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4 takeaways from the Ravens’ 23-7 victory over the Broncos

A third straight win, this time not in dramatic fashion

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

After two straight victories by two points or less, the Ravens won more convincingly in Week 4. They fell down 7-0 to the Broncos in the first half but then scored the next 23 points of the game, cruising to a 16-point victory.

It was an impressive result against an AFC foe and one of few remaining undefeated teams in the league before today. The Ravens are now 3-1 on the season.

Takeaways from a big win are in order.

Defensive dominance

The Ravens defense ranked in the bottom-half of the NFL in most metrics entering today. They had yet to play a complete all-around performance through Weeks 1-3. Against the Broncos, they stepped up with a dominant showing.

Denver possessed the ball for almost 27 minutes on the day and mustered just one scoring drive. Their lone touchdown drive lasted only five plays and was aided by a facemask penalty called on the Ravens.

The Ravens held the Broncos to just 3-of-14 on third down attempts. Denver could have reasonably made a comeback attempt for most of the second half, needing just a touchdown to make the game a one-score difference. Instead, they punted on four straight possessions.

Baltimore gave up a chunk runs to Melvin Gordon III and Javonte Williams in the first half and Denver averaged 6.2 yards per carry for the game. However, they only gained a total of 106 rushing yards as they threw 37 times and attempted 17 rushes. Game script worked in the Ravens’ favor, which is a credit to the defense getting off the field often.

Front seven shines

The Ravens saw Justin Madubuike, Brandon Williams, and Justin Houston return from the COVID-19/Reserve list after missing Week 3. Their return seemed to help against the Broncos, as the Ravens’ defensive line dominated up front all afternoon.

Baltimore got consistent pressure on Teddy Bridgewater in the first half. The onslaught continued on Drew Lock in the second half and everyone played a part. Odafe Oweh and Tyus Bowser got loose on the edge for a combined three sacks and three QB hits. Calais Campbell and Madubuike got steady push against a banged-up interior Broncos offensive line.

The Broncos had few answers for “Wink” Martindale’s schemes. There were a handful of plays where the Ravens had an unblocked blitzer rushing the quarterback. When the pocket collapsed, there was very little Bridgewater or Lock could do to counteract.

For the game, the Ravens finished with five sacks and 11 quarterback hits, both of which represent season-best totals.

Digging the long ball

Of Lamar Jackson’s 22 completions against Denver, almost half of them went for double-digit yardage. Jackson again continued to push the ball downfield with greater frequency — and success.

Jackson finished the game with 316 passing yards, marking his second career 300+ yard game. Frankly, he should have done so last week, either. Jackson is slinging it and, more importantly, receivers are getting open.

Marquise Brown bounced back with a 49-yard highlight touchdown catch and added another 32-yard reception. Mark Andrews caught four passes that were 10+ yards and Sammy Watkins had a couple of his own. Devin Duvernay and James Proche also had impressive games. The latter caught a career-high five passes for 74 yards.

After four games, it’s evident that this version of the Ravens’ passing attack is different from what we saw in 2019 and 2020. It is more explosive and multi-faceted. And — Rashod Bateman and Miles Boykin return to the lineup next week.

Needing to finish more

A 17-point offensive explosion in the second quarter proved to be more than enough for the Ravens to win in Denver. However, similar to last week’s performance against the Lions, better execution at points could have allowed them to score even more.

Before today, the Ravens were a bottom-five team in third down conversions so far this season. They went 7-of-17 on third down against the Broncos, but five of these successful conversions came in the second half. Oddly enough, despite going 5-for-9 on third down in the final two quarters, they scored only six points.

Dropped passes did not kill them like it did in Week 3. However, they continue to get themselves in some third-and-long situations, where they have not been successful so far this year. They got into third-and-short scenarios several times in this game and punted after an inside zone run went nowhere.

It was not until late in the game that the Ravens had a drive last longer than 8 plays. Better play-calling and more consistency down-to-down would be helpful. Combining last week and this week, they’ve scored three offensive touchdowns compared to seven field goals.