Childs Walker, The Baltimore Sun
Mike Macdonald continues to find cool ways to scheme up a pass rush
With the Steelers finally on the move in the second quarter, Macdonald fooled them, dropping a pair of interior linemen into coverage and sending cornerback Arthur Maulet torpedoing at Pickett from his blind side. That schemed sack, a Ravens specialty this year, erased a rare scoring opportunity for a struggling offense.
The Steelers again moved into Ravens territory as the third quarter bled into the fourth. Again, Macdonald pulled the right trick from his bag. Pickett dropped back on third-and-7 and saw linebackers Patrick Queen and Roquan Smith stunt in front of him, only for defensive tackle Justin Madubuike to come looping around Queen into a clear rush lane. With Pickett’s pocket gone, Queen finished him off to end Pittsburgh’s scoring threat.
It’s no secret that the Ravens lack an elite pass rusher on par with their AFC North nemeses, Watt and Myles Garrett. Jadeveon Clowney has played well. Madubuike and Michael Pierce are delivering interior push. They just don’t have a guy who’s going to accumulate 15 sacks beating blockers one-on-one.
That means Macdonald has to use his imagination, unleashing Queen, Smith and seemingly every defensive back on the field in unexpected combinations. Through five weeks, he and his players have risen to the task.
Overreactions, reality checks for NFL Week 5: Dolphins better than ‘Greatest Show on Turf?’ Belichick done?
Jeff Kerr, CBS Sports
Lamar Jackson just isn’t a clutch quarterback
Overreaction or reality: Overreaction
Games like Sunday are difficult to defend Jackson, especially after how two of his final three possessions went against the the Steelers late in the fourth quarter. If the goal line interception on third-and-goal up 10-8 wasn’t bad enough, Jackson fumbled on the Ravens’ next offensive possession on the second play after the Steelers scored a touchdown to take the 14-10 lead (Alex Highsmith forced the fumble and TJ Watt recovered). The Ravens ended up losing as Jackson had two turnovers in the fourth quarter.
Doesn’t mean Jackson isn’t a clutch quarterback. He has a career 94.6 passer rating in the fourth quarter with 25 passing touchdowns and 12 interceptions — while also having seven rushing touchdowns and 4.1 yards per carry. Jackson does have nine game-winning drives since becoming a starter in 2019 (but the Ravens have typically been ahead in fourth quarters under him since he’s 42-17 as a starter.
The numbers say Jackson can get the job done, even if he’s 13th in the NFL out of 30 quarterbacks in passer rating in the fourth quarter and overtime since 2019 (minimum 300 attempts). Jackson is an enigma and Sunday added to that.
Gordon McGuinness, PFF
The Ravens’ receivers let Jackson down at a near-historic level in Week 5. He had one of the best games of his career as a passer, throwing the ball downfield with poise and accuracy. On throws targeted 10 or more yards downfield, Jackson went 9-of-20 for 163 yards but suffered five drops from his receivers.
Ben Solak, The Ringer
THE SABOTAGE enacted by the Baltimore Ravens receiving room
You know those games in which an elite pass rush goes against a devastated offensive line? Every snap makes it obvious that this unit is just untenable, that every yard gained will be in spite of them.
It’s less obvious when a wide receiver room has that sort of bad day. They’re on the screen less and don’t impact every single play, as the line does. But I’d argue the Ravens wide receiver room had that sort of day.
I cannot remember a game with more heartbreaking drops than this one. Throw in how rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers fell over himself trying to track a deep ball, as well as how Odell Beckham Jr. got bodied on a red zone fade route that became an interception, and you have one unit that single-handedly lost the Ravens a game they should have won five times over.
Glenn Clark, PressBox
The Ravens’ loss to the Steelers was as inexcusable and unacceptable as any in the Harbaugh era if not the history of the franchise. They were clearly better than their opponent and had a golden opportunity to start seizing control of the division. At one point in the first half, it looked like they might actually have the opportunity to attain an all-too-rare skull-dragging of their rivals.
This was the type of loss that makes you ask questions about unmeasurable factors like “heart.” And yeah, it makes you question other factors like leadership, too. Harbaugh didn’t necessarily cost the Ravens the win with any single decision. Yet for many reasons, it is reasonable to question his role in all of this.
They handled adversity roughly as well as Mario Cristobal handles success. When Patrick Queen said “same old scenario every time, I’m pretty sick of it” postgame, this has to be what he meant. In recent seasons, when things have gotten away from the Ravens, they’ve tended to really get away from the Ravens. They handled adversity poorly against the Colts in Week 3 … and we’d probably not like to talk about the multiple double-digit leads they surrendered a year ago. When things start going wrong, nothing seems to stop things from going wrong.
Perhaps there’s a bigger problem with leadership among the players on the field, too. But this is a coaching issue at the end of the day. There has to be a better feel for these moments and how to reverse them. There’s no way around it.
Jamison Hensley, ESPN
The Ravens headed overseas Monday morning, which marks the earliest a team has traveled for an international game this year. The Atlanta Falcons, Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills all left on Thursday for their London games this season.
Baltimore decided to fly out six days before its game against the Tennessee Titans because of a forgettable experience in 2017. In the Ravens’ only international game in franchise history, the team flew out on Thursday night and got routed by the Jaguars 44-7. The 37-point loss is the second-largest margin of defeat in an NFL international game.
“It’s mostly driven by the fact that we didn’t do well, so we did the opposite,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said when asked about leaving early in the week. “There’s no data — and we looked for it — to say when you should go out there and what’s the ideal thing. I’ll say this kind of in jest, what’s the science on that? As often is the case, they really don’t know. That’s just the way it is.”
The Titans are flying out Thursday after practice.