The Ravens survived an damage scare to quarterback Lamar Jackson and a bizarrely eventful first half to safe an important 34-20 win in opposition to the defending AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals. But the lack of tight finish Mark Andrews forged a pall over an in any other case satisfying night.
Here are 5 issues we discovered from the sport.
The Ravens got here by means of an odd, unsettling night time with a win they needed to have.
The Ravens’ extremely promising season flashed earlier than their eyes when Jackson went down onerous alongside the sideline, rose unsteadily and spent a number of excruciating minutes obscured from view within the dreaded blue medical tent.
Their heated turf warfare with the defending AFC North champion Bengals light to a secondary concern.
When Jackson emerged, he went to the bench as a substitute of the locker room as 70,997 frazzled souls in M&T Bank Stadium breathed out. The enterprise of soccer might recommence, and what an odd night time of soccer we witnessed.
There was a 68-yard landing undone by misguided officiating, just for a serendipitous bounce to revive these six factors to the Ravens. Cincinnati’s franchise quarterback, Joe Burrow, left clutching his throwing wrist and by no means returned to motion. Neither did Andrews after he hobbled off seven performs into the sport. We noticed play delayed due to drone cameras. We noticed Odell Beckham Jr. clear 100 receiving yards in a regular-season sport for the primary time since 2019.
The Ravens waded by means of the chaos to safe a victory they badly wanted to place their season again on regular floor. They dealt a extreme blow to the playoff hopes of a boastful rival that handed them within the standings in 2021 and despatched them house for good in 2022.
The Ravens would have spent the subsequent 9 days mule-kicking themselves if that they had not completed off the Burrowless Bengals. Such a slip-up couldn’t be dominated out after they tossed away a 15-point lead 4 days earlier in opposition to the Cleveland Browns and Deshaun Watson, who performed the second half with a season-ending damage.
For all of the stress of the primary half, the Ravens put the sport away with out an extra of drama, revving up their floor assault after halftime, including 5 sacks to their league-best complete and having fun with a number of dazzling highlights from their extensive receivers.
They couldn’t totally take pleasure in sweeping the Bengals and sustaining their lead within the division due to the dispiriting information about Andrews. But 8-3 with the very best scoring margin within the league and only one sport to play within the subsequent 23 days is an efficient place to be. How unsettling would that stretch have develop into if the Ravens had misplaced to Cincinnati and if Jackson’s damage had been worse?
He stated his thoughts didn’t go there, whilst he was trapped in that tent, imploring trainers and docs to let him again onto the sphere. Jackson laughed when a reporter adopted up by inquiring in regards to the heating pad he wore on the sore spot.
“We need to stop talking about this ankle,” he stated. “I’m good. You see I just walked up here. I’m good.”
On this victorious Thursday, that was adequate.
Mark Andrews’ damage will tremendously complicate the Ravens’ quest for the Super Bowl.
Andrews limped off after Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson dropped his hip to haul him down on the primary drive of the sport.
Teammates’ anguished responses — Jackson whipped his helmet to the grass — spoke not simply to the severity of the damage however to Andrews’ marrow-deep significance to all the pieces the Ravens do. He’s their most dependable goal on third down and within the purple zone. His rage to win lifts everybody.
Jackson’s satisfaction with the victory was visibly tempered by the information about considered one of his closest comrades. He guessed it was unhealthy as he watched Andrews writhe on the bottom. He hoped in opposition to hope that his pal would rise.
“It’s very tough, bro,” he stated afterward. “That’s the guy who I entered the league with. We’re bread and butter.”
The Ravens have received with out Andrews, in opposition to the Houston Texans on this 12 months’s opener and in opposition to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers final 12 months. They have a gifted younger cross catcher, Isaiah Likely, whose best video games as a professional have are available Andrews’ absence.
Next man up and all that.
But nobody tried to faux the loss was something lower than devastating. Likely actually didn’t. He believes he’s prepared for larger duty, but when that’s the case, he provides loads of the credit score to Andrews, who has served as an NFL huge brother.
“It means every game from this point on is for Mark,” he stated.
The Ravens might be a wonderful workforce from right here on out, however there’s no approach they are often higher with out Andrews than with him. There are perhaps 5 tight ends within the league together with his ability set, fewer than that so central to the souls of their groups. Players like him win you Super Bowls, and that quest — one the Ravens have demonstrated they’re gifted sufficient to pursue — turned tougher Thursday night time, whatever the last rating.
“He’s going to be missed as a leader,” coach John Harbaugh stated. “He’s a fiery, emotional guy. He’s an energy-bringer every single day, so we’re going to have to all make up for that.”
Lamar Jackson’s receivers lent him a robust hand in a efficiency of untamed swings.
Jackson’s stat line — 16-for-26, 264 yards, two touchdowns on a young ankle — sprinkled some zest again onto his Most Valuable Player marketing campaign.
And he was magical at instances, dancing within the pocket till Rashod Bateman popped open for the landing that put the Ravens up 21-10, operating to increase drives deep within the fourth quarter.
Other instances, he bumped into forces past his management.
The officers worn out a 68-yard landing by Zay Flowers, whistling Beckham on a doubtful — OK, downright egregious — holding name. Jackson bellowed his disapproval, a uncommon show from an athlete who often directs his fury at himself.
On one other potential house run play, he watched Cincinnati cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt bat away his lovely bomb to Bateman.
At different instances, his imaginative and prescient appeared off. He had an eternity to probe the sphere on a dropback late within the second quarter however noticed neither Beckham streaking free towards the top zone nor Flowers waving his hand in the midst of the sphere. That lapse was rapidly forgotten when his subsequent throw took a fortunate bounce into the arms of Nelson Agholor, who romped 37 yards to the top zone, ending with a joyous somersault.
That play spoke to the essence of Jackson’s night time: He bought by with a bit assist from his pals.
There was Flowers’ online game minimize on a 33-yard achieve that arrange the Ravens’ first landing. There was Beckham’s tightrope dance alongside the sideline to maintain the Ravens transferring towards the top zone within the two-minute drill. The 31-year-old confirmed he had nonetheless extra juice in his surgically repaired legs when he busted unfastened for a 51-yard catch and run within the fourth quarter.
Here have been the extensive receivers we buzzed about throughout coaching camp, making Jackson look higher on an evening when he wanted a hand. As Harbaugh alluded to after the sport, the Ravens are going to want extra from all of them with Andrews’ trusted paws lacking. This was a superb begin.
A toast to the draftees of 2021.
Recall how Ravens followers despaired on the prospect of their workforce touring to Cincinnati in Week 2 with out Marlon Humphrey to deal with the nice extensive receiver, Ja’Marr Chase.
That sport, by which Chase caught simply 5 passes for 31 yards and 2021 third-round choose Brandon Stephens performed 60 of 60 defensive snaps at cornerback, foreshadowed one of many nice tales of this Ravens season.
Simply put, Stephens, a person with out a clear place or a transparent path to taking part in time going into coaching camp, has been a revelation over the previous 11 video games. He did it once more Thursday. With Humphrey out once more, he lined up in opposition to Chase 22 instances and gave up one catch for two yards, per the NFL’s Next Gen Stats.
“We did play man coverage out there quite a bit,” Harbaugh stated. “Brandon, before the game I saw him go off by himself. He knew the challenge he was going to be faced with, and he just did a phenomenal job. He keeps stepping up. He meets every challenge.”
Odafe Oweh’s story was completely different. We knew what the Ravens wanted from the 2021 first-round choose, and we knew he’d play. But would he produce sufficient to raise an unproven cross rush?
Well, he’s performed awfully effectively, and persistently, over 5 video games since he returned from a major ankle damage. He hit a brand new peak in opposition to the Bengals with a career-high seven pressures, per Next Gen Stats, and his fourth sack in that five-game span.
In a tasty narrative twist, he did most of his good work in opposition to Orlando Brown Jr., whom the Ravens traded for the choose they might use on Oweh.
“I should’ve given him a game ball,” Harbaugh joked afterward. “He’s going to be mad at me.”
The 2021 draft class, extensively maligned as not too long ago as two months in the past, is discovering its ft.
Cincinnati once more confirmed the Ravens might be weak to head-on assault.
The Bengals got here in final within the league in dashing and second to final in dashing makes an attempt, so maybe they caught the Ravens off guard by blasting straight forward with operating again Joe Mixon.
Mixon carried 9 instances for 48 yards within the first half. Just as importantly, he was Burrow and backup Jake Browning’s prime goal, making linebackers Patrick Queen and Roquan Smith look a step gradual each time he caught the ball.
“It was just the looks that we were giving them, and they were doing the right things with those looks,” Queen acknowledged. “We just have to be better.”
He and Smith additionally struggled early to maintain up with tight ends Tanner Hudson and Drew Sample, neither of whom is often a featured star in Cincinnati’s offense.
The Ravens did high-quality muffling the Bengals’ loudest threats in Burrow, Chase and Tyler Boyd. But they’re surprisingly weak to energy soccer, as evidenced by the 4.1 yards per carry that they had allowed coming into the sport and the 178 dashing yards they’d surrendered to the Cleveland Browns every week earlier.
It’s a relative weak spot price maintaining a tally of as they put together to play environment friendly operating groups such because the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins in December.
Ravens at Chargers
Sunday, Nov. 26, 8:20 p.m.
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Line: Ravens by 3 1/2