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Ravens News 12/9: Big-play offense, stellar defense and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Buffalo Bills Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

NFL Week 14 ReFocused: Baltimore Ravens 24, Buffalo Bills 17 - PFF

BALTIMORE RAVENS

While this game didn’t showcase Lamar Jackson‘s usual dominance, it was still a good game from the sophomore signal-caller. He made good throws when he needed to and added a lot with his legs. His receivers struggled to get open against the talented Bills coverage unit, and he definitely missed tight end Mark Andrews, but this game shouldn’t detract from the MVP talk he’s been involved in.

After Mark Andrews went down early, Hayden Hurst really stepped up at tight end for the Baltimore offense. He made a couple of nice catches and also had a huge touchdown catch and run that put the Ravens ahead for good. He also showed some capable blocking when the Ravens ran the ball.

No defender looked better in this game than Matthew Judon. He made multiple stops by himself to add on to the two sacks and numerous hurries while rushing the passer. He also made some big tackles on screen plays.

Domata Peko Sr. didn’t play a ton of snaps, but it seemed like every time he was on the field, he was making an impact. Whether it was beating his blockers in the run game to affect the play or putting pressure on quarterback Josh Allen, Peko was all over the place.

What we learned from Sunday’s Week 14 games - David Ely

Baltimore Ravens 24, Buffalo Bills 17

Buffalo (9-4) did an admirable job of bottling up the Ravens’ big-play offense for most of the afternoon, but shutting Baltimore down for a full 60 minutes is too tall a task for even the best defense. On the third play of the second half, Jackson hit tight end Hayden Hurst over the middle off play action. Hurst turned it up field with nothing but open space in front of him and sprinted to the end zone for a 61-yard score. Hurst is now the fifth Raven to have a catch of at least 50 yards this season.

Lamar Jackson slowed by Bills, but Ravens prove they can win ugly with their dominant defense - Chris Trapasso

Heading into this game, while riding a three-game winning streak, Allen completed 67% of his throws at 8.2 yards per attempt with a collective 111.4 passer rating. On Sunday, Allen completed just 43.5% of his pass attempts with a paltry 3.71 yards-per-attempt average and a 62.4 quarterback rating. He was also sacked six times after getting sacked six times in his last four contests combined.

”It’s a really good defense we played, for sure,” Allen said after the game. “They have some smart, savvy dudes that play different positions, and they can bring (pressure) from everywhere and they have veterans who play good coverage.”

An assortment of Baltimore penalties on Buffalo’s late fourth-quarter drive while down one score put the Bills in position to tie the game. After a stuffed run and an Allen throwaway, he took a sack on third down and Peters knocked away a throw from Allen to John Brown near the end zone on fourth down to secure the 11th win of the season for the Ravens. It was a fitting end to a stellar defensive effort from the Ravens.

”It’s a good, veteran defense. They’ve got Marcus Peters. They’ve got Earl Thomas. They’re ranked where they are for a reason,” Bills head coach Sean McDermott said after the game.

Breakdown: Five Thoughts on Ravens vs. Bills - John Eisenberg

The Ravens ran into quite a situation here. Off to their best start since 1996, the Bills were inspired, anxious to prove they’re bona fide championship contenders. They did a better job of limiting Lamar Jackson on the ground than any opponent the Ravens have faced. Western New York, the whole region, was juiced. The stadium was rocking. The wind was swirling. Points were hard to come by. Winners of eight straight games coming in, the Ravens had targets on their backs and needed to find a new way to win. They did, and that’s what championship teams do – problem-solve in tough conditions. The Ravens’ blueprint for victory consisted of their swarming, punishing defense leading the way and their offense enduring some struggles but putting up enough points to win. No style points? That couldn’t matter less. This was a December contest between playoff teams. That’s the major leagues. That the Ravens were resourceful, found a way to win, is a major statement.

Mark Andrews Among Several Injured Against Bills - Clifton Brown

Tight end Mark Andrews went to the locker room in the first quarter with a right knee injury and did not return, taking a key piece away from Baltimore’s offense.

Meanwhile, the Ravens also had two important special teams players go out with injuries – inside linebacker Chris Board (concussion) and safety Anthony Levine Sr. (ankle).

“Mark is not serious, maybe a thigh bruise type of thing,” Harbaugh said. “Anthony is not serious, ankle. Both those guys told me they’d be back Thursday. We’ll see how that goes as the week goes on.”