Another week, another WILD one for the Ravens. With the Vikings coming to town, I knew well enough to anticipate a weird one, and somehow I still underestimated the roller coaster I was about to be taken on. Dogshit first half, awesome 2nd half, and then they were able to do enough to be in the right spot at the end of OT for the GOAT to boot a 36-yarder for the dub. When you look at the box score (500 yards by Baltimore to 318, 36 first downs to 13, 89 plays to 52), you've got all the makings of a blowout, but the Vikings checked all the boxes for stealing a game on the road. Special teams touchdown, a couple of clutch turnovers, a coin flip pass interference that went their way on 4th and goal... this was very much a game that could have been stolen from the Ravens. I have a jumble of thoughts on this one so I'm just gonna toss them out there in bulletpoint form.
- Lamar Jackson played what was probably his worst half of the year until he was able to put together a massive touchdown drive at the end of the half. Such a monumental drive to grab some momentum and make the score a bit more manageable at halftime. He was missing throws consistently in the early going, but found his stride and was pretty much on fire in the 2nd half. He shouldered a huge load on the ground the entire game too, both by design and when dropping back to pass. I think that's a product of this battered offensive line and something we're gonna see a lot of the rest of the way this season. So be it. Most 100+ yard rushing games by a QB in NFL history and he's not even 25. What a king.
- Hollywood Brown is a full blown superstar. He's taken the next step this year. He's not just beating defenses by getting behind them, he's taking advantage of their fear of that skill. And he's inevitable too. He was quiet in the first half as Rashod Bateman got some opportunities, but the Vikings couldn't keep him out of it for too long. He was feasting in the 2nd half and OT, mostly by creating yards after catch on short and intermediate throws. Hard to imagine he's not going to become the first Ravens WR in HISTORY to ever make a Pro Bowl, and those two WR's are quickly becoming a problem (along with Mark Andrews) for the rest of the league.
- JT is the GOAT. Duh. I could listen to him talk about kicks all day.
- The Devin Duvernay catch was sick. I don't know that he'll ever be a guy that accumulates a ton of stats, but he's a fun weapon to have at our disposal and it was cool to see him make a big play.
- The defense as a whole is still worrisome. No question about that. We're failing to force turnovers, we're failing to sack the quarterback, and we continue to give up big plays. That first half was disgusting. With that said, they bounced back in a massive way in the 2nd half. It's plain to see that it all comes down to tackling. A lot of Wink Martindale's ability to throw exotic blitzes at opposing offenses has been handcuffed by the rash of injuries in the secondary. It's a lot easier to send the house when you have a guy like Marcus Peters blanketing receivers. The result of that is a ton of 2 deep and zone coverages, which gives up some opportunities underneath. In theory that's fine, as long as you TACKLE. When the Ravens defense has struggled, it tends to be due to poor tackling. Today was a great example of that. Bad tackling in the 1st half, bad defense. Good tackling in the 2nd half and OT, good defense. Simple as that.
- Tyus Bowser is a quiet hero on defense. The guy just does his job.
- Coverage wise, Anthony Averett and Marlon Humphrey each had bounce back days outside of the Jefferson TD. They gotta clean that one up. Can't ignore that play, but they played a lot of good football today otherwise. I'm hopeful they can carry that 2nd half performance moving forward because I think both these Bama guys have a chip on their shoulder after that Cincy loss.
- Did I mention JT is the GOAT?
- Stern and the coaching staff played a big part today too. 3 of 3 on 4th downs and I thought Greg Roman called a really good game. The run game was meh early, but they didn't abandon it entirely and he leaned on it appropriately down the stretch as the Vikings defense continued to grow more and more tired. Devonta Freeman and Leveon Bell each found more and more space as the game wore on. Credit to the piecemeal OL on that too.
- 6-2 and atop the AFC North? And tied for the top of the AFC with Tennessee? It's been a rocky road (and it's getting a bit rockier with DeShon Elliott being lost for the year), but you can't be displeased with where this team is in spite of that. I'd like to think they're simply a work in progress that's only going to get better as we get a few guys back and some of the more inexperienced guys get more and more reps. It's becoming increasingly clear that the AFC could be anyone's. Why not us?
That's all I got. Short week with a road trip to Miami on Thursday. Road game to Chicago after that and that should position us at 8-2 going into the conference gauntlet. Should be fun.