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Friday, January 21, 2022

QB Tyler Huntley’s heroism isn’t enough as the Ravens fall to the Packers, 31-30, for a third straight loss

Near the end of a game Sunday that had defied most logic and rational thinking, tight end Mark Andrews looked at the scoreboard inside M&T Bank Stadium, staring at a score that not only caused What was painful was how close the margin was but also how far the crows had fallen.

The Ravens, deprived of injuries and the coronavirus, lost to the NFC-leading Green Bay Packers, 31-30, but were just a 2-point conversion away from a last-minute go-forward score. Quarterback Tyler Huntley’s 8-yard scramble with 42 seconds was nearly enough to put the Ravens in command of AFC North, but instead they were left with a third straight loss in the division and a second-fiddle position.

The narrow defeat set up a potentially season-defining rematch the following Sunday with the Cincinnati Bengals (8–6), who defeated the Denver Broncos and now led the AFC North by virtue of their Week 7 victory in Baltimore. A defeat at Paul Brown Stadium could put a division title out of reach and send the Ravens (8-6) back in the midst of an overcrowded wild-card picture.

Some thought it would come down to a rollout and a deflected pass for Andrews, a seemingly similar fate having faced the Ravens in a 20-19 loss to the Steelers in Pittsburgh two weeks earlier. Huntley, filling in for an injured Lamar Jackson and leading an offense involving wide receiver Sammy Watkins, left guard Ben Powers and eventually Tyre Phillips right, 28-for-40 for 215 yards and two touchdowns. Finished and got Andrews 10 times for 136 yards. And two touchdowns. He was also the Ravens’ leading rusher, with two touchdowns for 73 yards and 13 carries.

Huntley’s assured final drive wasn’t enough to defeat the NFC North champion Packers (11-3) and quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who finished 23-for-31 for 268 yards and three touchdowns. After a failed onside kick following Huntley’s misfire to Andrews, the Ravens were left to lick their wounds and regroup.

How short-handed was Coach John Harbaugh’s team? The Ravens didn’t have Jackson, and yet his defense would have been their most compromised unit. Pro Bowl-level cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters had already lost for the season. So were starting defensive end Derek Wolfe and safety DeShon Elliott.

In the three days before kickoff, the defense’s losses increased as if it had been reduced to its own personal “squid game”. Pro Bowl defensive lineman Kallis Campbell was sidelined by a thigh injury he suffered the week before. Cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Chris Westery and starting safety Chuck Clark were added to the reserve/COVID-19 list. Cornerback Tavan Young was ruled out with an injury at the start of the third quarter.

This left the Ravens with just a corner with a grab bag of recent early experience, Anthony Everett, and special teams contributors practicing squad call-ups behind him. Kevon Seymour played just 25 defensive snaps throughout the season. Robert Jackson only saw special teams in his two matches with the Ravens. Mazie Wilkins hasn’t played at all since joining his practice squad in early October.

In terms of security, the names were more familiar and more proven, but not significantly so. Geno Stone, who rarely appeared on defense in the first half of the season, wore the green bindi as the defense’s on-field signal-collar. Special team leader Anthony Levine Sr., who had not played a defensive snap throughout the season, started the game. Tony Jefferson, who had only joined the team six days earlier as a practice squad member, found meaningful photos.

Read Also:  The Chicago Bears added 3 more players, including Eddie Goldman and Artie Burns, to the COVID-19 Reserve / List, bringing the total to 5.

Slowly but surely, the destroyed depths of the Ravens revealed themselves. On Rodgers’ first touchdown pass, he picked up Jackson, who had once started in his youth career. In Rodgers’ second, he went past linebacker Josh Bynes, who stumbled after running into a wide receiver pick he hadn’t seen. On Rodgers’ third score, he again went behind Jackson.

For half, the Ravens defied the odds and kept the momentum, entering halftime tied at 14. But in a matchup where the finished Ravens had to make every lever, move and advantage imaginable, they lost momentum significantly with the margin of the game. At the start of the third quarter, on the Ravens and -10 in the field, Seymour was called for a pass interference after lightly contacting wide receiver Alan Lazard.

Instead of watching kicker Mason Crosby trot on the field, the Ravens watched as Rodgers found Aaron Jones running back in the next game for a 9-yard score and a 21–14 lead. The hooting of fans only intensified.

Suffering their first deficit, the Ravens advanced to Green Bay’s 15, where they faced fourth and -1. But the rookie left guard Ben Cleveland, starting his first career game in place of the injured Powers (leg), quickly flipped. The Ravens recalled their offense and leaned on Tucker for a 38-yard field goal, which he crafted to reduce the Packers’ lead to 21-17.

His hopes of further scores soon faded. Five minutes later at the end of an 11-play 88-yard drive, Rodgers found Marquez Valdes-Scantling in the middle for a routine-looking 11-yard touchdown. After the Ravens were four-out on their next drive, holding on to their 29, the Packers took a 31–17 lead on a 29-yard field goal by kicker Mason Crosby.

The game began with the Ravens taking on the momentum that appears to be from the events of the week. On the game’s opening campaign, Huntley marched the Ravens to Green Bay’s 3-yard line, helped by Andrews’ 43-yard catch-and-run. But the boldness of fourth-place coordinator Greg Roman was not rewarded, with Huntley taking a sack at the end of the seven-plus-minute possession.

There was no speed bump in his next two drives. Huntley opened the Ravens’ scoring by scrambling to his right and finding Andrews for a diving 8-yard score past the end zone. On his next red-zone visit, Huntley again found Andrews, who leapt over safety Darnell Savage in the corner of the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown.

However, that was all the Ravens could do to stop Rodgers. After going three-and-out on their first drive, Green Bay suffered third downs only twice in their next two drives, both ending with touchdowns. Running back, AJ Dillon punched it from 2 yards for the Packers’ first score, and on his next drive, Rodgers easily found wide receiver Davante Adams, who went around Jackson, 3 yards on goal, and 3 yards on goal. were out.

week 16

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Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV: Ch. 13, 9 radio: 97.9 FM, 1090 AM

Line: 2 1/2

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