Sports

Baltimore Ravens believe unreal finishes are the start of something special

BALTIMORE — Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh posed a question to his players in the locker room after a 31-25 overtime win over the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night, another unreal comeback that has become the norm for this team this season.

“Which one of these crazy games is the best one?” Harbaugh asked.

Their response: “The next one.”

The Ravens believe all of these dramatic finishes over the past four weeks are the start of something special.

In Week 2, Lamar Jackson rallied Baltimore from 11 points down in the fourth quarter to beat the Kansas City Chiefs for the first time. In Week 3, Justin Tucker blasted an NFL record 66-yard field goal on the game’s final play to edge out the Detroit Lions. On Monday night, Jackson carried the Ravens from 19 points down in the second half to stun the Colts in overtime.

“Whenever you have that belief, you know as a team that the game is never out of reach, [and] it’s never out of hand,” Ravens tight end Mark Andrews said. “I think they’re taking a couple years off my life, but it’s been fun.”

To say the Ravens have defied the odds doesn’t do Baltimore’s comebacks justice unless you exactly point out the disheartening odds.

The Chiefs had a 91.6% win probability after the Ravens punted the ball trailing 35-24 with 3:14 left in the third quarter. Baltimore ended up winning 36-35.

The Lions had a 99.9% win probability when the Ravens faced a fourth-and-16 and a 17-16 deficit with 26 seconds remaining. Baltimore ended up winning, 19-17.

The Colts had a 98.4% win probability after the Ravens fell behind 25-9 with 12 minutes left in the game. Baltimore ended up winning.

And Baltimore’s level of difficulty in these wins has been magnified by its injuries. The Ravens have lost their top two running backs (J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards) and a Pro Bowl cornerback (Marcus Peters) to season-ending injuries. All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley has missed the past four games, and first-round wide receiver Rashod Bateman has yet to play.

Still, the Ravens continually overcome these daunting challenges.

“Football is such a momentum-based game, and you start to believe,” Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell said. “It reveals character — just who we are. And we made a lot of mistakes out there today and put ourselves in a big hole, but we knew [to] just keep playing football. All of those things are forgotten; it’s always about the next play in front of us. And we believe. When you create that kind of confidence, that kind of belief, it really builds that character you need to have a chance at the end of the year.”

The reason Baltimore has failed to make an extended championship run with Jackson has been the inability to bounce back from a large deficit. In all three of Jackson’s playoff losses, the Ravens were behind by at least 14 points and failed to dig themselves out of the hole.

This year, Baltimore has dominated the end of games to roar back. During their four-game winning streak, the Ravens have outscored opponents 43-13 in the fourth quarter and overtime. Only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (41) and Buffalo Bills (35) have a better point margin.

Jackson didn’t totally buy into the notion that emotional wins can develop a special chemistry within the team.

“I mean, it can, but we don’t want to be in games like this,” Jackson said. “We would like to hit the ground running, and keep it going. We don’t want to be battling, going to OT, hoping for field goal misses, hoping for field goal blocks, putting our defense out there with no points – stuff like that. Hopefully, we just hit the ground running and do what we’re supposed to do.”

Jackson has been a slow starter, but no one has repeatedly finished like him. There was the winning touchdown flip against the Chiefs, the last-minute, fourth-and-16 conversion in Detroit and the 335 yards passing in the second half and overtime against the Colts.

Wasn’t Jackson the quarterback who couldn’t lead a comeback with his arm?

“You can’t say that anymore,” Andrews said. “Look at the last couple of games, he’s just calm, composed, and he’s a leader, man. That’s what we all look to.”

“I think they’re taking a couple years off my life, but it’s been fun.”

Mark Andrews, on the Ravens’ comeback wins

The Ravens now face a Los Angeles Chargers team on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS) that also understands perseverance. Last Sunday, the Chargers outlasted the Cleveland Browns 47-42 in a game that featured four lead changes in the fourth quarter.

Baltimore feels its recent experience has made the team as battle-tested as anyone.

“I think just with us, it feels like that bond,” Ravens safety Chuck Clark said. “No matter what happens, we can fight, dig deep in those tough moments – regardless of what happens. And I definitely think down the road it’s going to build character, build relationships. I think it’s going to be a platform for us, for sure.”

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