The Ravens’ historic streak of 100+ yard rushing games ended on Monday night. The Indianapolis Colts came into M&T Bank Stadium with the game plan of making Lamar Jackson beat them with his arm. That’s exactly what he did.
First, credit to Jackson. There were a ton of talks about his passing game improving this offseason but also a ton of doubts. The throwing aspect of his game has been debated about on seemingly every week of almost every nationally televised sports show. That spotlight comes with the stardom, but Lamar silenced most of the haters left that still didn’t believe he can throw the ball efficiently.
He’s earned all the praise for that sensational performance in Week 5, but there are some other playmakers on this team that also deserve a ton of credit in the win and for the overall improvement in the Ravens’ passing offense.
TE Mark Andrews
Andrews is undoubtedly the anchor of this offense. He leads all tight ends in receiving yards this season and is second in receptions behind only Travis Kelce (no surprise there). Andrews is Jackson’s go-to guy, continuing to blossom into a top-tier receiver — not just tight end — in this league. The way that Andrews sees the field and finds holes in the zone has brought reliability that this offense has desperately needed with Jackson at the helm.
Andrews finished Monday night with 11 receptions, 147 yards, and two ouchdowns. He caught four passes passes in the end zone including the consecutive two-point conversions, what else is there to say? Andrews is a beast and he’s deserved every cent of the big contract extension he signed this offseason.
WR Marquise Brown
What a game from “Hollywood”, the definitive No. 1 receiver on this team now. As reliable as guys like Andrews or Watkins are, Brown is the receiver that Jackson continues to throw to for the big play. There have been numerous big plays from him already: the 42-yard touchdown against the Chiefs, the diving catch against the Broncos and his 43-yard touchdown catch against the Colts (to name a few). Every single one of those plays was a game-altering moment. That’s why you spend a first-round pick on a guy like Marquise Brown.
Ever since the playoff game against the Titans, Greg Roman’s offense has given Brown opportunities to make plays in the open field and he has delivered. He is a menace to defenses in the open field, but can still deliver with deep routes like the 43-yarder that shifted the momentum against Indianapolis. The Colts couldn’t contain Brown either, as he finished with nine receptions, 125 yards, and two scores.
Has Hollywood earned his nickname back?
WR Sammy Watkins
It’s already fair to say that the Watkins signing was a success. A big hit knocked him out early on Monday night but through five weeks, Watkins has been another consistent receiver on this roster. He’s continuously acting as a solid security blanket, providing receptions for Jackson when he needs them.
Here’s a funny stat: Sammy Watkins had exactly four receptions in each game of the season before Week 5.
Also, never doubt Eric DeCosta . . .
The #Ravens were involved in discussions on various levels with Julio Jones, Juju Smith-Schuster and T.Y. Hilton. They settled on Sammy Watkins. These are the stats for each through 5 games (except for Sammy who goes tonight v. Colts) pic.twitter.com/1Iz1A9D6LC— Tony Lombardi (@RSRLombardi) October 11, 2021
WR Devin Duvernay
One of the unsung heroes of Monday’s game was the wideout from Texas that had a lot to prove this season. Duvernay has a limited role in this offense but he caught every ball thrown his way against the Colts, which is all that Jackson needs from him. He’s also leading the league in punt return average.
Side note: the catch that Duvernay made in the second quarter between two defenders was one of the best catches I’ve seen from any Ravens’ pass-catcher this season.
WR James Proche
The training camp superstar had a slow start in 2021 with only one reception through Week 3. However, Proche had a huge game against Denver last week (five receptions, 74 yards) and caught both of his targets against Indianapolis. Just like Duvernay, the role for Proche is going to be limited, but what matters is if he can step up if either one of Watkins or Brown can’t play in a game. The last two weeks have indicated that he can.
And don't forget . . .
“Na, na-na, na-na, na-na, na-na, na-na, na-na, na-na, na-na, na-na, na-na, na-na, na-na . . . BAT(e)MAN!”
Don’t forget about this guy! The coaching staff didn’t rush the rookie’s return. Now, he is in prime position to add even more explosiveness to this Ravens offense upon making his debut next week.