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Ravens’ ugly win over Carolina soon to be forgotten — and that’s OK 

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Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke Jones is the Ravens and Orioles beat reporter for WNST BaltimorePositive.com and is a PFWA member. His mind is consumed with useless sports knowledge, pro wrestler promos, and movie quotes, but he struggles to remember where he put his phone. Luke's favorite sports memories include being one of the thousands of kids who waited to get Cal Ripken's autograph after Orioles games in the summer of 1995, attending the Super Bowl XXXV victory parade with his father in the pouring rain, and watching the Terps advance to the Final Four at the Carrier Dome in 2002. Follow him on Twitter @BaltimoreLuke or email him at Luke@wnst.net.

BALTIMORE — The Ravens were supposed to beat Carolina on Sunday and did — even if it was much closer than expected for most of the game.

The Baltimore defense was outstanding in the 13-3 win, holding the last-place Panthers to just 3.8 yards per play and 2.1 yards per carry and forcing three fourth-quarter turnovers. Inside linebackers Patrick Queen and Roquan Smith were all over the field with a combined 19 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks while cornerback Marlon Humphrey was terrific in coverage. Regardless of Sunday’s opponent, it’s a defense that continues moving in the right direction, which bodes well for the remainder of the season.

But there wasn’t much else to say about a choppy win that will soon be forgotten, and that’s OK. It sure beats losing to one of the NFC’s worst teams, something that would have been remembered and appeared entirely possible until Lamar Jackson’s 1-yard touchdown run with 7:16 to play in the game. 

The Ravens offense was mostly along for the ride on Sunday, registering its lowest point total of the season against a Carolina defense ranking in the league’s bottom third in most statistical categories this season. You’d like to see a more inspiring showing from Greg Roman’s offense coming out of the bye week, but the Ravens went 6-for-15 on third down and 1-for-4 inside the red zone and couldn’t find their running game until the fourth quarter. Veteran wide receiver Demarcus Robinson was the bright spot with a career-high nine catches for 128 yards on nine targets, but Jackson otherwise looked indecisive in the pocket, averaging 6.3 yards per attempt and throwing an interception to sink a promising drive early in the second quarter. To say this passing game remains a work in progress is putting it mildly.

The only touchdown of the game came after a fumble forced by Marcus Peters gave Baltimore the ball on Carolina’s 31-yard line with just over eight minutes to go. That’s not going to get it done most weeks, but it did on Sunday. 

“That’s November, December football — you just find a way to win to get in the playoffs. That’s what it’s all about right now,” said Jackson, who credited the Ravens defense for picking up the slack. “Some of them are going to be ugly. Some of them are going to be pretty.

“But a win is a win.”

The Ravens scoring just 13 points was more surprising than the Panthers managing only a single field goal, but it still resulted in their fourth straight victory to maintain a one-game lead over Cincinnati in the AFC North.

Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield had no answers against his old division foe as he was sacked four times and averaged just 5.9 yards per pass attempt. But overwhelming the ex-Cleveland Brown — who was arguably the NFL’s worst starting quarterback before Carolina fired head coach Matt Rhule and benched Mayfield last month — isn’t going to garner much attention around the league, especially on a day when Dallas held a previously 8-1 Minnesota team to three points in a surprising blowout win on the road. 

Unfortunately, the most consequential story of the day was the status of starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley (left ankle) and rookie safety — and primary nickel back — Kyle Hamilton (left knee), who left with injuries in the third quarter and didn’t return. Head coach John Harbaugh had “nothing there to report” on either after the game, but Stanley hurting the same ankle that required multiple surgeries and sidelined him for the better part of two years is reason for concern until the Ravens confirm otherwise.

“I went in the locker room after the game, and I checked on him, but he said he’s pretty good,” said Jackson, who was driven into the back of Stanley’s ankle on a third-and-long sack. “He told me just don’t fall into him. It was me who hurt him, so I’m a little [ticked] off about that, but he’s good. That’s all that matters.” 

All that mattered about the game itself was getting the victory — even if it wasn’t pretty. 

After much discussion about a favorable second-half schedule and an improving health picture, Sunday reminded the Ravens how fleeting such ideas can be in the week-to-week NFL. 

“We came out of the bye week, and I’d say everybody was a little sleepy,” right guard Kevin Zeitler said. “Nobody on either side of the ball was truly executing up to our standard. And huge shoutout to the defense in the second half making big plays, bringing us some juice and energy. We were finally able to take advantage and get some things going.”

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