The Ravens have quickly become must-see television and they did not disappoint on the national stage, dismantling the Jets on Thursday Night Football. Lamar Jackson was once again incredible, throwing for five touchdown passes while adding 86 yards on the ground, enough to surpass Michael Vick’s single season rushing record for quarterbacks. Once again, several rookies played a big part in the Ravens dominance and below is a breakdown of their performance.
After a couple of quiet games in which the passing game wasn’t featured, Brown got back on track against the Jets, finding the endzone for the seventh time this season. He displayed incredible ball-tracking skills and body control, adjusting to make the catch in the back of the endzone while getting both feet down with no room to spare. “Hollywood” has had some of his best performances in primetime and is a player who seems to feed off the bright lights, much like his quarterback.
It wasn’t only in the receiving game where he made an impact, he delivered a couple of signature blocks downfield to open the run game. When you have your 170-pound receiver blocking willingly downfield it goes to show how everyone has bought into the system and why they have been so successful as a unit.
Brown finished the night with four catches for 45 yards and the impressive third quarter touchdown grab. He is now tied with Terry McLaurin for the rookie lead in touchdown grabs with seven and has added 43 catches for 563 yards in his impressive first season.
Out of the six total touchdowns scored on Thursday night, none were more deserving than the five-yard touchdown pass to Boykin in the first quarter. All season Boykin has embraced the role as a downfield blocker while taking a back seat in the passing game and he was rewarded by his quarterback with his third touchdown catch of the season.
Against the Jets, his blocking was off the charts and was hard to miss as the Ravens marched down the field in the first quarter, resulting in a Mark Ingram rushing touchdown. In a league full of diva wide receivers who demand their fair share of the targets, it is refreshing to see a player like Boykin embrace the uglier side of the position and a fill a role crucial to the success of the offense.
The Ravens historic rushing attack requires the receiver position to hold blocks downfield and Boykin has been nothing short of stellar in that regard. So, while he may go unnoticed on the stat sheet, this is an ode to Boykin for embracing the team mentality while going out each week and getting his jersey dirty for the greater good of the team.
Ferguson is a player who has seemingly improved game by game after looking very raw to start the season. As he gets more comfortable, he continues to be in the opponent’s backfield more frequently and has become a disruptive figure on the defense. The Ravens blitz at a higher percentage than any team and they have entrusted the rookie third-round pick with creating pressure and getting to the quarterback for sacks.
Ferguson still has a way to go to becoming a more polished pass rusher and will need to expand his arsenal of moves so he can start to translate pressures into sacks at a higher rate. He also needs work in the run game, specifically setting the edge which has been a weakness of the defense this season.
With the homecoming of Terrell Suggs spoiled by the Kansas City Chiefs, Ferguson will be playing a big role in the playoffs for the top team in the AFC and needs to be laser-focused to avoid rookie mistakes. It is a tall task for a rookie to play a prominent role in January, but Fergusons arrow continues to point upwards.
Injuries to the offensive line could prove fatal for a team built for success by running the football, so when starting center Matt Skura went down with a season-ending injury it raised concerns if the offense would still function at a high level. Three weeks later and the offense is still humming, thanks in part to the transition to Patrick Mekari, an undrafted rookie who didn’t play the center position in college.
It hasn’t all been pretty for Mekari, but considering he was thrust into his first action of his career with the task of calling out protections and snapping the ball to the MVP frontrunner, the Ravens have to be more than pleased with the transition.
Against the Jets, he missed several blocks and had a few errant snaps to Jackson causing the quarterback to improvise. He was flagged for a false start in the third quarter and will need to clean that up come playoff time. There will be growing pains along the way while he continues to develop, but he has proven thus far to not be a liability and cause for concern as we enter the home stretch of the season.
Playing in his usual limited role, Hill got most of his snaps in mop-up duty as the starters rested for most of the fourth quarter. Drafted for his homerun hitting potential, the Ravens simply have not needed him with Jackson, Ingram and Edwards all having productive seasons on the ground.
There is a chance the coaching staff has some plays for him that they are saving for January and we have yet to see him for a reason. It is more likely that he was drafted as a future playmaker for the offense and there are just not enough snaps to go around with the current personnel. He finished the night with 15 yards on four carries while still searching for the first touchdown of his career.
The Ravens opted to make Marshall active on the gameday roster over second-year player Anthony Averett, a vote of confidence for the rookie out of USC. While he didn’t record a snap on defense, he was used on special teams as a gunner and left a lot to be desired.
The Ravens easily had their worst special teams’ performance of the season and Marshall struggled to keep contain on returns. He logged 15 total special teams snaps but it remains to be seen if he showed enough to be activated on gamedays moving forward.
OG Ben Powers
QB Trace McSorley
DT Daylon Mack (IR)
LB Otaro Alaka (IR)