Roquan Smith, Justin Houston ascend to new heights in satisfying Week 9 victory

Ravens, Roquan Smith. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Ravens, Roquan Smith. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) /

The Baltimore Ravens pummeled the New Orleans Saints 27-13 in Week 9 and had the game in the bag early. Did they just make their claim for a top AFC seed in 2022?

Missing a number of key offensive starters, Lamar Jackson and company still found a way to get points on the board and take a double-digit lead — and this time, they weren’t losing it. Baltimore outscored its opponent in the fourth quarter for the first time all year, and the team’s defense also took care of business (for the most part) to help Baltimore earn its sixth win of the season.

The Ravens trounced the Saints in a game that was Baltimore’s from the beginning, and now the team heads into its BYE week sitting at the top of the AFC North with a 6-3 record.

Here’s a brief list of the winners and losers from Week 9.

Ravens’ Winners

Justin Houston

Lamar Jackson gave the pass-rusher the ultimate compliment after the game calling him a future Hall-of-Famer, and after a performance like that, why not?

Houston finished with 2.5 sacks, three quarterback hits, and one interception, and he was undoubtedly the star of the night on Monday. He already has 8.5 sacks in just six games (and one start)!

The veteran made a bit of history in Week 9 and can keep making history if he continues his insane production. All hats off to Houston this game — he’s the biggest winner on the Ravens in our book.

Roquan Smith

How about that for a smashing debut? The former Bears linebacker played his first game in purple and black and absolutely crushed it.

Smith played 13 of the defense’s 24 snaps, which isn’t surprising given that Josh Bynes was inactive for the game. Even though he barely had time to learn the playbook, Smith recorded a couple key run-stuffing plays on Saints’ Alvin Kamara:

He finished with five tackles but made his presence known all over the field, injecting an extra dose of scariness in the Ravens’ pass-rushing unit.

After one game, Smith already looks like a defensive superstar and should easily assume a starting role as a monster tackler in the open field. A+ grade for this trade.

Kenyan Drake

We all thought Drake could have a big game in Week 9, but actually seeing him run through a top-ranked defense? Incredible.

With Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins out due to injury, Drake enjoyed his second breakout game of the season with a team-high 24 carries for 93 yards and two touchdowns.

Drake is slowly making his case for the Ravens’ most underrated signing of the offseason (along with Houston) as he continues to step up in the spotlight. Sure, playing with a dual-threat like Lamar Jackson makes Drake’s job a bit easier, but Drake made the most of his opportunities, particularly at the goal line.

He looked sharp, explosive, and had a few runs where he surprisingly powered through defenders with sheer force, gaining several yards after the catch. Drake played like a bonafide RB1 in Week 9 and should have a role in the rushing attack even when Edwards and Dobbins returns.

Ravens’ run defense

Speaking of the run game, the Ravens’ run defense played lights out against one of the best running backs in the league: Saints’ Alvin Kamara.

The Ravens’ front seven limited Kamara to just 30 rushing yards with a long of 10; the rest of New Orleans’ running back corps combined for 13 yards total. In all, the Saints managed just 48 yards on the ground, which suffice to say wasn’t enough to even give them a chance at winning this game.

Stopping Kamara was one of Baltimore’s keys to success going into Week 9 — and if they can stop him, they can stop just about anybody.

Ravens’ Losers

Chuck Clark 

It was just one play but…c’mon.

The Saints scored their lone touchdown in the fourth quarter when the game was practically over, but NOLA never should have gotten six on the board. With roughly four minutes left in the game, NOLA’s tight end Juwan Johnson caught a pass in the middle of the field and outmuscled Marcus Peters. He then took off down the sideline and ran past Chuck Clark completely untouched.

We’re not entirely sure what happened here, but it appears Clark thought Johnson stepped out of bounds so he refrained from making the tackle and merely pointed to the sideline instead.

Simply put, this cannot happen at the professional level. Even if Clark wasn’t sure, he should have finished the play to force Johnson out of bounds. Head coach John Harbaugh cut Clark some slack after the game, saying that Clark thought Johnson was already out and didn’t want to hit him and get flagged for a penalty; still, Clark should have just played to the whistle.

Devin Duvernay

Devin Duvernay’s breakout year is not going as planned as the wideout recorded just one catch for five yards on Monday night.

In his defense, the Ravens dialed down their passing attack after finding success on the ground, and the most catches any Ravens player had this game was two. That being said, it doesn’t seem like Duvernay is a viable stand-in for Rashod Bateman, and Baltimore will need to go back to the drawing board to tweak its passing game.

Duvernay still has some big play potential as shown by his touchdowns at the beginning of the season, but if the Ravens are looking for a consistent and trusty receiver, Duvernay may not be it.

Runner-up: Isaiah Likely

Likely scored his second touchdown of the season, yet he only caught one pass on five targets. We’ll give the rookie a pass this time since he was “likely” feeling the nerves from playing on primetime, but Likely has to do better. We’re not looking for Mark Andrews-level of production, just make the easy catches.

Next. Breaking down the turning point in Ravens’ win over Saints. dark

Another week, another win. The 2022 Baltimore Ravens are rolling.