With the Ravens improving to 4-1 with their 27-3 victory over Cincinnati on Sunday, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. Baltimore ranks fifth in the NFL in both yards per carry allowed (3.7) and rushing yards allowed per game (92.0) after limiting the Bengals to 2.5 yards per carry and a long run of seven yards. That offseason objective of addressing the run defense is certainly paying off.
2. Lamar Jackson was 8-for-13 for 76 yards after his second touchdown pass to open the second quarter. He went 11-for-24 for 104 yards and an interception the rest of the way and was lucky not to have two or three more picks. But why continue throwing with a sizable lead?
3. John Harbaugh anticipates his quarterback practicing all week, but it’s impossible to argue that Jackson’s sore knee wasn’t a factor after he ran only twice. He rushed more times than that in six of his first nine NFL games when he was still backing up Joe Flacco.
4. Jackson and Mark Andrews were among the offensive players visibly frustrated on the sideline as Sunday’s game progressed. After scoring on their first three possessions, the Ravens turned the ball over on downs, punted four times, threw an interception, and went 1-for-2 on field goals over their next eight drives.
5. Even on their best drive covering 62 yards and consuming more than seven minutes, Baltimore had to go 5-for-5 on third downs before Jackson’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Andrews. Even when productive, it’s rarely looked as easy for the Ravens as it did last year.
6. Acknowledging the need for more consistency on offense, the Ravens entered Monday tied with Kansas City for eighth in points per game and first in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric for overall team efficiency. They’ve now scored at least 20 points in 28 consecutive regular-season games. Remember to enjoy the ride.
7. Stephon Gilmore was only the second cornerback of the last 25 years to win AP Defensive Player of the Year, meaning Marlon Humphrey faces a steep climb despite teammates’ endorsements. Still, Humphrey has helped force a turnover in each of Baltimore’s four wins. His ability to force fumbles is remarkable.
8. Based on what we’ve learned about his friendship with Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, I had to wonder if Patrick Queen enjoyed walloping his former LSU teammate and forcing a fumble more than scoring a touchdown later in the game. This could be a fun little rivalry in the coming years.
9. The Ravens couldn’t have been happy with Cincinnati kicking a field goal just to avoid the shutout, but Harbaugh challenging a spot with less than seven minutes left and a 27-point lead was probably what those defensive players who really wanted the shutout will remember. Their coach had their backs.
10. Devin Duvernay and J.K. Dobbins touched the ball a total of seven times and gained 114 yards. Greg Roman must find ways to get these rookies the football more often when veteran options aren’t making plays.
11. After being limited with a lingering knee injury against Washington, Jimmy Smith was back to playing a regular outside corner spot in the nickel, but the more interesting development was in the dime package. Elevated from the practice squad, veteran safety Marcus Gilchrist played 20 defensive snaps.
12. A.J. Green is a seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver and has had a great career, but his effort both before and after the Marcus Peters interception looked questionable at best in real time and downright embarrassing upon further review. What the heck was that?