In Week 6, Baltimore earned their fifth consecutive victory with a dominant performance against the Chargers. A previously lackluster rushing attack found it’s groove and a leaky pass defense smothered Los Angeles, propelling the Ravens to an AFC-best 5-1 record.
The running back committee of past-their-prime journeymen helped stake the Ravens to a 14-point lead and win the time-of-possession battle by 17 minutes. Latavius Murray led the group with a 38-percent snap share (26 snaps), producing 56 all-purpose yards on 11 touches. Devonta Freeman saw 21 snaps (30%) and managed a team leading 5.9 yards per carry. Le’Veon Bell was utilized for 22 snaps (32%) and matched Murray and Freeman with a rushing touchdown.
Tackles Alejandro Villanueva, Patrick Mekari and left guard Ben Powers played all of the Ravens 69 offensive snaps. Center Trystan Colon fared well for 26 snaps after Bradley Bozeman exited due to a leg injury. Tyre Phillips retuned from injured reserve to relieve Kevin Zeitler for the final four snaps of the contest. Overall, the blocking unit allowed eight quarterback hits, five tackles for loss and three sacks but paved the way for 187 rushing yards and 14 first downs on the ground.
Fullback Patrick Ricard was used extensively against the Chargers poor run defense, he played 55 snaps (80%) without touching the ball. Blocking tight end Eric Tomlinson also saw an uptick in usage to 33-percent (23 snaps) without a target, while Josh Oliver contributed one catch during his 19 snaps (28%).
Positive game flow afforded Mark Andrews some rest, the Pro Bowl tight end had a 54-percent snap share (37), yet still led the team with five catches for 68 yards and a score. Marquise Brown produced 35 yards and Devin Duvernay 26 yards from scrimmage on 51 (74%) and 34 (49%) snaps, respectively. Rookie Rashod Bateman made an impact in his NFL debut, converting all four of his catches into first downs and lining-up for 45 snaps (65%).
James Proche and Miles Boykin were used sparsely, earning five and four snaps respectively, but combined to catch three receptions. Tylan Wallace gained the experience of two offensive reps in addition to 16 special teams snaps. And backup quarterback Tyler Huntley replaced Lamar Jackson for the final four plays of the lopsided win.
The activation of 11-year veteran Josh Bynes to serve as the starting middle linebacker facilitated a dramatic defensive turnaround. With a 77-percent snap share (43), Bynes collected six tackles, including one for loss and a pass defensed. Bynes’ presence allowed Patrick Queen to play weak side linebacker and he delivered a mostly mistake-free game with three tackles during 19 snaps (34%). Chris Board and Malik Harrison were relatively effective coming downhill on 23 (41%) and 14 (25%) snaps, respectively. Bynes supplied communication and stability that helped the Ravens hold the Chargers to 2.2 yards per rushing attempt.
The other personnel change that buoyed the Ravens defense was the return of safety DeShon Elliott. Elliott turned-in an outstanding game with an interception, sack, tackle for loss, pair pass deflections and quarterback hits during 55 snaps. Chuck Clark and Marlon Humphrey continued to excel while shouldering a full complement of 56 defensive snaps.
Anthony Averett rebounded from his substandard Week 5 showing, he allowed four receptions into his coverage while playing 55 snaps. Slot corner Tavon Young applied solid coverage during his 35 snaps (62%), while Brandon Stephens generated a tackle for loss with a reduced snap share (13 snaps, 23%) and aging cover man Jimmy Smith was called upon for just 13 snaps (23%). Baltimore’s secondary combined for five pass breakups while allowing only 4.4 yards per pass attempt.
Stalwart Calais Campbell continued to anchor the defensive line with two tackles for loss among his 44 snaps (79%). Brandon Williams deflected a pass and clogged the interior during 27 snaps (48%). Without the services of Derek Wolfe and Broderick Washington, Justin Madubuike was deployed for 25 snaps (45%) and Justin Ellis chipped-in 14 snaps (25%) to the defensive line rotation.
Justin Houston delivered his best game as a Raven, recording a sack, several pressures and run stops on 36 snaps (64%). Rookie Odafe Oweh paced the outside linebackers with 41 snaps (73%) and Tyus Bowser saw 35 uneventful snaps (62%). Pernell McPhee was tasked with only 12 snaps (21%) as the coaches aim to preserve the veteran for the latter portion of the season.
The versatility displayed while defeating the capable Chargers, using a different formula than required in recent victories, bodes well for the Ravens season outlook. With Elliott and Bynes fortifying the spine of their defense and an efficient running game adding another element to their dynamic offensive assault, Baltimore is a worthy AFC frontrunner. Their first divisional battle of the season, a home date against the 4-2 Bengals, is up next before a bye on Halloween.