With the Ravens prevailing in a dramatic 19-17 win in Detroit on Sunday to improve to 2-1 on the season, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. Continuing Justin Tucker Appreciation Week, it’s amazing to note that he’s made all 16 of his career attempts in the final minute of regulation and now converted 49 consecutive tries in the fourth quarter. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t drafted or immediately signed upon trying out in 2012.
2. The Ravens absolutely got away with a delay of game before the record kick, but they still would have had seven seconds to try to regain those five yards. I’m also baffled how replay overturned D’Andre Swift’s botched lateral that should have given Baltimore the ball on the Detroit 39.
3. There’s no sugarcoating a brutal day for Marquise Brown, who couldn’t corral a contested end-zone throw early in the second quarter and flat out dropped a pair of beautiful deep passes for possible touchdowns late in the first half. Not allowing those drops to snowball will be the mental challenge.
4. Those drops stunted Lamar Jackson’s excellent passing day, particularly in the first half. His 2021 numbers appear unremarkable at first glance, but Jackson is averaging a career-high 8.7 yards per pass attempt and 10.9 intended air yards per attempt, reflecting his willingness to push the ball down the field.
5. Considering how shorthanded the front seven was, you’d gladly accept surrendering 17 points if it hadn’t again carried such a Jekyll and Hyde feeling with a strong first half and a poor second half. The tackling was again pretty lousy with no shortage of starters among the guilty.
6. The inside linebackers continue to trend in the wrong direction with struggles in pass coverage and tackling problems. Though Patrick Queen still played all but one snap, Wink Martindale working both Chris Board and Josh Bynes into the mix with Malik Harrison was telling. Sam linebacker Tyus Bowser also struggled.
7. Going a combined 2-for-11 on third and fourth downs isn’t going to cut it most weeks, but those conversions came on the touchdown pass to Devin Duvernay on third-and-18 and the game-saving 36-yard completion to Sammy Watkins on fourth-and-19. Jackson showed outstanding composure on those plays.
8. Despite showing commendable fight, the Lions showed why they’re the Lions on multiple occasions, ranging from pre-snap penalties on fourth-and-1 plays to inexplicably calling timeout to give a Ravens offense circling the drain a chance to regroup for the desperate fourth-and-19. Greg Roman changed his play call with that break.
9. With veterans Jamie Collins and Trey Flowers inactive and a couple other linebackers banged up, Detroit looked to be vulnerable to the run on paper, but ball carriers not named Jackson averaged just 3.9 yards per carry on 15 attempts. Ty’Son Williams getting only five touches was surprising.
10. Chuck Clark had an excellent day with a team-high 12 tackles and a sack. He was also part of the collaborative effort to limit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson to just two catches for 10 yards. Clark becomes even more important with DeShon Elliott now dealing with a quad issue.
11. You thought John Harbaugh might have challenged Kalif Raymond’s 19-yard catch with 3:17 to go to avoid having 12 men on the field, but the Ravens apparently saw an angle “where the point of the ball hit the ground and the ball moved.” Burning that timeout was almost a killer.
12. You could literally change one play in any of the first three games to reverse the outcomes. The Ravens could easily be 3-0 or 0-3. Yes, they have areas in clear need of improvement, but you couldn’t ask for a more exciting start to the season. Are you not entertained?