With the Ravens narrowly avoiding an upset home loss in a 10-9 victory over Denver on Sunday afternoon, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. Lamar Jackson got up slowly, but it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary until he was suddenly in the medical tent to start the second quarter. Broncos edge rusher Jonathon Cooper had no clue he was hurt, but another December leg injury is a concerning development for Jackson and Baltimore.
2. The collective defensive effort was impressive with no one standing out as an AFC Defensive Player of the Week candidate and nearly everyone making meaningful contributions at some point during the game. A good defense certainly delivered against a lousy offense.
3. Even with four completions of 19-plus yards, the Broncos did not reach the red zone all afternoon and went 2-for-12 on third down, a credit to how the Ravens defense performed in a close game. Holding Denver to a field goal after the third-quarter interception was crucial.
4. Despite the strong overall performance, you’d like to see the two-minute defense tighten up after giving up a field goal before intermission and the 63-yard attempt. Baltimore also surrendered a score at the end of each half in Jacksonville. This was an early-season issue that had seemingly been cleaned up.
5. It doesn’t get much better than the pump fake and throw Tyler Huntley made on the 13-yard completion to Kenyan Drake to set up the game-winning touchdown. We haven’t seen the backup push the ball downfield much as an NFL passer, but that was a tremendous play.
6. Russell Wilson posted his second-highest marks of the season in completion percentage, yards per pass attempt, and passer rating as well as his highest QBR. The nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback looked fine on Sunday, but it speaks to how brutal his first season in Denver has been.
7. Few play calls in Ravens history have been as universally panned as James Proche trying to throw an end-zone pass to a running back inside field-goal range with 12 minutes remaining. Greg Roman and John Harbaugh both deserve criticism for that fiasco in the midst of a “grind” game.
8. Grinding out a win proves more difficult with running backs combining to gain just 43 yards on 14 carries, continuing post-bye concerns about the ground game. Then again, it’s easier for opponents to focus on stopping the run when the passing game isn’t any kind of a consistent threat.
9. Kick coverage rarely garners much attention, but Kevon Seymour and Daryl Worley combined for four tackles on special teams as Denver began only one drive outside its own 24-yard line, the exception being a result of Huntley’s interception. This was pivotal in a low-scoring game.
10. Jordan Stout played a big part in winning the field position battle with five of his six punts ending up inside the 20. It’s been an inconsistent season for the rookie selected in the fourth round, but he had a strong afternoon.
11. Wilson’s 30-yard completion to Greg Dulcich with 6:45 remaining increased Denver’s win probability to 85.7%, per ESPN. But instead of simply aiming for a first down or two and a field goal to go up nine, Wilson threw unsuccessful deep balls on both second and third down. Baffling.
12. After suffering all four of their losses in the last two minutes, the Ravens didn’t lead until the final 28 seconds. Their streak of holding a two-score lead in every contest may have ended, but flipping the script at the end had to feel good — even in an ugly game.