BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Ravens lost more than sole possession of first place in the AFC North. They also lost the pride of what has been one of the traditionally strong defenses.
In Sunday’s 40-25 loss to the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens gave up 531 yards of offense in an embarrassing performance where receivers went uncovered deep downfield and running backs went untouched on long runs.
This marked the first time in the Ravens’ 24-year existence that they’ve allowed over 500 yards in back-to-back games. The 40 points were the second-most allowed by Baltimore at home in the John Harbaugh era.
The Ravens lost a chunk of their leadership in the offseason (linebackers Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley as well as safety Eric Weddle) all left in free agency. To make matters worse, Baltimore was without Pro Bowl defensive tackle Brandon Williams (knee), cornerback Jimmy Smith (knee) and nickelback Tavon Young (neck).
Baltimore (2-2) is now tied with Cleveland (2-2) atop the AFC North, but the Browns hold the tie-breaker advantage by beating the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens will look to stop their two-game losing streak at the winless Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3).
Troubling trend: Ravens pass defense. Baltimore made it too easy for Baker Mayfield and the Browns’ passing attack. The Ravens let receivers run wide open down the middle of the field and couldn’t bring them down once they caught the ball. Baltimore has now allowed 300-yard passers in three straight games for the first time since September 2012. The Ravens gave up 349 yards to Kyler Murray, 374 yards to Patrick Mahomes and 342 yards to Mayfield. Other than cornerback Marlon Humphrey, everyone is to blame for these defensive debacles.
Pivotal play: It looked like a comeback was brewing when QB Lamar Jackson led the Ravens down the field to make it a one-possession game in the fourth quarter. One play after Baltimore cut it to 24-18, its defense didn’t lay a hand on Browns running back Nick Chubb, who ran 88 yards for a touchdown. Earl Thomas, the defense’s top acquisition this offseason, stopped chasing Chubb around the 50-yard line.
QB Breakdown: For the second-straight week, Jackson struggled to throw the ball in the first three quarters. He was an ineffective 9-of-12 for 71 yards entering the fourth. Jackson did most of his damage running with the ball and finished with 66 yards rushing. While trying to come back from two scores down, Jackson was intercepted on a deep pass to tight end Mark Andrews. That ended his streak of not throwing a pick at 248 attempts, which was the longest current streak in the NFL. Jackson falls to 8-3 as a starter in the regular season, but this marks his first defeat to someone other than the Kansas City Chiefs.