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Report Card: Ravens 27 Saints 13

Kenyan Drake Saints
Joey Pulone/Baltimore Ravens
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The Ravens picked up an important win on the road to keep a solid grip on their division lead heading into a much-needed bye week, and like most games, there were pluses and minuses out there tonight.

Big picture, even though it was a non-conference game, this was a good get for Baltimore. Stacking another win while they are dealing with severe attrition amongst the offensive skill positions, and piecing together what could be a suddenly formidable defensive front, these are ones you like to have in the bank.

Let’s take a look at some grades based on first impressions.

Offense

Overall: B-

They only generated 319 total yards, albeit against a stout Saints defense, and had periods of strange inconsistency surrounding some purely dominant scoring drives. At the end of the day, they scored 27 on the road, went 9-for-15 on third down and didn’t turn over the ball.

It was good, but not GOOD. Know what I mean?

Quarterback: B-

Lamar Jackson was not at his best throwing the ball, outside of a gorgeous touchdown pass to Isaiah Likely to open the game’s scoring. He was 12-for-22 for 133 yards, and that one touchdown. But he didn’t turn the ball over, and produced 82 yards on the ground, including one of those “Only Lamar” runs when it looked like his head was going to be removed from his body behind the line, but he miracled his way for a 12-yard gain.

This is why Jackson has a high floor.

On a not-so-great throwing night, he still contributed big time to his team’s victory.

Running Backs: B

Kenyan Drake was really, really good, putting up 93-hard-earned rushing yards and two touchdowns, and playing better than his 3.9 yards per carry. Justice Hill was pretty quiet, rushing for 11 yards on four carries, and Mike Davis had a nice catch-and-run after a Jackson scramble for seven yards. Pat Ricard pushed ahead a third-and-one and contributed with blocking. Again, Drake was very good. Not much from the rest of the class.

Receivers: C-

There wasn’t a lot of production here. The leading receiver for the game was Isaiah Likely with 24 yards. He caught one ball. All game. And he led the team. DeSean Jackson registered a 16-yard catch, and had another 23-yarder wiped out by a penalty. His health bears watching. Josh Oliver had a nice catch-and-run for 19, and Demarcus Robinson broke loose for an easy touchdown, but Jackson missed the throw.

Just not a lot of production here, but they weren’t just out there dropping balls, either.

Offensive Line: B

The Ravens rushed for 188 yards against a good Saints defense. Granted, Jackson contributed quite a bit to that, but the run game truly picked up in the second half, especially by Drake. Morgan Moses committed the penalty that wiped out Jackson’s catch, but he was very good most of the night. I had notes on him contributing significantly on four big runs.

Kevin Zeitler continues to shine, as does Tyler Linderbaum — who might have kicked off a brief verbal skirmish in the Ravens huddle after not getting a snap off in time. Ben Powers got beat early on a run block, but seemed to get solid push in the second half.

Ronnie Stanley was good once again. He got called for holding on a third-quarter run.

Defense

Overall: A-

This was a terrific performance overall, but a few possessions, and one unsettling play along the sideline that sprung the Saints’ only touchdown, dinged an otherwise sterling effort. They gave up 243 yards of offense, held the Saints to 3-for-11 on third downs, and produced four sacks. They also held Alvin Kamara to 30 yards rushing on nine carries, and another 32 through the air. That’s a good team effort.

Defensive Line: A-

Calais Campbell had a big night, sharing a sack with Justin Houston, batting down a first-quarter pass and picking up a tackle for loss. Broderick Washington was disruptive again, finishing with three tackles, and Justin Madubuike batted down a pass and got good pressure on Andy Dalton another rep, who still completed the pass. Brent Urban batted the pass that Houston picked off in the fourth quarter.

Linebackers: A

Roquan Smith had a successful debut, with five tackles, including back-to-back stuffs on Kamara in the first quarter to stall their second possession. He also had a nice open-field tackle on Kamara late in the second quarter. Odafe Oweh was quiet, outside of drawing a penalty and a nice stuff in the second quarter for a loss. Patrick Queen was good, registering five solo tackles, and not appearing out of position much, if at all.

But let’s talk about Justin Houston, shall we? The veteran continues his torrid pace, picking up another 2.5 sacks, picking off a pass and basically being the best player on the field the last two games. He now has 8.5 sacks in six games. Stud.

Defensive Backs: B

This score would have been significantly better if it wasn’t for two minor things: some loose spots in coverage that provided way too many easy completions, and a WHAT-IN-THE-WORLD-JUST-HAPPENED touchdown down the sideline that saw Marcus Peters stop when he thought Juwan Johnson stepped on the sideline, and Chuck Clark just stop because… I guess he thought Peters saw Johnson step out of bounds?

Regardless, he did not, and it resulted in a 41-yard touchdown that (just a little) spoiled a great defensive effort. Marlon Humphrey was really good, leading the team with seven tackles, picking up a sack, registering a tackle for loss, breaking up a pass and getting a hit on the quarterback. You know who was really good? Kyle Hamilton was a sure tackler all game with six tackles, including a terrific open-field stop in the first quarter. He also had an interception wiped out by a very questionable PI call on Clark.

Peters had problems in coverage a few times, but was very, very good in run support.

Special Teams: B+

Justin Tucker was Justin Tucker, and that’s good. His 41-yarder in the fourth quarter put them up 14, and it felt like a big moment at the time. Jordan Stout benefited from a kind bounce to boost his numbers, but he averaged 48.3 yards on four kicks, and landed two inside the New Orleans 20.

Coaching: B

Mike Macdonald appears to be growing into his position more and more each week, and he looks to be doing a great job mixing in and out his players and having a solid plan each game. I was getting a little frustrated with the four-man rushes that weren’t getting home at one point, and then Humphrey killed a drive with a third-down sack and I went back to my potato chips. I loved the scheme to shake loose Bowser for a free run at Dalton on third down to hurry him into a drive-ending incompletion.

There was some stuff I liked on offense, including the sprint-out flip to Likely for the first score of the game, and the early move from east-west runs to north-south ones. But I didn’t like the decision to go with three straight passes after the Saints closed to 11 at the end of the third quarter after showing success with the run.

And I really didn’t like the decision to challenge the non-fumble by Dalton on one of Houston’s sacks. It seemed obvious in the replays that it wasn’t a fumble. Good job, overall, by the staff.

They played complementary football and made things work with an absence of some important weapons on offense.

3 Responses

  1. Lamar is a running QB, and when he runs, they usually……win! Time to put an end to the pocket passer experiment! The Ravens won’t face another winning team or QB until the finale against the Bengals, but…….the NFL this season is mediocrity at its worst, and still unpredictable at its…..best! That said, barring a major injury at QB, this team should win the AFC North in a cakewalk…..

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