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GBU: Tucker Rules

Tucker Wins it
Photo Credit: Shawn Hubbard, Baltimore Ravens
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“It wasn’t pretty, but it was us!”

We’ve heard these words from John Harbaugh many times in the past and last night at M&T Bank Stadium, the statement was appropriate once again as the Ravens found a way to win an important divisional game over the AFC North favorite, the Cincinnati Bengals, by the score of 19-17.

Heading into the game, many, myself included, expected the game to be a shootout marked by explosive plays from two of the game’s best young quarterbacks. But it didn’t play out that way as both offenses struggled at times – both quarterbacks guilty of unforced errors that kept scoring down.

The win snapped a five-game skid at home for the Ravens and thanks to the Browns loss at home to the Chargers, Baltimore now sits alone at the top of the AFC North. Winning the division is any team’s first objective. Now, as the Ravens refine their approach on both sides of the ball, as they mesh as a team, as they activate long-injured players from Injured Reserve, the team has an opportunity to improve and be the team by season’s end that they now aspire to be. But until they do, winning games even if it “wasn’t pretty”, moves the journey forward. So when all was said and done, the short-term mission was accomplished.

Let’s move on to the Good, Bad, Ugly and the Margot Robbie…

The Good

If a player hopes to be paid like a franchise quarterback, he needs to win games like the one last night. He needs to put aside any of the game’s previous struggles and find a way to move the ball into scoring position. To his credit, Lamar Jackson stepped up during the games waning and most crucial moments. He engineered a game winning drive and at the end of the day, that’s what matters most and makes the struggles forgettable…J.K. Dobbins and Kenyan Drake provided punch to the running game, grinding out a combined 70 yards on 12 carries (5.8 YPC). Perhaps they should have gotten more opportunities. Together with Lamar, Devin Duvernay & Co. the Ravens ran it for 155 yards on 28 carries (5.5 YPC)…Mark Andrews is like American Express. He’s always there when you need him. Despite coverage designed to mitigate his productivity, Andrews collected 8 passes on 10 targets for 89 yards and the Ravens only touchdown. Duvernay is really coming on as a reliable No. 2 WR with big play ability while adding a little punch to the ground attack. He’s a weapon that teams will soon have to game plan for…Good to see Ronnie Stanley return to the lineup, even if he’s on a pitch count. That said, I’m not exactly sure when we’ll see the All Pro Stanley anchor the O-line on a regular basis. His injury seems to left a few mental scars that may take some time to manage.

Jason Pierre-Paul was impressive creating pressure and coming up with his first sack as a Raven. He also batted down two Joe Burrow passes…Calais Campbell was disruptive along the interior and contributed a key play to help prevent the Bengals from converting a 4th-and-2 attempt from inside the 5 yard line. That was a game changing moment…Odafe Oweh was solid setting the edge with 4 tackles, one for a loss…Broderick Washington was stout at the point of attack during his 22 snaps, chipping in with 3 tackles…Brent Urban had 2 tackles on 14 snaps and added a key PD, batting down another Burrow pass…Patrick Queen was in the right place at the right time, picking off a gift-wrapped mind-numbing toss from Burrow. He added 7 tackles but missed a few others and struggled at times to immediately drop the ball carrier…Josh Bynes is arguably the team’s best tackler if an opponent sits within his tackling range. His blitz was perfectly timed and dropped Burrow with authority for a sack…Malik Harrison chipped in with 4 tackles in limited action (19 snaps)…The Ravens secondary played a great game with a clear emphasis on preventing big plays – and they did. If you were told in advance that Messrs. Chase, Higgins (ankle) and Boyd would be held to 10 catches for 83 yards, you’d say the Ravens will win the game. And for all intents and purposes, this really was the game within the game and the reason for the Dub! Standouts were Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey and Pepe Williams who accepted the challenge and delivered. Peters played with more physicality and his sack of Tyler Boyd was a huge statement. Perhaps it’s time for the Ravens to consider an extension for Marcus…Pepe made a great tackle on Hayden Hurst to drop the much bigger TE short of the sticks to force a punt…Props to Geno Stone, stepping in seamlessly for the injured Marcus Williams…Ravens limited the Bengals to just 291 yards of offense.

The Bad

The offensive line struggled at times in pass pro. Lamar didn’t get many clean looks from the pocket and consequently he threw too often off his back foot, triggering accuracy issues. Judging from the first blush look at the game, Ben Powers was a weak link. If Stanley can sometime soon take on a full game of snaps, Pat Mekari might be a better option at left guard…the Ravens red zone efficiency was just 1 of 3.

Brandon Copeland failed to hold down the edge during one of Mixon’s bigger runs from scrimmage. His presence on the field is an indictment of the team’s current lack of quality depth on the edge…The Ravens tackling in the second half was suspect at times…Jordan Stout boomed punts during the summer. His thunderous whacks could be heard from the adjacent practice field 3. But so far this season, he’s a bit like the golfer who hits 300 yard drives off the practice tee but can’t find the fairway during a tournament. He averaged just 39.5 yards on his two punts with a long of 41. He had an opportunity to pin the Bengals deep in their territory on his second punt but failed, managing to get the punt to the Cincinnati 16. His draft status suggests he needs to be better.

The Ugly

Lamar’s second quarter interception, a pass intended for Demarcus Robinson that sailed, completely flipped the game’s momentum. Leading 10-0 and facing a 2nd-and-8 from the Bengals 43, Jackson was picked off by Vonn Bell at the 17. At that point in the game, 9:24 of Q2, Cincinnati had just 22 net yards of offense. They finished the half with 172 net yards. On two deep passes to wide open receivers, Lamar threw well past his intended targets of Duvernay and Tylan Wallace

The loss of Marcus Williams will hurt. Hopefully the dislocated wrist responds to rest and treatment in a timely fashion. But, according to Healthline.com:

“The healing time for a dislocated wrist depends on how severe it is. If you only need a reduction procedure, you should recover within two or three months. However, if you need surgery, it may take six months to a year to fully recover.”

Williams has played better than any member of the Ravens secondary and he provided the rangy talents needed to combat the game’s best passing attacks. He will be missed in a big way.

COACHING

The Good

John Harbaugh made the right choice to take the points to put the Ravens up 16-10 instead of going for the first down inside the 5 yard line. I did like Greg Roman’s idea of messing with the collective head of the Bengals defense, sending Mark Andrews under center and trying to draw the Bengals offsides. Roman called a decent game and if Lamar and the offensive line hadn’t left a few plays on the field, we might be talking about an easy Ravens win…Mike Macdonald opting to go with the protective shell approach at the back end of the defense was the right choice. To beat the Bengals, you eliminate the explosive plays. And the Ravens did just that.

The Bad

Roman had the ground attack going but he didn’t use it enough, particularly with Lamar not on his A-game.

The Margot Robbie Award

First, a bit of housekeeping. This award makes me feel like I’m cheating. For a decade (perhaps more) while handling this column, Megan Fox was the award’s namesake for Player of the Game. But today, I’m subbing for Ron Toothe who now handles the column and changed the award’s name. But today Ron is inactive as he attends to his Dad who is on the mend in the hospital. Our best to Ron and his Dad.

With that being said, today’s Margot Robbie goes to the greatest kicker in the history of the NFL. And that’s not a homer’s perspective. The facts confirm the opinion. Justin Tucker now has made 61 consecutive field goal attempts in either the fourth quarter or overtime. That just seems like an unreachable star but Tucker’s just continues to grow and shine brighter.

4 Responses

  1. Memo to Harbaugh: you have the luxury of the place kicking GOAT; TAKE THE POINTS and forget about ANALytics that don’t account for many dynamics that occur during a game! The object of the game is to outscore your opponent and rarely does it make sense NOT to take the points, particularly with Tucker n your side!

    1. Lol its never about Tucker its not trusting the defense. We need TDs not FGs to win. I agreed with the call last night because i knew Cincy would score TD and a FG would win it. Last week was right call. Bills last 5 possessions were 4 scoring drives 70 yds plus and a 3 n out.

      1. Well, we won with FGs last night, so that argument doesn’t hold up! You win by out scoring your opponent and having a kicker as good as Tucker , who accounted for 12 points last night, is a real asset! Taking the points, especially when you are behind, makes more sense than risking coming up empty!

Comments are closed.

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