With the Ravens winning their third straight game and clinching their fourth consecutive winning season in a 40-14 victory over Jacksonville on Sunday, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. In the first half, the Baltimore defense held the Jaguars to 2.1 yards per play, collected four sacks and a safety, and pressured Gardner Minshew on 50 percent of his dropbacks, according to Pro Football Focus. Wink Martindale clearly wanted to harass a quarterback making his first start since October.
2. Yannick Ngakoue downplayed the significance of playing his old team last week, but his long glare toward the Jacksonville sideline after sacking Minshew late in the first half said it all. The former Maryland star had his best game as a Raven and is looking more comfortable in this defense.
3. Three of the five Ravens cornerbacks active on Sunday weren’t even with the organization on Halloween, speaking to how challenging injuries have been at the position. Anthony Averett went from being a healthy scratch against Cleveland last week to starting and playing every defensive snap. He performed well too.
4. It’s been an up-and-down season for rookie first-round pick Patrick Queen, but he was terrific in the first half with a sack, two other tackles for a loss, and an additional quarterback hit. Queen played downhill with confidence, showing off his athleticism at the inside linebacker position.
5. Greg Roman has been criticized for the passing game struggles, but he deserves credit for calling more counters, sweeps, and runs to the edge to rejuvenate the rushing attack. Motioning J.K. Dobbins from the slot to take handoffs continues to give defenses problems.
6. Marquise Brown’s 28-yard catch and run, Miles Boykin’s 4-yard touchdown catch, and Mark Andrews’ acrobatic 27-yard reception were all examples of receivers making good adjustments to their quarterback’s throws. Whether you’re Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Joe Flacco, or Tom Brady, you need pass catchers to make plays for you.
7. You had to chuckle at the sight of a masked John Harbaugh picking the grass out of Dobbins’ face mask while undoubtedly lecturing the running back about his fumble to close the first quarter. Dobbins continues to excel, but he’s fumbled in back-to-back games, which won’t please his head coach.
8. After being a healthy scratch last week, Jaylon Ferguson whiffed on a great opportunity to sack Minshew and later committed a roughing the passer penalty that negated L.J. Fort’s interception return for a touchdown. That had to be a long jog to the sideline with Harbaugh waiting.
9. The Jaguars defense leaving yards of unoccupied grass around Dobbins and Brown on consecutive check-downs was a bold strategy late in the second quarter. That first half honestly felt more like a varsity-junior varsity scrimmage than an NFL game.
10. Gus Edwards catching the second-longest pass of the game on a deep ball down the middle isn’t something you would have expected to see on Sunday. Jackson did an excellent job going through his progressions and continuing to look downfield while extending plays with his legs.
11. Tyre Phillips collecting a fumble and lumbering 22 yards for a first down may have been my favorite play of the year. It just needed the Chris Berman sound effects. Jaguars kicker Aldrick Rosas scooping up a bad snap and miraculously punting the ball across midfield was entertaining as well.
12. Seeing the enthusiasm from Jackson and others on the sideline watching undrafted rookie quarterback Tyler Huntley was a reminder of the brotherhood and work that goes into being professionals. You had to feel good for Huntley getting to show his talents in his first game action since college.