Baltimore’s offense is finding its groove. The Ravens needed just one drive to work out the kinks before launching one of their most impressive, methodical scoring campaigns of the season. It began on Baltimore’s second possession, in which the Ravens covered 76 yards in 11 plays, gaining five first downs and converting three third-down attempts. A statement of a drive ended with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Lamar Jackson to rookie tight end Isaiah Likely, setting the tone for another productive night. Four of Baltimore’s five scoring drives required at least eight plays, and the only quick-strike possession came after a takeaway that put the Ravens on New Orleans’ 17-yard line. The style in which the Ravens scored was perhaps the most impressive part of it all. Jackson connected with 10 different targets on a night in which he didn’t have Mark Andrews or Rashod Bateman at his disposal. Add in Kenyan Drake’s 93 yards and two touchdowns on 24 attempts, plus Jackson’s 11 carries for 82 yards, and you have a well-balanced offense that can attack from any angle. It gave the Saints fits and ultimately propelled the Ravens to an emphatic win on national television.
Next Gen stat of the game: Justin Houston finished with five quarterback pressures and 2.5 sacks on 22 pass rushes, tying for the third-most in a game for Houston since 2021.
Baltimore Ravens win third straight, shut down New Orleans Saints - Hensley & Terrell
Promising trend: The Ravens continue to be one of the fastest-starting teams in the NFL. Baltimore became the first team to lead by double digits at any point in each of its first nine games of a season since the 2011 Green Bay Packers, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The Ravens are just the third team to do so in the past 20 years, joining the 2009 New Orleans Saints and 2011 Packers — both of whom started 9-0. This just shows how close the Ravens were to a perfect start if they hadn’t had three fourth-quarter meltdowns.
Silver lining: Jackson was spreading the ball around. Without his top two targets — Andrews and Bateman — Jackson became more unpredictable in distributing the ball. He hit eight different players on his first eight passes and finished with throws to 10 players, tying a career high. Andrews and Bateman accounted for 39% of the Ravens’ receptions in the first eight games, and while Baltimore is more dangerous with them, the Ravens appeared to be more balanced without them.
NFL Week 9 grades: Ravens earn an ‘A-’ for beating down Saints, Packers get ‘D’ for Aaron Rodgers meltdown - John Breech
The Ravens offense gets all the headlines, but you might want to start playing attention to the defense. In its first game with Roquan Smith, the Ravens defense absolutely smothered the Saints. Justin Houston racked up 2.5 sacks while leading a Ravens pass-rush that tallied four on the night. The Ravens (6-3) were especially good in the red zone (the Saints managed two field goals on as many trips) and on third down, with the Saints only converting 3 of 11 attempts in the game. Offensively, the Ravens weren’t flashy, but they were able to run the ball at will on a night where both Kenyan Drake (93 yards, two touchdowns) and Lamar Jackson (82 yards) both topped 80 yards rushing. The offense wasn’t perfect and the Ravens still won by two touchdowns, which tells you how good this team can be going forward. They’re already at the top of the AFC North, and now, this team feels like a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
The Ravens had problems in pass protection with one-on-one matchups early in the game, but they mauled the Saints into submission in the second half. To open the third quarter, the Ravens kept leading with Ricard and pulling the backside tackles, either Ronnie Stanley or Morgan Moses, and New Orleans had no answer. Kevin Zeitler is one of the most underrated right guards in the NFL. Rookie center Tyler Linderbaum played well but he needs to improve on those snaps in the shotgun formation after a couple went high. Grade: B+
The big question was whether the Ravens could stop New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara, and they didn’t have any problem as he had only 30 yards on nine carries. The starting group of ends Justin Madubuike and Calais Campbell and nose tackle Travis Jones not only dominated the run, but the Ravens also knocked down three of quarterback Andy Dalton’s passes as he constantly went to his first option and stared down receivers. Campbell also finished with two tackles, including half a sack. Backup tackle Broderick Washington also had three tackles. Grade: A
Despite being without running back Gus Edwards and Andrews because of injuries, the Ravens played with confidence against an inferior Saints team. They should have put more points on the board, but offensive coordinator Greg Roman had New Orleans off-balance with inside and outside runs. He didn’t try to be pretty, either, sometimes just running the same play to the other side of the field. The big question, though, is why are the Ravens getting these plays called in so late? It’s been going on for years, even back to the days when Joe Flacco was the starting quarterback. With Smith on the roster, it allows defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald to tinker and come up with a few more schemes. To be honest, the Saints were never a serious threat to win this game after halftime. Grade: A-
Midseason 2022 NFL roster rankings for all 32 teams: Strengths, weaknesses and X factors for every starting lineup - Brad Spielberger
Biggest strength: Offensive line. Over the past month, the unit has been excellent in pass protection, with left tackle Ronnie Stanley working his way back into a full workload. Since Week 5 (prior to Monday Night Football in Week 9):
LT Ronnie Stanley – 90.5 pass-blocking grade (2nd among tackles)
T Patrick Mekari – 79.9 (14th)
RT Morgan Moses – 77.6 (18th)
RG Kevin Zeitler – 87.3 (1st among guards)
LG Ben Powers – 85.8 (2nd)
Biggest weakness: Wide receiver. This was the answer even when Rashod Bateman was in the lineup, and now that he’s out for the year, Baltimore has an argument for the worst wide receiver group in the league. The unit has a 65.8 receiving grade, which ranks 25th, with the second-fewest receptions (61) and explosive receptions (17) on the year.
X factor for second half: Rookie tight end Isaiah Likely may need to become a focal point of the offense on a week-to-week basis, not just when Mark Andrews is injured. With the loss of Rashod Bateman, Baltimore needs any and all pass-catchers to step up. Likely had six receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown in Week 8 against Tampa Bay.