It wasn’t pretty and certainly wasn’t perfect, but the Ravens escaped Chicago with a 16-13 victory in Week 11. Baltimore overcame not having Lamar Jackson and a handful of other starters to squeeze out yet another narrow, thrilling win.
Thanks to some late heroics, the Ravens now improve to 7-3. A few takeaways from the game are below.
Deja vu . . .
In many ways, Sunday’s win over the Bears represents a microcosm of the Ravens season as a whole. It wasn’t a complete performance on either side of the ball, they found themselves facing a deficit in the fourth quarter, some weird things happened and yet . . . they prevailed with a victory.
Another come-from-behind effort marks the fifth time that the Ravens have trailed in the fourth quarter this season and ultimately won. This is quite remarkable, especially considering that represents five of their now seven overall wins. Of these five comeback wins, all but one have resulted in the Ravens winning by a field goal or less.
Normally, this sort of trend would be deemed unsustainable — and maybe some negative regression in close games is bound to kick in at some point. Although, we’re now in the second half of the season and the Ravens continue to wind up on the right side of these down-to-the-wire endings, more often than not.
Call it what you want but so long as Baltimore keeps finding ways to win, maybe it doesn’t matter how convincing it looks . . .
Avoiding a near collapse
For most of this game, the Ravens’ defense ceded little-to-nothing. However, because of the Ravens’ offensive struggles, the Bears hung around a couple of big plays in the second half saw them take a lead twice.
Two plays after Andy Dalton replaced Justin Fields in the third quarter, Darnell Mooney got loose off a screen pass and scored a 60-yard touchdown. At the time, the Ravens were still leading by six points and pitching a shutout — one single play saw the Bears suddenly go up by one.
With just two minutes remaining in the game, the Ravens led 9-7 and had the Bears facing a 4th-&-11 attempt. The Ravens puzzlingly came with an all-out blitz and left their cornerbacks alone in man coverage, which saw Marquise Goodwin burn Chris Westry for a 49-yard score. The Bears took a 13-9 lead after failing to convert a two-point conversion try.
Fortunately, the Ravens were good enough in key spots that these lone blemishes did not cost them in the end. However, the continued defensive miscues due to blown coverages and poor tackling — even when they are few — are discouraging.
Special teams kind of day
When the Ravens score just one offensive touchdown all game and still win, that’s usually an indicator of strong defense and special teams play. The play of the defense was already touched on in the above paragraph, but the Ravens’ special teams made a clear difference in their own right.
We’ve come to expect greatness from Justin Tucker, but his three field goals in this game were the Ravens’ only points up until late in the fourth quarter. Had he misfired on one of these attempts, as Chicago’s Cairo Santos did in the first quarter, we could be having a different conversation.
One of the more underrated plays of the game came from Jaylon Ferguson, who partially blocked a punt on the Bears’ third drive of the fourth quarter. Because of Ferguson deflecting the ball, it traveled only 28 yards and the Ravens took possession at Chicago’s 45 yard line. With good field position, the Ravens were well within field goal range despite only gaining 17 yards on the ensuing drive. Tucker then connected from 48 yards out to put the Ravens up by two points.
In a slugfest with middling offensive production, winning in little spots like this can make all the difference.
Tyler Huntley shows poise when it matters
All eyes were on Tyler Huntley on Sunday. The second-year UDFA was thrust into his first career start just hours before kickoff when Lamar Jackson was declared out during the 11:30am window. On the road without the team’s top wide receiver, Marquise Brown, it was reasonable to expect Huntley to struggle to some degree.
Overall, it was an up-and-down performance for the former Utah product. He generally took what the Bears’ defense gave him and made routine throws, rarely taking shots downfield. He looked comfortable in the first half but made some inaccurate throws and held the ball too long at times.
Huntley was intercepted by Tashaun Gipson early in the fourth quarter with the Ravens in scoring position. However, this ultimately didn’t cost the Ravens because Huntley made up for the mistake in a huge way a few drives later.
Trailing 13-9 with just over a minute remaining, Huntley navigated the Ravens into Bears’ territory in just a few quick plays. On third-and-long, Huntley lofted a 30-yard pass to Sammy Watkins to set up 1st-&-Goal — which quickly turned into a game-winning touchdown rush by Devonta Freeman.
It was a difficult spot for Huntley to deliver in, but he saved his best play of the game for the biggest moment.