The Buccaneers came to Baltimore with a league-leading 48.7% conversion rate on 3rd down (Colts are second at 47.2%), but went just 3-for-10, and 0-for-1 on 4th down (previously 80%). It was their worst game of the season for combined 3rd/4th down conversion rate.
Marlon Humphrey had the best game of his career, including 4 PDs per the Gamebook. Summarizing by racing-form notes:
- (Q1, 9:15): 2nd/10 ATS, Winston threw for Evans 15 yards , PD Humphrey credited (drop?)
- (Q1, 5:42): 1st/10 Winston to Jones PR-1 fast convergence/tackle by Humphrey
- (Q1, 4:23): 3rd/8 ATS, Winston for Brate 8 yards , PD Humphrey
- (Q2, 12:19): 3rd/6 at 6-yard line, Winston rolled right threw out of EZ, negated by DH Humphrey on Godwin
- (Q3, 6:39): 2nd/19, Winston left clean pocket, threw to Evans, PM14 (11 + 3 YAC)  Humphrey close coverage
- (Q3, 5:52): 3rd/5, Winston for Godwin crossing back of EZ out of reach with Humphrey covering, forced FG
- (Q4, 13:26): 1st/10, ATS, Winston for Evans 20 yards  underthrown, Humphrey sliding INT, Weddle positioned for bracket
- (Q4, 7:12): 4th/4, ATS, Winston for Godwin 4 yards , PD Humphrey on Bucs last offensive play
Humphrey had the coverage on 4 of the 8 drive-ending plays for the Ravens (10 total drives less 1 kneel and 1 TD).
Not only was this easily Humphrey’s greatest game, it deserves consideration among the greatest performances ever by a Ravens CB including Duane Starks’ 1999 performance against the Saints, Lardarius Webb’s 2011 Divisional performance against the Texans, and Webb’s 2013 game against the Bengals in Baltimore.
Remarkably, Marlon played just 36 competitive snaps.
We thought these filed in the “corrected” file, but:
— (Q1, 9:08): The Ravens lined up with 12 men on defense on 3rd and 10 and were forced to call timeout to avoid a free play. Looking at the personnel on the field (below), the Ravens had their standard dime set of heavies on the field, including Suggs, Judon, Za’Darius Smith, Williams, and Mosley. However, they also had 7 DBs (4 CBs and 3 safeties). In recent weeks, the Ravens have played both the unusual 4-CB dime and their typical dime with 3 CBs and 3 safeties, which may help explain the confusion. Carr was removed after the timeout and the Ravens forced a punt. It appeared the timeout was called by Harbaugh.
— (Q4, 11:30): After a series of penalties left the Ravens 4th and 36 at their own 31, the Ravens lined up to punt with only 10 men on the field. Personal protector Anthony Levine had the presence of mind to hold the snap from being delivered, which allowed the Ravens to save a timeout by taking the delay of game penalty. Tyus Bowser then entered as the 11th player on the coverage unit. This wasn’t the worst mistake in a day of mediocre special teams play (see Jones, Cyrus), but Bowser has a lengthy rap sheet of previous special teams foibles. EDIT: After review of the coaches video, it appears that Boyle was lined up at LT for each of the Ravens previous punts. Since Boyle was in the concussion protocol, it’s possible Bowser was unaware (or not made aware) that he should have been in the game.
Martindale didn’t bring out any new packages for this game. The game required just 46 competitive snaps (excluding penalties and 1 kneel), which included:
Standard (4 DBs, 3 DL, 14 snaps): The Ravens used this package exclusively on 1st and 2nd down and as a response to the bulk of 2-receiver packages. The only variation to the 2-CB/2-S formula came on 3rd/2 with the Bucs at the 3-yard line (Q2, 2:00) when Martindale removed Jefferson for an extra CB. They allowed 65 yards on these plays (4.6 YPP) without generating a turnover or sack.
Nickel (5 DBs, 2 DL, 24 snaps): This was the base package against 3-receiver sets in any down/distance situation other than 3rd and medium-long. The Ravens rotated 4 CBs for the game, including both Tavon Young and Brandon Carr at SCB.
Jumbo Nickel (5 DBs, 3 DL, 1 snaps): The Ravens used this package on the Bucs’ first offensive play of the 2nd half. They inserted Onwuasor for Tavon Young on the next play. The single use was odd, particularly since it was just a drive-starter and there were plenty of other 1st and 10 plays like it.
Standard Dime (3 CB, 3 S, 6 snaps): These plays included the 64-yard pass to Evans on 3rd/20 (Q2, 3:15) along with 5 drive-ending stops for 5 total yards. That’s about the most efficient way for the defense to arrange 6 plays for 69 yards.
4-CB Dime (4 CB, 2 S, 1 snap): The Ravens allowed a 14-yard completion on 2nd and 19 on their only such snap (Q3, 6:39). On the next play they reverted to the standard dime and Winston misfired for Godwin in the end zone.
The Ravens again used just 4 defensive linemen with Patrick Ricard and Zach Sieler inactive. Fortunately, the game required just 46 competitive snaps (excluding penalties and 1 kneel) and Pierce (23 snaps), Urban (25), Williams (30), and Wormley (20) all had manageable workloads. The Ravens used 2.13 defensive linemen per defensive snap, their highest total since the loss at Carolina (2.46).
The Ravens have now played just 281 competitive defensive snaps (excludes penalties, kneels, spikes) since Lamar Jackson started playing QB (56.2 per game). In that same span they’ve run up 353 offensive snaps (70.6 per game, excluding 10 victory-formation kneels), an advantage of 14.4 competitive snaps per game.
Pass Rush Allows Winston to Make Unforced Errors
The Ravens employed their most passive pass rush scheme of the season versus the Bucs. They didn’t use much in the way of numbers (see below) and they used very little deception. Their strategy allowed Winston plenty of time to throw into a 7-man secondary and make unforced errors.
They allowed him Ample Time and Space (ATS) on 14 of 26 drop backs (54%), double the rate against Mahomes the previous week (27%). Winston had the ball out quickly on 3 drop backs, so the Ravens generated a pressure within 3 seconds on just 9 snaps. Last week, Mahomes eventually wore down the Ravens pass rush by exposing them to a high defensive snap count. Against the Bucs, the Ravens not only faced a low total snap count and a low number of drop backs, but pass rushers were not exposed to any significant stretch of defensive snaps.
The 6.0 net yards per attempt was significantly less than the Bucs’ 7.8 NYPA entering the game, so the Ravens were effective from that perspective. They were even more effective in terms of generating the defensive variance necessary to get off the field, because they gave up most of the passing yards on a handful of plays and otherwise had 1 interception and had 8 drive-ending pass plays on only 10 drives.
In terms of deceptive elements, Martindale sent a season-low 4 blitzers from off the line of scrimmage (LoS). The Ravens also had just 4 rushes where 2 or more dropped to coverage from the LoS and used only 2 stunts. Only 1 of their 26 pass rushes met the definition I use for a deceptive blitz (Q1, 9:08, which had a blitz from Tavon Young coupled with a 2-man drop).
Winston did not escape the pocket on a run all day.
C.J. Mosley played well. He wasn’t picked on in coverage. He led the team with 8 tackles, none of which came on long plays (S-1, 5, 1, 0, 5, 1, 4, 8). He diagnosed the screen right to Rodgers and stopped it for a gain of 1 (Q3, 7:49). He shared the sack of Winston that ended the first drive (Q1, 13:36). He shot the right C gap to tackle Barber for no gain (Q2, 13:36). We haven’t yet seen much of the playmaking in the passing game from previous years, but it appears he’s healthy again.
Patrick Onwuasor continued to make something of limited opportunities. In 19 snaps, he shared the Ravens’ only sack with Mosley (see above), took down Barber for a gain of 1 (Q1, 6:59), and knocked away a 3rd-down pass by the right pylon to force a FG attempt (Q2, 2:00).
Jimmy Smith was beaten by Evans for a 23-yard reception (15 + 8 YAC) down the left sideline to convert 3rd and 5 when he overran the play (Q1, 0:06). He was also beaten by Evans for the 64-yard completion (49 + 15 YAC) to convert 3rd and 20 then tacked on a face mask penalty making the tackle (Q2, 3:15). On the latter play, Jefferson was late and shallow moving to bracket from a deep cover-2.
Eric Weddle had an up and down game. He took a bad angle to the football (Q1, 9:22) which cost him an interception on a 40-yard pass overthrown for Evans. However, on Humphrey’s interception, he arrived as the back end of the bracket, which allowed Humphrey the opportunity to play fearlessly for the interception (Q4, 13:26). Weddle is supposed to be one of the Ravens with outstanding ball skills, but he has yet to record his first interception in 2018 after 10 interceptions total in 2016-17.
Brandon Williams contributed to 4 tackles (4, 1, 3, -3), all of which were wins by the FO definition. He played a lead role in Ryan Jensen’s poor return to Baltimore, including the 3-yard tackle for loss which turned 3rd and 1 into 4th and 4 (Q4, 7:52).
Jensen’s homecoming was spoiled with a difficult game against the Ravens interior line. Pierce beat him for a QH (Q1, 11:21), Brent Urban drew a holding flag on him (Q2, 3:46) to negate a 16-yard completion, Brandon Williams drove him back to blow up Barber’s RM1 (Q2, 2:11), Pierce bulled him for a pressure (Q2, 2:00), and Williams beat him to the right to tackle Barber for a 3-yard loss on the 3rd and 1 (Q4, 7:52) to set up the Bucs’ last offensive play.
- Marlon Humphrey
- CJ Mosley
- Patrick Onwuasor
Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce, Brandon Carr, and Tavon Young all deserve honorable mention in a balanced defensive effort.