Well Ravens flock, here we are, the off-season. After a grueling season of injuries and moments where the team was inches away from snatching victory from the jaws of the defeat (and vice versa), we can all finally exhale. It’s no secret that Sunday’s game against the Steelers was less than ideal, but given the circumstances it’s not likely prescriptive of what to expect in 2022 either. So, rather than get on Marquise Brown‘s case for dropping two more passes in the pouring rain, or on Tyler Huntley for some absolutely awful interceptions, let’s take a look back on some of the good moments we saw this season. Any time you end a season on a six-game skid and go from being the #1 seed in the conference to missing the playoffs, it’s naturally tough to look back on any of it positively.
With that said, there were some great moments, moments that could live on in highlight packages for years to come. So, as we get ready to put away our jerseys and purple decorations until August, let’s take one last look back on the five most important plays from the 2021 Baltimore Ravens.
Jackson Jump Pass TD vs KC
We’ll start with the biggest play from the biggest game of the year. When we look back on the 2021 Ravens, the most important takeaway may just be that Lamar Jackson was finally able to get over the constant hurdle that was the Kansas City Chiefs. Down by 11 early in the second half of Week 2, those feelings of fear were beginning to set in that once again it was going to get out of hand vs Patrick Mahomes and company. Then, on 3rd-and-4 with the pressure closing in, Jackson leaps in the air and throws a gorgeous pass to a wide open Marquise Brown for a clutch 42-yard score. No other quarterback in football besides the one standing across the field that night is capable of making that throw, and Jackson almost made it look easy.
Tune in on NBC! pic.twitter.com/zDO2qGp9of
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 20, 2021
The Ravens would go on to complete a gutsy comeback victory that night thanks to more late game heroics from Jackson and Odafe Oweh.
Social media amongst the Ravens flock has been slightly divided on the subject of what to do with Jackson’s contract. Yet, when looking at plays like this, and seeing what their record was without him down the stretch, it now appears as if the team has no option but to give him whatever he wants. Sure, he wasn’t playing the best football in the weeks leading up to his injury, but it’s highly likely that at least one or two of those heartbreaking losses at the end become wins if he were under center. The Rams and Packers games in particular come to mind.
Hopefully we’ll continue seeing dynamic plays like this from #8 in purple for years to come.
Jackson 36-yd Pass @ DET
Continuing the Jackson praise here, we then go to just one week later in the Motor City where the Ravens had their backs against the wall. This was a day where Jackson had one of his best passing efforts as a pro, but it was masked by a plethora of drops from the receiver corps (one in particular more so than the rest). On 4th and 19 deep in their own territory during do-or-die time, Jackson takes the snap and buys time in the pocket before lofting a perfect pass over the defender right into the waiting arms of Sammy Watkins.
Please do not forget that Lamar Jackson converted on *4th and 19* from his own 16 with 26 seconds left to even give the Ravens a chance to win today. pic.twitter.com/cmIoXHiQd7
— Tyler Greever (@Tyler_Greever) September 27, 2021
Jackson is one of the few players in the league who can completely change the momentum of a game in one play, and this was a prime example of that. Moments later Justin Tucker would kick the longest field goal in NFL history to bring the Ravens to 2-1.
It’s unlikely that Watkins will be back in 2022 given the amount of rising young talent among the wide receivers, but plays like this (and one we’ll discuss shortly) were exactly why they brought him in. Clutch plays late in the game, while also being able to mentor the young group just mentioned. Wherever he chooses to sign next will likely get the same exact thing, and for a more than manageable cost.
Brown OT TD vs Indy
I’ve been harder than anyone on Hollywood for his issues with drops in the 2021 season, but what can’t be taken away from him are the big plays and major contributions he put forth over the first half of the year. In what ended up being his first 1000-yard campaign, this play that capped off a 19-point second half comeback on Monday Night Football against the Colts was by far the biggest. Following this game, it truly felt as if the Ravens were poised to go on a deep playoff run despite the injuries continuing to mount. They were able to steal so many close games early in the year, and showed that knack for pulling games out of their hat that you need in January. As we know, that wasn’t meant to be, but the fact that we were even having those thoughts given the circumstances this team was up against all year speaks volumes.
Back in action Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS! pic.twitter.com/42SyPE7qKG
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) October 12, 2021
Back to Brown, this was a tough grab just past the goal line with a defender draped all over him. It was the exact type of play that we were all dying to see more of from a guy who was determined to make himself a true #1 wide receiver this season. The jury is certainly still out on that notion given what we saw over the second half of the year, but moments like this can be built on as he enters a crucial 2022 campaign.
Huntley 29-yd Pass to Watkins @ CHI
I didn’t want to make this list exclusively just moments with Jackson under center, because despite the record indicating otherwise, Tyler Huntley was an integral part of the team in its most trying moments. On the road in a hostile environment down by four late in the game, Huntley showed his first sign of true progression as a pro in Chicago.
— PFF BAL Ravens (@PFF_Ravens) November 21, 2021
On 3rd and 12 he scrambles to the right amidst heavy pressure before hitting Sammy Watkins with a pretty pass along the right sideline for 29 yards. The ball was right in the facemask of Watkins – the placement couldn’t have been better and only gets more impressive when you realize that he was on the run while throwing it. As we know, Devonta Freeman would score the go-ahead touchdown moments later to give the Ravens a 16-13 win. Coming off that ugly loss to the Dolphins, the Ravens were in desperate need of a victory, and Huntley did his part in securing a tough one that day.
Huntley will be back in Baltimore in 2022 given the fact that he’s an exclusive rights free agent, but it’s likely that he and his agent are already discussing where in the league he could fit beyond that (as a starter). Horrible game vs Pittsburgh aside, he showed many flashes this year that indicate he could potentially be “the guy” for somebody with a little more polish to his game. Hoping for the best for our pal Snoop, but also hoping we don’t have to see this much of him next year with a healthy Jackson back at the helm.
Andrews 2 Catches vs CLE
For our final entry, we simply have to give #89 his roses. What a tremendous year for Mark Andrews. Despite almost every other aspect of the team crumbling due to injuries, Andrews was the constant driving force that genuinely kept the offense afloat through thick and thin. No other moments define that quite like Sunday Night Football vs Cleveland, where the offense was sputtering behind Jackson’s four-interception performance. It started with a catch of the year candidate on his one handed falling grab for 39 yards, and would culminate just a few plays later on a touchdown catch that would ultimately lead to the Ravens’ last victory of the season.
That was incredible. #RavensFlock
— NFL (@NFL) November 29, 2021
— NFL (@NFL) November 29, 2021
After the early season drop woes plagued Andrews again, something eventually just clicked, and from there he didn’t look back. His performance this year, most notably over the last five games, may have officially cemented his status as the best tight end in the league. Contested grabs, gritty yards after the catch, important touchdowns, you can go right down the list of things you need from your elite tight end and Andrews hit them all. When he first signed his new contract early in the season it felt like the Ravens may have paid up a bit to ensure his future was in Baltimore. Now, it’s beginning to look as if that contract may end up being a steal for the organization. The scariest part is, we’ve likely only just scratched the surface of his prime. #89 is going to be a problem for opposing defensive coordinators in the AFC North for years to come.
And just like that, we bid a final farewell to the 2021 season and set our sights on free agency, the draft, and everything else that goes into building the 2022 Baltimore Ravens. Despite things ending in such disappointing fashion, there were still plenty of moments that deserve praise. Moments we covered here today that feel like an eternity ago, but were still huge building blocks as we trek forward into another year.
Thank you so much for sticking with us all season long. Whether you agreed with the takes or not, I only hope that you enjoyed reading these articles as much as I enjoyed writing them. On a personal note, thank you to Tony Lombardi and the rest of the Russell Street Report team for welcoming me this year as well. This is just the beginning of what I expect will be many seasons of countless ups and downs we all experience together, and I couldn’t be more excited. There will be much more content to come as the off-season unfolds, but for this topic, we’ll catch you back here in September when we once again get to break down the five most important plays from the Ravens offense.