Lamar Jackson, Ravens can’t handle pressure in shocking loss to Dolphins - Jamison Hensley
In a 22-10 upset loss to the Miami Dolphins, Jackson faced 24 defensive back blitzes — the most any defense has sent at him and the most DB blitzes any quarterback has faced since 2015. This was the fewest points Baltimore has scored in Jackson’s 46-game career (previous low was 17 points), and it came against a two-win Dolphins team that had the NFL’s 30th-ranked defense.
Jackson had carried the injury-filled Ravens for most of the season, but he couldn’t perform his usual late-game magic because he repeatedly faced unblocked Dolphins blitzing. He was sacked four times and was limited to 277 total yards (238 passing and 39 rushing).
On one fourth quarter pass, the Dolphins blitzed four defensive backs, the most on a single blitz all season. Jackson slamming the ball in frustration became a familiar sight as drive after drive ended in a punt.
Pivotal play: Early in the fourth quarter, wide receiver Sammy Watkins had the ball stripped and Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard returned the fumble 49 yards for a touchdown. This was a brutal first game back for Watkins, who missed the past three with a hamstring injury. The Ravens’ turnovers (12 this season) finally caught up to them.
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Ravens QB Lamar Jackson never found a rhythm. Baltimore’s signal-caller struggled with timing and accuracy, leaving the upset door open all night long for a Dolphins team ready to step through. Early in the game, Jackson had an open Sammy Watkins deep down the middle of the field, but was a beat late on a throw that Watkins appeared to peel off on as he was running into the path of the goalpost. It was emblematic of Jackson’s night. He took four sacks, threw too many passes off balance, and never looked comfortable in completing just three of 12 passes of 10-plus air yards. The Ravens can overcome that at times when the tracks are greased for their rushing attack, but on this night, that wasn’t going to carry the day, either.
I’ve got him … you take him. Two inexplicable busts in the Ravens secondary accounted for a massive chunk of the Dolphins’ offense, and were as big a factor in the outcome as anything. On the first, Dolphins WR Isaiah Ford got loose deep down the right sideline for a 52-yard catch that set up a field goal before halftime. On the second, Tagovailoa found Albert Wilson down the left sideline – even more wide open than Ford was – for a 64-yard gain late in the fourth quarter. The Ravens had just cut the lead to 15-10 and were poised to potentially steal the game with a defensive stop, but Wilson’s play set up a short touchdown to put the game out of reach. Those two plays accounted for nearly a third of Miami’s offense (116 of 374 yards).
After living dangerously for weeks, the Ravens go to South Florida and get what they deserved - Jeff Zrebiec
The offense didn’t find the end zone until there was just over four minutes to play. At that point, it was getting outscored by the Dolphins’ defense. Jackson, who was touted to celebrate his South Florida homecoming by lighting up Hard Rock Stadium and the Dolphins’ 30th-ranked defense, looked equal parts frustrated and confused. The Ravens went just 2-for-14 on third down and you got the feeling that if the two teams played another four quarters, Baltimore would still have not figured out how to pick up the Dolphins blitz.
Defensively, the Ravens were really good at times, but when they needed to make a big stop to give the offense one more chance, they folded. They allowed two 50-plus yard plays to a team that hadn’t had a single one of them in its first nine games by simply not picking up an offensive player streaking down the field.
“I guess you are what you put on film and that’s kind of been our Achilles’ heel,” cornerback Marlon Humphrey said. “Even when we play good, good, good, a slip up here, good, good, good, a slip up there.”
The normally reliable kicking game also struggled. Justin Tucker missed a 48-yard field goal attempt and punter Sam Koch had a few poor punts.
It wasn’t one thing for the Ravens. It was pretty much everything, playing out in front of a prime-time television audience. The Ravens looked slow and tired. They also looked unprepared.
A lot of the pressure on Jackson came on free rushes or situations where he held onto the ball for too long.
Center Bradley Bozeman will likely be the only Ravens offensive lineman who finished PFF’s review process with a pass-blocking grade under 70.0. The run game, however, was a different issue, as all five offensive linemen earned run-blocking grades below 65.0 on first review.
Veterans Justin Houston and Calais Campbell were men amongst boys in the trenches and should both finish reviews with 85.0-plus PFF grades. Houston and Cambpell both recorded five pressures apiece. The rest of the Ravens’ defensive line won’t clear 70.0.
Patrick Queen should finish PFF’s review process with the highest single-game PFF grade of his career. He had a team-high six total pressures and recorded a forced fumble and near recovery on a Tagovailoa sack. He also added two other defensive stops and missed zero tackles versus Baltimore.
Chris Westry and Tavon Young both played outside in limited snaps against Miami. Anthony Averett also recorded two forced incompletions and allowed receptions on just 5-of-11 targets on first review. The issues in coverage for Baltimore were more often blown assignments or questionable penalties than actually getting beat down the field.
Besides tight end Mark Andrews, Jackson never got in sync with this group. Because of the blitzes, the Ravens stayed with quick, short passes, but the Dolphins were well prepared for speedy receiver Marquise Brown. Sammy Watkins had a good chance to haul in a touchdown pass on the Ravens’ first drive, but he failed to stretch out in the end zone. His fumble late in the game also led to a Dolphins touchdown. Grade: D
The Ravens were operating on a short week with basically one practice day to prepare for the Dolphins. They somehow stayed with the short passing game even without having much success in the first half. The defense played well enough to win, but the Ravens still missed a lot of tackles. Halftime adjustments? There weren’t many in the final two quarters. The Ravens had no answer for Miami’s blitzes. Grade: D