Earlier this month, I wrote a post about the advance of Christmas Creep. I had thought it was limited to retail stores, television programs and radio stations. Yesterday, I found out that it also affects football teams.
See, the Baltimore Ravens decided that November 15, 2015 was Christmas Day, and they played Santa Claus to the Jacksonville Jaguars—gifting them a victory in the final seconds to suffer their seventh loss of the season, all by one score or less, in a 22-20 final.
Earlier in the week, there were noises coming out of Owings Mills about how the Ravens could turn the season around. Coming off a bye week, there was talk about how they could right the ship, and somehow contend for a playoff spot. Well, I’m here to tell anyone who will listen that talk is cheap. When you give a team as hopeless as Jacksonville a chance to win, or rather you give them a chance to win with no time left on the clock, you are what your record says you are. And the Ravens record says two wins, seven losses, with seven games to go.
A better team than the Jaguars would have put the Ravens out of their misery in the third quarter. In a display that was as bad as I have ever seen Joe Flacco have, he threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball on three successive possessions, giving Jacksonville three chances to take over the game after the Ravens held a 14-10 halftime lead. The best the Jags could do was score three points on a field goal.
So the Ravens carried a 14-13 lead into the final quarter, and they couldn’t hold it. Mind you, it took them the whole quarter to officially lose the game. While they lost the lead early in the quarter, they got it back, only to leave too much time on the clock for Jacksonville to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
I could blame Kendrick Lewis for dropping a sure interception on the Jags final drive; I could blame Elvis Dumervil for a very costly facemask penalty on what should have been the final play in regulation. It was that very penalty that was a gift-wrapped invitation that gave Jacksonville just enough yardage to try a game winning field goal with no time left on the clock. And just to show how bad the Ravens’ luck has been this season, Jacksonville kicker Jason Myers sealed the victory with a game winning field goal.
Apparently, at least this season, this is how the team “plays like a Raven.” Costly turnovers, needless penalties (five personal fouls), and all around mistake-prone football has been the script all season long. There should be no talk of playoffs; there should only be talk of how to get better going forward.