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Ravens News 11/29: Holding the Lead

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Los Angeles Chargers Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

One thing we learned about each NFL team in Week 12: Dak Prescott looks like MVP, Chiefs fix biggest weakness

Jeff Kerr, CBS Sports

Baltimore Ravens

The offense is setting records for having the lead: It’s amazing that the Ravens have lost three games when realizing how much they had the lead through 12 games. Baltimore has held the lead for 9:08:23 this season, the only team since 2000 to have the lead for over nine hours through the first 12 games of the season — passing the 2004 Eagles’ mark of 8:58:35. They are the fourth team since 1950 to hold a lead entering the fourth quarter in each of their first 12 games. Baltimore certainly is used to playing with a lead, even if there were a few times the Ravens haven’t sealed the deal.

NFL Week 12 best and worst coaching decisions: Bills miss a Josh Allen opportunity

Ted Nguyen, The Athletic

Macdonald setting up Chargers for game-winning pressure

The Ravens’ defense is must-see TV, with difference-makers on every level of the unit. Safety Kyle Hamilton erases every play run in his direction, linebacker Roquan Smith obliterates everything thrown in the middle of the field and edge Jadeveon Clowney is having the best season of his career. You mix all that with the way Macdonald is calling plays and you’re cooking with fire.

On Sunday night, Macdonald set up the Chargers for a big play at a critical juncture in the game. He called one of Baltimore’s favorite pick stunts from an overload front early in the game and just before he hit them with a counter.

Down three points in the fourth quarter, the Chargers had a chance to tie or win the game. The Ravens’ defense needed a stop. On second down, Macdonald called their pick stunt from an overload front to the left in which Patrick Queen sets a pick to free up defensive tackle Broderick Washington.

On the fourth down of the same series, Macdonald’s counter caught the Chargers completely off guard.

Again, the Ravens lined up in their overload front but this time, to the right. Queen lined up on the right edge to occupy Ekeler. The Chargers slid their protection to the overload side and the left guard and tackle had a two-on-two on the backside.

The Ravens did a good job of disguising their slot blitz on the backside and creating a three-on-two. No one accounted for slot corner Arthur Maulet and Justin Herbert was called for intentional grounding.

Ravens Eye View: Kyle Hamilton Does It All vs. Chargers

Ryan Mink, BaltimoreRavens.com

“I told you from the beginning, in my first presser in the beginning of the year, I told you that he was going to be a Pro-Bowl type of player,” Pass Game Coordinator/Secondary Chris Hewitt said.

“He does everything; he covers, he blitzes, he tackles. There’s nothing that kid can’t do. Don’t let the babyface fool you. He’ll try to rip your face off.”

It’s not exactly Xs and Os, but another thing that’s evident is that Hamilton has also developed some more swagger. Notre Dame products are usually known for being more buttoned-up, but Hamilton had a couple statements after his tackles for loss.

Grading all 31 first-round picks after Week 12 of the 2023 NFL season

Dalton Wasserman, PFF

PICK NO. 22: BALTIMORE RAVENS: WR ZAY FLOWERS

Overall Rookie Grade: 74.9 (Rank: 5/15)

Principal Opponent: Deane Leonard

Week 12 Snaps: 67

Week 12 Grade: 76.8

Flowers was the star of the show on Sunday night. He beat Deane Leonard on a nasty slant in the endzone for Lamar Jackson’s only touchdown pass of the night. Late in the fourth quarter, Flowers displayed his blazing speed, taking a jet sweep 37 yards to the house to seal the win for Baltimore. Flowers forced two more missed tackles as a receiver against the Chargers, bringing his total to 14. That mark leads all rookie receivers and ties him for the fourth most among all wide receivers.

Justin Tucker no longer has the best field goal percentage ever. Is it time to worry?

Giana Han, The Baltimore Banner

Tucker was sent out with 3:02 left in the game and the Ravens up three to try to increase the lead to six. The ask: hit a 44-yarder in dry conditions in a covered stadium. In his career, Tucker had only missed 12 of 124 attempts from 40-49 yards. Now, he’s missed 13 of 125.

“The only thing I could say is I just felt like I didn’t have my just feet under me in that moment,” Tucker said.

Tucker said the miss came at an “inopportune” time. In the end, it didn’t make a difference in the Ravens’ 10-point win. Tucker has built a reputation for being clutch in the fourth quarter and overtime, but he’s not living up to his own standard.

One year ago, Tucker went into the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars with a historic NFL streak going. He had made 65-straight field goals in the fourth quarter or overtime. A missed 67-yard field goal in the Ravens’ loss broke the streak. Since then, Tucker has gone 9-for-13 in the fourth quarter and overtime.

On top of that, his season completion percentage of 80.8% is a career low. It’s down six percent from where he finished last season, and Tucker is only two years removed from his NFL-best 94.6% finish in 2021.

2023 NFL All-Youngster Team: Top players under 24 years old

Matt Miller & Matt Bowen, ESPN

Center

First team: Tyler Linderbaum, Baltimore Ravens

Current age: 23

An All-American and Rimington Award winner at Iowa, Linderbaum has hit the ground running in the NFL, starting every game in 2022 and 2023 so far. He is one of the best centers in the game regardless of age, ranking sixth at the position in pass block win rate at 96.3%. He’s the perfect center to build a team around.

Safety

First team: Kyle Hamilton, Baltimore Ravens

Current age: 22

Hamilton is a multi-dimensional player in the Ravens’ defensive system, with the traits to play as nickel safety, create pressure or use his split-field range to drive on the ball. And we are seeing his impact this season, as the 6-foot-4 safety returned one of his two interceptions for a touchdown. He also has 62 tackles, three sacks and six pass breakups over 12 games.