Another tough divisional loss for the Ravens as they fell to 3-2 on the season after conquering the Steelers at Heinz field only a week prior.
The offensive line played well. According to Pro Football Focus, the Ravens offensive line produced four of the Ravens’ five highest-graded players in the game. Marshal Yanda ranked number one on the day with an 87.2 overall grade.
The pass rush arrived: Finally, the surplus of pass-rush talent played well. They combined for 27 combined pressures, including five sacks. Also, Za’Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs both produced seven pressures each.
Anthony Levine continues to produce. After a game-sealing interception, four solo tackles and two more passes defensed, ‘Co-Cap’ followed up with three more passes defensed and two solo tackles. He’s been a strong player in the middle of the field; something the Ravens have needed over the past few years.
Receivers are getting open. Though it wasn’t a successful game in the end, the Ravens have players receiving targets. The three starting receivers combined for 33 targets. While it’s not ideal to have the offense throw 50+ times a game, there is something to be said for attacking through the air and the confidence this team has in Joe Flacco dropping back and finding an open receiver.
Jimmy Smith is incredible. He allowed zero receptions on 35 snaps. He was targeted only once in coverage. He’s a star player. If he can produce similar results for the next 11 games, he needs an All-Pro nomination.
Third-down efficiency dropped. Harshly, I might add. This team was one of the best in converting third downs over the past four weeks. Unfortunately, Denzel Ward was there to shut this down. They only converted 25% of their third downs against the Browns.
Untimely turnovers hurt. Joe Flacco produced a terrible throw and Denzel Ward capitalized with an interception on the goalline. Javorius Allen fumbled the football when they needed points on the board. Tim White couldn’t handle the punt return. These kill momentum.
Untimely penalties hurt. My goodness, every drive the team had something cooking, there was a block-in-the-back penalty. Alex Collins gets into Justin Tucker’s field goal range and Chris Moore, who produced a 20-yard gain only a play ago, gets hit with a penalty and brings the run back. A big punt return is negated by a block-in-the-back. False starts and pre-snap penalties gave up yardage on both sides of the field. This team needs to get out of their own way.
A bad rookie debut. Many expected the Ravens to be more capable of scoring than before with the addition of Hayden Hurst to the starting lineup. This did not happen. The rookie caught a single pass for seven yards and was graded as the lowest offensive player according to PFF (47.0).
Michael Crabtree must fix the drops. A dropped game-winning touchdown killed this team. Everybody has already said it, but it bears repeating: This is why the Ravens signed Crabtree. To make the tough catches and win football games.
Special Teams needs sorted out. Year after year, the Ravens are the best in the business when it comes to special teams. Justin Tucker is the best in the game. Sam Koch is a top-tier punter. But now, they’ve allowed two blocked field goals (one illegal), a blocked punt and they’ve gone through two punt return specialists.
Run game, where are you at? Yet another game where the run game feels absent. While bother starters rushed for over four yards per carry, it is largely due to the intermediate runs keeping their stats afloat. Both Alex Collins and Buck combined for only 93 yards on twenty carries. This offense needs more.