The win did not obscure the dire state of the Ravens’ offense.
Harbaugh’s quote about the irrelevance of narratives was understandable given the resilience his team had just displayed. But in the cold light of the film room, he and his staff will not be happy with the offensive inefficiency we saw against the Broncos.
After they sputtered to 13 points against the Carolina Panthers and stalled in the red zone against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Ravens simply did not move the ball most of the afternoon against the Broncos. Only two of their 11 drives even reached the red zone. Six of the 11 went for 17 yards or fewer. They converted on just three of 13 third downs. Their running backs combined for 43 yards on 14 carries. When they gained a shred of momentum on their first possession of the fourth quarter, offensive coordinator Greg Roman called a trick play that ended with wide receiver James Proche II throwing into triple coverage for an interception.
We’re in for another week of speculation about Roman’s future as fans call for his ouster and rumors percolate of mutual interest between him and Stanford. The Ravens need some kind of jolt on offense, and as much as Roman says the solutions are within reach, we did not see progress against Denver, even with Jackson on the field in the first quarter.
This game was perfectly suited for the running game, and it couldn’t deliver.
Even with a healthy Lamar Jackson, the Ravens figured to lean heavily on their ground game against a Denver defense that ranked 19th in the league against the run and yielded 185 rushing yards to Carolina last week. Once Jackson left the game, it seemed even more likely the Ravens would rely on running backs Gus Edwards, Kenyan Drake and Justice Hill to dictate the tempo, rather than subject backup quarterback Tyler Huntley to a Broncos pass defense ranked No. 3 overall.
The Ravens’ running attack, though, got little traction throughout. The three running backs carried five times in the first half for a total of 13 yards, and overall they totaled 43 yards on 14 carries. Drake ran seven times for 29 yards, Edwards was held to 12 yards on six carries, and Hill gained 2 yards on his only carry. The Ravens finished with 28 carries for 103 yards, and that included a 14-yard run by Huntley — the team’s longest — and a 10-yard jet sweep by wide receiver Devin Duvernay.
“There’s a reason why the Broncos were the [third-ranked] defense in the league, and they definitely showed us why today,” guard Kevin Zeitler said.
The Ravens face a top-10 run defense in Pittsburgh next week, and regardless of who is playing quarterback, the pressure mounts on the Ravens running backs to step up and command a larger role of an offense built around the running game.
“We’ll work on it, just like we always do,” head coach John Harbaugh said after the game, adding that, “It’s not the time to talk about that stuff. It’s game to game right now. … There are no big narratives. The big narrative questions, they’re irrelevant. What matters is the next game and trying to find a way to win it.”
Defensive Notes VS Broncos Week 13 2022 - Ken McKusick
Macdonald sent numbers (5+) on 10 of 24 drop backs resulting in a pass or sack, but those plays gained 120 yards (12.0 YPP). He also used limited deception which was more effective (see below).
For the game, Wilson had ATS on 11 of 24 drop backs (46%). On those plays, the Broncos gained 122 yards (11.1 YPP). Wilson also delivered the ball before pressure could develop (BOQ) 7 times (29%, 39 yards, 5.6 YPP). The Ravens generated a pressure event on 6 plays (25%) which gained 33 net yards (5.5 YPP), including both sacks.
Macdonald dialed up 3 individual blitzes (.13 per pass play) from off the LoS, all singles. Of the 3, 2 were from Smith and 1 from Clark. On the 3 plays where they blitzed, the Ravens allowed 20 yards (6.7 YPP).
The Ravens stunted 4 times (.17 per pass play), all of which were singles. Those 4 plays went for 5 net yards (1.3 YPP) and included Oweh’s sack.
The Ravens showed simulated pressure on 5 occasions where 2+ dropped from the LoS. Those plays went for a total of 10 yards (2.0 YPP).
I define a deceptive pass rush as incorporating 2 or more of the above elements (off ball blitzes, stunts, and simulated pressures). The Ravens ran 3 deceptive rushes (13%) on which the Broncos gained 3 yards.
Individually, Houston led the team with shares of 3 pressure events (2 full, 1 QH). Bowser had a pressure and a PD at the LoS. Campbell had a pressure and a late QH (after ATS).
NFL Week 13 Highlights: Notable grades from Sunday’s games - Gordon McGuinness
PFF grade: 92.5
Smith has made a huge impact for the Baltimore Ravens since his arrival from the Chicago Bears just before the trade deadline this season. Sunday’s win over the Denver Broncos was his best outing for the team and his highest-graded performance of the season so far. In coverage, he allowed just two receptions for 12 yards. Against the run, he produced a run-defense grade of 90.6, registering two defensive stops.
NFL insider notes: Would QB-needy Niners try to grab Baker Mayfield? Plus, Ravens’ road and more from Week 13 - Jonathan Jones
It’s not all bad for Ravens despite Jackson injury
The Ravens are bracing to be without quarterback Lamar Jackson for a few weeks due to a knee injury, according to a source. And while losing your starting quarterback can rarely be construed as good news, not everything is bad in Baltimore.
Baltimore is 8-4 and sits in first place in the AFC North thanks to that Week 5 win against the Bengals. Yes, the Ravens still have two matchups against the rival Steelers, but the schedule is navigable over these next few weeks: at Pittsburgh, at Cleveland, home against Atlanta, home against the Steelers with a finish in Cincinnati.
And on that topic, that Week 18 game against the Bengals is my early pick for the Sunday Night Football Game. Tyler Huntley can keep the Ravens afloat in the time without Jackson, and that game could decide the division.