With the Ravens squandering a 17-point lead in a 23-20 defeat to Buffalo on Sunday afternoon, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. Lamar Jackson and Baltimore haven’t played particularly well in poor conditions since 2019 when they bested San Francisco in what many anticipated being a Super Bowl preview. That’s hardly a referendum on Jackson’s greatness, but it is relevant for an AFC North team wanting to take the next step.
2. The Ravens had been blanked in the second half of a game only one other time in the Jackson era with the first being the 2020 divisional round loss to the Bills. With some key players sidelined, Buffalo defensive coordinator — and onetime Ravens assistant — Leslie Frazier deserves plenty of credit.
3. Opinions remain split on John Harbaugh’s fourth-down decision, but a delay of game penalty transforming a 46-yard field goal try into a 51-yarder and burning a second-half timeout challenging a spot — which is rarely ever successful — were less forgivable offenses. You can’t have such shortcomings in that kind of game.
4. You had to feel good for J.K. Dobbins reaching the end zone twice playing in front of his first full home crowd in his NFL career. He’s not back to his pre-injury form, but Dobbins is still making meaningful contributions, which is want you want to see.
5. That said, Justice Hill was clearly more explosive, making his fourth-quarter hamstring injury a tough development for a ground attack still finding its way. You wonder how Hill could have impacted the remainder of the game after gaining 36 yards in the early stages of that final drive.
6. Jason Pierre-Paul playing 55 snaps after only a few practices and not being with a team all spring and summer was pretty remarkable, but it speaks to how desperate the Ravens are on the edge. The 33-year-old didn’t make any splash plays, but he looked like he belonged.
7. Justin Madubuike continued to be a bright spot for a maligned defense with a tackle for a loss and two tipped passes in Sunday’s defeat. Pro Football Focus has graded him as the ninth-best interior defensive lineman in the NFL through four weeks. He’s showing more consistency.
8. Exonerated by the likes of Harbaugh and Calais Campbell for his late-game tackle, Odafe Oweh put together his best game of the season with a sack, a forced fumble, and a team-high seven tackles. He still left some plays on the field, but it was a good step.
9. Though not the easiest catch, Rashod Bateman failing to corral a third-down slant midway through the third quarter and Stefon Diggs making an outstanding 23-yard grab immediately after the punt was a microcosm of what frustrates me about the Ravens’ philosophy of just trying to get by at wide receiver.
10. Patrick Queen becoming an every-down linebacker was supposed to be a positive development, but it mostly speaks to having few options at inside linebacker. Queen is an effective blitzer, but the 2020 first-round pick still leaves too many plays on the field, including an interception for a second straight week.
11. The Ravens entered Week 4 with the fewest penalties in the NFL before committing nine for 70 yards, three of them from Tyler Linderbaum. The rookie center had some shaky snaps in the rain, but he’s still played quite well overall since the season opener.
12. You never want to see a player needing to be restrained from his coach, but I suspect Marcus Peters and Harbaugh will be OK. If not, it’s a potential sign that the team culture isn’t as strong as the Ravens boast since Peters is well-regarded in the locker room.