Only in the NFL could we witness one of John Harbaugh’s greatest wins of his Baltimore Ravens’ coaching career followed by one of his worst.
Just three weeks into the 2021 season, the Ravens have been buckled in for a rollercoaster of drama and emotion that started with an early preseason COVID-19 scare and nearly tumbled over a cliff in a scrappy win against the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Baltimore narrowly beat the Lions 19-17, and only because of an end-of-game effort from a player who will be addressed later in this list (you already know who it is).
Without any further ado, here are four quick takeaways from Sunday’s win against Detroit:
4. Ravens dearly missed their front-seven starters
Going into Week 3, Baltimore’s defense was heavily depleted due to COVID-19 and nagging injuries.
The Ravens needed several members of the defense (Calais Campbell, Justin Ellis, Malik Harrison, and others) to step up this game, and they did — for the first half.
After holding the Lions scoreless for two quarters, holes started appearing in Baltimore’s struggling defensive line. In the last two games, Baltimore missed 19 tackles, and on Sunday they still couldn’t keep Detroit’s offense at bay.
Lions’ running backs D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams were able to bounce off defenders as they hurtled past the line of scrimmage and gain crucial yards late in the game.
Hopefully, some of Baltimore’s defensive starters will recover by the time Week 4 rolls around. If not, Don Martindale still has a lot of work to do.
3. Where was Ty’Son Williams today?
For a team that likes to run the ball, you would think they would try to incorporate their No. 1 running back in important plays.
Ty’Son Williams, however, was nowhere to be found on Sunday and only recorded 22 rushing yards on five carries. That’s two more carries than fellow RB Devonta Freeman, but two fewer carries than Latavius Murray.
Williams was primed to take the No. 1 RB position following Dobbins’ and Edwards’ season-ending injuries, but right now, it seems the Ravens are spreading the touches in their running back room.
We’re not sure why. So far in the season, Williams has looked like the best running back of the pack with more athletic ability and energy than the other two veterans. He was given the starting spot at the beginning of the season and hasn’t done anything terrible to fall out of the rotation.
Baltimore needs to figure out how to include Williams in their rushing attack moving forward. As was apparent in this game, Lamar Jackson really can’t do everything.
2. Marquise Brown drops cost Lamar Jackson a big day
Speaking of Jackson, he could have had a monster passing day against Detroit, but his wide receivers kept letting him down. Specifically, Marquise Brown.
After dropping three potential TDs in the first half, Brown didn’t get better. He finished the game catching three of his seven targets for 53 receiving yards and no score.
Jackson floated some picture-perfect passes to Brown downfield, but even when uncontested, Brown couldn’t hold onto the ball when his team needed him the most.
Detroit fans were probably throwing Butterfinger candy bars at him from the stands — that’s how bad he was. Jackson, on his part, completed 16 of 31 pass attempts for 287 yards and a touchdown. If not for Brown’s drops, he could have recorded much better numbers, and the game wouldn’t have been decided by a ridiculously insane field goal.
No matter. Brown was simply off today, and had the Ravens not won the game, he’d get much more flack than we’re giving him. Here’s hoping he shakes off the disappointment and remembers how to catch in Week 4.
1. Justin Tucker is the G.O.A.T.
Last but not least, the man of the hour, Justin Tucker.
What can we say about him that hasn’t already been said on Twitter?
Tucker finished Sunday’s game going four for five in field-goal attempts, including the record-breaking 66-yarder. He completed an extra point attempt, too.
Tucker’s career precedes him, and we never doubted the kicker for a second, not even when he missed a 49-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter.
We just didn’t think he would break the internet (and break the NFL record) later that game when he completed a 66-yard attempt with no time left on the clock.
Tucker currently holds the title as the league’s most accurate placekicker in history (with a minimum of 100 attempts) and has won plenty more league and franchise honors as well.
Most field goals in a single season (38), most seasons with 30 made field goals (6), first to kick three 50-plus yard field goals in one half, and the list goes on.
After his performance against Detroit on Sunday, Tucker should be hailed as the G.O.A.T., right up there with Tom Brady and Michael Jordan.
Sure, a kicker’s career is much less impressive than, say, a quarterback’s, but that doesn’t take anything from what he’s achieved in his lifetime so far.
And fun fact: Tucker is also an opera singer — at this point, there shouldn’t be anything that surprises us about this man. Please don’t retire, ever.