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Humphrey Punches Ravens to Victory

Marshal Yanda spikes the football in Pittsburhg.
Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens
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The Baltimore Ravens are trying to kill their fans. I mean that in literal terms – it feels like they intentionally put the fanbase through every emotion that they can think of before pulling out an improbable win against a bitter rival. It’s as if they say ‘let’s make the Flock think that we’re going to drop three straight, and then pull it out at the end.’ Seriously, my heart was full of joy, then sadness, then anger, sadness again, a little bit of hope, followed by ‘OH MY GOD DID THAT JUST HAPPEN’.

The Ravens pulled off an ugly overtime win against the hated Pittsburgh Steelers, in a sloppy game with bad officiating, bad play, and some bad injuries. Before we get started, I’d like to extend my thoughts to Mason Rudolph and Tony Jefferson. For those that missed it, Rudolph got KO’d by Earl Thomas, and ended up going to the hospital, while Jefferson tore his ACL, as well as suffering ‘additional damage’. Hopefully both have speedy recoveries. You hate to see that, regardless of team. 

Now, let’s get into it.

Brandon Williams pumps up his teammates in the huddle.
Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens

The Good

For the first time in three weeks, the struggling Ravens defense didn’t allow 500 yards of total offense. In fact, it only allowed 280 yards. While I don’t like how they got there, playing to make the tackle after the catch – the whole bend-don’t-break thing really irks me – the point is that they got there. That being said, it was to a second- and third-string QB. That being said, you can only play who’s on your schedule. Josh Bynes, the newest member of the Ravens defense, made a positive impact – and gave more than one Ravens fan visions of C.J. Mosley, with his dreadlocks and wearing No. 57 – with an interception in his first game back in Baltimore. Brandon Williams showed why he’s an integral part of the defense, swallowing double-teams and making the opponent’s run game much less effective than it has been in his absence. 

This next part is going to be wild, coming from me, but.. Maurice Canady has been not-quite-good-but-also-much-better-than-average. He’s held his coverage well the past few weeks, especially against the Steelers. I give Canady a lot of shit, for multiple reasons, but today, I give him none. He’s been better than Averett. But then, I’d probably be better than Averett, and I haven’t played in 15 years. Anyway. I’m not reversing my stance on him, but I will say that he’s been playing better than a lot of people will give him credit for.

Moving on.

Lamar Jackson runs from the Steelers.
Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens

 

The Bad

The defe… wait. No.

Lamar Jackson went 19-for-28 passing, which isn’t terrible. He threw for 161 yards, which is terrible. He also only threw for one touchdown, while having three interceptions, and being sacked what felt like 47 times. He seemed jittery in the pocket, forcing himself into pressure, and then escaping, rather than escaping into the clean spots. He forced throws that he normally wouldn’t make, and put himself in situations where taking a coverage sack was the only option. 

It seems like Jackson has regressed every week, after putting together a perfect passer rating in Week 1. It’s not like he’s faced world-beater defenses either, so that’s not going to be the excuse this week. I’ve already signed on as a ‘Lamar guy,’ so this isn’t me trying to pick him apart – this is me pointing out what should be obvious to others, and hoping that he can figure it out in time to lead this team to their destined 9-7 record.

Do I think that some of the blame is on the receivers, since he seems to only throw to Mark Andrews, Marquise Brown, and Mark Ingram? Yes. Another pass-catcher needs to step up so the offense can open up further. However, he can’t be forcing throws to his favorite targets just because they’re his favorite targets. 

We aren’t blaming the offensive line. They’ve been good in pass protection – coverage sacks and QB-forced sacks are a real thing. 

The upshot is that he holds the record for the fastest quarterback to 1,000 career rushing yards rushing, since he added 70 on the ground today. Oh, and he made TJ Watt look like a ragdoll, which is hilarious no matter how many times I watch the play. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QqxJ6hO2dk

The Ugly

Injuries and penalties made this game look worse than it was – and it wasn’t pretty to begin with. There was a scary (for me) moment where Andrews went down. Marquise Brown injured his ankle not once, but twice. Tony Jefferson we spoke about earlier. Of course, it wasn’t just Baltimore. Mason Rudolph took a helmet to the chin from Earl Thomas (unintentional, by the way – watch the play, Rudolph got hit in the back which changed his trajectory before the hit). He was knocked out before he hit the ground, and didn’t move for a solid five minutes. The field hushed, and I think we all held our collective breaths. As I said before, you hate to see serious injuries to players, regardless of team. These are human beings.

As for the referees, I think we can all agree that 22 penalties in one game (split evenly, which is weird) is a bit much. The officiating team, coming into the game, had thrown the 4th-most flags in the league. Walt Anderson needs to chill, especially when he needs to call somebody over for help on every single flag. There was the no-call PI on Mark Andrews. The not-a-catch-but-somehow-a-catch that was challenged but not overturned. The list goes on. If the referees are blind, fine them. Suspend them. Replace them. The NFL is ruining its own product. 

Normally this is the part where I absolutely eviscerate a player or position group for horrible play, but this stuff needed to be said.

McKayla Maroney

The McKayla Maroney

Right after my heart dropped into my gut, and I was thinking that I’d have to endure countless Yinzers in my mentions all week, I tweeted this (explicit content). 

Most of you know, without checking the time stamp, what I was talking about. Fruit PUNCH lived up to his name, knocking the ball out of the grasp of Juju Smith-Schuster, then, while Delvin Hodges was blocking Josh Bynes, who was already out of bounds, had the presence of mind to get up and recover the fumble that he forced.

If you don’t have Marlon Humphrey in your Top 3 CB list, I question what you know about football.

On Sunday, Marlon was all over the field, even though Rudolph and Hodges largely stayed away from his assignments – a smart decision. His game doesn’t look impressive on the stat sheet (3/0, no INTs, no PBUs, 1 FF, 1 FR), but it’s the fact that his very presence stops quarterbacks from even looking his way, that makes him such a valuable asset.

And let’s face facts. When the team needed him most, he came through. Even after a teammate (DeShon Elliott) told him ‘you can’t try to punch it out, just make the tackle’, he went for it, got it, and single-handedly led the team to victory against its fiercest rival, in their house.

Let’s watch it again. Breathe it in. Inject it into my heckin’ veins.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWeQNnNZmPY

That’s it for me, folks. Remember to laugh at every Steelers fan you see, this week. They deserve it. Also remember to follow all the guys from Russell Street Report! Until next time.

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