Baltimore Ravens outlast Buffalo Bills 24-17: Questions, Comments and Concerns
Hayden Hurst has wheels.
“The blueprint is out on Lamar Jackson, just stack the box,” they said. Wrong!
Mark Andrews left the game with a thigh contusion (more on this later) and Hayden Hurst answered the call. Check out the wheels on this guy.
The two 2018 first rounders connected big time to open this game up coming off a rough first half. There has been much talk about the Ravens having the NFL’s best tight ends and this touchdown solidifies that claim. To add to it, Nick Boyle had a touchdown as well on a terrific ad-lib play.
Lamar Jackson hears the noise.
Last week, San Francisco 49ers radio analyst Tim Ryan was suspended over his comments about Lamar Jackson. Jackson responded by starting the game wearing white sleeves and a white glove.
With the ball now more visible, the defense still struggled to stop the fake.
Jackson later lost the gloves and the sleeves but I still give him an A+ for this spectacular troll job. He’s just that good people, accept it.
The MVP race is over.
Each week the Ravens become further and further separated from the rest of the league. Whether it be in the 30 point thrashings or the defensive slug-fests.
Similarly, in the MVP race, Lamar Jackson finds a way to separate himself every week. Sunday, the Bills were staunch against the run. And yes, only allowing 118 yards against this offense is considered staunch.
Jackson overcame and won playing an unconventional game. This offense thrives on pounding the rock and throwing when it needs to. Sunday, they would have to do it by air and they did. Jackson’s 3 touchdowns were enough for the win. He’s now shown that not only can he win by blowing teams out of the water, he can win the close ones too.
As for his top competitor in the MVP race, Russell Wilson, struggled to get his team into the end zone once against the Los Angeles Rams. If you can remember back just two games ago, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens stomped that same Rams team in their own stadium. Jackson threw for a modest 5 touchdowns on that night. The case is clear, folks.
The biggest problem the Ravens have faced in recent years is injuries. At one point, I think they set a record for most players on the Injured Reserve list.
ESPN’s Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley tweeted Friday that all 53 players participated in practice. Baltimore lost Mark Andrews (thigh contusion), Anthony Levine (ankle) and Chris Board (concussion) on Sunday.
John Harbaugh said the injuries to Levine and Andrews are not serious, and both players intend to play Thursday. With a concussion, Board will not see the field on such a short week.
With the playoffs on the horizon, injuries become that much more crucial. While no major injuries occurred Sunday, the Hensley jinx could be on.
It’s clear that Mark Andrews is Lamar Jackson’s favorite target. Andrews has a team-leading 54 receptions and 707 yards. Following Andrews is rookie Marquise Brown with 39 receptions and 518 yards. After that, nobody else has over 30 catches or 302 yards.
The Ravens rank second in total offense, but utilize their wide receivers less than any team in the league. Young QBs typically do rely on their tight ends, and when you have the best in the league it makes sense to do so. But Jackson is going to have to find a way to involve his wide receivers more moving forward.
Marquise Brown has blazing speed and Willie Snead has shown potential to be a chain-moving, possession wide receiver a la Steve Smith or Anquan Boldin. Seth Roberts, Chris Moore and Miles Boykin have had their moments as well.
Drops were an issue Sunday in Buffalo, that will need to be addressed. But it’s easy to close off passing lanes if you know where the ball is going. Just look at the Patriots’ recent offensive struggles.
Undrafted rookie Patrick Mekari has had to step into a large role in the wake of Matt Skura‘s injury. Mekari came into the league as a guard and the Ravens converted him to center. All things considered, he has been solid thus far.
If you watched closely Sunday, you would have noticed several snaps that were off-line. The wind was whipping in Buffalo but still, some of the snaps were questionable. This is a problem that, obviously, can be straightened out through practice but it will have to be perfected come January.
Truth be told, there is not much serious concern to be had about an 11-2 conference leading, record setting team. There are plenty of worse scenarios to be in. With the Jets up next on the chopping block, expect the Ravens to show once again that they are the league’s sole remaining unstoppable force.