History suggests Baltimore Ravens can rebound from epic fourth-quarter collapse

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson did something on Sunday no one else in NFL history has ever accomplished, throwing a touchdown pass of 75-plus yards and running for a 70-plus yard touchdown in the same game.

In the end, Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens were outdone by a record they can't wait to forget.

About a half hour after the Ravens’ 42-38 loss to the Miami Dolphins, Jackson was asked how the team would respond to the biggest fourth-quarter collapse in the franchise’s 27-year history.

"We can’t dwell on that,” Jackson said. "It’s still early in the season. We’ve got to focus. We’ve got 15 more games left of the regular season. We aren’t going to let this loss define us.”

There were plenty of stunned faces in the Ravens locker room after Baltimore failed to hold onto a 35-14 lead. The devastated Ravens had entered the fourth quarter with a win probability of 98.7%. Then, a banged-up Baltimore secondary struggled with communication and allowed four touchdown passes by Tua Tagovailoa in the final 12 minutes, 12 seconds of the game.

This is unchartered territory for Baltimore under coach John Harbaugh. Since 2008, the Ravens had won all 86 previous games in which they led by 12 or more points in the fourth quarter.

But history suggests Baltimore can rebound and fulfill its high expectations. Over the last decade, seven teams have suffered fourth-quarter collapses of 16 points or more -- and four went on to reach the playoffs (2015 Seahawks, 2018 Bears, 2018 Eagles and 2020 Bears). This shows that teams can take a staggering punch to the gut late in a game, but it doesn't have to be a knockout blow to the season.

"We have to own it, every single person,” Harbaugh said. "I told the guys in the locker room, ‘How we respond to this, that will be the story.’”

Much of the story of Baltimore’s offseason was how the team invested in its secondary with the additions of two safeties: free-agent Marcus Williams and first-round pick Kyle Hamilton. But Tyreek Hill’s two long touchdown catches of 48 and 60 yards in the fourth quarter came off blown coverages, when a cornerback thought he was getting deep help from a safety.

The Dolphins then won the game with 14 seconds remaining, when Jaylen Waddle caught a seven-yard touchdown pass. Waddle was able to shake free of Ravens rookie cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis, who was on the field because top cornerback Marlon Humphrey (groin) couldn’t finish the game.

"Never did you think we were going to have that many balls thrown over our head," Harbaugh said. "That just can't happen. That's not OK. I don't care who's back there."

If there is anything that can lessen the sting of this frustrating defeat, it’s that the rest of the AFC North can share in Baltimore’s misery. With the rest of the division losing, the Ravens (1-1) are tied for the lead in the AFC North with the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Baltimore will find out where it really stands over the next three weeks. The Ravens next play at New England, where they have never won in the regular season (0-6). Baltimore then plays host to preseason Super Bowl favorite Buffalo (1-0) and Super Bowl runner-up Cincinnati (0-2), which outscored Baltimore by 44 points in two meetings last season (a combined score of 82-38).

“We’re a veteran team; we’re not going to let this beat us twice. We’re going to regroup,” Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell said. "We go in there, we study the tape, we figure out what happened, and then we move on. [We will] use it to get better, but at the end of the day, this team still has all the potential in the world to be as good as we want to be."