Leading 17-3 at halftime and getting the ball first to start the third quarter, the Ravens had an opportunity to expand their advantage over the Buccaneers and put Tampa Bay away.
Instead, as we've seen on more than a couple occasions this season, the Ravens failed to deliver the game-clinching blow. That is, until their final possession of the game.
The lack of a killer instinct is starting to become a bit of a concern, even to some members of the Ravens themselves.
"We won the game, but the longer we continue to let teams hang around when it shouldn't be a close game, eventually, it's going become a problem for us," wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh said. "So, we need to figure out a way to get that under control."
After reaching the end zone on each of their last two drives of the second quarter and putting up 214 yards of total offense in the first half, the Ravens failed to cross midfield and enter Tampa Bay territory on five of their six possessions in the second half.
They had a 76-yard touchdown reception by Ray Rice wiped out by a block in the back penalty on Anquan Boldin, were unable to push the ball down the field through the air, and had trouble opening holes for Rice on the ground.
It wasn't until the final drive of the game, which started with just over three minutes left on the clock, in which the Ravens were able to build some momentum on offense, pick up a few first downs, and clinch the win.
"I was disappointed in the fact that we didn't close them out earlier," head coach John Harbaugh said. "I think there were some plays where we had an opportunity to make, but we didn't quite make. We had some opportunities to separate from them in the third quarter, which we didn't quite take advantage of. And I think that's the biggest thing I'm disappointed in."
With all that said, when the Ravens really needed to put together a big drive at the end of the fourth quarter and close out the Bucs, they did so.
Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron leaned on Rice and a patchwork offensive line, and they delivered. Rice had 40 total yards on the drive and converted three first downs, and the Ravens were able to keep Tampa Bay's offense - which has pulled off a number of dramatic fourth quarter comebacks this season - off the field.
"I thought our offense closed it out in the final drive," Harbaugh said. "That was good to see. Those first downs were big. Not putting our defense back on the field - at the end of the game in that situation - was really important."
"We're not where we want to be on offense," fullback Le'Ron McClain said. "You can see that. That's a fact. Y'all can see that and I can see that. But, how we came along the last three minutes of the game and got the game won with the running game, and with three-wides, we got first downs. Ray came up big at the end."