Baltimore looked lost offensively in the first half — they didn’t get a single rushing yard on either of their first two drives — but were able to bounce back significantly after halftime. Upon rewatching, it became clear that the Ravens expected to get yards by getting up to their old tricks, but plays that worked in Week 2 probably won’t work against a Top-5 defense like the Colts.
Welcome to the offensive film room. Here, we’re gonna take a look at three plays that stood out to me and go over why they’re special.
The first play one comes in the second quarter. This is only Baltimore's third drive of the game and at this point, they have yet to create any sort of meaningful momentum on this side of the ball. The play is full of pre-snap motion and misdirection, but the core is a handoff to Devin Duvernay towards what the Ravens hope is the weaker side of the defense with Boyle setting a lead block. The Colts defense is exceptionally prepared for it, and Duvernay is lucky he only lost one yard on the play.
Almost this exact play worked multiple times earlier in the season, the best of which was Duvernay's 42-yard run against the Bengals. However, football is a game of adaptability, and over the course of a season teams will begin to adapt to the way Baltimore plays football. Misdirection is wonderful and good for a lot of reasons, but when you become predictable all that pre-snap motion does you very little good. There are multiple Colts defenders ready for the reverse before Duvernay even touches the ball, plus you have a defender who went unaccounted for who could’ve blown the entire play up if he’d just committed earlier.
The same tricks will not always work, it’s important to change and adapt, because come playoff time teams will be more than ready for this offense if things continue like this.
Now let’s shift gears and look at some positives, notably this play from Baltimore’s first drive after halftime. The Ravens are trailing at the half, something that every national media member will never forget to mention that Lamar Jackson has yet been able to overcome, but the Ravens came out slinging.
The Colts rushed five men here, smartly attempting to take advantage of the Ravens injured offensive line. However, Indianapolis is in man coverage with a QB spy over the middle, which means there’s no help coming for the defenders other than the single safety over the top. Boyle beats his man, Jackson makes a great throw, Boyle makes a wonderful catch, and the play results in a pretty sizeable gain.
Teams love to try and take Andrews and Brown out of the game by double covering them and putting their best men on them and while that is smart, it also will inherently allow other players to get open. Boyle is on the low priority list for defenses covering the Ravens, but he’s quietly been extremely valuable to Baltimore and maybe deserves a little more respect.
This last play comes in the fourth quarter while the Ravens are up 14-10 and have been consistently getting yardage.
It’s a 3rd-&-Inches in the red zone and Baltimore has all their big bodies on the field. The Colts are expecting a run, but don’t have anyone keeping an eye on Lamar to make sure he doesn’t scramble for yards. This play comes after Baltimore threw it once in the past 10 plays. Indianapolis knows the Ravens will run here and they’re convinced they know where it’s going, but this was a designed play — not an option like so many of the others are. This is a play action into a quarterback run, something you certainly don’t see often.
Baltimore played this well by doing the predictable thing over and over again, but doing it in a way that worked by constantly changed who and where and in what formation. Then, when you have them on their heels, you put yourself in a classic formation with a clear intention on what’s going to happen — and blow them out of the water.
This is what the Baltimore offense was designed to do, I just hope we continue to see stuff like we saw in this second half.