or defensive backcourt was a planned starter when the team showed up for training camp. As if their prospects weren't bleak enough, the Ravens lost another cornerback, Tavon Young, to a concussion in the second quarter. A Hall of Fame quarterback from the inner circle, Aaron Rodgers played against this collection of underdogs as efficiently as you'd expect. He made 23 of 31 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns with no turnover - usually by his standards, exceptionally by those of most quarterbacks. They moved the ball efficiently with Tyler Huntley as quarterback and headed for halftime with the best of the NFC. They kept coming back and cobbling together an 11-play touchdown drive after Rodgers built a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter. The Ravens eventually made a defensive stand, punctuated by a sophomore stuff and sack from Justin Madubuike. Huntley drove them 49 yards for another touchdown, setting up that tempting two-point attempt. Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley keeps the ball to late in 4th Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley keeps the ball to late in 4th What more could you ask for from a team that would have been selected for the AFC if it were in with this starter collection Season started? Our judgments about the season of the ravens whenever it ends will involve more complex calculations. Harbaugh didn't give a quarter in explaining his decision to go for two after the game. He felt the Ravens had a better chance of winning if they took the lead right now than if they swapped possessions with Rodgers in overtime. With 42 seconds left on the clock, they may not have gotten into overtime anyway, but that's another discussion. Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley is congratulated by Mark Andrews after scoring a goal in the final minutes of the game to put the score within 1 of the Green Bay Packers. A subsequent two-point conversion attempt failed and the Packers won 31-30. Harbaugh is an aggressive coach by nature and while he won't say this publicly, he understands that his team is currently operating with a talent shortage. If he sees a chance to cut off a corner for a win that would give the Ravens' playoff chances a significant boost, he'll take it. Baltimore Ravens manager John Harbaugh watches his offense come off the field after a failed fourth quarter two-point conversion that could have won the game. The Ravens lost to the Packers 31-30. "For me that gave us the best chance of winning in both cases," he said of his two 2-point calls from the last three games. The ball, destined for Ravens tight end Mark Andrews, hits the turf as the Ravens beat the Green Bay Packers at the end of the fourth. The Packers won 31-30. The Ravens stay in these games in part because they're animated by Harbaugh's relentless urge to get the most out of every moment. But the game the Ravens were calling didn't work and didn't come as close as the one offensive coordinator Greg Roman called in Pittsburgh two weeks earlier. Huntley rolled to his right, targeting Andrews, and positioned himself against cornerback Eric Stokes just inside the nearby pylon. Huntley saw its narrow end open for a moment, but his movement drew Darnell Savage to safety toward Andrews, and Savage deflected the pass. Marquise Brown appeared to be open at the back of the end zone, but Harbaugh and Huntley indicated that Andrews was always the target. Ravens's Tyler Huntley throws a touchdown pass to tight-end Mark Andrews against the Packers in the first quarter. "He made a good decision," said Harbaugh. "He had a chance to get Mark and I think security is out there and has a finger on it." Baltimore Ravens' Mark Andrews gives a reception in the end zone for a Q2 touchdown against the Green Bay Packers at M&T Bank Stadium. Perhaps this was too obvious a game for the situation, and deprived Huntley of the ability to seek another goal or move it within himself. The Ravens have made two 2-point conversions in eight attempts this season, one of the worst rates in the league. "I told the coach that I wouldn't have it any other way," said Andrews. Tyus Bowser and Justin Houston (# 50) from Ravens sacked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the second quarter. The Ravens drove 75 yards in 14 games to start the game and were on the verge of scoring a touchdown in the first quarter for the first time since Week 6. Huntley fell back three times in a row looking for an open receiver in the end zone. Three times in a row he couldn't find the right connection. Tyler Huntley of Ravens, right, runs away from Krys Barnes of Packers in the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. It was the kind of disappointing sequence that could have shaken a quarterback on his second NFL start against the NFC's best team. He didn't do it as a high school star trading Jackson touchdowns in the South Florida fields. The next time he got the ball, he made four straight passes, the last of which to a diving Andrews in the end zone. He was even better on the drive after that, leading the Ravens 73 yards in 11 games and finding Andrews in traffic for a 9-yard touchdown. The offensive looked better than it had in six weeks. Huntley doesn't have Jackson's bewitching talent as a scrambler, but he brought an agreeable simplicity to the operation by doing quick reading and accurate throwing. Despite attempting only two passes over 20 yards in the game, the Ravens converted seven of 13 third downs and scored a goal on five of eight possession of the ball. Particularly noteworthy was Huntley's refusal to despair when the Ravens fell behind with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Instead, he immediately went back to crack the Green Bay defense 3, 5, and 6 yards at a time, and galloped into the open ground (73 yards at 13 carries) when he couldn't find a receiver. Ravens 'Tyler Huntley is fired from Packers' De'Vondre Campbell in the first quarter. "I thought today he took another step forward, just in terms of himself, on time with the rhythm, taking off and running at the right time, accurate throws, all of those things," said Harbaugh. This isn't an argument to start Huntley over Jackson when Jackson is ready to leave Cincinnati the day after Christmas. That would be a fundamental decision that would affect the most important Raven since Ray Lewis. But we came into this season with the assumption that the Ravens all had to be Lamar, all of the time, to stand a chance. The big football world has learned what the Ravens did in training camp: This guy can play. The 6-foot-5, 256-pound Andrews has to stack several Pro Bowl seasons before we can talk about him in the same breath, but he is finishing his fourth season in flying colors. A week after catching 11 passes on 11 targets in Cleveland, Andrews jumped, sprinted, and pounded 10 catches on 13 targets for 136 yards and two touchdowns against the Packers. Andrews was the dominant pass catcher on the field in a game played by Davante Adams. Shannon Sharpe and Todd Heap made Pro Bowls the tight end for the Ravens, but Andrews has accumulated more receptions, yards and touchdowns in 14 games than any of them in a single season in Baltimore. And lest we forget, he's no longer the finesse gamer he was projected to be from Oklahoma. According to Pro Football Focus, he has the fourth best run-blocking grade of all tight ends. One of the real joys in sport is watching a great player show off. This is that time for Andrews. The Ravens could have increased their playoff odds significantly with the Packers upset, but this was still not a must-have for them. Earlier this weekend, Pro Football Focus told Focus that they have an 86% chance of getting in with a win and a 55% chance of losing. When it became clear that they were unlikely to have Jackson quarterback and that COVID-19 would leave them a second game in the final preseason game, they had to realize that the Packers game was not a stage for life. or death status. But they knew in some ways that their fate would be decided, not by the Packers, but by two remaining division games - Sunday in Cincinnati and January 9 at home against the Steelers. The ravens are not favored over the Bengals they hammered in Baltimore. And the week 18 final, likely Ben Roethlisberger's last game in the regular season, could be emotionally volatile. The Baltimore Ravens quarterback is defeated by De'Vondre Campbell of Green Bay Packers in the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. The Baltimore Ravens quarterback is defeated by De'Vondre Campbell of Green Bay Packers in the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. The Baltimore Ravens quarterback is defeated by De'Vondre Campbell of Green Bay Packers in the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. But the Ravens will at least hope to build a healthier team and take their chances against an AFC North that turned out to be more mediocre than either of us predicted in September. After the game, Andrews said his thoughts were on the Bengals, who beat the Denver Broncos 8-6, to join the Ravens. So if we can win this, it will look good. "
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