The Baltimore Ravens were impressive in their blowout win vs. the Cincinnati Bengals. Here are some take-home points for us to think about.
There was no hangover on this day. Well, I’m sure there were lots of hangovers today, but not for these Ravens. And not against these Bengals.
The Ravens followed up their emotional win over the New England Patriots with a 49-13 pasting over the aforementioned Bengals, and that was with the proverbial gloves taken off after three quarters. Let’s take a quick dive into this game:
• Lamar Jackson was 15-17 for 223 yards, with three touchdowns and a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3, his second statistically perfect game of the season. He also contributed 65 yards on the ground, with another touchdown. These are black-and-white statistics. No opinion offered.
• This was Jackson’s masterpiece performance, and we all, for whatever reasons a higher power might have, are being blessed with the opportunity to watch him at work. It is not that he is an electric runner or naturally-gifted passer who is still learning to hone his craft. He is a different kind of athlete, and enthusiasts of any kind of athletic performance can appreciate his greatness. You don’t have to understand the nuances of professional football to stand in awe while watching Jackson play. He seizes your eye and squeezes your heart at the same time. Call that an opinion. But it felt like a fact when I typed it.
• Marquise Brown changes things for this offense. Specifically, Marquise Brown changes absolutely everything for this offense. Dolphins and Bengals decide to load up against the run and press the Ravens receivers? Bomb over their heads to open those respective games. Try a bracket coverage? Mark Andrews gets a backer on him one-on-one. He’s having a game-changing impact as a rookie, and he’s not even at top health. Jackson, Brown, and Andrews going forward, with this running game? Get used to having a top-level offense, Ravens Nation.
• Marcus Peters took home another pick-six today, and an improving Tyus Bowser took back a fumble for another defensive touchdown. These defensive touchdowns are not by accident. Peters again jumped a telegraphed out route, his specialty, and the Ravens as a team are great at punching out fumbles. Stealing possessions — and, especially, scoring points — is the best way this team can play complementary defense. They don’t need to lead the league in yards allowed, or even points against. They need to get the ball into Jackson’s hands as much as they can. It’s crazy to say that about a Ravens quarterback, right?
• The three tight ends are all very, very good players. Jackson and Brown are the game-breakers, but the ability for this offense to put in these three tight ends, to block, catch and go in motion pre-snap, gives the offense flexibility. They morph into whatever Greg Roman needs.
• The offensive line is a strength. Raise your hand if you saw that coming. Anyone? Hello? Bueller?
• Brandon Williams is having his best season in three years. He is moving people around and getting good penetration every single game. Matt Judon is also having a big season. Forget his sack numbers. Judon is everywhere.
• The linebackers had a tough time with Joe Mixon today. Mixon, by the way, ran very hard under the circumstances, and deserves a tip of the hat. But the linebackers missed some gaps, and this was not a good offensive line for the Bengals.
• Jaylen Ferguson was chasing around the quarterback a little bit, and that was good to see. Still, expect the Ravens to spend some significant offseason resources on edge.
• The coverage team needs some work. Again, the Bengals had some nice kickoff returns. This needs to get fixed before the playoffs, when the games get tighter, and the stakes get higher. I suspect it will. Harbaugh will not let this go unnoticed.
• That run by Jackson… come on. During that NFL Network countdown of the 100 best players in the league next season, that will be on Jackson’s highlight clip. I mean, probably. He still has seven games left in the regular season. Wow.