In a game that featured fourth-quarter heroics between men known as Snoop and The Red Rifle, the Ravens pulled off a much-needed win and added yet another nutty chapter in their 2021 book that most people would find hard to believe falls under “Non-fiction.”
But win they did, and they did so on a day when expectations dropped quicker than November temperatures after it was announced earlier this morning that star quarterback Lamar Jackson would not be able to play due to illness.
Let’s hand out some grades on an interesting game.
(Ed note: First things first – ignore the other predictions, just look at Darin’s score pick!)
Updated predictions for today:
• Proche grabs four-plus catches.
• Defense plays more conservative.
• Williams gets six-plus carries.
• Ravens 16 Bears 13
— Darin J. McCann (@DarinMccann) November 21, 2021
This grade was elevated due to their final drive that went 72 yards and ended in a lead-stealing touchdown run by Devonta Freeman. The Ravens only generated 300 yards on the day, and only managed that final touchdown. At times, it felt like a grind more than a dangerous attack. But a few guys stood out, the team generated yards and points when it had to and the team sucked it up to get a tough road win.
This is another one that goes on a bit of a curve because of the way things ended, but Tyler Huntley AKA “Snoop,” stood up and performed when it most mattered. He orchestrated a safe offense all game, hit most of his open receivers, missed on some contested receivers and his only interception was not an awful throw or decision, just bad luck and a nice play by the defender. He showed he can lead a team to a win when needed, and that’s what you want from your backup quarterback.
Running Backs: C+
Freeman and Latavius Murray are different kinds of backs, but they do have one big similarity: they get exactly the yards that are there, and don’t do much to generate anything extra. But they both run hard, they hold on to the ball and they help. Project Pat muscled up to earn a first down on third-and-one and Freeman did add six catches on the day as Huntley’s safety valve.
Mark Andrews was a huge help for Huntley, hauling in eight catches. Sammy Watkins bounced back from the Miami debacle with three catches, including a big one late to set up the game-winner. Rashod Bateman only posted 29 yards on three catches, but he just looks like he’s going to be a star, snatching passes confidently and working his way upfield like a running back after the catch. He also drew an important PI flag on the decisive drive. Devin Duvernay did a nice job from the slot, grabbing four balls.
Offensive Line: D+
Robert Quinn had 3.5 sacks, and it felt like it could have been worse. The line got destroyed most of the day in pass protection, got a little movement in the run game and drew some costly flags again. It’s not a great unit, but they fight. They seemed to get better in the second half against a good front. It was a bad day, but that was better than the awful one it could have been. They do battle.
This is just who the Ravens are on defense. They look like a very good unit most of the game, only to give up explosive plays, via missed tackles or bad coverage. This game featured both. But the young linebackers had a good day, and there were enough plays made to help get the win.
Defensive Line: C-
They got gashed for some David Montgomery runs early, but seemed to get better as the game went on. Justin Madubuike made a couple plays, and Calais Campbell batted down a late pass and recovered a fumble. Other than that, not a stellar showing by a depleted front.
This might have been the best game of the season by the Ravens linebackers. Tyus Bowser had a remarkable game, posting two sacks (and another was called back by a penalty on Marlon Humphrey), forced the fumble by Justin Fields, and stopped long runs by the young quarterback twice, once setting a tough edge to push him inside, and another on an open-field tackle in the middle of the field. Odafe Oweh got a lot of pressure in the first half, and Justin Houston got a sack. Patrick Queen continues to play well, stuffing Montgomery early to force a field goal attempt the Bears missed, and generating two incompletions with his rush. Josh Bynes blew up a fourth-down wildcat run by Montgomery.
Defensive Backs: C-
Humphrey had a costly holding call that negated a sack, but also broke up an almost-miraculous catch by Darnell Mooney down the sideline late. Chuck Clark and Brandon Stephens badly missed tackles against Mooney on his long catch-and-run touchdown. Chris Westry was bad this game — he got beat deep by Mooney on the opening drive, beat again by Marquise Goodwin, smoked by Jimmy Graham on Andy Dalton’s first pass and destroyed again by Goodwin for the Bears’ late go-ahead score. He’ll have better days. I mean, only one way to go, right?
Special Teams: B+
Justin Tucker was perfect on the day, and had a big touchback late to prevent a kick return by the Bears. Sam Koch was fine, but missed a few chances to pin Chicago back. Duvernay had a nice kickoff return to help set up the Ravens’ winning drive, and Kristian Welch and Eric Tomlinson both flashed in coverage. Jaylon Ferguson partially blocked a punt to give the Ravens a short field in the fourth quarter.
I liked the game plan they used on offense, mixing in the run and pass, giving Huntley safe outlets to keep moving forward and using Andrews in that way more than they typically have this season. It was a nice job using everyone available to “matriculate the ball downfield.”
Defensively, they did a lot I liked, but they still are having breakdowns on the back end. Yes, that’s mostly on the players. But maybe the coaches need to see this keeps happening and lighten the old playbook a little bit.
Overall, a nice job by this staff to win an important game with their most important player missing.