With the Ravens losing their first season opener since 2015 in a 33-27 overtime final at Las Vegas on Monday, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. Both sides of the ball deserve blame, but most would have taken 27 points from the offense after the many challenges that group faced all summer. Baltimore surrendered 30 or more points just three times all last season. The Raiders could only be stopped by themselves late in the game.
2. I understood the long-term play in trading Orlando Brown Jr., but my concern was sacrificing too much on the present offensive line that already had issues a year ago. First-round pick Odafe Oweh had a promising debut, but replacing Brown with Alejandro Villanueva sounded more promising in the offseason.
3. Maxx Crosby completely overwhelmed Villanueva, but does it make you feel any better that Crosby was drafted 21 picks after Jaylon Ferguson and 13 spots after Miles Boykin in 2019? You could see why the Raiders made former fourth overall pick Clelin Ferrell a healthy scratch on Monday night.
4. Offensive line woes overshadowed how well Marquise Brown and Sammy Watkins played as the pair combined to make 10 catches for 165 yards and a touchdown on 14 targets. If the Ravens can keep those two healthy and get Rashod Bateman on the field, this receiver group has potential.
5. Lamar Jackson knows losing two late fumbles is unacceptable, but his scramble and touchdown to Brown in the second quarter and gorgeous 49-yard completion to Watkins in the fourth were as impressive as any plays made by a quarterback in Week 1. His consistency waned as the night progressed, however.
6. The defense was effective early with jamming and playing underneath coverage against Darren Waller, who caught just one pass for 13 yards on seven targets in the opening quarter. Of course, that didn’t last as Jon Gruden did an excellent job moving him around. What a weapon.
7. Waller’s versatility made it difficult for Wink Martindale to use Tavon Young in the slot. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound corner struggled in his return with two pass interference penalties on third downs — though I’d like to see a more definitive replay of the second call — and played only 24 snaps.
8. Ty’Son Williams seeing all of three touches in the second half was curious. There was a botched mesh point with him and Jackson in the second quarter, but how many meaningful reps was a running back so low on the depth chart getting with the star quarterback until recently?
9. The only thing stopping Yannick Ngakoue was a second-half hamstring injury as he blew past Ronnie Stanley several times and looked like the edge rusher the Ravens thought they were getting in last year’s trade. You wonder how a full preseason to get acclimated would have helped him here.
10. We always overreact to Week 1, and such a loss wouldn’t fell as concerning in October. Still, you worry about a team’s psyche between the injuries and a meeting with Kansas City looming. It didn’t take long for the 2015 Ravens to feel snakebitten and have their season fall apart.
11. It was a tough break for Marlon Humphrey not realizing he had an interception in his hands on his pass breakup against Waller late in the first quarter. The only one who apparently recognized it was Raiders slot receiver Hunter Renfrow.
12. Can you imagine the headlines if Willie Snead had caught the game-winning touchdown on just one of the two offensive snaps he played against his former team? What a wild play and finish. ESPN has to be appealing to the NFL for more Ravens games on Monday Night Football.