The Baltimore Ravens got back in the win column with a 24-16 triumph over the Tennessee Titans in Week 6. On a day where they had to overcome officiating as well as a formidable opponent, the offense did just enough and the defense had another strong overall showing as they dispatched their bitter AFC conference rivals.
Some of the top takeaways from the Ravens Week 6 victory:
Pass catchers bounce back from rough outing
After being the main catalysts for the Ravens demise against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, Lamar Jackson’s top targets rebounded on Sunday. Eight different players caught passes in this game and the only balls that hit the ground were either overthrows or a result of a play made by the defense.
Three-time Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews caught four of his six targets for a team-leading and game-high 69 receiving yards. Veteran wideout Nelson Agholor hauled in two of his three targets for 40 receiving yards and would’ve taken his first to the house had he not been tripped up by a shoestring tackle. Three-time Pro Bowl receiver Odell Beckham Jr. hauled in two of his four targets on back-to-back plays for 34 receiving yards.
NELLY‼️— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) October 15, 2023
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First-round rookie Zay Flowers led the team with six catches on eight targets for 50 receiving yards and recorded his first career regular-season touchdown. Third-year wideout Rashod Bateman caught two of his three targets for 15 receiving yards.
Offensive red zone regression continues
Through the first four games of the regular season, the Ravens offense was converting their drives that made it inside the opposing team’s 20-yard line at an elite but unsustainable rate of 80 percent. While last week’s struggles in that area of the field were a result of drops, in Week 6, they went 1-of-5 in the red zone due in large part because they were going up against one of the best units at defending down in that condensed portion of the field.
Coming into the game, the Titans ranked in the bottom 10 in pass defense but were the fourth-best red zone defense (35.5 percent), just three spots behind the Ravens who rank first. Their bend-but-rarely-break unit only gave up touchdowns on six of the 17 attempts by opposing teams from inside their 20-yard line and that rate will look even better after they forced the Ravens to settle for five Justin Tucker field goals from under 40 yards.
They also on had no choice but to kick the short field goal just before halftime because they got the ball back with one second left on the clock. Going 1-4 on true red zone drives is still not an acceptable rate but the Titans deserve some credit for the way their defense stood tall with their backs against the wall. Even when the Ravens began to run Jackson more inside the red zone which was key to their early season success, Tennessee still defended well.
Defense dominates on all but three plays
While the Ravens offense still works out some kinks and struggles to consistently finish drives, their compatriots on the opposite side of the ball continue to be the backbone and driving force for the success of the team as a whole. The Titans finished with 233 yards of total offense and nearly half of that yardage (111) came on two plays in the second half.
The first was a 63-yard run by three-time Pro Bowl running back Derrick Henry on Tennessee’s second drive of the third quarter where he faked out half of the defense and nearly took it the distance. However, the play never should have even happened because the veteran nose tackle Michael Pierce was unjustly flagged for roughing the passer on a third-down play where he hit Ryan Tannehill as he was releasing the ball and didn’t even completely land on him as they went to the ground. Tennessee would settle for a short field goal three plays later.
Michael Pierce didn’t even take a full step before hitting Ryan Tannehill. He hit him with his shoulder. Didn’t drop his weight on him. This is a textbook QB hit flagged for roughing the passer. pic.twitter.com/YRSS3Vlr8e— Ryan Mink (@ryanmink) October 15, 2023
The second big play was on the Titans final drive of the game where rookie running back Tyjae Spears took a third-down screen 48 yards to the Ravens’ six-yard line but the defense still didn’t let that drive finish in the end zone either.
Their third bad play resulted in them giving up a rushing touchdown for the first time this season and the Titans only of the game. It came one play after second-year starting safety Kyle Hamilton was egregiously ejected for a personal foul before Henry rumbled 15 yards into the end zone.
Other than those three plays, the only consistent chain mover for the Titans offense was the officials who called an atrocious game. They must’ve had an agenda against the Ravens defensive backs or had money riding on the over for DeAndre Hopkins’ receptions because they refused to let them play the ball or contest the targets toward the three-time All-Pro in the first half. Despite that, he still wound up being limited to just one reception for 20 receiving yards on five targets.
The Ravens pass rush led the charge to close out the game with four sacks on the Titans final drive to make them settle for a field goal on third-and-goal. On the day, the unit forced five punts and recorded six sacks, seven tackles for loss, 10 quarterback hits, and forced a turnover.
Special teams comes up clutch but still struggles with consistency
The Ravens have been the gold standard for elite play in the often overlooked and undervalued third phase of the game for the vast majority of Head Coach John Harbaugh’s tenure at the helm of the team. However, through the first six games of the 2023 season, their protection and coverage units have both made big plays and given up big plays.
On Sunday they made more plays than they gave up against the Titans but the blocked point after attempt they allowed following Flowers’ touchdown could’ve been returned for a two-point conversion and given their outmatched opponent some momentum.
They came up clutch just before halftime when core special team contributor Del’Shawn Phillips was at the right place at the right time to fall on a muffed punt by Tennessee returner Kyle Phillips.
SPECIAL TEAMS BABY❗️— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) October 15, 2023
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The timely recovery set up Tucker for the fourth of his six successful attempts that set a new record for most ever made in a London game.
Add another one to Justin Tucker's resume:— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) October 15, 2023
Tucker's six field goals are the most by any kicker in a London game. Greg Joseph made 5 for the Vikings last season.
2020 draft class continues to shine bright
The Ravens have several fourth-year players who are enjoying break-out seasons and that didn’t change on Sunday. Of the seven players they selected in the 2020 NFL Draft still on the roster, five had a profound impact on their win over the Titans.
First-round inside linebacker Patrick Queen tied his All-Pro running mate Roquan Smith for the team lead in total tackles with nine including one for a loss and was a heat-seeking missile as blitzer, finishing with a sack and a quarterback hit.
Third-round defensive tackle Justin Madubuike was the most consistently disruptive defender on the field for either team in this game. He lined up inside and out at times, and Titans offensive line struggled to block him from start to finish. Madubuike led his position group and finished third on the team in total tackles with five including two for a loss, four quarterback hits, and the first two-sack game of his career.
Third-round wide receiver Devin Duvernay didn’t record a single touch on offense but was able to be a difference-maker on special teams as a returner. His biggest play was a 70-yard punt return that he nearly took all the way back for a touchdown before getting pushed out of bounds in the red zone. He finished with 91 punt return yards and added another 41 on kick return.
Fifth-round defensive tackle Broderick Jones tied his season-high for total tackles in a single game this season with three including one for a loss on Henry on Titans first drive of the fourth quarter.
Seventh-round safety Geno Stone continued his outstanding play in place of injured veteran Marcus Williams and came up with a clutch interception that he returned 24 yards to spark an eventual scoring drive that resulted in Tucker’s fifth field goal of the game. He finished with three total tackles including a solo and pass breakup.