BALTIMORE – Mother Nature did its best to keep both offenses humble, but as a pair of MVP candidates do, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson manufactured an exciting affair.
In the wet and dreary contest Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, Allen and the Bills came out on top. Tyler Bass knocked through a 21-yard field goal as time expired and the Bills walked off winners, 23-20.
Minutes before Bass’ kick sailed through the uprights to send the visiting members of “Bills Mafia” into jubilation, Ravens fans serenaded Jackson with “MVP!” chants as he had the Ravens on the doorstep of a go-ahead score. But he threw a fourth-down interception to Jordan Poyer, the safety’s second of the game, and Allen marched his team down the field for the victory.
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"Those are games you love winning," Allen said. "It was a hard-fought battle both ways. Winning on the last play of the game is always fun."
J.K. Dobbins scored twice for the Ravens, and Buffalo running back Devin Singletary had 96 total yards.
Josh Allen beats Lamar Jackson in MVP battle
Statistically, it wasn’t pretty for either of the star quarterbacks. Allen rushed 11 times for 70 yards and Jackson carried 11 times for 73 yards. But Allen had the clutch touchdown run in the third quarter and finished 19-for-36 through the air with 213 yards, a touchdown and an interception after an unproductive first quarter (3-for-9).
"The message (at halftime) was ‘Let’s just be us. Let’s stop shooting ourselves in the foot,’” Allen said. “That’s what we tried to do coming out in the second half.”
The Bills had four drives in the second half and scored on three of them (two field goals, one touchdown).
Jackson was more efficient with his arm (20-for-29) but threw for 144 yards and a touchdown with a pair of interceptions. The first came on a tipped pass in the third quarter that Poyer came down with and the second one happened in the end zone, which prevented the Bills from being backed up against their goal-line to start that pivotal drive.
"(Coming back) would be very difficult if we didn’t have the type of guys in the locker room that we (do)," Allen said. "Guys that just love each other, want to play for each other, aren’t going to stress in frantic situations. Guys that got each other’s back. This locker room has a lot of love in it."
Baltimore chokes again
Baltimore took a commanding 20-10 lead into halftime (and at one point led 20-3) only for the offense to stagnate in the second half – an emerging weakness through four games. On the other side, Allen found a rhythm even with the loss of receiver Isaiah McKenzie, who scored a touchdown but left with a concussion and did not return.
Both of Jackson’s interceptions came in the second half and the Ravens failed to score after Justin Tucker’s 51-yard field goal with 3:39 left in the first half. Baltimore didn’t find the end zone after the first quarter.
It was reminiscent of the Ravens’ collapse two weeks ago against the Miami Dolphins, which they led 35-14 at the start of the fourth quarter. However, that was more of an indictment on the defense, which allowed 35 second-half points in a 42-38 loss.
"It hurts. It burns. Everyone’s angry," right guard Kevin Zeitler said after the game. "That’s good. We need to use that to improve."
John Harbaugh’s decisions
With 1:35 left in the third quarter, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh decided to challenge a third-down spot that the officials ruled as 4th-and-inches. Jackson attempted to scramble for the first down and reached the ball out as he stepped out of bounds, but not over the line of gain.
The original call was upheld, and the Ravens ultimately picked up the first down, but lost a timeout as a result of the failed challenge. Harbaugh indicated he’d leave the offense on the field regardless of the challenge’s outcome, making the decision even more questionable.
With the score tied at 20, Harbaugh also decided to go for it on 4th-and-goal at the Buffalo 2-yard line with 4:15 left in the game instead of kicking a field goal. Jackson threw an interception (to Poyer) on the play.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Bills beat Ravens, with John Harbaugh's late-game decisions questioned