Eric Edholm, NFL.com
Michael Pierce has a monster game for the Ravens. Nose tackles sometimes are overlooked in modern football, despite their size. That is, when they’re not dominating games the way Pierce did on Sunday. Pierce batted down a fourth-down pass, stuffed Cardinals RB Emari Demercado on a fourth-and-1 run and strip-sacked Joshua Dobbs for a 15-yard loss, with Arizona recovering the fumble but punting on the next play. On the fourth-down stop, Pierce completely dispatched Hjalte Froholdt and stopped Demercado in his tracks. Demercado had some success running the ball early, although most of his yards came through gaps not occupied by Pierce. Time and time again, Pierce dominated his blocker — often Froholdt or Will Hernandez — and set the tone for the Ravens. Long live the 350-pound nose tackle. Pierce served a reminder Sunday that they still have a big place in today’s NFL.
Next Gen stat of the game: Joshua Dobbs completed only 4 of his 7 passes for 28 yards and two interceptions (-10.7% CPOE) when the Ravens blitzed on Sunday. Dobbs entered Week 8 with a 52.3% success rate against the blitz, the second-highest rate in the NFL.
NFL Research: Lamar Jackson improved to 17-1 (.944 win percentage) in his career against NFC teams. That is the highest win percentage vs. NFC teams of any QB since 1970 (min. 5 starts vs. NFC).
Gordon McGuinness, PFF
Offensive spotlight: The Cardinals’ speed on defense prevented Lamar Jackson from breaking off any long runs, but they struggled to hold up against the Ravens running up the middle as the game went on. Gus Edwards averaged 4.2 yards per carry and found the end zone three times.
Dobbs struggled, averaging just 5.6 yards per attempt and going 25-of-37 for 208 yards with a pair of touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. A lot of those yards came late as Arizona played catch-up. The second of his interceptions was particularly bad, with two Ravens defenders more likely to catch the ball than anyone on the Cardinals roster.
Defensive spotlight: The Ravens were beaten in the trenches early in the game, except for Michael Pierce. The mammoth nose tackle was unblockable at times, finishing the game with four solo tackles, a batted pass and a sack and a forced fumble.
The Cardinals did have some success against a Ravens offense that dominated against the Detroit Lions just a week ago. Dante Stills was involved in a pair of sacks, while Antonio Hamilton Sr. had a pair of pass breakups. Jalen Thompson, Zaven Collins and Starling Thomas V tallied one each, too. Despite that success, Arizona was unable to slow the Ravens’ rushing attack late in the game.
Rookie spotlight: Featured heavily again by the Ravens, wide receiver Zay Flowers led the team with seven targets on a low average depth of target, which led to him picking up just 19 yards on five receptions.
Clifton Brown, BaltimoreRavens.com
Running the Football Remains Key for the Ravens
The Ravens went back to their running game in the second half, particularly during their final touchdown drive where the milked the clock and wore down the Cardinals’ defense.
As much as first-year Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken is putting his stamp on the passing attack, he ran a balanced attack at Georgia and running the ball effectively continues to a crucial part of Baltimore’s identity.
“We were getting great push, guys were holding onto their blocks and the holes were huge,” Edwards said. “I’m glad we were getting back to that.”
The Ravens were unbalanced in the first half, throwing on 70% of their plays. In the second half, Monken and the offense put an emphasis on running the ball and it helped stabilize the offense.
While Odell Beckham Jr. didn’t have a catch, he drew three pass interference penalties on Sunday that put the Ravens in position to score. Beckham showed frustration after he was interfered with in the end zone that ruined a potential touchdown, and Jackson understood. “It’s great (pass interference penalties), but we’re trying to get him a touchdown,” Jackson said.
Marlon Humphrey and Roquan Smith were not happy to give up 24 points to the Cardinals. “We didn’t play up to our standards,” Smith said. Humphrey said the Ravens had some mental errors and missed tackles that led to the Cardinals being able to pop some runs. “I know I missed some tackles,” Humphrey added.
Mike Preston, The Baltimore Sun
This group gave Jackson time to throw, but he was slow in deciding where to go with the ball. But overall, there weren’t a lot of holes and the Ravens failed to establish the running game early. Right tackle Morgan Moses played well and the Cardinals failed to catch on to the Ravens overshifting on the offensive line, but Baltimore struggled to generate a consistent ground game for nearly two and half quarters until it established a big lead. Arizona had four sacks. Grade: C
The Ravens’ two interceptions were gifts from Dobbs, not great, athletic plays. Both safeties, Geno Stone and Kyle Hamilton, played extremely well and were good in run support. Hamilton had 10 tackles and Stone finished with four. Stone had an interception and so did cornerback Brandon Stephens. Receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown was the only Cardinal who could challenge the Ravens’ secondary and he had some success against cornerback Marlon Humphrey. Brown had six catches for 33 yards and a touchdown against his former team. Grade: C
NFL Week 8 grades: Cowboys earn an ‘A+’ for thrashing Rams; Chiefs, Steelers each get a ‘D’ after ugly losses
John Breech, CBS Sports
With Baltimore’s offense struggling for most of the day, the Ravens needed a huge defensive performance and they got one. There were two fourth down stops plus a Brandon Stephens interception in the first half. In the second half, Geno Stone was the hero with a third quarter pick that essentially iced the game. On a day where Lamar Jackson didn’t put up the video game numbers that we’ve become accustomed to, Gus Edwards carried the offense with 80 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries. The Ravens weren’t anywhere close to perfect, but they escaped Arizona with a win and that’s all that matters.