The Race For MVP
After rattling off five straight wins, I was admittedly nervous about the Baltimore Ravens dropping the game against the Houston Texans. The team hadn’t had six straight regular-season wins since 2000, and it felt like the fans were being set up for disappointment. The first quarter did nothing to alleviate that concern, as the offense came out stagnant. As it turns out, the concern was misplaced, and the Ravens rolled to a 41-7 victory over Deshaun Watson‘s case for MVP.
Let’s get into it.
Eight times out of ten, I’ll pick a position group to put in this category, but today is a special day. Today is a day where I can honestly say that the entire team played well, and not a single weakness was shown.
In the aforementioned first quarter, when Lamar Jackson and the offense couldn’t find their footing, the defense held strong against Watson’s normal theatrics. Against the 3rd-ranked run defense, Mark Ingram and Co. racked up 263 yards and a score on the ground. The passing game added another 235 yards by air, and Lamar threw for four touchdowns.
The secondary held coverage well enough, forcing the best wide receiver in the league (DeAndre Hopkins) into uncharacteristic drops. And the pass rush actually existed (though largely in part to the coverage team) notching a season-high seven sacks on the day. When a talented team comes together in all facets of the game, they become unbeatable.
On Sunday, “unbeatable” described the Ravens.
I really struggled to find anything to put into this category, and then I remembered… it happened. Justin Tucker proved he was human, missing a field goal from inside 50-yards. There was no wind inside the stadium. It was a perfect snap. A perfect hold. There was no excuse other than Justin Tucker is actually human, which is a shock to us all. It’s probably a relief to every other kicker in the league, as Tucker was the last one who hadn’t missed a field goal all season, up until Sunday.
Justin Tucker missed two kicks this season.
— ᴍɪᴄʜᴀᴇʟ ᴛᴇʟꜰᴏʀᴅ ?? (@LateRoundCorner) November 17, 2019
Obvious satire, folks. It was surprising how many people took me seriously. Come on, guys.
And now, the Player(s) of the Game…
The Marie Avgeropoulos
Lamar Jackson put on a show, complete with another eye-popping video game-esque run. Gus Edwards banged out over 100 yards on the ground. Mark Andrews continues to show why he’s a force to be reckoned with, and a Top-3 tight end in the league. Which made this week a hard choice.
When it’s a hard choice, and you can’t pick just one player, you do the smart thing and give the under-appreciated, some appreciation. And so…
Ladies and gentlemen, the unsung heroes of this game were in the trenches. The offensive line was, in a word, incredible – especially Ronnie Stanley, who’s quietly having an All-Pro season. They paved the way for a 5.98YPC average as a team. They allowed just one sack. Stanley handled whatever pass rusher was thrown at him, only beaten once – Whitney Mercilus with a nasty spin move. Orlando Brown literally held a guy back with one arm. Matt Skura had maybe his best game of the season. Marshal Yanda was… well, he’s Marshal Yanda. The guy looks like he could play until he’s 70.
A position group that had some questions coming into the season, has molded the face of this offense, and gone unappreciated through eleven weeks. Show them some love, and some respect, because the Baltimore Ravens offensive line is one of the best in the league, and they showed it on Sunday.
A closing thought, if I may:
I’m all in on the 2019 Baltimore Ravens. I think they have what it takes to make it to the Super Bowl. I think they have what it takes to win it. On Sunday, we got to see the grit and resilience that we wanted to see from Jackson, as he bounced back from a sloppy start to take over the game. All this being said, the next two weeks will be the true test of Jackson’s offense.
The Rams and the Niners have two of the toughest defenses in the league. The Rams have been playing much better over the last few weeks (defensively), and Aaron Donald is not to be trifled with. Bosa and Co. are no slouches either. If Jackson goes 2-0, or even 1-1 over the next two games, buy your playoff tickets.
All of them.
Because they’ll be making the big game.