The Ravens failed to cover the spread on Sunday and gave fans a bit of an emotional roller coaster in the second half, but most importantly - they improved to 2-0. Baltimore withstood an aggressive offense attack from Arizona and made enough plays offensively to grind out a one-possession victory at home.
Here are the takeaways:
1) Mark Andrews is going to have a BIG season
After posting career-highs in receptions (8) and receiving yards (108) against the Dolphins, sophomore TE Mark Andrews followed it up with another impressive performance in Week 2, as he set new career-bests in both categories. Andrews was once again Lamar Jackson’s go-to target, reeling in eight catches for 112 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown on the team’s opening drive. He converted multiple first downs in the second half, too. After two weeks, Andrews is on pace for 128 catches and 1,760 yards. While these numbers aren’t exactly realistic, the Oklahoma product seems primed for a Pro Bowl-caliber year.
2) “Bend but don’t break”
Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, with Kyler Murray at the helm, proved to be a much more formidable challenge than what the Ravens’ faced in Miami last week. In the first half, Murray completed 17/26 passes for 192 yards, completing several throws into tight windows. The majority of these incompletions came at the end of the second quarter, too, and Murray orchestrated two drives in the first half that ended in points. However, both times the Cardinals found themselves within the 10-yard line, Baltimore’s defense held Arizona to field goals, which proved to be a difference-maker.
More of the same in the second half, as Murray connected on several deep passes and the Cardinals were finally able to punch it in the endzone in the fourth quarter. However, Baltimore’s defense stepped up the plate late, thwarting multiple opportunities for the Cardinals to score a go-ahead touchdown. It was far from a flawless showing but the end result is what matters, and the defense deserves credit for performing in crunch time.
3) Jimmy Smith and Tavon Young’s absences may sting more than expected
Baltimore is historically dominant against rookie quarterbacks, but you wouldn’t have known it based on today. The aforementioned Murray finished with 349 passing yards and completed 25/40 passes. While the Ravens buckled down late, it wasn’t before getting gashed multiple times in the third and fourth quarters. Murray delivered throws to nine different receivers but Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk led the way, as they combined for 11 receptions and 114 yards. While Marlon Humphrey continues to play at a high level, Brandon Carr and Anthony Averett struggled at times.
We knew losing Tavon Young for the year was unfortunate but everyone assumed the defensive backfield would be fine with Humphrey, Carr, and Jimmy Smith in the fold, as well as Earl Thomas and Tony Jefferson. However, after losing Smith to an MCL injury, it appears the secondary could be in more trouble than we thought, especially with the Chiefs and Browns up next on the schedule.
4) Lamar Jackson regresses slightly but is still dynamic
Lamar Jackson followed up a historic, record-breaking performance in Week 1 with another impressive outing against the Cardinals. Jackson wasn’t quite as sharp with some of his passes but facing a more talented defense than Miami, particularly in the pass-rushing department, Jackson completed 24/37 throws for 272 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, he showcased that his rushing ability is still top-notch and can still be a crucial component to this offense.
The pocket collapsed on Jackson multiple times throughout the game and nearly every time it did, he escaped and picked up chunks of yardage on the ground. He ended up running the ball 16 times but the majority of these attempts came in a scenario like the one above. Jackson finished with a career-high 120 rushing yards, meaning he nearly totaled 400 yards from scrimmage on the day. Regression to the mean as a passer was inevitable but if the “mean” is what we saw today, that’s great news.
5) Offensive line takes a step back
As mentioned above, much of Jackson’s rushing yardage came from scrambling out of the pocket it was collapsing. The Cardinals only finished with two sacks and two quarterback hits, but these numbers fail to tell the whole story. Baltimore’s offensive line gave up far too much pressure at times and took a definitive step back from their performance in Week 1. Orlando Brown Jr. was flagged for multiple penalties, Bradley Bozeman was manhandled by Corey Peters at one point, and Matt Skura snapped the ball too early and it hit the leg of Mark Andrews, who was motioning behind the line. They didn’t do a great job of opening up many running lanes for Ingram, either, who finished with just 47 cards on 13 carries.
Simply put, the offensive line will need to perform better going forward, especially with talented rushers coming up on the schedule in Frank Clark and Myles Garrett.
6) The connection between Jackson and Hollywood is legit
Marquise Brown was once again one of the team’s leading offensive performers. He saw a whopping 13 targets and caught eight of them for 86 yards. He didn’t find the endzone in Week 2, but he made arguably the biggest play of the game late in the fourth quarter. On 3rd & 11, “Hollywood” and Jackson hooked up for a 41-yard connection along the sideline. Jackson delivered a perfect pass to Brown and the first down conversion all but iced Baltimore’s victory.
Brown was the only wide receiver on the roster to catch multiple passes on Sunday and Miles Boykin was the only other wideout who saw more than a single target. Brown clearly has the trust and confidence of Jackson and after an offseason in which the two players didn’t see many snaps together, the rapport they’ve shown thus far is encouraging.