In Week 9, the Baltimore Ravens welcomed the Minnesota Vikings to town for a purple reign showdown. The home team recovered from a sluggish start, rallied back and came away with a overtime victory thanks in large part to some of their less-heralded players on both sides of the ball.
This article highlights the players whose performances flew under the radar but were still clutch. The unsung heroes:
FB Patrick Ricard
The two-time Pro Bowler continued to stake his claim as the best fullback in the entire league with his outstanding contributions on Sunday. Ricard played a vital role in the Ravens’ response to the Vikings taking the second half kickoff 98-yards for a score to give them their second 14-point lead of the game. He was targeted a season-high five times and recorded all 35 of his receiving yards as well as his first touchdown of the season on the team’s first drive of the third quarter.
Facing a less than desirable third-and-14 after penalty set the drive back early, quarterback Lamar Jackson dumped the ball off to Ricard in the flat who proceeded to bulldoze his way for a 12-yard gain. The Ravens went for it on fourth down and got it. On the very next play, Ricard had his number called again. This time he made an incredible one-handed snag and rumbled for a 22-yard gain to advance the offense into the red zone.
“Why do you talk about their fullback so much?”— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) November 8, 2021
The fullback: pic.twitter.com/WXLkjKv3ma
Finally, he was rewarded for his clutch play on the crucial drive by being the recipient of a 1-yard pass into the same right flat that he’d been attacking to bring the Ravens back within a touchdown again. Ricard also had a strong day opening up holes and plowing lanes in the run game as a devastating blocker.
FULLBACK TD ALERT— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) November 7, 2021
PROJECT PAT TD!
Tune in on FOX! pic.twitter.com/4z5CDDHuFR
ILB Josh Bynes
The veteran linebacker has been the Ravens’ most consistent and impressive defender since being inserted as the starting MIKE and continued to do so against the Vikings. Bynes was all over the field making plays in both the running and passing game. He read and diagnosed plays quickly which allowed him to play faster than many thought he could at 32-years old. He nearly had his first interception of the year on a pass he deflected after jumping to undercut the route.
The 11-year veteran played a key role in defense coming up with key run stops in several short-yardage situations that forced the Vikings into either punting or making the risky decision to try to convert on fourth down. He quickly shot and filled gaps to stop ball carriers at or behind the line of scrimmage and displayed great form tackling. Bynes finished with a team-leading 11 total tackles including eight solos and one for a 1-yard loss.
Watch Josh Bynes sniff this out— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) November 8, 2021
Playing at such a consistently high level in the run game. Pleasure to watch. pic.twitter.com/n6RUHmFJmm
RB Devonta Freeman
The veteran running back continues to come on extremely strong and be a godsend for the Ravens’ backfield that was decimated by injuries just before the season. Outside of the under-utilized Ty’Son Williams, he has the most juice of all of the Ravens veteran backs and showcased it more than one occasion on Sunday. He recorded season-highs in carries (13), yardage (79), and yards per carry (6.1). He picked up a key fourth-and-short on the Ravens’ first drive of the third quarter where he outraced Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks to the edge. Freeman managed to not get tripped up by a shoestring tackle attempt as he picked up the necessary yardage to move the chains.
Freeman contributed in the passing game as well both as a receiver out of the backfield and in pass protection. He had a few nice blitz pickups and chip blocks and his 5-yard touchdown reception made it a one-score game just before halftime. He could’ve had more yards receiving had Jackson not thrown the ball over his head or out of reach on a couple of check-down opportunities.
OLB Tyus Bowser
The veteran edge defender didn’t record a sack but generated consistent pressure and set a strong edge against the run all game long. He deflected a short pass in the second quarter that helped limit the Vikings to a short field goal after Jackson threw his first interception of the game. Bowser also got a key pressure on quarterback Kirk Cousins during Minnesota’s only offensive drive of the third quarter.
The overthrow that he forced came on a third-and-11 in the third quarter to force a punt and give the Ravens the ball back. The offense then went on a 10-plus minute drive that spanned 82 yards in 19 plays to tie the game. Bowers’ best and most underrated play came on the Vikings’ only drive in overtime where he set a stout edge and dropped Cook for a 1-yard loss after he received a pitch to the left. It set the stage for third-and-9 that Minnesota failed to convert on the next play, giving the Ravens the second chance they needed to win the game.
Baltimore Ravens LB Tyus Bowser is such an underrated player. This play on 2nd down allowed Wink Martindale to unleash hell on the Vikings’ last offensive play of the game.— CJ Errickson (@CJErrickson_NFL) November 8, 2021
Had a really nice day overall. #RavensFlock pic.twitter.com/vpOCQNYcpS
RB Le’Veon Bell
The veteran running back had his best game as Raven to date, both from a production and impact standpoint. He received the bulk of his carries after halftime as the Ravens were mounting a comeback and trying to win the game in overtime. With Latavius Murray out for a second straight game, Bell churned out some hard yards, consistently moved the pile, and came up clutch in several short-yardage situations.
His one-yard touchdown run with just under three and a half minutes left in regulation gave the Ravens their first lead since they scored the first points of the game on a Justin Tucker goal in the first quarter. He finished third on the team in rushing with 48 yards on 11 carries for a season-high 4.4 yards per carry. In overtime, he carried the ball four times for 18 yards on the final drive including the last two touches to set Justin Tucker’s game-winning chip shot field goal.
WR Devin Duvernay
The second-year receiver only touched the ball four times in this game and just twice on offense but he made arguably the best catch of the week and certainly of his career to tie the game in the fourth quarter. Trailing 24-17 with just under nine and a half minutes left in regulation, Jackson found Duvernay in the back of the end zone for a 5-yard score. He hauled in the pass with one hand and managed to land in bounds before his momentum carried him out.
ILB Patrick Queen
The second-year inside linebacker continued to make strides and show off his improvement since he moved over to the weakside. He didn’t just bring the boom with some thunderous hits but he wrapped well when making tackles. Queen finished with four total tackles including a pair of solos and one for a huge 8-yard loss. His tackle behind the line of scrimmage came on the Vikings’ ensuing drive after the Ravens tied the game and set the tone for a swift three-and-out. He knifed through Minnesota’s offensive line and dropped Cook deep in the backfield to set up a second-and-18.