NFL Week 6 takeaways: What we learned, big questions for every game and future team outlooks - Jamison Hensley
What to know: The Ravens made their biggest statement of the season. In a battle of first-place teams, Baltimore proved it should be mentioned with the Buffalo Bills as the class of the AFC by routing the Chargers. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens ran over the the NFL’s worst run defense and the Baltimore defense continually frustrated quarterback Justin Herbert. This had been a season of close calls for the Ravens, who won their first four games by an average of 6.3 points. On Sunday, Baltimore led by four touchdowns at the start of the fourth quarter.
Have the Ravens fixed their pass defense? The Baltimore defense, which taken its lumps this season, took out its frustration on Herbert and the Chargers’ receivers. The Ravens put the pressure on Herbert and got physical with his targets. The result: the NFL’s 28th-ranked pass defense held Herbert to 195 passing yards. This shows that the Ravens can shut down one of the best and hottest quarterbacks in the NFL. But Baltimore needs to respond with another strong performance next Sunday against Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals before you can say everything on its pass defense has been corrected.
Baltimore’s backfield of castoffs is starting to build enough evidence to bury doubters. The Ravens rushed for 187 yards as a team, outgaining Lamar Jackson’s passing effort by 47 yards and doing so with a complete cast of contributors. Devonta Freeman had his best game in some time, averaging over 5 yards on each of his nine carries, which also included a rushing touchdown. Latavius Murray nearly matched him with 44 yards and his own touchdown on nine attempts. And Le’Veon Bell — wearing No. 17, for some odd reason — found the end zone for the first time since last year. The Ravens didn’t even need Jackson’s heroics on the ground to win this one. They took care of business with their backfield of misfit running backs, whom Los Angeles could not stop all afternoon.
NFL Research: With Sunday’s win, Lamar Jackson passed Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino for the most wins by a starting quarterback before their 25th birthday with 35.
Next Gen Stat of the game: The Ravens gained 140 yards and scored a touchdown on 26 rushes outside the tackles, averaging 5.4 yards per carry in Sunday’s win.
Wide receiver/tight end
Rookie Rashod Bateman made his first appearance of the season and was targeted six times. He came away with four catches for 29 yards. Tight end Mark Andrews also saw six targets, turning them into 68 yards on five catches. Andrews was the only Ravens pass catcher over two yards per route run (2.83).
Justin Houston was the lone Ravens defensive lineman with a sack, and he finished with four pressures on the day. Rookie Odafe Oweh tallied two pressures of his own. Houston also made two run stops on just six run-defense snaps.
Tyus Bowser had two pressures and was not targeted in coverage. Malik Harrison and Josh Bynes were each targeted three times, and each gave up two catches — but for just six yards and 15 yards, respectively. Harrison allowed the Chargers’ lone touchdown.
Anthony Averett was targeted heavily for the second straight week, and he gave up four catches on six targets for 44 yards. All four were for first downs. On the other side, Marlon Humphrey was targeted seven times but allowed only two completions for 19 yards. Safety DeShon Elliot was targeted four times and picked off a pass.
Lamar Jackson finished with a passer rating of 68.0, but that’s very misleading. He completed 19 of 27 passes for 167 yards and only had 51 rushing yards, but he makes this offense go. Without him, the Ravens have no running game. Jackson threw two interceptions, but one caromed off rookie wide receiver Rashod Bateman on a pass he should have caught. There were several other drops by his receivers. Jackson held onto the ball too long at times, but at least he was trying to make a play and didn’t force throws. On what some might consider an average day for most quarterbacks, Jackson still shines. Grade: B+
The Chargers entered the game with the worst run defense in the league and the Ravens physically dominated them at the line of scrimmage. The Ravens consistently ran right off the edge behind tackle Patrick Mekari and guard Kevin Zeitler. This was one of the few games in which the Ravens were successful pulling backside linemen, especially on the left side with tackle Alejandro Villanueva and guard Ben Powers. Pass protection for the most part was excellent, especially in the first half. Grade: A
The Ravens were fortunate enough to win last week despite sleepwalking against the Colts, but they dominated Los Angeles in every phase of the game. In fact, the Chargers were as sloppy and lethargic as the Ravens were a week ago against the Colts. Defensively, the Ravens confused and beat up the Chargers’ offense. Offensively, the Ravens stuck with the run for most of the game, except when they got a little pass-happy in the second quarter. Grade: A
The Breakdown: Five Thoughts on Dominant Win Over Chargers - John Eisenberg
It would be a mistake to point to just one player as the reason for the defense playing so much better than it did a week earlier. But safety DeShon Elliott was truly a transformational figure as he returned from a quad injury that sidelined him the week before. His stat line indicated the multitude of ways in which he made a difference – three solo tackles, a sack, an interception, two passes defended and two quarterback hits. But he also brought a quality that can’t be measured, a fiery intensity that seemingly rubbed off on his teammates. Of course, other factors also contributed to the standout defensive performance, none bigger than completely shutting down the Chargers’ ground game, which generated just 26 yards on 12 carries. Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale’s plan for slowing down Herbert was to put him in third-and-long and then challenge him with an array of pressures from different places. The plan couldn’t have worked better, and it all started with Herbert not having a semblance of a ground game to keep Baltimore’s defense off balance.
Something good happened almost every time Devin Duvernay touched the ball, and he touched it in all sorts of ways – one rush, two catches, two kickoff returns and three punt returns