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Ravens Rant: This Team is Unlucky and Unwavering!

Lamar Jackson's critics
Baltimore Ravens/Shawn Hubbard
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The Ravens won another game.

It was ugly, it was hard-fought, and it was frustrating, but ultimately, the efforts by this team resulted in the only thing that matters right now.

A big ol’ DUB.

And yet… despite the aforementioned end-game on Sunday as the Ravens busted up Baker’s Browns… the Flock is in a flurry of frustration.

The offense is broken! The defense can’t stop anybody and when they do, they still manage to give up big plays! Coaching is suspect! Their record is a mirage, masking their absolute ineptitude!

Calm down, negative Nancy, because the way I see this team is absolutely different and much more ‘cup half full’ in terms of how these close games have gone this season.

In essence, the 2021 version of the Baltimore Ravens is equal parts unlucky and unwavering.

Let’s use the Browns game as the most recent example of how this balance plays out. The ‘unlucky’ shows itself in a few of Lamar Jackson’s interceptions.

  • Pick 1: batted up ball that ended in the hands of the Browns.
  • Pick 2: this doesn’t count as unlucky, just bad vision by Lamar.
  • Pick 3: okay, this was also ugly and right at the defender but Harrison clearly dropped it and the officials refused to overturn it.
  • Pick 4: if Andrews doesn’t get a hand on this ball, it falls incomplete. Instead he essentially taps it to the defender.

 

This is not me suggesting that Lamar Jackson is absolved of any blame – a few of these should have never been thrown and that’s on him – but the bounces qualify as unlucky, without a doubt.

You can also look to the other side of the ball on Sunday, where David Njoku’s touchdown should’ve been negated as several angles show the ball hitting the turf and kicking up pellets. I took a moment yesterday to listen to Mike Pereira and Dean Blandino discuss this play on Last Call, and their argument was simply that no matter what the official called on that field, no review would’ve changed it.

So had the official called this incomplete? It would’ve been upheld, the same as the touchdown was upheld. Quite frankly I think there’s clear evidence, but their point drives home a totally different point for me: a play like this is 100% driven by the officials’ tendency to err on the side of complete versus incomplete.

In this case, it favored Cleveland and was genuinely unlucky for Baltimore. With a different official? Maybe this call is different, but the Ravens had the unlucky hand with the officiating crew on Sunday.

Take a pair of those Lamar picks and the Njoku touchdown away, and reverse the luck? Suddenly, the end result is likely a wider margin of victory for the Ravens and the worries shrink.

Alas, the game remained close-  as most games do this season for Baltimore – and this is where the unwavering factor comes in.

You simply cannot shake this team’s confidence, and the fact that their balance is showing in a manner where one unit is able to pick up the slack when another unit is struggling really shows what this Ravens squad is made of.

Again, going back to the Cleveland game on Sunday, the defense stepped up in a big way to help offset the offensive struggles. The expectation by so many was that the Ravens defense would get gashed by the top ground tandem in the NFL… only to see the Browns put up their lowest rushing total since 2018, and Nick Chubb held to his 2nd lowest YPC (2.0) in his career. This stifling of the ground game, the perfectly timed pressures, and the ability to generate turnovers truly helped the Ravens offense on a night where Lamar had accuracy issues and the ground game largely didn’t show up until the final quarter.

This trend has really been there all season (a unit cannot get out of their own way), and despite the spattering of injuries, this team continues to thrive in the face of adversity.

Early on in the season when the defense couldn’t stop anybody, the offense was firing on all cylinders and helping to stack wins. Once the offense started to struggle, the defense stepped up.

This type of unwavering effort and balance results in a Ravens team that’s able to stay in every game, even when one particular unit is struggling or rife with injury, and is highly overlooked during the post-game pout sessions. I highly expect that this intangible and immeasurable effort is going to be a very integral factor for the Ravens as they enter the gauntlet of their schedule, and hopefully deep into the post-season.

After all, to expect the sleeping giant that is the Ravens offense to stay at rest forever is short-sighted and foolish. They’ll return to form. The defense has finally found a rhythm. The rookies will only improve. The health of the roster will continue to improve.

If those pieces all come together heading into the final stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs? If the unlucky bounces start to favor Baltimore? If this unwavering effort gives this team another level of trust and balance that’s unrivaled?

Suffice it to say, I don’t think fans will continue to gripe about ‘not scoring enough’ or ‘giving up a big play or two’ in a Ravens win.

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