With the Ravens winning back-to-back games for the first time all season to remain atop the AFC North in a 27-22 victory at Tampa Bay last Thursday night, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. After his breakout receiving performance, Isaiah Likely said, “I feel like coach [John] Harbaugh is going to be really impressed when he sees me on film blocking.” The rookie tight end’s blocking struggles were an issue making this offense predictable early on, but his PFF grade supported his own assessment.
2. Since returning from the groin injury that sidelined him for nearly four full games, Justin Houston has registered four sacks in a total of 40 defensive snaps the last two weeks. Even at age 33, Houston is this team’s best pass rusher if Baltimore can keep him fresh and healthy.
3. Lamar Jackson broke out of his October passing slump by going 8-for-8 for 94 yards and two touchdown passes in the second half after averaging 4.8 yards per pass attempt before intermission. He also played turnover-free football for a second straight week, which shouldn’t be overlooked.
4. In the second half, Baltimore found what its offensive identity needs to be under Greg Roman, but seeing such underwhelming first-half passing execution in trying to exploit an injury-ravaged Tampa Bay secondary was still discouraging. That big-picture concern about how this offense translates in January persists.
5. Credit the defense for keeping the Ravens in the game after a rough first quarter, but dropping three interceptions helped keep afloat what was an unimpressive performance by Tom Brady. Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, and Chuck Clark all had chances to pick the future Hall of Famer.
6. Thanks to his 15-yard touchdown run, Devin Duvernay became the first player in franchise history to have a kick return touchdown, a touchdown catch, and a touchdown run. I would’ve guessed Jermaine Lewis had accomplished that years ago, but it’s a reminder to get the ball to Duvernay often.
7. Broderick Washington stepped up in the absence of Calais Campbell, batting down multiple passes and finishing with three tackles in a season-high 41 snaps. The 2020 fifth-round pick has made himself into a valuable rotation piece for this defensive line.
8. Before hurting his hamstring, Gus Edwards continued looking more like his old self by averaging 5.9 yards per carry and forcing six missed tackles, according to PFF. Baltimore should be cautious with the bye week following the New Orleans game, but it sounds like he dodged a more significant strain.
9. The Ravens likely would have imposed their rushing will on a tired Tampa Bay front anyway, but Shaquil Barrett suffering an Achilles tear early in the third quarter was significant. The Baltimore native was all over the field for the Buccaneers in that first half.
10. Justice Hill made a great play as a gunner to help cause the muffed punt that gifted the Ravens three points and remains an explosive change of pace in the ground game. The Week 7 fumble aside, he’s having a good year after being an offseason afterthought for most.
11. Devin White was the fifth pick of the 2019 draft and made the Pro Bowl last year, but I shudder to think what fan reaction would be if Patrick Queen played a game like that. Baltimore embarrassed Queen’s former LSU teammate, whose own coach accused him of loafing. Brutal.
12. Though a strong second half made it moot, I scratched my head over going for the fourth down needing a long two yards late in the first half. I’ve defended most fourth-down decisions from Harbaugh, but that’s one where you need to ignore your players and kick the field goal.