With the Ravens improving to 2-0 in AFC North play and 4-3 overall in a 23-20 win over Cleveland on Sunday afternoon, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. Gus Edwards picked up a first down or scored a touchdown on five of his 16 carries in his first game since the end of the 2020 season. No Baltimore player had registered more than 13 carries in a game all season. You think the Ravens missed their short-yardage back?
2. Speaking of returns, Justin Houston made a major difference with multiple pressures and sacks on back-to-back plays that knocked Cleveland out of field-goal range late in the first half. He’s been this team’s best edge rusher by a wide margin so far in 2022.
3. Protection was shaky and using a ton of heavy personnel limits your passing concepts, but Lamar Jackson had another so-so day throwing the ball. The Ravens need another impact target, but there were some plays to be made on which Jackson didn’t pull the trigger. He protected the football, however.
4. How often is a false start — or offside — call as critical as on that final field goal attempt? The difference between a 50- and 60-yard try is obvious, but I’m more curious to know whether Cleveland would have gone for a fourth-and-1 to try to go win it in regulation.
5. Since going 8-for-10 scoring touchdowns inside the red zone over their first three games of the season, the Ravens have gone just 6-for-14 over the last four contests. Stalled drives are becoming a real source of frustration for this offense — and the fan base.
6. Patrick Queen has drawn no shortage of criticism over his brief career, but the third-year inside linebacker has played some of his best football over the last three games. Week-to-week consistency remains key — just like with any young player — but he deserves praise.
7. Sunday marked only the second time in his career that Mark Andrews was held without a catch with the other coming at Kansas City on Dec. 9, 2018. He still played all but eight offensive snaps, but missing two practices last week was enough evidence to conclude he wasn’t 100%.
8. Ultimately, this game is about entertainment, and Andrews pitching the ball to Jackson on a key fourth-and-1 at midfield was both fun and crucial in securing the eventual game-winning points on Justin Tucker’s 55-yard field goal. That was a good play call by Greg Roman.
9. Speaking of fourth downs, I’m amused how little discourse there typically is about the ones that work. “Taking the points” at the goal line in the third quarter and following traditional thinking by punting at midfield early in the fourth would have shaved seven points off Baltimore’s final score.
10. No outside linebacker played more than 38 snaps, a reflection of the most robust rotation the Ravens have had on the edge all year. With Tyus Bowser and David Ojabo practicing and nearing their own debuts, Houston noted after the game, “I think the best is yet to come.”
11. John Harbaugh confirmed J.K. Dobbins will undergo arthroscopic surgery in hopes of improving his knee’s range of motion. I’m not counting him out for the rest of 2022, but it’s probably wise to lower expectations and remember this whenever tempted to second-guess the workload of other returning players.
12. Though it’d be tough to argue their presence energized the current team after that unimpressive first quarter, it was great seeing so many members of the 2012 Ravens gathered together to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Super Bowl XLVII. What a special group.