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Ravens 34 Chargers 6

Calais Campbell tackle Chargers
Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens
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So, you think you have the 2021 Ravens figured out, do you?

A week after watching the vaunted Ravens defense get torn to shreds by the … let me check my notes here… Carson Wentz-led Colts… a prideful unit stepped up against one of the most explosive offenses in the league and showed the world again that defense means something in Baltimore.

There is a lot to like about this game, particularly the “win” and the score.

Let’s take a little closer look as to how the Ravens performed by unit.

Offense

Overall: B-

The Ravens scored four touchdowns and put up 34 points, and that’s usually a good day at the office. It wasn’t bad by any means, and there is particular reason to like the run game, but they only accumulated 327 yards on the day, and they turned it over a couple times. Good day. Not a stellar one, though.

Quarterback: C

Lamar Jackson wasn’t awful today, and one of those two interceptions on his stat sheet bounced off the chest of a receiver on a perfect third-down throw. But he missed a couple opportunities for scores, threw an awful pick earlier in the game that led to the Chargers’ only score, and didn’t really “wow” all that often today. He didn’t have to. And he didn’t hurt them. Average day at the office.

Running Backs: B+

I’ve been critical of this unit to this point because they have played to a level that requires criticism. See what I did there? Devonta Freeman led the team on the ground, and looked generally quicker this game. Latavius Murray runs hard and you have to appreciate that, and I thought Le’Veon Bell looked decisive finding creases. They really led the offense today. Pat Ricard laid some vicious blocks.

Also, he’s a receiver, but I almost always like seeing Devin Duvernay taking handoffs, or at least running in motion.

Receivers: C

Mark Andrews scored another touchdown, and had five catches for 68 yards. He was good again. Marquise Brown looked dangerous with the ball in his hands again, and shook loose for two potential touchdowns — Jackson didn’t see him on one, and the other went right off his extended fingertips.

Rashod Bateman showed his ability to uncover quickly in the short-passing game, but had a dreadful drop where the ball bounced off his chest for an interception. James Proche got wide open for a deep pass, but Jackson missed him.

Offensive Line: B-

They did some nice things in the run game, but gave up too much on the edges in pass protection. One thing I do like about the tackles is how they continue to run rushers vertically so Jackson can step up in the pocket to find room.

When you can’t necessarily dominate, set angles and use position.

Defense

Overall: A

This was really a tremendous effort against a top-flight opponent. The run game was pretty much eliminated by the Ravens front, and the corners and secondary put out a great performance.

Defensive Line: A-

Justin Madubuike, Brandon Williams and Calais Campbell did a great job up front, occupying the line of scrimmage and stifling the run game of the Chargers. Campbell knifed in for a customary run stuff in the fourth quarter — something he seems to do at least once a game. Madubuike caught a receiver from behind on a short pass, on a play that stole my breath.

Linebackers: B+

Patrick Queen got banged up, but he looked very good at the start of the game. Give him his credit. Josh Bynes seemed to be everywhere, and he was a reminder that Wink Martindale’s defense looks much better when people are where they’re supposed to be, when they’re supposed to be there. Justin Houston was all over the backfield and finally picked up a sack later. Odafe Oweh made Justin Herbert uncomfortable a few times, as well.

Defensive Backs: A+

Marlon Humphrey played the best game of his season, and was probably the best player on the field today. Spectacular day by a special player. Anthony Averett rebounded from the Colts game debacle very well, and Tavon Young played his second straight very good game in coverage. DeShon Elliott came back from injury to pick up a sack, and my personal “play of the game” with his interception down the seam against Herbert.

Chuck Clark is having a Pro Bowl-type year, and Brandon Stephens seems to get better every game, particularly at the line of scrimmage. Jimmy Smith showed great coverage deep against Mike Williams early.

Special Teams: A

Duvernay might be the best returner in football. He’s certainly in the team picture. Justin Tucker ho-hummed another 50-plus yarder, and nobody seems to flinch anymore. I thought the coverage teams were great all day. Stephens and Miles Boykin blew up a kick returner late in a way that made my dog laugh.

Coaching: A

The Ravens treated Herbert like a second-year quarterback by throwing everything at him, and he looked like a second-year quarterback that didn’t always know how to respond. Greg Roman orchestrated long touchdown drives to kick off both halves, and he played to the game situations today. John Harbaugh has this team prepared more times than not, and the Ravens appeared to be the better-led team from start to finish today.

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