Ravens Shine on Sunday Night Football Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens

Report Card Ravens Shine on Sunday Night Football

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Wow.

That was the reaction after the Ravens sealed the deal with a Lamar Jackson rushing touchdown to make it 37-20. Well, it was a Lamar Jackson rush, but a huge assist goes to Orlando Brown Jr. for yanking Lamar across the goal line.

The Ravens came out of their bye week in true John Harbaugh fashion by dominating the unbeaten New England Patriots. The Ravens sit pretty at 6-2 coming off back-to-back victories against the Pats and the Seattle Seahawks.

The best part? I don’t have to listen to this “BuT bAlTiMoRe HaSn’T bEaT aNyOnE”. Let’s break it down.

Offense

Overall: A

What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?

The Ravens came into the week as the 2nd best offense in the NFL in yards per game and the #1 rushing offense in the league. On the other side of the ball, the Patriots were a top 3 defense in almost every category.

Well the unstoppable force proved the immovable object was more movable than we thought as the offense hung 30 points (seven belong to the defense), 26 first downs, 372 yards and held the ball for 37:01 of the game. Yeah, I’d say it was movable.

Jackson on Jackson: A

For the second straight game, Lamar Jackson was the best player on the field and outplayed a great QB on the other side. First, it was out-Russell Wilson‘ing, Russell Wilson and then he took it to Tom Brady as the New England defense didn’t have an answer.

The most impressive part was Jackson’s ability to get it done in the air when he needed to and you could tell that the Patriots defense was getting a headache. Making those throws is critical to the rushing game being the catalyst for the offense. Lamar finished completing 74% and most importantly, of the 26 first downs the Ravens had, 11 of them came through the air (11 came on the ground and 4 from penalties).

So for anyone looking to say Lamar only ran well in this game, I call BS on that. His leadership was also on display again and he showed true sportsmanship:

 

Running back: A-

I don’t know what the Patriots defense did to Mark Ingram, but he looked like a man possessed last night, accumulating 115 yards on 15 carries including several vicious runs. Gus Edwards also added 27 yards and a score.

Mark  Ingram runs against the Patriots.

Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens

Of course, Jackson looked great on the ground, but it was a really nice game from these running backs as they exposed one of the weaknesses of the Patriots defense and that is their interior run defense. In an offense built around running the football, having multiple talented backs on the team is critical.

Wide Receiver: B

Marquise Brown returned to action and added a few catches and Willie Snead made a crucial third down catch on a whip route, but outside that the WR group was rarely called upon. That said, when they were they made plays and kept the chains moving. That’s about all you can ask given how the offense is designed right now. It’s an average performance, but not totally due to any fault of their own.

Tight End: A-

I was banging the table for Mark Andrews to be more involved, especially in the red zone. While I didn’t get my wish, just like the wide receiver group, when they were called on they made plays on the ball and kept the chains going. In fact, the TE group had nine catches on 10 targets, so you can’t really ask for much more than that.

That’s not even factoring in their blocking, which is critical to the run game with all three making crucial blocks.

Bonus marks for Nick Boyle scoring his first touchdown of his career

Offensive Line: A

This group was extremely impressive last night as they controlled the line of scrimmage in both the run and pass games. Jackson was kept clean in the pocket and some key blocks were made when he was improvising in the backfield to find space.

In the running game, the Patriots didn’t have much of an answer. They were loading the box with 9 guys and it just didn’t matter as holes were created regardless. I’ve been hard on this group and it may be because I come from playing and coaching offensive line so I’m always focusing on it, but they impressed the heck out of me and shut me up real quick.

Defense

Overall: B+

To start the game, the defense was firing on all cylinders, the first three drives of the Patriots resulted in 10 total plays for 13 yards and only ~3:30 in possession.

However, the Cyrus Jones‘ muffed punt changed everything and the Patriots offense got back to form with some short fields.

The Ravens made the plays that were needed though with a fumble recovery for a touchdown for Marlon Humphrey and an interception from Earl Thomas being critical to closing out the Pats. There’s still some areas to work on, but it was an impressive game against a good offense.

Defensive Line: B

The Ravens did a great job in the run game with the exception of the drive that ended in a touchdown for James White after the Marlon Humphrey touchdown. The Patriots went to a hurry up offense and the Ravens had seen 19 straight plays by the end of the drive, resulting in them being understandably gassed.

The pass rush with just four was also nonexistent. The Ravens did get to Brady and the blitz pass rush was critical to the success of the defense, but the four-man rush really needs to do better. Matt Judon had a good game and Jihad Ward had a nice sack late, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

Linebackers: A-

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Patrick Onwuasor has moved back to the WLB position and it’s paying immediate dividends. Peanut had a sack and added a forced fumble that led to Humphrey’s touchdown. The addition of Josh Bynes and L.J. Fort paired with the return of Peanut has formed a fantastic ILB group for the Ravens and filled one of their early season weaknesses. Bynes and Fort made nice plays and held the Patriots running backs to only 3 catches.

Defensive Backs: B+

Marlon Humphrey has established himself as a top 3 cornerback in the NFL today. A list of plays made by Humphrey in the last few games include:

— Forced fumble on Juju Smith-Schuster that closed the game.

— Big interception against the Bengals.

— Fumble return for a touchdown to clinch the game against the Seahawks.

— Another fumble return for a touchdown last night.

Yeah, sounds pretty elite to me.

Jimmy Smith also made his return felt with some key tackles and strong coverage. Brandon Carr lined up all over the field with Smith returning and proved to be a valuable piece that continues to play wherever he is needed.

Earl Thomas also made a critical interception, despite being a gimmie, it’s great to see him be in position to make those plays on the ball (and actually catch it when it comes).

This DB group is jelling at the right time and it’s exciting.

Special Teams: Omega

I promised it and here it is…

Cyrus Jones, are you kidding me? That was an absolute game changer and you could feel the momentum shift after a muffed punt. Jones has been solid this year averaging 10.7 yards per punt return, but that was not encouraging for the dedicated STer.

That alone leads to a failing grade, but to make matters worse, Justin Tucker missed an extra point that made it 30-20. It didn’t matter in the end, but 31-20 is a big difference and requires either the opposing team going for two or scoring two touchdowns to catch up. 

Chris Moore also fumbled a kickoff return that was recovered by Anthony Levine. This will be a focus this week as special teams almost cost the Ravens the game.

The Coaching: A+

No one takes more flak than John Harbaugh across the fan base, but I’m not sure what more fans could have asked for from him last night. A tweet to summarize my feelings:

It was a great coaching performance and to strengthen the grade, we had strong showing from both Greg Roman and Wink Martindale in the game plans on both offense and defense.

Encouraging times to be a Raven fan with these three leading the charge.

Game Ball

You guessed it, Lamar Jackson gets the game ball…again. It’s getting kind of boring, except not really because our franchise QB is proving to be a matchup nightmare that even Bill Belichick can’t slow down.

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Cole Jackson

About Cole Jackson

Cole Jackson has been an avid follower of the Baltimore Ravens for over a decade. Born and raised in Brockville, Ontario, Canada, Cole’s love for the Ravens was born and bred in following the playing style of Ray Lewis, which he tried to emulate in his own football career, (ultimately failing to do so). Cole graduated from the University of Ottawa with a degree in Criminology before becoming a Policy Analyst with the federal government. Cole’s football career now involves being a columnist for RSR, yelling at others who are beating him in Madden and being a regular on the RSR forum where he is known as GreatWhiteNorthRaven. Cole has a knack for the team-building aspects of the Ravens, which includes player scouting, free agency and the draft. More from Cole Jackson
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