The Baltimore Ravens posted a huge win on Sunday, grinding out an intense 24-21 victory over the division rival Cincinnati Bengals in what was essentially a do-or-die matchup for a floundering Ravens squad. The bye week and ensuing run-up to this game was one of the stranger stretches for the franchise in recent memory; Joe Flacco was dealing with a nebulous injury to his hip, Lamar Jackson spent some time in the hospital with a stomach issue and John Harbaugh’s job was under direct and undeniable scrutiny for the first time in his career.
All of this was taking place under the pretense of Jackson having to make his first start under these relatively dire circumstances. How did he (and the team as a whole) respond? We’ll get to that and more below in this week’s rookie report:
The dynamic duo
The Ravens quarterback situation had obviously been in-flux over the past week, similar to how the running back spot was questionable all year. Alex Collins and Javorius Allen have had their moments but a combo of dips in form and poor run blocking have led them to both be pretty disappointing, especially in recent weeks.
Both of these issues partially led to Baltimore’s three-game skid, and in an attempt to curb them, the Ravens turned to Jackson and Gus Edwards. Put simply, they answered the bell.
Jackson wasn’t perfect, but he made plays when they were needed and kept Baltimore’s offense on the move. More importantly, just the presence of a playmaker at quarterback seemed to put a spark into the offense; Jackson escaped a few sure-fire sacks, kept his eyes downfield and the receivers did the rest.
In his first NFL start, Lamar Jackson provided a jolt of electricity to a struggling offense and delivered a much-needed 24-21 win over the Bengals. Jackson ran for 117 yards and threw for 150 in replacing the injured Joe Flacco.— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) November 18, 2018
He obliterated the Ravens QB rushing record with his 117 ground yards, two more than fellow rookie Edwards’ 115. The tailback had been having a very quiet season and was seen as a cut candidate following the addition of Ty Montgomery, but after the big time effort on the ground (he also added a touchdown and a 2-point conversion) the coaching staff may continue to look to him going forward.
Best of the rest
The top two guys mainly held onto the spotlight for the day, but the rest of the rookies made some contributions here and there. Orlando Brown Jr. was again solid at right tackle (he led the way on Edwards touchdown run) and is looking like a third-round steal.
Another potential third-round steal is Mark Andrews, who’s exceeded expectations at tight end and chipped in a big-time 19-yard reception on a critical play. His presence has been huge as Hayden Hurst continues to acclimate following his injury to start the year.
The kids came up big today in what was an important win, and the Ravens will need more of that going forward. Here’s hoping that takes place as each game moving ahead is going to be increasingly important.