The Baltimore Ravens suffered a frustrating defeat at home in Week 3, falling to the Indianapolis Colts in overtime 22-19. The Ravens had plenty of chances to take control but squandered early and late leads. They couldn’t overcome poor situational football and self-inflicted mistakes before being on the wrong side of non-called penalties late in the game.
While game ball candidates are usually easily to decipher in a winning effort, there were still some notable performances in today’s defeat. The most notable of them was starting safety Kyle Hamilton, who had arguably the best game of his young career.
After playing primarily pure strong safety through the first two games of the season, Hamilton saw most his action at the nickel spot, with Geno Stone and Daryl Worley playing deeper in the defensive backfield. This was likely a response to the absence of Ar’Darius Washington, who was the team’s primary slot defender before suffering an injury last week.
As he did in this role over the second half of last season, Hamilton shined in a big way. The sophomore was all over the field and made a number of key defensive plays, finishing with nine total tackles — seven solo and two for-loss — with three sacks, three quarterback hits, a pass breakup, and a forced fumble as well.
Hamilton’s three sacks tied the NFL record for most in a game by a defensive back. They all came in the first half on third downs and happed almost identically, with Hamilton blitzing as an extra rusher off the edge and the Colts failing to effectively block him.
The first two sacks ended each of the Colts’ first two offensive possessions. Hamilton sacked Gardner Minshew for a 10-yard loss and forced the Colts to punt on back-to-back drives. This helped the Ravens maintain their early 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
Then, late in the second quarter, Hamilton collected another sack on third-and-long with the Colts driving the ball, looking to extend their then three-point lead just before halftime. Hamilton came around the edge and forced a fumble while bring Minshew to the ground, which the Ravens failed to corral despite multiple attempts to fall on the loose ball.
He made two more impressive stops on back-to-back plays on the Colts’ next possession as well. First, wrapping up Zack Moss for a one-yard loss and then sniffing out a screen pass to Michael Pittman Jr., tackling him at the line of scrimmage for a gain of zero yards. That forced a long third down and the Colts ultimately punted.
What could have been the Ravens taking over possession around midfield instead turned into another punt. Still, it was a crucial stop by Hamilton regardless as it prevented the Colts from putting more points on the board.
On Indianapolis’ second drive of the third quarter, with the Ravens trailing 13-7, Hamilton again rushed off the edge and recorded a pass deflection. With a 6-foot-4 frame and long wingspan, Minshew was not able to get the ball over a leaping Hamilton with his arms raised in the air.
His impact was noticeable through the rest of the afternoon in both run defense and pass coverage. As the team’s primary nickel piece, he was often matched up with some of the Colts’ wide receivers in coverage and held his own to limit any big plays.
While Hamilton had made a solid transition to more of a true safety role in Week 1 and Week 2, today was a good demonstration how impactful he can be around the line of scrimmage as a pass rusher, against the run, and playing coverage in the slot.
Honorable mentions —
Brandon Stephens: Stephens was on the wrong end of a couple long receptions allowed where he couldn’t make a play on the ball despite being in good position. However, he also had multiple pass breakups, a key tackle-for-loss on fourth down in overtime, and was the team’s second-leading tackler on the day with 11 total.
Lamar Jackson: Jackson’s lost fumble in the second quarter and bad sack taken late in regulation were costly. However, despite a lack of big plays in the passing game, he completed over 70% of his passes and had 101 pivotal rushing yards. He scored both of the Ravens’ touchdowns for the game on elusive rushes in the red zone.
Jadeveon Clowney: Clowney continues to be the team’s most disruptive edge rusher this season. His impact was especially important today with Odafe Oweh out and David Ojabo exiting early. Clowney failed to finish a couple plays and only finished with a half-sack but some noticeable pressures and hurries on Minshew. He had two quarterback hits also.
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