After long delay, Ravens suffer 23-20 loss to Bears in overtime


Ravens can't recover after nearly two-hour stoppage in play due to severe storms

November 17, 2013|Jeff Zrebiec | The Baltimore Sun

CHICAGO — After all that happened during the game’s first 59 minutes — the near two-hour weather delay, the conditions that were the worst that most of them had ever played in, the swings of momentum — the Ravens had the ball at the Chicago Bears’ 5-yard line with a chance to win the game.

“Everybody wants to get seven points there, and the freaking game is over,” Ravens right guard Marshal Yanda said.

Rendered ineffective all season, the Ravens’ running game was finally picking up chunks of yards. Mistake-prone over the first three quarters, quarterback Joe Flacco was taking care of the ball and finding open receivers. The Ravens had two timeouts left, 52 seconds to work with and only a three-point deficit. A touchdown and they were likely back to .500 and heading home for three consecutive games feeling good about their playoff positioning.

However, in a season of close calls and near misses, the Ravens suffered their most damaging loss yet. After settling for a game-tying field goal at the end of regulation, the Ravens watched Robbie Gould connect for a 38-yard field goal in overtime to push the Bears to a 23-20 victory before 62,367 at sloppy and windy Soldier Field in a game delayed one hour, 53 minutes in the first quarter because of inclement weather.

Gould’s kick ended a game that lasted five hours and 16 minutes and could very well serve as a microcosm of the Ravens’ disappointing season. They made the plays to put themselves in position to win the game, only to fail to finish it at the end, agonizingly finishing two yards short of the go-ahead touchdown in regulation.

The Ravens (4-6) have now lost four games by three points or less, and are just 1-5 on the road this season.

“We just got to learn how to finish,” fullback Vonta Leach said. “We have to find a way to get that ball in the end zone.”

The Ravens didn’t and after being stopped near midfield on the first possession of overtime, the Bears drove 60 yards on seven plays before Gould tucked the kick inside the right upright. The big play on the Bears’ game-winning drive came on Josh McCown’s 43-yard completion to tight end Martellus Bennett who reached over Lardarius Webb to make the play. There was really nothing the smaller Webb could do on the play, though there was plenty the Ravens could have done to avoid another loss.

Flacco threw two interceptions, including one that was returned by defensive end David Bass for a 24-yard touchdown, and now has a career-high 13 on the season. After starting strong, the Ravens scored on only one of their final six possessions and even that was a missed opportunity because they settled for Justin Tucker’s game-tying 21-yard field goal in the final seconds of regulation. The defense also played well at times, but allowed McCown, who started in place of an injured Jay Cutler, to drive the Bears down the field for points on two of their final three drives.

“It was a difficult loss,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who watched his team blow leads of 10-0 and 17-10. “Obviously, there was a lot of anguish after a game like that.”

With the loss, the Ravens missed out on an opportunity to pull even with the New York Jets for the sixth and final playoff spot. The Jets, who were embarrassed by the Buffalo Bills to fall to 5-5, visit M&T Bank Stadium next Sunday. The Ravens also fell to 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North. The Bengals beat the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, leaving the Ravens, Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers all in a second-place tie.

The Ravens now start a stretch of three straight games with no margin of error in their bid to make the playoffs a sixth straight year.

“We have to win the next three at home. We have to,” safety James Ihedigbo said. “There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it.”

To their credit, the Ravens didn’t use the one hour, 53-minute delay or the sloppy field or the unrelenting wind as an excuse. At the time of the stoppage, which sent fans scurrying to the exits, the Ravens had a 10-0 lead after Tucker had just converted a 52-yard field goal.

They had established their running game with Rice gaining 47 yards on one carry and then finished the drive the 1-yard touchdown.

The offense was still able to move the ball when play resumed after the delay but mistakes halted drives and got the Bears back in the game.

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