Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson entered Thursday’s pivotal AFC North showdown with a 7-1 file towards the Cincinnati Bengals, and tight finish Mark Andrews was a giant purpose why.
Jackson’s capacity to depend on Andrews, the sign caller’s safety blanket, has been essential in video games towards the division rival. Andrews had scored seven touchdowns in his 10 profession regular-season video games towards the Bengals, together with one in every of his previous three.
It appeared Thursday could be extra of the identical, as Jackson hit Andrews for a 14-yard reception on the sport’s first play and later discovered him for a 9-yard catch within the crimson zone. But Andrews suffered an ankle damage on the play that knocked him out of the sport — and certain will for the season — forcing the Ravens’ much-discussed broad receiver corps to step up.
That it did, serving to lead Baltimore to a 34-20 win.
Odell Beckham Jr. had his first 100-yard recreation as a Raven, stacking a 3rd straight impactful week after lacking two video games earlier this season due to damage and failing to file a catch in Week 8. Zay Flowers had an extended landing — maybe probably the most spectacular by a Raven this season — known as again by a questionable penalty. Rashod Bateman scored his first landing of the season to increase the Ravens’ lead. And Nelson Agholor was in the proper place on the proper time for a rating of his personal.
“The guys in the receivers room, we were due for a big game, so I’m just happy for all of them,” Beckham stated. “There is a lot of hard work that goes into it.”
Replacing Andrews will probably be no straightforward process, however coach John Harbaugh stated the trouble from his wideouts is a blueprint.
“You say next man up, it’s not just the next player in that position, it’s all the men, it’s all the players stepping up and filling that,” Harbaugh stated. “To replace a player like Mark Andrews, it’s going to take everybody. It’s going to take a team to do it, and our guys will be up for the challenge and up for the task, but those receivers are obviously going to be a big part of that.”
Jackson wasn’t as jovial as he’d usually be after a double-digit win over a division foe. He stated dropping Andrews for the season is “very tough” and acknowledged it’s a major loss for the offense, calling the tight finish the offense’s “receiver [No.] 1 sometimes.”
“That’s the guy who I entered the league with,” Jackson stated. “We’ve been bread and butter, peanut butter and jelly — whatever you want to call it. It’s very tough, because that’s my boy.”
But Jackson additionally expressed his perception that the Ravens have the instruments to interchange Andrews within the mixture. Bolstering the quarterback’s broad receiving corps was some extent of emphasis this offseason, because the crew signed Beckham to a $15 million contract, drafted Flowers within the first spherical and in addition introduced in Agholor by way of free company.
“We have guys who are going to step up,” Jackson stated.
Beckham didn’t attain the tip zone Thursday, however he led the receivers in receptions (4) and yards (116). The 31-year-old scored his first landing of the season in Week 9 towards the Detroit Lions and located the tip zone once more Sunday versus the Cleveland Browns. He has extra yards over the previous three video games (212) than he did by Week 8.
Beckham, who has torn his ACL twice, stated accidents like Andrews’ are the “hardest part about this game.”
“It’s just tough, so just as brothers, you’ve got to be there for him,” stated Beckham, who additionally left with a shoulder damage that he and Harbaugh stated isn’t severe. “I’ve been by it; it’s not straightforward. It’s very unlucky. It’s a giant hit for this crew. Mark has been an integral a part of this crew since [he] and Lamar have been right here.
“So, we’ve just got to find a way to step up.”
Beckham’s final 100-yard recreation within the common season got here in October 2019 when he was with the Browns. His 116 yards Thursday had been his most since October 2018 when he performed for the New York Giants.
Jackson stated he believes his chemistry with Beckham is on the verge of “skyrocketing,” whereas Beckham stated Thursday was one other “step in the right direction.”
The first massive play from a receiver got here from Flowers, whose 33-yard catch-and-run broke a Ravens rookie file. That catch was the 51st of Flowers’ season, breaking Torrey Smith’s franchise mark of fifty. Flowers, who caught three passes for 43 yards, is on tempo for 81 receptions and 908 yards.
The greatest play from a Ravens wideout Thursday didn’t rely, as Flowers took a display screen move from Jackson, wove between a couple of Bengals defenders and outran the remainder to the tip zone for what gave the impression to be a 68-yard rating. But Beckham was known as for a maintain, negating what would’ve been Flowers’ second profession rating.
“I’m still upset about the blocking [penalty],” Beckham stated. “You can score all the touchdowns in the world, but we talk about that moment where you spring the block for your boy to score, your brother to score. It’s unfortunate. I was the happiest, just seeing [Flowers] on the Jumbotron, running and scoring.”
The doubtful holding name didn’t damage the Ravens, although, because of Agholor — and a little bit of luck.
With the Ravens trailing 10-7 within the second quarter, Jackson’s third-down move try was tipped into the air by a Bengals linebacker. The ball deflected proper into Agholor’s fingers, and the 30-year-old sprinted for a 37-yard rating — doing a entrance flip into the tip zone.
“He needs to give me some tips on how to do the flip, because last time I did it, I hurt my butt when I landed,” Jackson stated with fun, referencing his try at it in Baltimore’s win over the Kansas City Chiefs in 2021. “He needs to give me some lessons, because he did a whole somersault. That was crazy.”
Two minutes later, Jackson led a two-minute drive that ended with one other landing on third down. Bateman, whose season started in a vogue just like Beckham’s, sprung open in the long run zone for a 10-yard rating — his first since Week 2 final season.
“You just need those things to get that monkey off your back, and I’m just so happy for him — just to see him smile,” Beckham stated.
Jackson, regardless of enjoying by a bothered ankle, bounced again from his poor efficiency Sunday for among the finest passing video games of his season (16-of-26 for 264 yards and two touchdowns). But he was even higher when concentrating on his wideouts. His 14 targets to Beckham, Flowers, Agholor and Bateman resulted in 9 catches for 206 yards and each scores.
“That’s what we wanted,” Harbaugh stated. “You want to be able to spread it around [and] give Lamar [Jackson] options like that.”
Without Andrews, the Ravens will want extra of what they acquired towards the Bengals from each Jackson and their receivers. Jackson will probably be with out his trusted good friend for the remainder of the season, however Thursday may need proved he’s received much more out broad.