OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens‘ recent losses have collectively been among the most shocking of the John Harbaugh era.
There was the upset loss against the Browns, who hadn’t won an AFC North game in three years and fired their head coach 22 days later. There was the first career missed extra point by Justin Tucker against the New Orleans Saints. And there was the collapse by the NFL’s top-ranked defense in a 36-21 rout by Carolina on Sunday.
Then, you look at the calendar and the painful defeats make sense, at least from a timing standpoint. The Ravens’ worst month has been October, which often puts them in a midseason hole and leaves them fighting for one of the final playoff spots at the end of the season.
An argument could be made that the Ravens are the worst team in October because the only wins by the 49ers and Browns in this month have come against Baltimore. Over the past four seasons, San Francisco and Cleveland are a combined 0-30 against the rest of the NFL in October.
Since 2015, nearly half of Baltimore’s losses have come in this month. The Ravens are a combined 22-14 (.611) in September, November, December and January.
Is there any reason for the Ravens’ October woes?
“I certainly have my thoughts on it,” Harbaugh said Monday. “You can go back each year and look at the years and see what was going on with the team in those type of situations and look at each game for what it’s worth.”
Over the past four seasons, the Ravens have played nine games on the road in October (the second most in the NFL over that span), including back-to-back games out West (losses at San Francisco and Arizona) in 2015. But Baltimore has been just as horrid at home. The Ravens are 1-5 at home in this month.
Injuries have been a factor. The Ravens had five Pro Bowl players inactive in a loss at the New York Jets in 2016, and they didn’t have Brandon Williams last season when the Chicago Bears ran on Baltimore.
“You can torture statistics any way you want and get them to tell you whatever you want them to tell you. But, there are also statistics that are meaningful,” Harbaugh said. “The value in that is to study them and try to make heads or tails of them in ways that can help you go forward. That conversation now is really meaningless to us; it doesn’t really matter. I do have some opinions about it, but we have to win the next game.”
The next game is against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and it’s essentially a must-win because of another rough October. The last time the Ravens had a winning record entering November was 2014, their last playoff season.
This marks the fourth time under Harbaugh that the Ravens are 4-4. Only one time (2009) has Baltimore rebounded to make the playoffs.
“It’s a game of bouncing back,” safety Tony Jefferson said. “We’ll be fine. We’ll fix the corrections that we need to get fixed. There’s no looking back. It’s time to move forward.”