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Keeping The Faith

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Being a Ravens fan ain’t for wimps!

Those are the words of RSR’s Darin McCann and no truer words have ever been spoken. I had the pleasure of watching the game at Tin Roof Broadway in Nashville yesterday with #NashFlock. Awesome people and fans who did their best to keep things positive when things weren’t going the Ravens way. They kept the faith, believing, persevering, remaining hopeful.

And through it all, through the regular big plays given up to opponents, through the injuries, through the redundant message, “Next man up”, somehow the Ravens figure out a way to come through. It isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always easy. But it is the Ravens, and despite the many struggles, this resilient collection of 53 men, guided by a relentless coaching staff, just never gives in. It’s their belief in themselves that more often than not shines through. No wonder the #NashFlock kept it together until their faith was rewarded.

“We gave the game ball to faith – to faith and favor. It’s going to go up in the locker room to faith; I think that’s the star of the game. All of the guys that made the plays … I told the guys, I said, ‘We had a bunch of guys playing out there, playing – a bunch of guys that were playing. We had a bunch of guys that were praying. I promise you I was doing some praying, and a lot of our fans were doing some praying, too.’ Just really with that, the idea that they stick together [and] they don’t flinch. Kevin Zeitler was talking about it. He’s been on teams [where] you’re down 14 points like that, and you really just kind of know the game is over. Not this team; it’s like nobody even bats an eye. Shrug your shoulders, and let’s go. They come out … We made a point in the second half; we said, ‘We want to see the kind of team we’re going to be in terms of playing winning football. Error-free football with all of our physicality and all of our execution.’ And then the first thing that happens is the kick return goes back to the house. That’s a gut punch, but we’ve been there before.” ~ John Harbaugh

The Good

He wasn’t flawless. He made some big mistakes but in the end, when an athlete as gifted as Lamar Jackson never quits, never points fingers, never backs down from even the most adverse conditions, eventually he’ll find a way. It’s hard not to imagine what the Ravens offense might look like once they have the time and resources to patch up their offensive line and when their top running backs return. But until that happens, there’s Lamar and with him you can never count the Ravens out. Gone are the days when they said he couldn’t win games with his arm. Gone are the days when they said the Ravens couldn’t successfully play from behind. And we can all credit No. 8’s indomitable will to win for that.

That said, the running backs who have stepped in for Messrs. Dobbins and Edwards, performed extremely well yesterday. Including Lamar’s heroics, Ravens ball carries produced 247 yards on the ground averaging 5.5 yards on 45 carries. Devonta Freeman had 79 yards on 13 carries and made a nice catch extending fully to reel in a 5 yard scoring toss from Lamar…Le’Veon Bell was very good in pass pro and he added 48 tough yards on 11 carries, five of which produced first downs…Pat Ricard was a monster in the run game and was big as a receiver as well. After the Ravens fell behind 24-10, the ensuing drive belonged to Ricard who caught 3 balls for 35 yards including a 1 yard TD reception…Devin Duvernay helped knot the score at 24 in the 4th quarter with a miraculous TD catch…Rashod Bateman continues to show polish that belies his years as the rookie hauled in 5 catches for 52 yards plus he drew a big pass interference (42 yards) at the end of the first half to set up the Ravens first touchdown. A well thrown ball would have resulted in a TD as Bateman got behind two Vikings defenders.

Some eye-popping stats: the Ravens ran 89 plays to the Vikings 52; time of possession was extremely lopsided (46:04 to 23:40); the Ravens had 36 first downs to the Vikings 13. Overall the Ravens had 500 yards of offense.

Defensively the Ravens struggled early but they bounced back in a big way. They yielded 165 yards in the FIRST QUARTER ALONE. Then they gave up just 153 yards the rest of the way…the Vikings ran just 20 plays after halftime and they were just 1 of 5 on third down. Wink Martindale’s unit has been heavily criticized for not producing when it counts the most but they deserve credit for a clutch performance yesterday. In overtime after Lamar was intercepted at the Vikings 38, Cousins & Co. were off the field again after just 3 plays.

Calais Campbell was double-teamed often but chipped in with this beastly play that dropped Alexander Mattison for a 3-yard loss. Tyus Bowser had a solid game off the edge with a tackle for loss, a pressure and a pass defensed…Marlon Humphrey bounced back after the big play given up to Justin Jefferson (not really on him), allowing just 1 completion from that point forward on 5 targets. He also had 2 PD’s on third down conversion attempts…After the 50 yards Jefferson TD the Ravens held the 2020 22nd overall pick and receiving teammate Adam Thielen to 4 catches for 25 yards.

The Bad

Lamar’s fundamentals were a bit flawed early in the game as a few passes that should have been easy completions were wildly off target. He threw 2 picks but the second wasn’t completely on him as Freeman failed to cut linebacker Anthony Barr who batted a pass intended for the left flat and completed the play with an interception. Not only did Freeman fail, but he hardly looked like a willing blocker. A business decision?

 

The Ravens allowed 5.5 yards per carry to Minnesota backs and 6.1 yards per play overall…Baltimore was flagged 8 times for 61 yards. Despite an offensive line missing starting center Garrett Bradbury, and one that has been among the league’s worst protecting their quarterback, the Ravens registered 0 sacks and just 6 pressures.

[Related Article: Ravens Report Card]

The Ugly

The Ravens offensive line was awful. They allowed 3 sacks and 23 pressures during 53 drop-backs. Lamar escaped pressure 9 times…Ben Powers allowed 2 sacks and 4 pressures. The miscommunication between DeShon Elliott, Humphrey and Chuck Clark was embarrassing, leading to Jefferson’s 50-yard score…Equally embarrassing was Dalvin Cook’s 66-yard run around the right end that featured missed tackles, poor technique, awful edge-setting and pancake blocks. I wondered if Josh Bynes had become an astronomer after he laid on the field looking up at the sky for quite a while…Special teams were comical. Brandon Stephens running into Duvernay during a punt return and then the missed tackles on the Vikings Kene Nwangwu’s 98-yard kick return will probably lead to restless nights for special teams coordinator Chris Horton…The season-ending biceps injury may have put an exclamation point on his career as a Raven. Here’s to his full recovery and hopefully another campaign in Charm City.

The Megan Fox Award

Marquise Brown attacked the football with his hands while working his way back to Lamar on a few catches and then had the presence of mind to make a smart football move after the catch to produce YAC. He was effective on screen passes, essentially an extension of the running game. Overall he had 9 catches for 116 yards, 79 of which came after the catch. Currently he is the league’s 6th-ranked receiver with 682 yards on the season after 8 games.

For all of those “smart” national pundits who still clamor for a big-named receiver for the Ravens, let me introduce you to Marquise, Rashod, Devin and Sammy.

We’re good!

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