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Monday hangover, Week 5: An ugly win in Pittsburgh

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Welcome to the Monday Hangover, a weekly column where Jake is here to answer any lingering questions you may have about the Ravens (or the rest of the league) coming out of the weekend, and take a quick look around the division/league. Enjoy, and power through your Monday with some light Ravens reading, and leave a comment with your thoughts down below!

So the Ravens sneak out of Pittsburgh with a big time win over the Steelers in what was one of the most ugly and least enjoyable wins Ravens fans have seen in while. Oh well though - a win is a win (is a win).

Despite the sloppy nature of the game there were some encouraging signs from this game, and of course other things that could still be tightened up a bit. Let’s take a look at some of them down below:

Is the defense improved after the shakeup?

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Definitely - we saw it on the first few drives in fact. From the three-and-out on Pittsburgh’s opening drive, to the Josh Bynes interception, the front office’s aggression in trying to go out and sign guys to help fix what wasn’t working paid off today.

Brandon Williams being active certainly helped against the run, and the secondary definitely looked more in tune than the last few weeks. Maurice Canady deserves a special shoutout for really stepping it up today, especially after a rough start to the year.

Was this a bit of a pyrrhic victory with the loss of Tony Jefferson?

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

This is a big loss for sure. Jefferson has received criticism for his lack of ability in coverage, but he at least has the ability to be a missile against the run, and is a big time leader in this locker room.

His voice will definitely be missed, and his play on the field may be something we find ourselves remembering a bit more fondly if DeShon Elliott or Chuck Clark aren’t getting it done in a few weeks. That of course remains to be seen.

Was Lamar bad today?

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

To a degree yes, but he definitely turned it on when he needed to which is a common theme among games when he isn’t firing on all cylinders. Win or loss, he always seems to find a way to make some “wow” plays and put the team in position to win.

His turnovers really aren’t that concerning either, as two of them weren’t 100% valid or totally on him, and the other one was just a mental error. If the low watermark is posting 23 points on the road in a game in which he doesn’t play well, there isn’t too much to be concerned with when it comes to the quarterback.

What is going on with the officiating?

Arizona Cardinals v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

I personally don’t have an answer, but it does feel like the refs are way too trigger happy this season. It was on full display this game as Walt Anderson and his crew were throwing phantom flags and messing up calls left and right.

Ultimately, these guys are set up to fail by a rulebook that’s too dense to understand and properly call. Something needs to be done though, as the poor officiating is killing the flow of games and costing teams more than it’s been helping them.

Where do the Ravens go from here?

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Well, you couldn’t ask for a better draw the week after a huge emotional win than the Bengals at home. If they can take care of business next week as they should, then they’ll still very much be in the mix in this division as Cleveland still has a tough schedule and Pittsburgh may have effectively been knocked out of the mix.

John Harbaugh definitely needs to use this win as a building block though; 3-2 through five weeks probably would’ve been looked at as a realistic start back in August, so settling the team down and just having them play the opponent in front of them will be crucial for the next few weeks heading into the bye. I’m sure everyone will be tuned into Monday Night Football when the Browns travel over to San Francisco - by this time a day or two from now, the AFC North could very well be wide open.