Childs Walker, The Baltimore Sun
In one quarter, the Ravens changed the narrative on a defense that had eaten opponents alive
Have we ever seen Jackson concentrate more brilliant throws into a single quarter?
There was a lovely 23-yard tear drop to a streaking Melvin Gordon on the sideline. There was his 43-yard strike to Zay Flowers after he scrambled to buy time. He threw a ball where only Nelson Agholor could catch it against blanket coverage in the corner of the end zone, but Agholor could not drag his second foot inbounds. No matter. Jackson followed up with a lob over three defenders to leaping tight end Mark Andrews to put the Ravens up 21-3 at halftime.
“I thought [Lamar] played an incredible game, just continuing to fight and extend plays and make the big-time throws,” said Andrews, who played his best game of the season after offensive coordinator Todd Monken said he looked fully recovered from a quadriceps injury that kept him out of the opener.
A second quarter that started with the Ravens on their heels ended with them standing over the prone Browns as the home crowd booed.
The Ravens outgained the Browns 249-70 in the first half, averaging 7.5 yards per play against a defense that had allowed 2.8 through the first three games of the season. They broke the dam by running right at the Browns. Cleveland had allowed 81 rushing yards over its previous two games; the Ravens rolled up 117, including two touchdowns by Jackson, before halftime.
Luke Jackson, PressBox
The Ravens’ defense dominated at all three levels.
It’s easy to understand if Ravens defensive players took to heart all the buzz about the Cleveland defense. As Roquan Smith said earlier in the week, Ravens defenders don’t study the other team’s defense; they are busy dissecting the offense that they will face. But they want to be the best, and if Cleveland is perceived as the best, well, they better do something to top it. In this game, they did.
The Ravens were dominant at all three levels of defense. The defensive line was disruptive, the linebackers set the edge much better than a week ago and hammered quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson when they blitzed, and the secondary made the rookie quarterback pay for his mistakes.
Defensive linemen Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington were credited with two of the team’s four sacks, and linebacker Patrick Queen had another. Jadeveon Clowney, returning to Cleveland after two seasons there, was credited with just two tackles but came agonizingly close to a couple of sacks and left Thompson-Robinson skittish much of the afternoon. Receiver Elijah Moore’s most notable play was a 20-yard loss when linebacker Malik Harrison set the edge on a sweep by Moore and the Ravens chased down Moore trying to backtrack to make something happen.
In the back end, Brandon Stephens’ first-quarter interception off a deflected pass set up the Ravens’ first touchdown. Linebackers dropped into coverage and defensive backs neutralized receivers, leaving the Browns no opening to get back into the game. Amari Cooper, the Browns’ leading receiver, finished with one catch for 16 yards.
Ben Solak, The Ringer
THE CONTINUED EFFECT of Lamar Jackson on the Ravens running game
When the Ravens switched offensive coordinators from Greg Roman to Todd Monken, they were inherently moving away from a super-creative, option-based running game. At first blush, that could have been worrisome—what if it affected Jackson’s dual-threat dominance?
Actually, it enhances Jackson as a runner. Jackson is so effective on his own as an athlete that it’s actually a waste to throw all those tight ends on the field, add defenders to the box, and introduce tons of moving parts to a finely tuned running game. It is better to just let Jackson’s gravity work for itself. The Browns run defense walked into the Ravens game on Sunday with a 78 percent success rate; against Baltimore, the success rate was just 68 percent.
Why? Because of how easy Jackson makes the job. Jim Schwartz’s defense always lines up with four down linemen and wide defensive ends—but because Jackson is a threat to keep the ball on any running down, the Ravens could leave one of those ends unblocked and get big double-teams on the interior. That end has to respect the Jackson threat (as well as the motion), and huge lanes open up for running backs Gus Edwards and Justice Hill.
The absence of Deshaun Watson put a lot of pressure on this Browns defense, which played better than the 28-point outing by Baltimore would imply. But the Ravens offense was missing receivers Rashod Bateman and Odell Beckham Jr., tackle Ronnie Stanley, and running back J.K. Dobbins; during the game, they lost tackle Morgan Moses. This was a great performance against a top defense by a banged-up offense. The Ravens are for real.
Ted Nguyễn, The Athletic
This was a huge win for the Ravens, who were aided by a last-second Deshaun Watson scratch. Still, the Ravens, as they do, just found a way to win. The Ravens’ offensive line was beaten up and outmatched against the Browns’ defensive line but were able to move the ball on the ground and Lamar Jackson was able to make just enough plays to win. Coordinator Mike Macdonald’s defense had rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson in a vortex with his simulated-pressures-based defense and the Browns’ offense really wasn’t a threat throughout the game. The Ravens winning games short-handed early in the season is going to be significant down the stretch.
Ryan Mink, BaltimoreRavens.com
Ravens right tackle Morgan Moses did not suffer a long-term shoulder injury, but outside linebacker David Ojabo’s season could be over.
“There’s really nothing right now that looks like it’s going to be a long, long-term type thing coming out of the game. Some of those MRIs are still getting evaluated, as is Morgan’s,” Harbaugh said.
“So we’ll know more Wednesday, probably, in terms of what guys are able to do at practice, but nothing that’s going to impact us for the whole length of the season right now.”
Daniel Faalele stepped in for Moses at right tackle against the Browns and had a tough challenge against their pass rush. Harbaugh said Faalele was not happy about two snaps of his, including one in which he gave up a sack, but he did a solid job overall.
“You go back and watch the tape, I thought he played well,” Harbaugh said. “Keep chasing perfection. The more he plays, the better he’s going to get.”