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Ravens Post Workmanlike Win

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A road win over a 3-0 team in your conference is something you happily put in your pocket and take home with a grin, and the Ravens should do just that after their 23-7 win over the Denver Broncos.

But there will be plenty for the coaches and organization to ponder as they sift through this one in their post-game autopsy. Still, they outgained their opponent by an impressive 406-254, and they posted five sacks, while riding the arm of their superstar quarterback to a win. Again, put it in your pocket and take it home with a grin.

Let’s look at some grades.

Offense

Overall: B

My typical threshold for a good day of offense is 400 yards, and the Ravens hit that. It’s also a good day at the office if the team doesn’t have any turnovers. But the run game was a bit of a struggle all game, and there were some breakdowns up front that kept creeping up throughout the game. It was good, against a very good defense. Just not spectacular.

Quarterback: A-

Lamar Jackson started out a little slow, but picked it up in the second quarter. Jackson finished 22-37, for 316 yards and a touchdown. He also added 28 yards on the ground. He made some nice splash plays, but didn’t look quite as sharp as last week, and wasn’t his typical electric self in the run game. He missed a few practices this week with a back issue, so maybe that was hindering him. He had a nice game, overall, and made some great third-down passes in the second half to extend drives.

Running Backs: C-

Latavius Murray toted the ball 18 times for 59 yards and a touchdown, and Le’Veon Bell and Davonta Freeman fought for some tough yards. None of these three appear to be particularly explosive, and they are mostly contributing by grinding out contested yards and not losing the football.

Receivers: B+

Marquise Brown responded in a big way from last week’s drops, putting up 91 yards and a memorable touchdown where he extended for a deep pass from Jackson after torching the Broncos secondary. James Proche had his best game as a pro, grabbing five balls for 74 yards, and Mark Andrews and Sammy Watkins both made big plays. Devin Duvernay also brought in three passes.

Offensive Line: C-

Having Ronnie Stanley out, and Alejandro Villanueva banged up in the game, seeing Andre Smith at left tackle was a little jarring. Watching him get called on a penalty to wipe out a touchdown pass to Andrews was even more jarring. Bradley Bozeman had another clean game snapping the ball, and I thought Ben Cleveland had some nice blocks. They are not opening big run gaps right now, and that held true again in this game.

Defense

Overall: A-

This grade is largely based on seven points allowed, five sacks and only surrendering 254 total yards. There were times it looked like the Broncos quarterbacks couldn’t even keep their throws in play to contest the Ravens defensive backs. There was an embarrassing run by Javonte Williams when he broke about 37 tackles and dragged Ravens defenders downfield, but the tackling was more consistent this week.

Defensive Line: B+

Justin Madubuike had a sack and a pass batted down at the line, and Calais Campbell had three tackles and another day on the other side of scrimmage. Brandon Williams is a strong, strong man and that shows up a few times a game. Broderick Washington flashed a few times this game, and Pernell McPhee does so much dirty work at the line, it just makes sense to include him here.

Linebackers: B-

Patrick Queen had a Patrick Queen game, having a nice play on the ball in pass defense, moving the pocket on a few blitzes and missing a couple tackles in the open field. Tyus Bowser posted two sacks, and Odafe Oweh and Justin Houston each had one. Oweh also had a brutal hit on Teddy Bridgewater that forced an incompletion.

Defensive Backs: B+

They were sticky in coverage, and Marlon Humphrey had a very nice breakup on a deep sideline pass, while Anthony Averett seemed to be in position all game, adding an interception at the end of the game. Chuck Clark continued his strong start to the season, delivering hard hits and wrapping up six tackles. Tavon Young is a terrific blitzer, and got to Bridgewater at the end of the first half for a hard hit.

Special Teams: B

Ho-hum. Justin Tucker drilled three field goals, and Sam Koch had a nice game punting the ball. Coverage was solid throughout. Duvernay was a little up and down as a returner, posting more than 21 yards a punt and an electric return that set up a Ravens field goal before the end of the first half. But he also seemed to misjudge a few kicks, resulting in the Ravens being pinned back.

Coaching: B+

I like what both coordinators did. Wink Martindale knew Denver was missing their top two slot options, and he blitzed from every different angle to prevent their top two outside guys from getting downfield to win 50-50 sideline passes. Roman embraced the pass with the way the Broncos were selling out to stop the run, but also continued to pound away, even though it wasn’t working that well. I wasn’t crazy about the decision to run on the last play to tie the record for consecutive 100-yard rushing games. If Jackson got hurt, or the Broncos had a defender tear an ACL on that last run, it would have been a giant backfire. But I get it.

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