MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports­­

Coming off their crisp win over the Bengals in Cincinnati, it appeared the Baltimore Ravens were finally ready to take flight. Instead, as has been the recent history of this team when it approaches a corner everybody feels it is ready to turn, the Ravens couldn’t stay out of their own way in creating a humiliating 22-19 home overtime loss to the 7.5-point underdog Indianapolis Colts.

Humiliating not because the Colts are as bad as most fans think they are, because they’re not. As it’s turning out, they’re really not bad at all. It was humiliating because it was the Indianapolis Colts the Ravens spit the game away to in Baltimore, a city that still sees hair grow on its knuckles at the mere mention of the Indianapolis Colts.

The Colts, though, in what was expected to be (and may still be) a rebuilding year under first-year head coach Shane Steichen lead the AFC South after beating the Ravens with backup quarterback Gardner Minshew and a big-time performance from kicker Matt Gay, who kicked five field goals, including an NFL-record four longer than 50 yards.

The defense has been exceptional, recording 12 sacks, 23 tackles for loss and five turnovers in three games. The Colts could be very, very interesting once rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson comes back.

Speaking of quarterbacks, after playing like the MVP Lamar Jackson in the win over the Bengals, Jackson, while having some moments early, seemed to play to the dreary weather against the Colts, fumbling twice and failing to put points on the board in the Ravens’ final five drives, most of which began with great field position.

Unfortunately, he is back on familiar ground in having to make something happen without any help due to injuries (more on that later), but Jackson played his cards right and received the big contract that he deserved. Now, he must answer that obligation and start executing better, taking care of the ball and delivering in the clutch, which he did not do on Sunday; but with the Browns and the Steelers coming up next for the Ravens, he had better come up with something fast.

Jackson wasn’t alone, though. The Ravens earned the loss together, as there was bad play calling, bad clock management and bad on-field decisions by coaches and players. Taking a three-point lead with the ball with under three minutes to go in the game and still losing at home to a team using its backup quarterback is just plain bad.

Of course, if it’s a Ravens game, there is bad officiating, which, really, can be said about nearly every #NFLTheTVShow game these days; and naturally, if it’s a Ravens game, there are a lot of Ravens players leaving the field with injuries.

NFL officiating is absolutely horrendous; there’s no other word for it. Ravens running Gus Edwards took a helmet to helmet that put him out of the game and on to concussion protocol. No flag. Jackson and receiver Zay Flowers both took blatant face masks that were not called and, of course, the tackle of Flowers on the Ravens’ final offensive play that was not called pass interference might have taken the cake.

As for the injuries, the Ravens were without seven starters entering the game and then five more were injured in the game.

The Ravens played without wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, center Tyler Linderbaum and running back Justice Hill on offense. On defense, they were without cornerback Marlon Humphrey, safety Marcus Williams and linebacker Odafe Oweh.

By the time Sunday’s game was over, Edwards, wide receivers Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace, linebacker David Ojabo and safety Geno Stone had joined the list. All of which is in addition to having lost starting running back J.K. Dobbins for the season in the opener.

The Ravens have finished the past four seasons with at least 10 players on injured reserve and just three games into this season they now have six. With Dobbins, Edwards and Hill injured, there are no healthy running backs on their 53-man roster.

To the credit of head coach John Harbaugh and his players, they didn’t use the injuries as an excuse, which is admirable since they were 7.5-point home favorites over the Colts with most of the injuries to begin with.

That’s so Raven.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT