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Ravens News 10/4: Vintage Defense and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

2021 NFL season, Week 4: What we learned from Sunday’s games - Chase Goodbread

Rebound Brown. Ravens WR Marquise Brown delivered a bounce-back performance after dropping three passes that each could’ve gone for touchdowns against the Detroit Lions last week. The highlight came when Brown made a beautiful diving grab at full speed in the end zone for a 49-yard scoring strike that put the Ravens ahead, 14-7. His speed is never in question, as he reached 21.33 mph on the play, and got a whopping 7.4 yards of separation from the nearest defender, per Next Gen Stats. Brown’s ability to hit explosive plays downfield is vital for the Ravens passing game, and although the Broncos contained him in the second half, he brought that element and then some with four receptions for 91 yards.

Line glue holds. The Ravens offensive line, already without left tackle Ronnie Stanley the last few weeks, lost Stanley’s replacement, Alejandro Villanueva, to an injury. Denver flipped star pass rusher Von Miller to the other side of the line to match him up with Villanueva’s replacement, veteran backup Andre Smith. And although Smith looked overmatched at times, the recipe for disaster didn’t really manifest, thanks in part to Lamar Jackson’s status as the league’s most elusive quarterback. The Broncos blitzed on 65% of dropbacks, their most in a single game in the Next Gen Stats era, yet managed to pressure Jackson on just 16% of their blitzes. Denver safety Caden Sterns notched sacks on two of those blitzes, and Jackson had to bail his share of pockets, but Ravens OL coach Joe D’Alessandris’ unit held together well under the circumstances.

NFL Week 4 Game Recap: Baltimore Ravens 23, Denver Broncos 7 - Sam Monson

Lamar Jackson had to carry the offense once again this week, but it was far more as a passer than on the ground. Baltimore needed to run one final play rather than take a knee to keep their streak of 100-yard rushing performances as a team alive, so Jackson attempted 37 passes, completing 22 for 316 yards. The Ravens averaged a massive 0.300 EPA per passing play, and Jackson maintained his incredibly high average depth of target at 12.7 yards in this game.

Second-year linebacker Patrick Queen struggled again and at least briefly was replaced by Josh Bynes before coming back into the game. Queen had one defensive stop, but that’s one fewer than the number of tackles he missed, and he was still erased from the play almost any time an offensive lineman got his hands on him in the run game. Queen started the season well but has since reverted to his rookie issues.

Anthony Averett is the player who has been tasked with the most different set of responsibilities from what he would have been expecting coming into the season. The loss of Marcus Peters has propelled Averett into a starting role, and he was the most targeted Ravens corner in this game, seeing seven passes come his way. Of those seven, only two were caught, while he grabbed an interception late in the game to prevent a Broncos touchdown and seal the win. He also had a nice forced incompletion earlier.

Position-by-position grades for Ravens’ 23-7 win over Broncos - Mike Preston

Receivers

The Ravens got Marquise “Hollywood” Brown involved early and he played well, making a diving 49-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. Brown is effective at running crossing routes. Andrews worked well in tandem with Brown and dominated the middle of the field with five catches for 67 yards. This was the first time all season Jackson got most of the receivers involved, completing passes to Brown, Andrews, Sammy Watkins, Devin Duvernay and James Proche II. Proche, a second-year player, had five catches for 74 yards. Grade: A-

Defensive line

Like the entire defense, the line struggled early and got knocked off the ball defending the run. But by midway through the first quarter, the Ravens started dominating. Brandon Williams was strong against the run, and fellow tackle Justin Madubuike and defensive end Calais Campbell brought pressure from the inside. For the second straight week, Campbell was easily the Ravens’ top lineman. Grade: B+

Coaching

The Ravens, playing their third road game in four weeks, warmed up after a slow start. Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale harassed Bridgewater with blitzes and designed pressures and Roman attacked the entire field in the passing game, especially on crossing patterns. The Broncos entered undefeated but were outplayed in every phase of the game. Grade: A-

NFL Week 4 grades: Cowboys get an ‘A-’ for beating undefeated Panthers, Titans get a ‘D’ for stunning loss - John Breech

Baltimore 23-7 over Denver

Ravens B+

The Ravens did not have to do anything spectacular on Sunday, as they just had to defend a double-digit lead from a backup quarterback in the second half. Still, credit to Lamar Jackson and the defense for showing up and taking care of business. This wasn’t the fun matchup we expected due to Teddy Bridgewater’s concussion, but Baltimore didn’t let anything funky happen in the second half. Good win. That’s three straight now for the Ravens.

Week 4 Takeaways: Kyler Takes Cards to Another Level, Browns Defense Is Spectacular, Rookie QB Redemption Week - Gary Grambling

The Ravens, In Spite of It All, Are 3–1: With all the injuries and the narrow escapes the past two weeks, it seems Baltimore is walking a bit of a tightrope. But going into Denver (even if the Broncos were a bit of an underwhelming 3–0 and had to go to Drew Lock in the second half) and controlling the game like they did is the kind of thing an impressive team does. The Ravens defense, even with some key players missing, looked like its vintage self on Sunday.

NFL Week 4 takeaways: What we learned, big reaction questions and stat leaders for every game - Jamison Hensley

Will anyone step up to become the Ravens’ lead back? Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman said entering this game that the Ravens are “just starting to get a feel for our [running] backs.” But the backfield remains in flux. After making starter Ty’son Williams inactive, Latavius Murray managed 59 yards on 18 carries (a pedestrian 3.3 yards per carry). Le’Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman combined for 15 yards on five attempts. The Ravens have been trying to find someone to take over the featured role since top backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards suffered season-ending knee injuries within weeks of the start of the regular season. All the blame can’t be placed on the running backs. Baltimore is on its third left tackle just four games into the season. Andre Smith, a practice squad promotion, filled in for Alejandro Villanueva (knee), who had been filling in for Ronnie Stanley.