Through their first eight possessions of today's 23-20 loss to the Patriots, the Ravens' offense had four scoring drives and four punts.
They were spreading the ball around, featured a nice run-pass balance, and looked like they had figured out how best to attack New England's young, mostly unproven defense.
The Ravens' last five drives of the game were a different story.
All five of those drives ended in Sam Koch punting the ball back to the Patriots, and on only two of those possessions did the Ravens pick up a first down.
A single field goal late in regulation might have put the Patriots away. A score in overtime obviously would have sealed a win for the boys from Charm City. But they couldn't get it done.
"They made the plays," head coach John Harbaugh told reporters after the game. "We just couldn't quite get over the hump to get into field goal range, and that's why you come up on the short end."
The Ravens got conservative on those last five possessions, rarely taking a shot down the field or looking to test a young Patriots secondary. There were a lot of dump-offs, a lot of screens, and a lot of quick outs.
Where were the deep comebacks to Derrick Mason that were so effective in the first three quarters? Where were the shots over the middle to Todd Heap that worked a few times throughout the afternoon? Why not make one of New England's inexperienced cornerbacks run step-for-step down the field with the physical Anquan Boldin? That strategy worked on the Ravens' final touchdown of the day.
Now, a lot of the Ravens' reluctance to push the ball down the field had to deal with what New England was giving Joe Flacco and the Ravens to work with.
The Pats made adjustments in the second half, and appeared to be willing to give up plays underneath, trusting their ability to swarm to the ball and make tackles. In addition, the Ravens probably went into the game wanting to make sure they didn't turn the ball over and give Brady a short field to work with. If that was the case, Flacco and the offense succeeded. They didn't have a single giveaway today.
But to be successful against an explosive team like the Patriots, you have to take chances and play to win.
Sitting back on a 10-point lead with nearly 15 minutes to play might work against a majority of teams around the league. It won't work most of the time against Tom Brady and the Patriots, and it didn't work today.