The Ravens punished rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, and Lamar Jackson performed an impeccable second quarter to safe a straightforward AFC North street win, 28-3, over the Cleveland Browns.
Here are 5 issues we discovered from Sunday’s sport.
The Ravens capitalized on their success, which is what the perfect groups do
When they appeared forward to their street date with the Browns, the Ravens couldn’t have imagined they’d face neither Nick Chubb, the perfect working again within the league, nor Deshaun Watson, whose sore shoulder pressured him at hand the reins to Thompson-Robinson.
If we’re singing ballads of misfortune, the Ravens (3-1) introduced loads of their very own to this AFC North occasion. They performed with out their beginning left sort out, their greatest cornerback, their $70 million security, their No. 1 working again, two of their high three edge defenders and two of their high three vast receivers.
Cleveland would nonetheless guard its house area with the highest protection in soccer, which had allowed a measly 21 first downs via the primary three weeks.
So the Ravens’ beginning hand was higher than anticipated however hardly a pair of aces. They turned it right into a commanding win, shifting to 2-0 of their division — precisely what you’d hope to see from a staff that aspires to play deep into January.
Plenty has gone improper via 4 weeks, and the Ravens had been understandably gloomy after they frittered away so many probabilities in an extra time loss to the Indianapolis Colts. But their protection, in all probability uninterested in listening to in regards to the Browns’ traditionally nice begin, handled a nervous Thompson-Robinson like chum in Lake Erie. After a tentative begin on offense, they ran proper at mighty Cleveland, with Jackson utilizing his fast toes and exact arm to complete drives ultimately zone.
The Browns had been toast after half-hour, and their house followers knew it, filling the air with jeers.
“That’s what every team does, try to go into another person’s stadium and try to take over and that’s what we did today,” Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen stated. “We were able to capitalize on the opportunities that we had.”
In one quarter, the Ravens modified the narrative on a protection that had eaten opponents alive
Have we ever seen Jackson focus extra sensible throws right into a single quarter?
There was a stunning 23-yard tear drop to a streaking Melvin Gordon on the sideline. There was his 43-yard strike to Zay Flowers after he scrambled to purchase time. He threw a ball the place solely Nelson Agholor might catch it towards blanket protection within the nook of the tip zone, however Agholor couldn’t drag his second foot inbounds. No matter. Jackson adopted up with a lob over three defenders to leaping tight finish Mark Andrews to place the Ravens up 21-3 at halftime.
“I thought [Lamar] played an incredible game, just continuing to fight and extend plays and make the big-time throws,” stated Andrews, who performed his greatest sport of the season after offensive coordinator Todd Monken stated he appeared totally recovered from a quadriceps damage that saved him out of the opener.
A second quarter that began with the Ravens on their heels ended with them standing over the inclined Browns as the house crowd booed.
The Ravens outgained the Browns 249-70 within the first half, averaging 7.5 yards per play towards a protection that had allowed 2.8 via the primary three video games of the season. They broke the dam by working proper on the Browns. Cleveland had allowed 81 dashing yards over its earlier two video games; the Ravens rolled up 117, together with two touchdowns by Jackson, earlier than halftime.
That was not the story on the Ravens’ first 5 drives.
They gained 6 yards on their first play of the sport and instantly gave 5 again on a false begin by proper sort out Morgan Moses, the kind of small error they seemingly couldn’t afford towards a protection that feasts on third down.
All-World defensive finish Myles Garrett whipped round left sort out Patrick Mekari’s exterior shoulder to drop Jackson and drive one other third-and-long on the Ravens’ second drive. A false begin by heart Tyler Linderbaum compounded the issue, reiterating how skittish the Ravens’ offensive line appeared towards Cleveland’s formidable entrance.
Early within the second quarter, they lastly ignited a promising drive with three straight first downs, just for Jackson to present the ball away on a botched change with working again Justice Hill. His sloppy ball dealing with — 5 fumbles in 4 video games — has undermined the offense all season.
As it turned out, these three first downs weren’t a ray at midnight however an indication of issues to return. On their subsequent drive, the Ravens did one thing no earlier opponent had towards coordinator Jim Schwartz’s protection, marching 93 yards, 57 of them on runs, for a landing. They not needed to fear about third down as a result of they didn’t face one. This was one bully staring down one other.
When they acquired the ball again with 2:34 left within the half, they went from brutal to stunning because of Jackson’s precision passing.
Coach John Harbaugh lauded Jackson’s command of the sport per week after he wasn’t at his greatest in key moments towards the Colts: “He was the point guard; he was the general. He was making the calls, making the changes, [and] handling the shot clock. I just thought he played a fantastic football game.”
Dorian Thompson-Robinson by no means had an opportunity
Watson performed poorly within the first two video games however awfully properly in Cleveland’s 27-3 shellacking of the Tennessee Titans. He didn’t throw a lot in getting ready for the Ravens however appeared assured he would play till he examined his shoulder Sunday morning. Suddenly, he was out and Thompson-Robinson, a fifth-round draft pick of UCLA, was up.
Across the road of scrimmage, the rookie noticed a pack of quick, livid Ravens, together with Jadeveon Clowney, who was keen to place a damage on his former staff, and Roquan Smith, who scoffed at those that would anoint the Cleveland protection primarily based on three weeks’ proof. History was not on the brand new man’s aspect. In 5 earlier video games towards debuting quarterbacks with Harbaugh as their coach, the Ravens had gained by a mixed rating of 151-62.
Thompson-Robinson responded to those daunting odds by making an attempt to do greater than his expertise and expertise would permit.
On Cleveland’s second drive, he threw into double protection, and the ensuing deflection caromed into the arms of cornerback Brandon Stephens, who bounced off the grass like the school working again he was to choose his option to a 52-yard return. The Ravens wanted such a second given how troublesome it might be to maneuver towards the league’s greatest protection, and Jackson capitalized with a 10-yard landing burst.
The subsequent time he had the ball, Thompson-Robinson tried to increase a play with an unlawful ahead cross, exhibiting how overeager he actually was. That drive was a relative success, ending with a area purpose after a cross interference penalty by Stephens put the Browns on the Baltimore 19-yard line.
That could be the final glimmer of hope for Cleveland’s rookie quarterback, who took eight hits he will need to have felt deep in his bones and threw one other two interceptions. The Browns went seven straight drives with out shifting previous midfield.
Many Ravens did their half to make the rookie uncomfortable. Clowney acquired after him all day. Freshly signed exterior linebacker Kyle Van Noy recorded a pair of pressures via Cleveland’s first 4 drives. Smith and his companion, Queen, tore into Thompson-Robinson on the finish of blitzes.
“We knew he was going to put the ball in harm’s way,” stated Queen, who lamented that he and Smith might have turned extra of the rookie’s misfires into turnovers.
Except for just a few early lapses in setting the sting, the Ravens closed with vicious pace on any Browns participant who glimpsed daylight exterior the numbers. Cleveland averaged 2.6 yards per play, and that quantity would have been 1.97 if not for a 40-yard run in rubbish time. What the Browns’ protection had been via three video games, the Ravens protection’ was Sunday.
How completely different may the end result have been with Watson in Thompson-Robinson’s place? Watson will presumably have his say when the Browns come to Baltimore in November.
An enormous-time win couldn’t wipe away issues in regards to the Ravens’ offensive line
The final sight the Ravens wanted in a sport they managed was Moses on the bottom, clutching his shoulder.
He got here out for the second half in avenue garments, leaving the Ravens, already lacking Ronnie Stanley, with out both of their beginning tackles. An offensive line that was the staff’s rock final season has been wounded all through this one.
The Ravens had been lucky their offense didn’t have to do a lot within the second half to safe victory. That meant Jackson was uncovered to comparatively little hazard as Garrett and Za’Darius Smith took their photographs at Mekari and Moses’ backup, Daniel Faalele.
We noticed glimpses of a scarier world for the Ravens’ franchise participant when Garrett spun previous Mekari for a sack simply earlier than halftime and Ogbo Okoronkwo glided round Faalele’s exterior shoulder for an additional within the second half.
Mekari is a helpful utility lineman, and Faalele flashed improved health and approach throughout coaching camp, however the Ravens aren’t designed to face the world’s greatest cross rushers with out the blokes who’re making a mixed $29 million this yr to guard Jackson.
Linderbaum’s return after he missed two video games with an ankle damage was most welcome. Stanley, who damage his knee within the season opener, practiced Wednesday and Thursday, so maybe we’ll see him subsequent Sunday in Pittsburgh because the Ravens attempt to block one other famous person edge rusher in T.J. Watt. The Ravens will maintain their breath ready for the outcomes of a Monday MRI on the sturdy Moses.
The Ravens have put themselves in excellent form within the AFC North
We thought the AFC North could be the NFL’s most rugged division with 4 reputable playoff contenders slugging it out each week. Not a lot Sunday when the three non-Ravens groups within the division mixed to attain 12 factors.
We know what occurred to the Browns, now 1-2 within the division.
In Houston, the Steelers misplaced quarterback Kenny Pickett to a knee damage on their option to a 30-6 loss to the instantly frisky Texans. Pittsburgh went down 16-0 in that sport and, after exhibiting indicators of life within the third quarter, surrendered two lengthy landing drives within the fourth.
In Tennessee, the defending AFC North champion Bengals gave up 400 yards of offense and watched quarterback Joe Burrow, nonetheless slowed by a sore calf, play one other flat sport. Their second greatest vast receiver, Tee Higgins, fractured a rib, in keeping with an NFL Network report, and may very well be out some time. They’re 1-3, 0-2 within the division.
All of which implies the Ravens, with street wins over the Bengals and Browns in hand and a golden alternative so as to add one other in Pittsburgh subsequent weekend, are in higher place than they ever might have hoped for when their schedule was launched in May.
It’s impertinent to label any staff a transparent favourite with 13 video games to go, and Harbaugh would certainly roll his eyes at any such proclamation. But the Ravens have an actual benefit after per week that went as properly for them because it did poorly for his or her closest rivals.
Ravens at Steelers
Sunday, 1 p.m.
TV: Chs. 13, 9
Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM
Line: Ravens by 2 1/2