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Un-Flippin’-Believable!

Lamar Jackson flips into the end zone against the Chiefs
Joey Pulone/Baltimore Ravens
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I’m in Napa Valley. Came out for a wedding on Saturday (congratulations to Ben and Molly Crist) and decided to extend for a week. So the AirBNB we’re staying in has a TV that sucks. Naturally I couldn’t watch the game on a grainy TV so we went to a sports pub along Main Street in Napa. As I walk in sporting my Ravens hoodie, I’m greeted by boos. Next to us was a table of Chiefs fans (see photo below).

One of the fans came over to say hello and suggested we wager on the first score. Whoever scored first would earn a round of drinks. Game on! Well as you know, it wasn’t long before I was buying beers for a table of four. Fortunately, things got better – gradually.

The Ravens weren’t supposed to win this game. They were upset in Las Vegas in Week 1 and an (0-2) start seemed like a near certainty when hosting Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Since J.K. Dobbins’ season-ending ACL tear during preseason Week 3, the news coming from One Winning Drive has been anything but positive. The Ravens are down an All Pro left tackle; a key component of their offense in the form of Nick Boyle; three running backs are down; an All Pro corner is out; the team’s No. 1 pick, Rashod Bateman, remains sidelined; their left guard is out; reserve corner Chris Westry is down; and then starting safety DeShon Elliott had to punch out early due to a concussion, with Brandon Williams joining him with a neck strain not long after.

At the 4:21 mark of the third quarter the Ravens were down 35-24 facing a 3rd-and-8 from their own 35. Lamar Jackson was sacked and the punting team was sent on to the field. A holding penalty later (which probably saved a block punt) left the Ravens with a 4th-and-27 situation from their own 16. Following the punt and return, the Chiefs took over at the Ravens 49. Things didn’t look promising.

Three plays later the Ravens pressure Mahomes and with Odafe Oweh wrapped around his legs, the KC gunslinger chucked an ill-advised pass that ended up in the arms of Tavon Young. Five plays later the Ravens shortened the Chiefs lead to 35-30. That sequence shifted the momentum as the Chiefs managed just 54 yards of offense in the final frame. The Ravens both offensively and defensively came through in the clutch and finally got the Chiefs’ monkey off their collective back.

Suddenly, the season has taken on a completely new look.

The Good

Marquise Brown is beginning to shape into a top flight receiver. He seems to present himself well during key points in the game and finished with 6 catches for 113 yards and a score…Ty’Son Williams ran hard and if not for a big save from Devin Duvernay, Williams just might be among the game’s goats. But the ball security aside, Williams racked up 77 yards on 13 carries and another 16 yards on two receptions…Mark Andrews draws attention from any defense but managed 5 catches for 57 yards and had a terrific block to seal the right edge during Lamar’s second TD scamper. Andrews pinned edge defender Anthony Hitchens

The Ravens were 4-for-4 in the red zone…The offense racked up 481 net yards, 251 on the ground…Alejandro Villanueva looked much better at left tackle and without having to worry about Maxx CrosbyPatrick Mekari was extremely serviceable at right tackle and Ben Cleveland did a nice job filling in for Ben Powers at left guard (the two swapped in and out during the game)…The drive to close out the first half to put up another 3 points was well done with Lamar, Williams and Andrews, who made a nifty play to get out of bounds to preserve some clock.

Oweh is developing before our eyes. He’s effective scraping down behind the LOS as a run defender; holds up well at the point of attack; and his combination of speed and quickness make him a constant threat to disrupt plays. He helped force the Mahomes interception and then of course, the game changing play when he stripped Clyde Edwards-HelaireJustin Houston was strong on the edge both as a pass rusher and run defender…Justin Madubuike is on the verge of becoming a very special player. He just makes impact plays…Holding Tyreek Hill to 14 yards on 3 catches was a big statement. Holding the Chiefs to 1 of 6 on third-down was an even bigger statement…Marlon Humphrey, save the one TD, played extremely well while Brandon Stephens was productive in coverage as a defender and on special teams…Anthony Averett made a big time play to break up a Mahomes third-down pass to Hill at the 11:25 mark of the 4th quarter, trailing 35-30.

The Bad

Sammy Watkins slipping during the interception on the opening possession. Watkins also dropped a pass during a key Ravens fourth quarter drive…Eight penalties for 65 yards…Like they did with Darren Waller, the Ravens failed to regularly chip Travis Kelce in order to disrupt his release and timing…The Ravens were caught too many times in man coverage that forced Patrick Queen outside the numbers, an undesirable alignment…Justin Tucker’s kickoffs were not as lofty or deep as intended during the second half, giving the Chiefs better than ideal field position.

The Ugly

The interception leading to the game’s first points could have dashed hopes for a team without the character of the Ravens…The Ravens gave up 8.3 yards per play…The tackling in the secondary was atrocious. Stephens and Averett took extremely bad angles and the poor efforts contributed greatly to the 2 long TD completions to Kelce and Byron Pringle…The game officials called some horrifically ticky-tacky fouls against both teams. Tyrann Mathieu had two illegal contact penalties that should have not been flagged. Madubuike was flagged for defensive holding that was really a terrific defensive effort…and Kevin Zeitler was called for being downfield on the two point conversion that was negated. Just another night of over-officiating that drains the enjoyment of the game.

The Megan Fox Award (Player of The Game)

He’s heard unwarranted criticisms over and over. He’s heard about the irrelevant Mahomes dominance in head-to-head games. He’s heard that the Ravens were likely to drop to (0-2). And all of that noise must have sounded like a thunderclap in his helmet following the pick 6 to start the game. Yet he fought through it all, including his own mistakes, forcing passes into traffic, to put the Ravens on his back and lead a fourth quarter comeback against the mighty Chiefs.

This game could be a defining one for this season and in the career of Lamar Jackson, this week’s Megan Fox.

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