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Lamar Jackson practice
Photo Credit: Joey Pulone, Baltimore Ravens
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The Ravens have flipped the script from last season.

Instead of being plagued by injuries over the second half of the season, the Ravens are getting healthier and playing their best football. 

Excuse coach John Harbaugh if he is not exactly giddy with excitement after placing 25 players on IR last season. 

“We’re 6-3. So, it guarantees us six wins, I know that,” he said. “I’ve learned that; I learned that last year. Let’s just worry about the next game.”

Nonetheless, the Ravens put themselves in a position for a playoff run in the second half of the season and control their own destiny.

Baltimore has won three straight games to improve to 6-3 and is in first place in the AFC North with wins over the third-place Browns and second–place Bengals, who are still a dangerous team. 

Quarterback Lamar Jackson has progressed and understands how to manage a game even when the offense is not exactly clicking or missing key players because of injuries. He has avoided costly turnovers over the team’s three-game winning streak. 

In the 27-13 victory over the Saints in Week 9, Jackson completed 12-of-22 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown.  (87.9 rating). He also had 82 rushing yards on 11 carries (7.5 avg.) 

Jackson became the first player in NFL history to record 100 passing yards and 4,000 rushing yards in any five-year period of a career. Incredibly, he’s accomplished this feat through the first five years of his career.

“Lamar plays on a different level,” Harbaugh said. “You can’t just look at passing stats; the passing stats are good, but he made some plays, he made some third-down conversions. Third down was key in this game; we did a great job on offense, and Lamar was really the driver of that. Then, on defense, our defense stepped up and played well on third down, too.” 

After some early struggles, the Ravens’ defense is playing at a high level and avoiding the big plays that led to some disappointing losses. The players are adjusting to the new coordinator Mike Macdonald, who plays more conservatively than the blitz-happy Don Martindale.

The Ravens have limited an opponent to under 300 yards three times this year. The Ravens allowed New Orleans to gain 243 total yards, which marks the second-fewest against Baltimore this year (238 at NYG).

Saints Pro Bowl RB Alvin Kamara had 30 rushing yards, his fewest this season, and the Ravens did not allow him to be a factor.

Justin Houston had 2.5 sacks and an interception against the Saints and now has 8.5 on the season. The addition of inside linebacker Roquan Smith is proving to be a shrewd move by GM Eric DeCosta and he had five tackles in his debut in Week 9. 

“I think we know who we are,” Houston said. “I think we had a lot of growing pains at the beginning of the season, and we are still growing. We still left a lot of plays out there tonight. The thing is what we have in mind as a defense is that it is every man in that room. It’s not just one or two guys. It’s the whole defense. 

“When you got a bunch of hungry dogs and they really want it and come together as one, the sky is the limit and I think that is what we have.”

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One Response

  1. This defense has a chance to be a dominant force which would help offset some of our obvious weaknesses on offense. Lamar is still not a confident, consistent pocket QB – Romans has to realize this and put him in a better position to succeed. Slow developing plays should be ditched in favor of a quick hitting pass game to compliment a scary running attack.

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