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Faith and Guts Lead The Way

Tyler Huntley
Photo Credit: Shawn Hubbard, Baltimore Ravens
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Ravens Advance to (7-3) With Win in Chicago

It has been a rather bizarre season for the Ravens. It started with a plethora of injuries that may have crippled teams with less character, weaker leadership. They survived a game in Detroit courtesy of a Justin Tucker record-setting, walk off 66-yard field goal; an improbable comeback win against the Colts on Monday Night Football. The list goes on and yesterday in Chicago it got a little longer when an illness forced Lamar Jackson to take shelter in the Ravens locker room, forcing Tyler Huntley into a starting role – a role the backup signal caller wasn’t even aware of until the team left their hotel.

“It’s crazy”, said Huntley. “I was walking towards the bus, and Lamar [Jackson] texted me, he said, ‘Go do your thing today. I’m going to be watching.’ And I was like, ‘All right, let’s go.'”

No one can deny the Ravens collective resolve and resiliency. Even when they aren’t at their best, and they seldom are these days, more times than not John Harbaugh & Co. find a way to win. And in the NFL, that’s how teams are defined – by their record. As we’ve heard many times throughout the annals of NFL folklore, courtesy of Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells, “You are what your record says you are.”

And for the Ravens that means first place in the AFC North and the No. 2 overall seed in the conference. Let’s take a look at the Good, Bad & Ugly from a victory that Harbaugh succinctly defined as, “The kind of win that takes faith and takes guts.”


Tyler Huntley was a bit short-armed on some throws and sailed a few others but he was able to keep his poise despite regular pressure from the Bears defensive front. During the second-year QB’s first NFL start, Huntley was 26 for 36 for 219 yards and a passer rating of 76.0. It could be argued that the fault for his only interception lies in the slippery hands of Mark Andrews who would probably concur with such an assessment. Without the pick, Huntley’s passer rating climbs to 87.6. Tyler also used his legs to avoid a few other sacks, one of which was at the 7:02 mark of the second quarter while facing a third-and-10 from the Ravens 34. Huntley avoided the blitzing safety and scrambled 19 yards to keep the drive alive, one that ended with the game’s first points courtesy of Tucker.

Mark Andrews
Photo Credit: Shawn Hubbard, Baltimore Ravens

Huntley made a few nice throws under pressure, one on a crosser to Andrews at the 5:41 mark of the second quarter while facing a 2nd-and-10 at the Bears 47 for 11 yards. Huntley followed that up with another 11-yard strike to Andrews. Later in the quarter with 1:07 to go Huntley directed another scoring drive to put the Ravens up by six. After a fourth-down conversion with 42 seconds left in the half, Huntley quickly raced his team to the line of scrimmage and got off a play before the Bears could get their sub-package on the field, resulting in a 14-yard completion to Rashod Bateman. Huntley’s poise was also on display during the game winning drive, particularly on the critical 29-yard hook up with Sammy Watkins on 3rd-and-12 with 33 seconds left.

Devonta Freeman had a few nice runs although there were times when he and Murray seemed a tad sluggish to hit holes that were waiting to be navigated. Besides his 49 yards on 16 carries, Freeman did a nice job of presenting himself as an outlet for Huntley. The pair connected 6 times for 31 yards…Mark Andrews had a nice game, save for his inability to handle the low pass from Huntley that resulted in an interception (granted, the throw was a tad late). Andrews did a terrific job of stretching for a first down with 3 minutes left in the third at the Ravens 24 and the made a highlight reel catch for 16 yards on the team’s second possession. The big tight end finished with 8 catches for 73 yards on 10 targets. The Pro Bowler is on pace to haul in 95 passes for 1,183 yards…Rashod Bateman didn’t make any stellar plays but his instincts bely his experience…Pat Ricard was doing his usual bang-up job in the running game. He was nearly on the receiving end of a well-designed screen (not a misprint) that could have resulted in a chunk play had Huntley delivered the pass accurately…Good to see Nick Boyle on the field. He had 32 snaps and is a welcomed return to the lineup, particularly for a shaky offensive line.

To the O-line’s credit they did do a nice job of creating space for the running backs although the average yards per carry (3.1) might indicate otherwise. Backs with a bit more burst would benefit. Credit Alejandro Villanueva and Ben Powers for sealing the left edge on Freeman’s game winning score while Ricard and Kevin Zeitler did a nice job on the move from right to left across the defensive front.

The Ravens defense is reminiscent of former Orioles pitchers Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy. They can look great, with plus stuff but suddenly serve up gopher balls. The same for Wink Martindale’s defense. They can look really solid but give them a 4th and 11 in crunch time and, well, you know. But that said, there were some really solid efforts from a few defenders. Justin Houston had a productive game with 3 pressures and a sack. Justin Madubuike had a couple pressures and a sack while Calais Campbell had a key pass deflection at the 3:38 mark of the fourth.

Patrick Queen has been unleashed since handling weak inside backer duties. The assignment keeps him cleaner and allows him to employ the uncommon speed he has for the position without getting lost in the wash. Queen made a key stop in the first quarter on third-and-5 at the Ravens 16. Dropping David Montgomery for a 6-yard loss, pushed the Bears back to the 22 and forced the FGA, one that was wide left from 40 yards out…Josh Bynes submarined oncoming blockers to drop Montgomery for a loss on a key fourth-and-1 attempt with 12:30 left in the fourth quarter…The three-and-out immediately following the Huntley interception snatched away any chance of the Bears gaining momentum and taking control of the game with a 7-6 lead…Marlon Humphrey gave up just 2 receptions on 10 targets for a passer rating against of just 39.6…Chuck Clark played well and was true to zone assignments which disrupted throwing lanes for Chicago quarterbacks.

Special teams standouts included Justin Tucker who was 3-for-3 on FGA’s despite some tricky Windy City crosswinds…Kristian Welch made a couple of key tackles, one on a kick return and another in punt coverage…The much-maligned Jaylon Ferguson tipped a Bears punt from the Chicago 17 with 7:40 to go in the game, giving the Ravens terrific field position at the Bears 45…the Ravens controlled time of possession 38:50 to 21:10.


Tyler Huntley tried to fit a pass into a tight window intended for Andrews with 8 seconds left in the second quarter. Andrews was positioned between the hash marks at about the 3 yard line and the Ravens had no timeouts left. A completion and subsequent tackle would have killed any chance for 3 points to end the half…Just prior to that play, Freeman failed to get out of bounds forcing the Ravens to burn their final timeout. With that timeout the Ravens would have had more options on the subsequent play…Huntley’s first pass on the Ravens final possession provided proof that it sometimes better to be lucky than good. The toss intended for Bateman running a go along the numbers to the right was a poor decision, nearly ending with an interception. Fortunately Kindle Vildor was flagged for a DPI instead, giving the Ravens a first down at their own 49 with 1:27 left…Both Boyle and Watkins had drops. The pass to Boyle sailed a bit but it was catchable. Watkins has failed to finish two consecutive slant opportunities – yesterday’s drop and the fumble in Miami that led to six points for the Dolphins.

The Ravens flanks on defense were extremely vulnerable early in the game and consequently the Bears had some chunk plays running the football…Odafe Oweh committed two blunders. First he took Andy Dalton’s bait, hook, line and sinker while jumping offsides at the Bears 44 with 12:48 to go in the 4th with Chicago leading 7-6 and facing a third-and-6. Later on the 4th-and-11 play during which Dalton connected with Marquise Goodwin on a 49-yard score with 1:48 left in the game, Oweh was flagged for roughing the passer. Had the pass fallen incomplete, the Bears still would have had possession and a first down at the Ravens 34. In hindsight, it’s probably better that the pass was completed, otherwise the Bears could have milked the clock and settled for a game winning field goal…Humphrey cost the Ravens and Tyus Bowser a sack at the 1:57 mark of the second quarter with a sloppy, lazy holding penalty…

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Sam Koch netted just 39.3 yards on 6 punts and his decline has been noticeable this season…It didn’t help that when Koch provided opportunities to down the ball deep in Chicago territory, the coverage guys, particularly Tylan Wallace, failed. Wallace had an opportunity to pin the Bears inside the five early in the second quarter and whiffed. Later, after a fortuitous bounce of a Koch punt, Wallace DID catch this one (and shouldn’t have) at the Bears 17 when it appeared as if it would roll much deeper into Bears territory.


For the second game in a row Bradley Bozeman’s snaps were very Mackey Sasser-like. Each is an adventure and you have to think that it is at least a mild distraction for Ravens QB’s when trying to set, read and throw… The pass protection afforded Huntley was awful. He was sacked 6 times (it could have been more) and according to PFF he had just 2.45 seconds on average to throw. The Ravens offensive front was quite generous, allowing 25 pressures to the Chicago defense…Villanueva was among the biggest culprits, allowing 1 sack and 4 pressures…Patrick Mekari did not find the groove he had prior to his ankle injury. He struggled to engage oncoming rushers and had his doors blown off by speed along the edge.

Patrick Mekari
Photo Credit: Shawn Hubbard, Ravens

The Ravens secondary continues to give up big plays and the only DB’s to really show up were Humphrey and Clark. The normally reliable Tavon Young struggled; Brandon Stephens took a horrible angle towards Darnell Mooney, looking like a turnstile at an amusement park. Mooney accepted the speed pass and enjoyed the rest of his 60-yard ride off a bubble screen into the end zone…Chris Westry had a very forgettable game and he’ll be an inviting target for future Ravens opponents if Anthony Averett isn’t a quick healer. On the Bears first drive Westry allowed Mooney to get behind him for 29 yards. He was a couple steps behind most receivers most of the afternoon and then 5 yards behind on the 4th-and-11 connection between Dalton and Goodwin. Chicago QB’s had a passer rating of 139.2 when targeting Westry.

Had Dalton and Fields been more accurate, it could have been a whole lot worse. The Ravens pass defense entered the game as the league’s worst. Thanks to the Bears QB tandem, the Ravens have improved to 31st, 1 yard better than the Jets.


The Good: Greg Roman’s play calling seemed intent upon mitigating pressure for Huntley by giving him some easy throws to develop rhythm and improve confidence. I liked the way they moved the pocket to the right on a few plays to buy a little extra time to protect a leaky O-line…I also thought the screen pass to Andrews was well-designed as was the screen intended for Ricard…Harbaugh’s decision to go for the field goal at 2:14 in the second quarter when facing a fourth-and-2 was the right call. It was obvious that points would not come easy in the game so it was smart to take the three there. If Lamar is in the game, maybe the choice would have been different.

The Bad: Roman should have run a bit more. They achieved balance but it started to feel like the Ravens could control the game on the ground had they committed to it a bit more…Wink Martindale leaving Westry on an island during the game’s most crucial play, particularly after his performance up to that late game 4th-and-11, was just inexcusable. He should have had some over the top safety help. I also think that Wink’s game plan needs to take into consideration his personnel a bit more…Lastly, these late game leads that the defense fails to protect is just getting old. How many among you thought that when Freeman scored while leaving 22 seconds on the clock, that the Ravens left Dalton too much time?

Tyus Bowser
Photo Credit: Shawn Hubbard, Baltimore Ravens


“[He] has been playing as good a football as any outside linebacker in the National Football League all season long.” ~ John Harbaugh on Tyus Bowser

On Sunday Bowser was the best player to dress for the Ravens. The five-year vet had two sacks including one that produced a forced fumble and turnover at 8:33 of Q2 with the Bears facing a second-and-five at the Ravens 36 and the teams engaged in a scoreless tie. Tyus’ other sack was the game winner, as the Ravens finally finished a quarterback that has broken their hearts often – Mr. Andy Dalton. Bowser had a 3rd sack negated by a penalty and he made a terrific open field tackle of Fields in the third quarter at the Ravens 49 to force a punt. Bowser rushed the QB 16 times, producing the two sacks and another pressure during which he hit Fields’ arm on a second-and-ten passing attempt to force and incomplete pass.

I’m not sure if Bowser is playing as well as any outside backer in the league as his coach suggests, but on Sunday he was the best one on the field and the best player wearing white and purple.

[Related Article: Ravens Report Card v. Bears]



• The Ravens improved to 7-3 for the fourth time in franchise history (2004, 2010, 2011 and 2021) and for the third time under head coach John Harbaugh. The Ravens reached the playoffs in both 7-3 starts (2010 & 2011) during the Harbaugh era (since 2008).

• Sunday marked the first time in team history that the Ravens won at Soldier Field.

• The Cardiac Kids: The Ravens have won a league-high five games in 2021 in which they’ve faced a fourth quarter deficit, marking the most such victories in Ravens’ single-season history. Via Elias Sports, the Ravens became the fourth team in the last 40 seasons to record five or more fourth-quarter comeback wins in their first 10 games (1982 Raiders, 2009 Colts and 2016 Lions).

• Patrick Queen has notched at least 1 TFL in six of his last seven games. His four-game TFL streak is the longest of his career.

• Sam Koch has played his entire 16-year career with the Baltimore Ravens. Via CBS, Koch’s 1,142 career punts are the most by a punter with one team in NFL history.

• The Ravens host their AFC North rival the Cleveland Browns on Sunday Night at The Bank. The Ravens open as 4 ½ point favorites.

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