With the Ravens earning their third straight victory in a 31-24 win at Arizona on Sunday, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. Michael Pierce was the game’s best player, making key plays on consecutive fourth-down stops in the first half and registering a strip-sack to stall Arizona’s opening drive of the second half. He turns 31 next week and is on pace to play a career high in snaps. He’s been outstanding.
2. Though Sunday wasn’t the prettiest performance, completing a stretch of four out of five on the road with a 4-1 record should never be taken for granted. The next three at home won’t be easy, but putting away your suitcase until after Thanksgiving has to be a good feeling.
3. No one should have expected touchdowns on the first four drives for a second straight week, but you’d like to see more through the air against one of the NFL’s worst pass defenses. We know it’s a week-to-week league, and that goes for all that hype from national media too.
4. Regardless of whether Eric DeCosta adds more upside to the running back room, Gus Edwards has made a clear statement about his value to the ground game. He’s shown much more explosiveness over the last two weeks than we were seeing earlier this season.
5. Despite having an array of offensive coordinators and position coaches, skill players, and offensive linemen over the years, the Ravens continue to make the execution of screen passes look like they’re trying to solve a Rubik’s cube in the dark.
6. Not only did Geno Stone’s fifth interception match Ed Reed’s franchise record for most through the first eight games of a season, but the fourth-year safety already has more for a full season than any Baltimore player since Eric Weddle had six picks in 2017. What a story.
7. Yes, Justin Tucker is 1-for-4 on field goals from beyond 50 yards this season, but the other two unsuccessful tries prior to him missing a 53-yarder in the second quarter were from 59 and 61 yards. That it’s even a talking point speaks to how incredible his career has been.
8. The entire punt team has been a sore subject this season, but Jordan Stout landed four of his five kicks inside the 20 and is now tied for third in the NFL in that department with 17. Though still chasing consistency, the 2022 fourth-round pick has made progress this year.
9. While Lamar Jackson continues trying to get Odell Beckham Jr. going, it was Rashod Bateman who flashed with his 29-yard catch that prevented an interception and an 18-yard run on a jet sweep. This passing game needs to unlock a third option behind Mark Andrews and Zay Flowers.
10. Kevin Zeitler became the 17th NFL player since 1991 to beat every NFL team, which is a major credit to his longevity. The 33-year-old is also playing better and better since a slow start to the season relative to his lofty standards.
11. Playing in his native Arizona, Andrews made his 40th career touchdown catch, moving him one behind Todd Heap for the team record. I’ve wondered how much better Heap could have been statistically with better quarterback play early in his career, but Andrews is going to shatter Baltimore’s receiving records.
12. Despite the maddening tendency to play with their food against lesser opponents, the Ravens are now tied for the AFC’s best record and have a sizable lead in DVOA, a highly regarded efficiency metric. A difficult schedule awaits over the second half of the season for them and Cincinnati, however.