OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As a stunned crowd left M&T Bank Stadium Nov. 15, the public-address system blared out Bon Jovi’s “Bad Medicine.”
Whether that song choice was intentional, it seemed most appropriate.
The Ravens had just taken a gut punch after suffering a heartbreaking 22-20 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Besides breaking the Jaguars’ 13-game, two-year road losing streak and giving Jacksonville its first win in Baltimore since 1999, the loss — coupled with wins by Buffalo, Kansas City, Miami and Pittsburgh — seemed to put a final nail in the coffin of the Ravens’ playoff hopes.
But apart from the mathematical disadvantage with which the Ravens (2-7) now find themselves is the sheer shock of the loss’ last-second nature.
Linebacker Elvis Dumervil’s face-mask penalty with no time remaining was a defensive foul, on which no quarter or game can end.
As a result, the 15-yard penalty was enforced from the previous line of scrimmage (midfield) and the ball was moved to the Ravens’ 35-yard line.
From there, Jaguars kicker Jason Myers made up for an earlier 26-yard miss by booting the ball through the swirling wind and through the goalposts to send Ravens fans home stunned and the players home for January bewildered.
One of the only comparable situations to the one that bedeviled the Ravens Nov. 15 occurred during the Cleveland Browns 2002 season opener.
Cleveland linebacker Dwayne Rudd thought he had sacked Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Trent Green to end the game and took off his helmet in celebration. But he had not seen Green lateral the ball to a teammate, who ran it all the way down to the Browns’ 26.
Rudd’s helmet toss was illegal, so the Chiefs got to move the ball half the distance to the end zone, setting up a game-winning field goal that beat the Browns, 40-39.
That play was officiated correctly, as it appeared the one that ended the Ravens’ hopes was.
But even though television replays seemed to indicate the Jaguars did get the last snap off before the clock ran out, some of the Ravens felt differently.
“The last play, they were rushing to the ball,” cornerback Jimmy Smith said. “I had seen zeroes on the clock, so I started jumping up and down like, ‘It’s zero!’
“I thought the game was over.”
Apparently, most of the Ravens thought the same thing, as linebacker Courtney Upshaw and other players can clearly be seen walking toward the sidelines, with only Dumervil exerting any real effort on the play.
Dumervil accepted responsibility for his mistake.
“I saw [Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles] hiking the ball,” he said. “So, at that point, I knew it was not enough time to spike it. So, I figured they had to run a play, so I went after it, got to him … can’t do a penalty at that time.”
Dumervil came into the game with 2.5 sacks on the season, but got two against Bortles, who had never won a road game during his brief NFL career.
However, Bortles showed great mobility and avoided the eight-sack disaster that marred his last visit to Baltimore in 2014. At least outwardly, he knew the play had been called correctly.
“I knew right away that [Dumervil] had grabbed my face mask,” Bortles said. “I was just happy that the officials saw it.”
As determined as head coach John Harbaugh and the Ravens usually feel, even after losses, one thing they can’t help but see is a playoff berth drifting beyond their grasp for the second time in a three-season span.
Under Harbaugh, the Ravens have not yet played a regular-season game before which they have been eliminated from playoff contention. But that day could be coming soon.
“Life throws different curves at you every time,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “When we look back at this team, years from now, we’re going to look at each other when we see each other and say, ‘How did we react to it?'”
Ten years ago, the only other time the Ravens had a 2-7 start, the seventh loss came at the hands of — you guessed it — Jacksonville.
Then, as now, the bad medicine tasted worse than ever.
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