After losing five straight home games, the Baltimore Ravens pulled out a win against the Cincinnati Bengals at the last second. As John Harbaugh loves to say, “It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t pretty. But it was us.”
This was about as vintage of a mid-2010 Ravens win as you can get. A close game against a division rival, won by the defense and special teams, 19-17.
Here are the takeaways following the win.
There Simply Is No One Better
He continues to do it. Season after season, game after game, kick after kick. Justin Tucker is flat-out the best player ever to put his cleat to an NFL football. Sixty-one. Sixty-one in a row made during the fourth quarter and overtime. You can’t be better than him. He doesn’t just make them, he puts in through the cross bars better than everybody else that does it.
It's not just this kick -- Tucker is always pure down the middle.— Michael Lopez (@StatsbyLopez) October 10, 2022
Here's @DataWithBliss's plot from two years ago.
Tucker leads the league in middle-of-the-upright accuracy https://t.co/TkrCKPmDzt pic.twitter.com/vjBmuDg1Oa
We talked about after he was put on the NFL Top 100 for the first time in his career. It goes past him being the best kicker in the league. He’s simply one of the best players in the league. The Ravens are the only team to have a weapon like him and probably will be the only team ever for a long long time. It’s been a while since they’ve had to rely on Tucker like they did tonight, all but one of their scores coming from him. It’s nice to know they can still rely on him like they did pre-Lamar Jackson.
"JUSTIN TUCKER WINS IT FOR BALTIMORE!"— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) October 10, 2022
Back in action Sunday at 1 pm on CBS! pic.twitter.com/Y7O5qHGo6A
It’s important to give a big nod to rookie punter Jordan Stout. Stout had been struggling of late, with short punts and one shank. He came back in a big way tonight with a two good punts and a game-winning hold that he had to work hard for after a slightly errant snap. He bounced back in a big way.
Look at this hold by Jordan Stout— Z.J. (@Purp_BlackVeins) October 10, 2022
The Defense Is Back
A lot of the season has been focused on the defense. Rightly so, considering some of the losses they’ve suffered (re: Miami). After a good performance against the Buffalo Bills, holding them to 23 points, they’ve exorcised some demons. The Ravens held the Bengals to just 17 points and under 300 total yards. Even more, they held wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase to 50 yards receiving. Both Peters and Marlon Humphrey locked down Chase for a good portion of the night, constantly tight on coverage and taking away throwing windows.
An excellent goal-line stand helped shift momentum, Patrick Queen finally got his interception and Marcus Peters played out of his mind. This was a huge night for the defense, holding a team to under 20 points and getting big stops throughout the game.
Marcus Peters denies any chance of a “Cincy Special” pic.twitter.com/1LQAIeq7IK— Baltimore Beatdown (@BmoreBeatdown) October 10, 2022
The Offense Needs to Step Up, But Returns Should Help
It worked, just barely. The offense hasn’t had to count on Tucker to be the majority scorer like this in a while. It was reminiscent of the back half of Joe Flacco’s time. That shouldn’t be happening while Lamar is under center. The struggle today should have been the passing game because of the wide receiver corps without Rashod Bateman. But Devin Duvernay looks more like a No. 1 wide receiver every week and James Proche and Tylan Wallace had opportunities. The reason the pass game struggled was, surprisingly, Lamar Jackson. He simply didn’t look like himself. He looked unsettled and uncomfortable despite a lot of clean pockets. It’s two games in a row where Jackson has looked just slightly off. The Ravens need him to play better.
Lamar Jackson's pass intended for Tylan Wallace had a completion probability of 65.0%, the 5th-most probable incompletion on a pass 30+ yards downfield in the NGS era (since 2016).— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) October 10, 2022
The NGS Decision Guide had the call as a "slight go" — by 1.6%.#CINvsBAL | #RavensFlock pic.twitter.com/wN2OLWlwZn
Outside of Jackson, the rest of the offense brings excitement. J.K. Dobbins continues to look better every week, Mark Andrews remains an animal and the running game is finally back up to standard.
Ronnie Stanley’s return was the big story coming into the game. After missing 31 of the last 32 games, he finally returned to the lineup...and looked excellent! The Ravens kept him on a snap count and he rotated in and out of the lineup with Patrick Mekari. The offense simply looked better with Stanley out there, which is huge considering how well Mekari has played at both tackle spots the last two years. Stanley should hopefully move into a fulltime role over the next couple of weeks.
Injury Woes Continue
The win didn’t come without its price. Marcus Williams, arguably the Ravens’ best secondary piece, suffered a dislocated wrist. We might see rookie outside linebacker David Ojabo on the field before Williams returns.
Where does that leave the Ravens? Geno Stone will likely take over the starting free safety role. That’s been Stone’s role as a backup for a while and where he succeeded a lot in college. As for first-round pick Kyle Hamilton, he’ll get time there but they will probably want to keep things simple for him. He’s been handling a lot of box safety roles right now and specifically focusing on man coverage against tight ends, which he’s been excellent at. They will have to hold down the fort until Marcus Williams returns, which may not be until the playoffs.