With the Ravens winning their first game against Kansas City since 2012 in a 36-35 classic on Sunday night, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. The forced fumble and recovery from Odafe Oweh was the defensive play of the night, but his jam on Travis Kelce and hit to force the first September interception of Patrick Mahomes’ career showcased his athleticism. The rookie led all Baltimore edge rushers in snaps, which says plenty already.
2. Credit Wink Martindale for altering his approach by blitzing less and often sending a delayed fourth rusher, but he has to be concerned with the tackling issues to go with the injuries. It’s early, but the Ravens rank 25th in yards per pass attempt allowed and 30th in points allowed.
3. Cris Collinsworth’s comment that Lamar Jackson “looks like a grownup playing with kids sometimes” was the perfect description of how effortless Jackson makes it look running the football. His end-zone flip made me nervous, but it wasn’t exactly Ozzie Smith’s running flip on the concrete-like turf at Busch Stadium.
4. Alejandro Villanueva was Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded Raven, which is quite a compliment after his disastrous opener at right tackle. John Harbaugh’s comments on Ronnie Stanley and praise for Villanueva at left tackle and Patrick Mekari at right tackle make you wonder if that’s what we’re going to see indefinitely.
5. Marquise Brown has eight touchdowns in his last eight regular-season games and is looking more like a go-to guy with PFF grading him third among all qualified wide receivers through two weeks. The 24-year-old is also averaging 6.9 yards after the catch, up from his previous career average of 4.8.
6. Asked Monday if the neck injury to Brandon Williams was considered minor, Harbaugh said, “I think so” without adding further detail. Veteran backup Justin Ellis will be ready to fill in if necessary, but we know the history of the run defense’s struggles when Williams is sidelined.
7. Other than getting pass-happy ahead of Jackson’s second interception, Greg Roman called an excellent game with plenty of heavy personnel to help the offensive line as the Ravens rushed for 251 yards and 6.1 yards per carry. Chiefs defensive end Chris Jones probably wishes he had stayed at defensive tackle.
8. Acknowledging Kansas City is a very difficult matchup, Sunday night wasn’t much of an endorsement for the growth of Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison in pass coverage. Queen flashes high-end traits, but you’d like to see him react far more quickly in coverage.
9. Trailing by seven and facing a first-and-25 from their own 21 with 40 seconds left in the first half, the Ravens still managed to score three points before intermission, which was big considering Kansas City received to open the third quarter. You can’t give up on possessions against the Chiefs.
10. A penalty may have saved the Ravens as Nick Moore’s hold likely prevented a blocked punt late in the third quarter. You’d rather not mess up the protection, of course, but the Chiefs taking over inside the 15 and already holding a 35-24 lead may have been all she wrote.
11. In contrast to Harbaugh’s critical fourth-down decision, Mike Tomlin elected to punt on fourth-and-1 from his own 34 with Pittsburgh down two scores and 8:36 remaining. No disrespect meant to a potential Hall of Fame coach, but there’s playing to win, playing not to lose, and waving the white flag.
12. Sunday’s win will go down as one of the great regular-season games in Ravens history and may prove to be a defining moment of the Jackson era, but another Week 2 thriller 21 years ago that changed everything for the franchise still tops the list. If you know, you know.