- On Monday Night Football, the Ravens defeated the New Orleans Saints 27-13 to record their third consecutive victory.
- The Ravens are currently 6-3 and maintain first place in the AFC North heading into a critical bye week.
Here are five reflections on the Ravens’ victory:
This squad is heading firmly upward.
This was the Ravens’ most overwhelming victory since their Week 1 victory over the Jets. For the second week in a row, supporters of the Baltimore Ravens did not need to take heart medication midway through the fourth quarter.
The Saint’s offense was limited to three drives and a season-low 243 yards for the whole game. Two Saints drives resulted in field goals, and the third, which nearly finished the game, resulted in a fortunate touchdown. Early on, Ravens players reported smelling an impending shutout and weren’t far off.
After their humiliating loss to the Miami Dolphins early in the season, the Ravens claimed they were better than their performance suggested. They are correct. This defense has been on an upward trend for a few weeks but is currently exploding.
Offensively, Lamar Jackson was still displeased with several missed opportunities after the game. Still, despite being without Mark Andrews, Rashod Bateman, and Gus Edwards, Baltimore performed so well, indicating the long-term potential. Bateman will not return this season, but the other two players could return following the bye week.
Given the current state of the ground game, the offense is difficult to stop anyway. The offensive line and fullback Patrick Ricard of the Baltimore Ravens are wearing down opponents and then breaking their will in the second half. The Ravens rushed for 188 yards and held possession for 15 minutes longer than the Saints. This is similar to the 2019 formula. Watch out if Baltimore’s passing game becomes even more effective.
The bye week is an ideal time for reflection and assessment. The Ravens are a strong squad with championship potential this season. The arrow points skyward.
Without superior weapons, Jackson distributes his wealth.
Jackson entered the game knowing that the Ravens’ offense would be run by a committee, given their absence of key offensive players. Jackson completed passes to ten unique receivers, none of whom had more than two catches (James Proche II and Demarcus Robinson). All 24 rookie tight end Isaiah Likely’s receiving yards came on a single touchdown reception.
Jackson completed 12 of 22 passes for 133 yards and one touchdown while attempting 22 passes. This doesn’t look great on paper, but the Ravens don’t need a high-flying passing attack to win the game. They require a practical and decisive passing offense. The Ravens were 9-of-15 on third down, and Jackson completed several crucial throws on third down to extend touchdown drives. Jackson took what the defense offered him on multiple occasions. It was advantageous that he did not attempt to force the ball down the field or into tight coverage.
The Ravens would prefer not to be without Andrews, Edwards, and Bateman. However, injuries can occur, and how a team and its backups respond can have a net positive effect.
John Harbaugh acknowledged that it could be advantageous if Jackson relies on some of his tertiary targets and they come through for him throughout a long season. Even when his top players return, Jackson needs his supporting cast to step up in crucial situations.
The fountain of youth was discovered by Justin Houston.
Justin Houston should not be doing this at the age of 33. At this point, pass rushers should be emptying their tanks, sputtering a few times but eventually coming to a stop. It seems that Houston was in this mindset entering the season, but it turns out the tank had more gas than everyone anticipated. When asked for an explanation, Houston pointed solely to God.
Houston is now tied for second in the NFL with 2 12 sacks, and his interception against the Saints was the icing on the cake. His pass rush has allowed Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald to blitz less frequently than his predecessor, as Baltimore’s four-person pressure is performing admirably.
When second-round rookie David Ojabo returns to the field, and Tyus Bowser gains additional game experience, the team will improve even further. It is only a matter of time before Odafe Oweh becomes hot. Andy Dalton was sacked four times by Baltimore, but it felt like a lot more.
Already, the Roquan Smith deal appears to be an A+.
The evaluation of the Ravens’ deal for linebacker Roquan Smith did not require half of football. It receives an A+. Alvin Kamara, the Saints, rushing back, was one of the game’s most dynamic players, and Smith regularly trailed him. After scoring three touchdowns last week, Kamara was limited to 30 rushing yards, 32 receiving yards, and no scores this week.
The blow Smith delivered on Kamara for no gain on third-and-1 early in the game was a resounding declaration that he had improved Baltimore’s defense. He concluded the game with five tackles, matching the third-most on the squad. The bye week affords the Raven’s additional respite, but witnessing Smith and Patrick Queen destroy the Saints’ offensive line will cause opposing coordinators to lose sleep.
Smith’s teammates were quite impressed with his mastery of the Ravens’ defense during the week of preparation, and his performance on Monday night further strengthened their faith. Calais Campbell and Queen reported that he inspires greater confidence on the pitch. The 2019 trade deadline acquisition of Marcus Peters was a massive coup for the Ravens. The Smith transaction is proceeding in the same direction.