While the league hyped up the match up of Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson as the game of the week, The Ravens had other plans. Baltimore continued their hot streak by completely dismantling the Texans, making life miserable for Watson all afternoon. The offense continued to roll and the MVP candidacy for Jackson only grew stronger. Which rookies stepped up and made their presence felt in this huge statement win?
It was a quiet day for Brown despite many expected this to be a good spot for a big game. Going against a weak Houston secondary, Brown totaled two catches on four targets for only 23 yards, as it was Seth Robert’s chance to shine on the receiving core. Jackson spread the ball around to many different targets on the afternoon and Brown’s four targets surprisingly tied for the team lead.
Still battling an ankle injury, ESPN reported during warmups that Brown looked noticeably uncomfortable running routes which helps explain his quiet afternoon. It’s starting to look unlikely that we see Brown at full health this season which is obviously disappointing but also encouraging considering he has still been productive more times than not. Even Brown himself admitted to only being at about 70% speed compared to what he’s capable of. The Ravens will continue to monitor his health by limiting him in practice and it looks unlikely he risks being inactive on Sunday’s barring further injury. “Hollywood” currently sits at 30 catches for 477 yards and four touchdowns on the season.
Although Boykin has not been a factor in the passing game as of late, I think it’s time we start highlighting how valuable he has been as a blocker. There’s a reason the Ravens keep rolling him out there despite his lacking receiving numbers as receivers blocking down field is a huge part of this offense. Boykin has excelled in this area, most notably on the 63-yard touchdown run by Gus Edwards in the fourth quarter, when Boykin held a key block down field. Now, not all his receiving woes fall solely on him as he has put himself in opportunities to make catches. Early in the first quarter, Boykin beat his defender deep but was badly missed by Jackson who struggled with accuracy issues early on. Right now, it’s just not clicking for Boykin as a pass catcher, but he plays a prominent role on the best offense in football, which is all you can ask for as a rookie. On Sunday he totaled 24 snaps, good for fourth on the receiving core. He will continue to develop as a pass-catcher while getting invaluable experience as a blocker.
Against the Texans, Hill only saw a total of eight snaps despite the starters coming out of the game in the fourth quarter. Gus Edwards got most of the carries when Ingram left the game as the Ravens continue to use Hill in a very limited role. Greg Roman has been adding little wrinkles into the offense every week and it is fair to wonder if he has something up his sleeve for Hill as we enter the stretch run.
He continues to display excellent athleticism on his runs but has yet to make any noteworthy splash plays. On his eight snaps Sunday, Hill carried the ball five times for 18 yards and added a catch for nine yards. He is now over 100-yards on the season, totaling 29 carries for 114 yards and zero touchdowns in his rookie campaign.
The most noteworthy of all the rookies Sunday, Ferguson is beginning to really make his mark on this defense. He is playing with more confidence every week and was rewarded with the first sack of his young career. Flushing Watson out of the pocket, Ferguson maintained pursuit and made a nice play to bring the quarterback down. It is worth noting Ferguson came into the play as a late substitute, got set and beat the right tackle handily to get to the quarterback showing great awareness for a rookie.
On the notable strip-sack in the first quarter, a lot of the credit goes to Ferguson for containing Watson, allowing Judon to come in and make the play. On the final play of the 3rd quarter, Ferguson showed great pursuit and turned a swing pass into a four-yard loss to close the quarter. There are still occasions where he fails to set the edge in the run game, but it is hard to complain with the performance of the third-round rookie. He is getting noticeably better and more confident every week and has become an important cog in the pass rush.
The loss of Pernell McPhee could have been devastating for the pass rush, but Ferguson has stepped up nicely in his absence. He finished the afternoon with four tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery in what was his most productive game as a professional.
Mekari was active for the 10th straight week and recorded 11 snaps in relief of Marshal Yanda. He remains one of the top reserves along the offensive line.
OG Ben Powers
QB Trace McSorley
CB Iman Marshall
DT Daylon Mack (IR)
LB Otaro Alaka (IR)