The Ravens got it done. Sloppily and with rising blood pressures to end it, but they won, 31-24. Below is my list of the Ravens’ Winners, Losers and the MVP.
DT Michael Pierce
I’m curious if I’ve ever put a defensive tackle as the MVP of a game. No matter, Pierce earned it. Two fourth-down stops, one by a pass deflection at the line and a second with a big-time tackle on running back Emari Demarcado. Then, Pierce had a strip-sack on quarterback Joshua Dobbs that Jadeveon Clowney could’ve landed on for the turnover near the red zone. Overall, an impressive display by Pierce who earned the MVP tonight.
RB Gus Edwards — A hard-earned hat trick by the Bus as he marched forward for three scores and 80 yards on 19 carries. The Ravens have needed the Bus for some time now to help them convert. When he’s healthy, that’s how he can be most effective.
WR Rashod Bateman — Only two receptions (on two targets) but his first catch for 29 yards was clutch. Jackson threw a near-interception but Bateman ripped it from the defensive backs hands and into a big gain. That momentum could’ve crippled this team early, as we’ve seen before.
CB Brandon Stephens — He continues to develop and produce. He’s worked hard and the fruits of his labors have ripened. His production as a CB2 is respectable and if not for our next winner, he’d have two interceptions on the night instead of one.
S Geno Stone — He didn’t intercept Dobb’s pass from a receiver. No, Stone picked off the ball heading toward the open arms of Stephens. Either way, that’s his league-leading fifth interception on the season. He’s the first Raven since Ed Reed to notch five interceptions in the first eight games. He’s something special.
WR Odell Beckham Jr. — He’s not found the stat sheet much this season. However, he’s likely one of the highest ranked players in penalties drawn, a stat the NFL should maybe chart with the same effort as the NHL does. Twice tonight he drew big DPI calls that pushed the Ravens downfield or given a fresh set of downs.
The Baltimore Ravens — They showed up by games’ end. They won the damn game, which is the most important part of Sunday. They now are tied with the Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins for the best record in the AFC. They are tops in their division by two games, though all three are nipping at their heels at 4-3. Now, to protect home field with a three-game stretch.
BALL SECURITY — Every week we’ve seen sloppy ball security lead, or nearly lead, to a game-altering situation. This week was no exception.
StateFarm Stadium — Clearly visible issues with the field. Players slipping, falling, stumbling and sliding. A sloppy game headed by bad a bad field.
Defensive Streak — The Ravens allowed a touchdown in the first quarter after not doing so in seven games. They allowed more than one touchdown for the first time in five games. After being so effective defensively, they stumbled against Dobbs and the Cardinals offense.
Run defense — Demarcado was a bulldozer and Dobbs found chunk yardage. The defensive line could not handle the blockers up front for Arizona and as a result, were marched over. Not sure what the Cardinals were doing to find such success against a team that prides themselves on run defense.
Lamar Jackson’s Awareness — There are some games where Jackson doesn’t settle for the checkdowns or is spending too much time searching for the big play. This felt like one of them as he was being bared down on by rushers and didn’t go elsewhere with the football. He played a solid game otherwise.
WR Nelson Agholor — As the designated player to catch the onside kick, it’s his sole responsibility to grab that ball. Instead, he watched it fall to the ground and it punished the Ravens by allowing Prater to hit the field goal. Thankfully, the Ravens won but that is inexcusable.
Closing Out Games — Had to make this as interesting as possible. The Cardinals marched downfield for the touchdown. They get an onside kick. They get the field goal to go. Close the door. Lock it. Weld it shut.