A Horror Story of Blown Fourth Quarter Leads
After the Ravens’ latest fourth-quarter meltdown – suffered by a defense that is at least consistent at that one thing – Dean Pees has turned into a piñata for the Baltimore fans. Everyone is taking a turn whacking him (myself included), and you have to wonder if it’s only a matter of time before the piñata busts open.
Granted, in four seasons as coordinator, Pees has dealt with as bad of an injury situation as any coordinator in the league has had to deal with. He’s lost his top guys for long stretches – from Terrell Suggs (twice) to Ray Lewis to Haloti Ngata to Lardarius Webb to Jimmy Smith. He’s also lost plenty of bodies in the secondary – a unit that is simply plagued.
But injuries can’t be an excuse anymore. Not when it comes to the inability to close out games. Not when these outcomes have happened in every season during his tenure.
If Pees ends up losing his job after this season (and he won’t get fired any sooner), the inability for his defenses to close will be the biggest factor for his downfall.
Just as I made a post-game point on Twitter about the Ravens’ consistent late-game meltdowns, I received this response from a follower:
— Neil Wieland (@nwieland) October 12, 2015
That is a pretty damning record. I wanted to go back and review the situations behind these blown leads to further illustrate the dubious trend:
The 2012 season featured three blown fourth-quarter losses that stood out.
The Ravens led the Eagles 23-17 before Michael Vick orchestrated a four-minute drive to give Philly the go-ahead score and win.
Against the Charlie Batch-led Steelers (one of many great backups that would haunt the Ravens during this 11-game stretch), the Ravens gave up a 20-13 lead at home to lose the game 23-20, after being outscored 10-0 in the fourth quarter.
And against the Redskins, a guy by the name of Kirk Cousins led an 11-0 scoring run to close out a win for Washington in overtime.
The amazing part of the 2013 season is that the Ravens won three games – against the Bengals, Vikings, and the Lions – in which the defense blew fourth-quarter leads only for the offense to score on their final possessions and bail the defense out. The only reason the Bengals had a shot to take the game into OT was because A.J. Green caught an improbable, Hail Mary deflection (who could forget that one).
The Ravens also lost two games against Pittsburgh and the Bengals in which the game was tied heading into the waning moments of the fourth quarter.
After being down 24-20, the Bengals led another fourth-quarter charge against Baltimore that was capped off by a game-stealing TD. Including this season, that’s two blown fourth-quarter comebacks engineered by Andy Dalton – with or without Green in the lineup.
The team’s other blown lead came at the hands of Phillip Rivers. In a classic collapse, the QB shredded Pees’ soft zone coverage.
Now we’re here, past the quarter point in 2015, and the four fourth-quarter losses have become the signature of a team that’s headed for their first losing season in the John Harbaugh era.
The question becomes, how many more leads will the defense blow before this season ends?