Week 17 NFL Team of the Week - Gordon McGuinness
C.J. Mosley, Baltimore Ravens – 91.1 overall grade
A year ago, the Ravens were lamenting a late-season defensive collapse, seeing their playoff hopes crumble at home. For a few moments on Sunday evening it looked like it was going to happen again, but then C.J. Mosley stepped up with the game, and season, defining play. He finished the game having allowed an NFL passer rating of 39.6 on throws into his coverage, but the defining moment will always be that pick.
Jimmy Smith, Baltimore Ravens – 90.6 overall grade
Smith came up with two crucial interceptions earlier in the game for the Ravens, producing arguably his best game of the year in the final week of the regular season. Targeted seven times in coverage, he allowed just one reception for one yard and came away with two interceptions and a pass breakup.
Coordinator Martindale’s defense finished the regular season ranked first in yards allowed, second in points allowed, third in third down percentage, first in yards allowed per pass, third in yards allowed per run and 11th in sacks.
Why John Harbaugh Feels This Is the Best TEAM He’s Coached - Clifton Brown
In the aftermath of winning the AFC North, Head Coach John Harbaugh called the 2018 Ravens “The best team I’ve ever been associated with,” paying respect to their solidarity and refusal to give in. Here are a few reasons why.
Needing to win almost every week for two months, the Ravens could have cracked under the pressure. They didn’t.
When they were 4-5 at the bye, riding a three-game losing streak, the locker room could have fractured. The Ravens stayed united.
“It’s the best team. T-E-A-M, the best team,” Harbaugh said. “The best bunch of guys who understand what it means to have each other’s’ backs, to fight through adversity, and never be divided by anything. … Block out all the outside, turn to each other for strength, and be there for one another. That, to me, is what makes a team. That’s the best team I’ve been around.”
The resiliency of the 2018 Ravens is a testament to John Harbaugh’s leadership ability. He routinely does more with less, especially in comparison to his rival in Pittsburgh.
Believe that: Lamar Jackson transforms doubts to division title - Jamison Hensley
“He exceeded [expectations] and excelled, and he made us believers,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “When you’re on the sidelines seeing him make the plays he makes, extending plays, running the ball, making the whole offensive team better, you don’t see that a lot from a rookie quarterback. He took it in stride and he ran with it. He got us to where we are now.”
“Lamar is a special, special person,” safety Eric Weddle said. “He’s very genuine, he’s loyal, he’s humble, and he’s passionate. Those are qualities in such a young kid you don’t ever see. He’s all about team. He’s all about getting better and trying to lead us. I tip my hat off to him. I look forward to not just being on the same team as him, but being a fan of him, and supporting him for the rest of his career, because he’s going to do some special things.”
“We’re not going to get on our high horse,” Jackson said. “We’re just trying to fight for the championship.”
Adding a rookie quarterback that possesses both strong character and rare athletic traits puts the franchise in great position moving forward. Lamar Jackson’s salary cap hit will average a microscopic $2.4 million per season over the next three years.
NFL’s top 10 games of the 2018 regular season: Chiefs litter list - Adam Rank
8) Week 14: Kansas City Chiefs 27, Baltimore Ravens 24 (OT)
One of the league’s top offenses against one of the league’s top defenses? Sign me up. The Chiefs had to convert two fourth-down plays to force overtime, and Patrick Mahomes was indeed up to the task. The first conversion, on fourth-and-9, saw Mahomes escape from the pocket before delivering an across-the-body-on-the-run dime to Tyreek Hill -- one of the most memorable plays of the regular season. (Side note: This was also the game where Mahomes delivered a picture-perfect no-look pass. Dude’s kinda talented.) In overtime, Harrison Butker converted a 35-yard field goal and K.C. stuffed Lamar Jackson and Co. to prevail. This compelling clash in styles produced a back-and-forth battle throughout, with neither team ever holding more than a seven-point advantage. The best part: We could get a rematch in the Divisional Round.
Baltimore’s Week 7 24-23 loss to the Saints deserves consideration. Hopefully the Ravens will be on the winning side of epic battles this January.