Wow. Wow? Wow.
In a highly-anticipated matchup between two division leaders, the Ravens pulled away in the second half to complete an upset victory over the Seahawks. It was by far their most impressive victory of the season and maybe the team’s biggest win in quite some time.
I’ll save my thoughts for the takeaways, which are as follows:
1) The Ravens just made a big statement
“America’s Game of the Week”? Check.
Playing in maybe the toughest stadium for opposing teams? Check.
Facing the frontrunner for league MVP? Check.
Need I say more? Slice it anyway you want it, the importance and magnitude of this victory shouldn’t be understated. The Seahawks are a talented team with maybe the best quarterback in the league, one of the best head coaches in the league, and the best home field advantage in the league . . . and the Ravens came into Seattle and won.
John Harbaugh and company put together a strong game plan and executed it well. The offense grinded away yardage late and the defense played their best overall performance of the season. A true “team victory” in Ravens fashion. In doing so, the Ravens improve to 5-2 on the season, which gives them a three-game lead in the AFC North and moves them into a tie with the Chiefs for the second-best record in the conference. This was the team’s biggest win since last year’s road victory over the Chargers in Week 16.
2) Lamar Jackson is a gamer . . . that is all
If you looked the box score, you would think Jackson had maybe his worst performance on the season. Did he only complete 9/20 passes for 143 yards? Yes, but in my humble estimation, this may have been his BEST performance considering a bevy of factors. With crowd noise and poor weather conditions working against him in a playoff-like atmosphere, Jackson put the Ravens offense on his back on more than one occasion. Also working against him were dropped passes and poor offensive line play (at times).
Jackson began the game with an on-the-run, 50-yard bomb to WR Miles Boykin, maybe his best throw of the year. From there, he did the majority of his damage on the ground and finished with 111 rushing yards on just 10 carries. If Mark Andrews had not dropped several passes, one of which was a would-be touchdown, Jackson’s passing numbers would look a lot better. Even so, Jackson’s confidence and demeanor never wavered at any point.
On 4th & 2 in the red zone, he appeared to tell Harbaugh on the sidelines “I got this”, or something of that nature, and proceeded to score an 8-yard rushing touchdown. He did so after picking up 13 yards on 3rd & 15. He had another 13-yard rush and 20-yard flip pass to Nick Boyle on the the next drive, both of which helped churn out a 13-play, 8:00 possession.
3) Marcus Peters shines in his Ravens debut
After the Ravens traded for CB Marcus Peters earlier this week, there were questions as to how quickly he could get up to speed before Sunday. Well, based on what we just watched, he looked pretty “up to speed” indeed. With Jimmy Smith out again and Maurice Canady inactive as well, Peters drew the start at cornerback and played fantastic. I could be wrong, but I can’t remember an instance where he was successful targeted. Even so, it was a key turnover late in the second quarter that stood out.
With the Seahawks threatening to extend their 10-6 lead before halftime, having already been set to receive the ball first in the second half, Peters changed the course of the game. Jumping an underneath route, Peters intercepted Russell Wilson and sprinted 67 yards down the sideline (untouched) for a pick-six. It was Wilson’s first interception of the season and Peters got revenge on him after being burnt by Wilson a few weeks ago. Not a bad way to INTroduce himself to Ravens fans.
4) “Wink” Martindale and the defense showed out
Peters obviously made the play of the game, but the performance of the defense as a whole was also noteworthy. DC Don Martindale drew up a masterful, creative game plan and it worked to perfection, forcing Russell Wilson into his worst game of the season. In addition to throwing the interception to Peters, Wilson completed just 20/41 passes. The scheme was great, but the individual performances across the board deserve credit, too.
In the absence of Patrick Onwuasor, linebacker L.J. Fort drew his second consecutive start and was all over the field. Fort, playing alongside the steady Josh Bynes, recorded ___ tackles. Fort, Bynes, Brandon Williams and others were instrumental in slowing down RB Chris Carson. SS Chuck Clark also put together another strong performance, playing well in coverage and effectively relaying the play calls once again. Marlon Humphrey bounced back after a slow start, Brandon Carr was generally solid and the presence of Earl Thomas III really made everything listed above work.
5) Mark Andrews left his hands in Baltimore
Not to harp too much of the negative, but the most glaring and surprising deficiency from Sunday’s contest was the poor performance of TE Mark Andrews. As mentioned a few paragraphs earlier, Andrews was responsible for multiple dropped passes - including two on the same drive in the second half. Had he caught at least one of these, especially the pass from Jackson that would have been a touchdown, the Ravens may have put this game away earlier than they did.
Was it because of the slick playing conditions as a result of the consistent rain all afternoon? Hopefully. Andrews is usually as sure-handed as they come around the league, so it’s foolish to expect similar dropping issues in the future. Nevertheless, it was unfortunate to see it happen against the Seahawks. They’ll need Andrews to revert to his normal form against the Patriots coming out of the bye week.