Lamarvelous! Photo Credit: Shawn Hubbard, Baltimore Ravens

The Good, Bad, Ugly & The Megan Fox Lamarvelous!

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The Ravens beat the Indianapolis Colts in overtime by the score of 31-25 to advance to (4-1) on the season and secure sole possession of first place in the AFC North. It was the largest comeback effort by a Lamar Jackson-led team in the quarterback’s NFL career. The Ravens trailed 22-3 with 3:11 left in the third quarter after a Jonathan Taylor 4-yard scamper. Given the offense’s struggles up to that point coupled with a defense that for most of the night was an absolute sieve, the game appeared to be all but over.

Soon thereafter, Lamar connected with Marquise Brown on a 43-yard pass off a sluggo route to bring the Ravens within two scores at 22-9. But the Colts answered with a field goal to take a 25-9 lead with 12 minutes left in the game. The Ravens then reeled off 22 unanswered points, the last 6 of which came in overtime to secured the win. Baltimore scored touchdowns on its final three possessions, racking up 221 yards on 27 plays (8.2 YPP) executed efficiently using just 13:48 of game clock.

I have to admit when the score sat at 22-3 I wondered what good I could glean from this game and I then wondered who would even bother reading this painful horror story. And then the unforgettable happened.

Clearly the Ravens have some cleaning up to do both offensively and defensively. And there’s plenty of bad and ugly to go around but let’s start with the bright side.

THE GOOD

The Ravens offensive line held up really well under pressure, particularly when down by 19 and the Colts knowing that offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s playbook was stuck on replay. In other words, the Colts just pinned their ears back and sold out on the pass. Lamar dropped back 45 times (plus a few scrambles) and was sacked just twice…Pat Ricard had a nice block to set up a second and short that helped keep the Ravens only first half scoring drive alive, ending in a 23-yard Justin Tucker FG.

Mark Andrews had his best game as a pro with 11 catches for 147 yards (13.4 YPC) and 2 TDs. He also had a pair of two-point conversions. His one-handed grab in the fourth quarter for 27 yards despite a vicious hit from Xavier Rhodes sparked a drive that ended with the Ravens pulling to within one score at 25-17. As these Next Gen Stats will show, Mark was particularly effective in the slot.

Marquise Brown also had a big night reeling in 9 of 10 passes thrown in his direction for 125 yards (13.9 YPC) and 2 scores including the game winner courtesy of a clever little hook-and-out route that showcased the developing rapport between Brown and Lamar. On the shorter routes Brown attacked the ball in flight. He’s clearly rebounded quite nicely since his disappointing day in Detroit.

Devonta Freeman showed nice hands on a swing pass and picked up some important yards over the middle during the Ravens game winning drive in overtime. Devin Duvernay and James Proche picked up a couple of key first downs, Duv to set up a potential TD and Proche to keep a drive alive after the offense struggled to stay on the field…Josh Oliver converted a key first down in the fourth quarter and set up a second and short at the Colts 26 during the game winning drive in overtime.

Odafe Oweh recorded his third sack of the season – a strip sack to kill a promising drive for the Colts that ended at the Ravens 20 after Brandon Williams recovered the fumble. It was a huge momentum shift at the time…

Calais Campbell came up huge in crunch time. With the Ravens trailing 25-17 and the Colts in possession at the Baltimore 15 and facing a 3rd-and-8 with 5:19 left in regulation, Campbell knifed through the Colts O-line to drop Jonathan Taylor for a 4-yard loss. On the very next play Campbell blocked Rodrigo Blankenship’s 37-yard field goal attempt with an assist from Broderick Washington who occupied two blockers.

Tavon Young was one of the few consistently bright spots on the Ravens defense (until he nearly became the goat). Tavon had 4 tackles, 3 for losses (he defended screens in textbook fashion) and he also sacked Carson WentzMarlon Humphrey had a nice PD to stop the Colts on third down…Sam Koch average 49.5 YPP while Devin Duvernay had a nice return to help jump start the Ravens game winning drive at their own 32.

THE BAD

The Ravens offense started the game with 2 consecutive three-and-outs…The Colts sold out to stop the run and they were very effective. The Ravens running backs carried the ball 11 times for 24 yards (2.2 YPC) and none of the posse which included Messrs. Murray, Williams and Freeman looked particularly explosive. Murray also had a drop to stall a drive in the first half…The exchange at the mesh point between Lamar and his backs still needs work. It nearly cost them another fumble inside the Colts’ 5 when Lamar and Freeman weren’t on the same page.

Lamar made a couple of bad decisions in the first half, choosing NOT to run the ball with a lot of grass in front of him. His throw to Brown late in Q2 was poor, killing a drive at the Colts 5. On the previous play Lamar locked in on Andrews failing to see a wide open Brown in the left corner of the end zone. Just a bad sequence.

THE UGLY

The Ravens offense was 0 for 5 on third down conversion attempts in the first half…Lamar’s ball security still needs cleaning up. Down 16-3 Lamar fumbled on a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line. The ball was scooped up and taken the distance, the other way – first by Darius Leonard who lateraled to Isaiah Rodgers who scampered in for the score. The play was called back to the spot of the lateral because it was ruled a forward pass. Big break for the Ravens there. It looked like a legit lateral to me. Eventually it didn’t matter because the Colts offense easily marched down the field to score the touchdown anyway.

Tackling remains atrocious and it was on full display during the 76-yard screen pass to Taylor, the longest screen for a score in the NFL since 2017. The Colts faced a 3rd-and-15 from their own 24 at the 13:11 mark of the first quarter. Frank Reich’s teams are known to dial up a screen in such situations yet God-awful tackling on the Ravens part combined with the clumsiness of Chuck Clark and Jimmy Smith bumping into one another, allowed Taylor to race in for the TD.

There’s not a nice way to say this so I won’t try – Patrick Queen is horrible. He looks nothing like a Mike linebacker, inside linebacker, any-side linebacker. What he does look like through 21 career regular season games is a BUST. He’s easily taken out of plays by even the most pedestrian of opposing linemen and when he isn’t being blocked he either takes himself out of plays with poor reads or tackling technique that looks like a game of pin the tail on the donkey. Taylor, a running back, had 116 receiving yards on 3 catches, 38.7 YPC. That’s a reflection on how weak the Ravens inside backers are. Wasn’t Rob Ryan hired to change that? I get that Queen is young but there’s absolutely no development to his game. Where’s Arthur Brown when you need him?

Perhaps even worse than Queen’s play, was that of Anthony Averett. Coming into the game AA was lauded by many and ranked No. 3 overall in terms of passer rating when targeted, at 41.7. But after the Colts first possession in the third quarter, Averett was targeted 7 times for 6 completions, 95 yards and a touchdown. That’s a rating of 158.3 and fortunately for AA that’s as high as the rating goes because later in the half it only got worse. It’s safe to say that Wentz and Reich weren’t buying AA’s Next Gen numbers coming into the game.

The Ravens weak side edge was exactly that – weak v. runs, pitches and short passes in that direction…Marlon Humphrey’s offsides on the initially failed FGA cost the Ravens 3 points. That coupled with Lamar’s fumble at the one represented a 10-point swing in an 8 minute span.

The Ravens surrendered 513 yards of offense to the Colts who entered the game as the 21st-ranked offense, averaging 326 yards…the Ravens defense is now ranked 24th overall and 29th v. the pass. There is simply too much money invested on that side of the ball to produce such putrid results…the dead ball personal foul on Tavon Young called at the 18 second mark of regulation with the Colts facing a 3rd-and-18 from their own 40 could have been catastrophic. Granted, Young retaliated when Colts TE Jack Doyle pushed Young’s head towards the ground as he tried to get up off the ground following the play, but in such situations you have to keep your head. Nice Duke-like flop from Doyle to get the 15 yards.

Ravens at Colts

THE MEGAN FOX

Earlier I mentioned a few of the mistakes that Lamar Jackson made but they pale in comparison to the overall brilliance of his game, particularly the second half. On the night Lamar was 37 of 43 for 442 yards and 4 touchdowns. His passer rating was a blistering 140.5. In the second half he was insane, connecting on 29 of 32 passes for 335 yards and 4 scores – a rating of 149.9. He expertly guided the Ravens to the win, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. He was just absolutely magnificent and his throws were on-point darts after intermission. If the Ravens can get their running game back up to speed, the sky is the limit for this offense. And given the way Wink Martindale’s defense is playing and with the Chargers heading east, the Ravens will need more heroics from Lamar & Co.

OTHER NOTES & OBSERVATIONS

The Ravens win probability was as low as 4% with just over six minutes remaining in the 4th quarter according to Next Gen Stats…A game ball has to go to Greg Roman for unleashing the offense and sticking with the no huddle. Given the personality of the offense, the no huddle seems like a really good fit and it seems to help out the offensive linemen because the pace gasses the opposing defensive front.

I really like Steve Levy and Louis Riddick on the ESPN broadcast crew. Brian Griese is tolerable but what isn’t, is the direction the broadcast receives – or should I say endures. The director went to a break during an important call on the field and a little later when a Ravens player was injured (it was Ben Cleveland), the broadcast went to another break before it was determined who the player was. Too many times ESPN gets caught up in their own self-serving promotions while abandoning replays. Consequently, the broadcast is inferior to those of the A-Teams that CBS, NBC and Fox put out there…the Ravens open up as 3-point favorites over the Chargers at The Bank on Sunday at 1PM.

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About Tony Lombardi

Tony is the founder EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com. His work has been featured on various sports websites and he hosts The Russell Street Report and Armchair Quarterback both seen and heard on Fanimal Radio. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi
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