Sunday ended in another victorious weekend for the Ravens as they went on to earn a walk-off 37-31 win over the visiting Los Angeles Rams, but it took the Flock more than a bit and their vaunted defense suffered throughout the whole matchup.
The Ravens' defense, however, faced more than a few challenges against the Rams and ended up conceding over 400 offensive yards and 30+ points for the first time this season.
Before Week 14, the Ravens had never surrendered more than 373 yards (against Cleveland) and had only allowed an opponent to score more than 24 points once (33 to the Browns in the same loss).
Despite their second-ranked defense, Baltimore struggled in the first half but at least got things relatively right through the final two quarters and into overtime, forcing punts on four consecutive Rams possessions in the second half.
While the Ravens lead the league in sacks, they only logged a couple against the Rams offensive line and quarterback Matthew Stafford, who finished Sunday with 294 passing yards and three touchdowns to keep his team afloat and nearly clinching the upset win at Baltimore.
"We know exactly who we are. We don’t shy away from that at all. Whether it’s going to be a four-quarter game or five-quarter game, we’re going to be here at the end of the day, and that’s our mindset. We just have to keep going and get better from the mistakes that we (made) throughout the game, because we know certain plays throughout the game weren’t us."- Roquan Smith, Baltimore Ravens
The defense, however, stepped up when it mattered the most and lifted that side of the team helping an offense led on Sunday by MVP-candidate Lamar Jackson.
Mike Macdonald's unit forced a three-and-out on the Rams' lone possession in overtime, one that could have won Los Angeles the game had they reached field-goal territory and kicked one in.
Middle linebacker Roquan Smith spoke after the game, saying "We know exactly who we are. Whether it’s going to be a four-quarter game or a five-quarter game, we’re going to be here at the end of the day."
Smith recorded 10 tackles, including two for loss. Fellow off-ball linebacker Patrick Queen contributed six tackles and edge rusher Kyle Van Noy made a significant tackle for a loss late in the game keeping LA out of field-goal distance.
Defensive linemen Travis Jones and Justin Madubuike had one sack each, with the latter leading all Ravens with 11 sacks through Week 14 this season. Beeks added seven tackles, including one for a loss of yardage on Sunday. Odafe Oweh didn't register a sack but helped Madubuike get his.
With a 10–3 record, the Ravens maintain a two-game lead in the AFC North with four games remaining while they also lead the AFC conference pending the Dolphins' MNF result.
On a day in which the defense struggled (relatively), it's rather encouraging to see the guys step up at the crucial moments to earn Baltimore another dub against a resurging opponent loaded on offense. Keep it going!