Oh, you thought the Ravens would finally fall back to earth in Week 12? On the road, in a primetime spot on Monday Night Football? Against one of the league’s better defenses, which features arguably the best player in the entire NFL?
Think again, and again, and again . . .
Baltimore once again made light work of a talented team with a winning record, this time handling the Rams on their home turf in Los Angeles. Lamar Jackson put forth another MVP-esque performance, carving up the Rams defense with accurate throws and explosive runs.
Let’s get into everything else.
1) We are living in a simulation, right . . .?
I mean, this doesn’t even feel real at this point. It can’t be, right? Wrap your head around this for a second:
The Ravens are the NFL’s best offense. The Ravens have now steamrolled the Seahawks, Patriots, Texans and Rams in the past six weeks. Their quarterback, Lamar Jackson, is the frontrunner for MVP and appears to be running away with the award.
Yes, this is all factual.
As fans, we’ve become accustomed to the Ravens being the “little guy”, in the sense that they usually fly under the radar and receive little national attention nor recognition. This is far from the case in 2019. It’s a weird feeling and one that is foreign to this fanbase but barring an unforeseen shift in the team’s trajectory, nothing is changing anytime soon.
The Ravens are talented on both sides of the football. They have a great quarterback and elite coaching staff. They are an outstanding team overall . . . that is all.
2) MVP? MVP. MVP!
In his first taste of Monday Night action, Lamar Jackson put on a show for a national audience, demonstrating that the brightest of lights and biggest of stages don’t faze him. In what is becoming a weekly occurrence, Jackson lit up the opposing defense in surgical fashion.
Jackson completed his first nine passes of the game, all of which were in the first half and three of which resulted in touchdown throws to Marquise Brown (x2) and Willie Snead IV. He delivered his fourth touchdown pass of the night early in the second half to Mark Ingram. Prior to getting pulled for Robert Griffin III late in the game, Jackson wound up completing all but five of his 20 pass attempts for 169 yards and a passer rating of 139.4.
One of his incompletions came on a dropped pass from Mark Andrews, which would have resulted in a big gain. In addition, Jackson shredded Los Angeles on the ground. He rushed eight times for 95 yards, routinely escaping the pocket and finding open field. His 29-yard rush in the second quarter could have been a few yards longer and resulted in a touchdown, but Jackson slipped just before the goal line.
On third down, Jackson was 7/7 with two touchdown passes. Already up 35-6 in the third quarter, Jackson waved off the kicking unit on 4th & 4 and delivered a strike to WR Miles Boykin for a 15-yard gain.
“Cheat code” . . .
“Video game” . . .
“Dynamic” . . .
All three are good adjectives to describe Lamar Jackson, but none of them do him enough justice. The only acceptable and accurate label is “MVP”.
3) Pay that man whatever he wants
Greg Roman is a virtuoso offensive mind. We knew this entering Monday’s contest against the Rams. However, the events that unfolded before us in Week 12 served as an additional reminder of Roman’s ability to effectively utilize his players and adapt to what the defense is showing or giving his offense.
As he has done almost every game this season, Roman put together a masterful game plan and effectively out-dueled Rams DC Wade Phillips, one of the league’s most respected defensive minds. Matched up against a unit featuring Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, as well as several other premier players, the Ravens did not waver from their identity.
Baltimore was able to neutralize Donald with routine double teams and it resulted in the reigning Defensive Player of the Year being held in check. Similarly, Ramsey made little imprint on this game and the Ravens did not shy away from attacking the edges of Los Angeles’ defense, which features Clay Matthews and Dante Fowler Jr.
283 rushing yards against one of the NFL’s top-ranked rushing defenses. 283 . .. let that sink in for a second.
Roman has now been able to find success against some of the league’s top defensive coaches in Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll and Wade Phillips. The value of having him calling plays up in the booth continues to show week in and week out. Opposing defenses know what the Ravens want to accomplish and still have no answers.
If Roman does in fact garner interest from teams with head coaching openings this offseason, pay him whatever it takes to stay in Baltimore. Case and point.
4) Complimentary playmakers are stepping up
Outside of Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown, no Ravens pass-catcher has made a significant impact on a consistent basis this season. Thus, there has been a recurring discussion as to who would step up as a playmaker for Jackson. In recent weeks and against the Rams, we saw several complementary receivers emerge.
Just a week after catching his first touchdown of the season, WR Seth Roberts caught three passes for 39 yards, including a 16-yard reception to move Baltimore into the red zone just before halftime. Following this play, Willie Snead IV caught a 7-yard touchdown. Snead caught another 7-yard touchdown in the second half, too.
Rookie WR Miles Boykin had a key fourth down conversion and snagged a 39-yard bomb from RGIII in the fourth quarter, and Nick Boyle made a nice 7-yard grab on the sidelines during the team’s third offensive drive.
These guys may never jump off the screen or garner headlines, nor will they consistently post big box score numbers. However, they are all contributing to the team’s success on the offensive side of the ball and are providing Jackson with viable options in key moments.
5) Don’t overlook Mark Ingram’s impact
It may not be fair to say Mark Ingram has flown under the radar this season but with the spotlight on Lamar Jackson, it’s important not to overlook the contributions and importance of Ingram to this offense.
After catching two touchdown passes against the Texans, Ingram dominated the Rams at all three levels of their defense. The veteran RB burst through holes and fought off contact to churn out extra yards, much of which came from running over defensive backs - looking at you, Eric Weddle - on numerous occasions.
Ingram turned 15 carries into 111 rushing yards and a touchdown, while also scoring a receiving touchdown for the second consecutive game. On Baltimore’s first drive of the second half, Ingram found an open angle in the middle of the field and snagged a 7-yard pass from Jackson and ran into the end zone.
Jackson may be the “batman” that makes this historic rushing attack so dynamic, but Ingram is a more than suitable “robin” to provide a rock-solid presence in the backfield. In addition, he continues to excel and pass protection, brings infectious energy off the field and provides leadership in the locker room.