Take-home points from Ravens’ Wild Card win over the Titans
By Darin McCann
The Baltimore Ravens made adjustments after an early deficit and Lamar Jackson lead Ravens to a big win over the Tennessee Titans. Take home points:
This one meant so much to so many people, but perhaps no player had more on the line personally today than Ravens young quarterback Lamar Jackson. Questions about his ability to win a playoff game or come back against a good team were both shot down emphatically in a 20-13 win for the Baltimore Ravens over the Tennessee Titans.
For a relatively low-scoring affair, the game featured big plays from stars on both teams, and a rebuilt Ravens front seven answering the call against perhaps the biggest challenge a front can face in this current league. Let’s take a quick look back at a good win for a Ravens team needing to break their playoff malaise, and defeat a familiar foe all at the same time.
• It always starts and ends with Jackson for this team. Well, the conversation certainly does, so let’s kick things off there. Jackson had a difficult start to the game, not finding space to operate against the Titans and throwing a simply awful interception in the first quarter, helping the Ravens fall into a 10-0 hole and casting stark reminders to playoff failures passed.
But then, facing a third-and-8 from his own 27-yard line, Jackson scrambled and made a beautiful throw to tight end Mark Andrews for 17-yards and a first down right before the quarter ended. The Ravens ended up kicking a field goal that drive and seemingly finding their footing at the same time. He later broke off an electrifying Jackson-esque run for a touchdown to tie the game and you felt like the Ravens were truly back in this game.
He finished 17-24 for 179-yards and that pick and ran for another 136-yards and that touchdown. Jackson earned this win, even after a rocky start for his offense and a defense looking unable early to slow down the Titans at all.
• Marquise Brown had another memorable playoff performance against the Titans, this time in a winning effort. The often-beleaguered receiver hauled in seven passes for 109-yards and picking up another 19-yards on the ground. With his good end to the regular season, and continuing that run into the playoffs, Brown is showing his value to the team at the right time. Who knows if he’s a “Number 1” receiver going forward? He’s a fast, slippery player who can help this year’s team win right now. He’s been doing his part.
• Patrick Ricard might be developing into that downfield threat we all envisioned… I’m kidding. But Ricard slipping out and catching several passes in the flat today — combined with his typical strong blocking, helped the Ravens win this game. With Ronnie Stanley and Nick Boyle out of action for the Ravens, they have needed Ricard to provide more than most people probably anticipated before the season. The big man has responded, and Project Pat gets another week in the spotlight. Good for him.
• So, Derrick Henry is an absolute beast. Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The guy is a monster and one of the best pure running backs in the league in recent memory. The Ravens employed a gang’s-all-here philosophy to slow down the powerful back, and they did a tremendous job — both by design and in execution.
Henry finished the game picking up 40-yards on 18 carries, and that played a key part in the Ravens’ ability to come back and ultimately beat a talented Titans team. Brandon Williams, Derek Wolfe, Calais Campbell, Pernell McPhee, Jihad Ward, and Matt Judon seemed to be playing on the Titans’ side of the line all game, and Henry rarely faced a one-on-one tackle.
The Ravens invested a ton of money and attention on that defensive line this offseason, and today was why. Ultimately, it was money well-spent. If the Ravens’ line can play this well as a healthy and rested unit, this team can go toe-for-toe with anybody in the league. That’s just a fact.
• Marlon Humphrey got physically beat by Titans receiver A.J. Brown more than once early in the game, including for a touchdown. The Ravens started shadowing safety help to that side, and it cut down Brown’s performance for much of the game. This made it even more important than the defensive front could control Henry without persistent help from the safeties.
• Patrick Queen got taken advantage of a couple of times early in the game but seemed to get more comfortable as the game went on. The entire defense appeared to gain confidence as the Ravens picked up momentum, and it wasn’t surprising to see Marcus Peters come up with a pick the way they were making the Titans offense struggle to pick up significant yards in their last-breath drive.
• What was surprising, however, was the entire Ravens defense running to the Titans’ logo after the pick, generating a flag. Gotta love it.