Whew, what an ugly one.
Ravens had little to no gas today. They've played 7 games now and I'd go as far as to say that was their worst game to date. Even though they've lost 3 games, you can make a case that in each of those games there were flashes, signs of a team capable of accomplishing a whole lot more. Those losses were frustrating as all hell, but at least they had played dominant halves in those games that reaffirmed the team's potential. Today wasn't exactly that.
It feels childish to complain after a loss. Especially after they've been so hard to come by in the late going. The Ravens established a 10 point lead yet again early in the 4th quarter and were staring straight down the barrel of another collapse. Throughout the game they didn't do a whole lot to consistently stop the Browns on the ground (Chubb went 16 for 91 and a touchdown) or thru the air (Brisset went 22 of 27 for 258).
The collapse felt inevitable but they did… believe it or not I will admit, they did… benefit from some beneficial officiating there down the stretch. It's not to the tune of what my good associate Ohio's Tate will tell you - the OPI call was no less egregious than a PI called against Marcus Peters earlier in the game and the long snapper did pick up the ball in an attempt to draw guys offsides (a tactic that long-time former Ravens longsnapper Morgan Cox has fessed to doing on my own podcast, and been called on)… but nevertheless those are calls that I'd be bitching at my TV about and I feel like they've been going against the Ravens all year. Sucks for the Browns, but I won't apologize for falling on the right side of that for once.
Buried in all of this was a miserable game from Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews. Even when Lamar plays poorly, you can generally count on 89 getting his… he got nothing today. Like literally, nothing. He caught zero balls. Had a short yardage plunge for 4 yards on the ground and even made this sweet toss to Lamar on the funnest wrinkle I can remember in the Greg Roman era
But other than that… zippy. Really bizarre. Lamar made a really great throw down the sideline to Duvernay to start the day and then did virtually nothing else. He was harassed as much as I've ever seen by pass-rushers in the 1st half, and it felt like that tentativeness to try to throw downfield carried over into the 2nd half. Lamar had some key carries in that 2nd half, but nothing to write home about.
That's not to say there weren't some bright spots out there. Gus Edwards… BEEP BEEP… the Bus is back in a big way. Two tuddies and a whole lot of yardage on 1st down to set up some shorts sticks. He looked every part of the old bus and that is such a good sight to see. It was actually confounding to not see him out there down the stretch when the carries got to be far more important. Kenyan Drake was maybe the best player on the offensive side of the ball last week against the Giants, but he was horrible today and kept getting fed in the 4th quarter. Justice Hill showed his now-usual burst, but his fumble late in the 4th could've easily cost us the game. The RB by committee is well and good when you ride the hot hand, but we didn't ride the bus when it was in 4th gear today. I get trying to keep his snap count in check coming off a long-term injury, but this team needed this win too badly not to throw that out the window. Next time… feed the Bus.
Patrick Queen played an awesome game too. Flew around the football and was constantly in the backfield. Calais Campbell at 6'8 and 36 years old should not be making sick plays like this strip sack (this angle doesn't do the play full justice)…
…but he's out here making impact plays. And Justin Tucker… what else is there to say? 55 yards into the tougher side of this stadium (which statistically is one of the tougher stadiums to kick in, that paired with JT's success is not talked about nearly enough) and he absolutely split it to give the team the 10-point lead it would eventually hold.
On the other side, gotta dap Malik Harrison for getting a paw on that Cade York FG attempt. There's been times the last couple years where I ask myself why that guy is still on the roster. Not because he's not capable of being an NFL player but it just didn't feel like there was a spot for him with what this defense was trying to accomplish against today's pass-heavy offenses. But I think Mikey Mac, as much flack as he's taken and a lot of that is justified, has used him effectively as a run-stopper whereas other linebackers have struggled with that. He's been around the football a lot more this year and it's good to see him make a big play.
Big picture… we're 4-3 and on top of the division. Those are things you like to see, but there's plenty of questions unanswered with a short week coming at Tampa. That team looked like dogshit against a bad team today, so who the hell knows what kind of game we're in for there. Would love to win it. Opportunity szn.
Lastly, big shoutout to this guy for bringing the juice this morning when the rest of the team didn't.
Onwards. Jump on the Bus and let's ride.