The Ravens have a chance to dominate the division. Instead, they let the ball slip out of their hands like a football slipping out of their receivers’ hands. Instead of leading 4-1, they tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers 3-2 and now head to London to face the Tennessee Titans.
Several players performed well today. Kevon Seymour picked up a fumble on Jeremiah Moon’s forced punt return. Defensive linemen Justin Madubke and Michael Pierce looked disruptive, and Brent Urban had a sack. The same goes for Arthur Maulet, who had a great game today. They all deserve mention, but I’m sure they won’t feel like winners after a game like this.
Let’s get to the ugly stuff.
QB Lamar Jackson –Both interceptions at the end of the game were ugly. The pass to Odell Beckham Jr. was terrible. Let’s be honest, that’s what strip bags are. But I put Jackson on this list because he failed not because of his performance, but because of his pass catchers. If any of his receivers had made a field goal, the play would have been canceled. Mark Andrews and Rashod Bateman both scored touchdowns. Zay Flowers fumbled two passes and lost track of his third pass, falling down. A long touchdown throw by Nelson Agholor fell short. Jackson won the game. Instead, he looked like a loser in the fourth quarter as he pressed hard to get his players the ball.
Counseling—— For the second time, the team failed to overcome early woes. Just like they did against the Indianapolis Colts, they went downfield and scored. They start hurting their opponents. Then, an ugly fumble by the running back stalled them, and they were never able to put the mess together. After their ninth straight touchdown, their next two red zone opportunities were a field goal and an interception, not including the fumble at the end of the second half, which occurred at the 23-yard line.
More coaching— The Ravens receivers didn’t make a snap. The passing attack struggled to get going. So when the Ravens get the ball on a Steelers punt return and a forced fumble in the red zone, I expect them to punch it into the end zone. Instead, offensive coordinator Todd Monken charted a drop route to the 5-foot-11 Beckham, who was scrambling against 6-foot-2 rookie cornerback Joey Porter Jr. is known for his physicality and pressing defense. It feels like you’re not only riding Gus Edwards on the first bet, but also riding Gus Edwards on the next two bets. Or sweep the ball into space and burn the edge with Flowers or DuVernay, or keep the ball with Jackson, who has been injured with four rushing touchdowns in the past two weeks.
Punt protection/coverage (excluding Jordan Stout) — A kicking show? Everything is near perfect. But on the safety kickoff, Stout had to make a tackle 45 yards due to a blocked punt and the ensuing defense. There have been real issues with this special teams unit this season that have caused them to miss football games. It has gone from a slight concern to an outright score due to their mistakes. A team led by head coach John Harbaugh that isn’t performing in the top ten, or even in the top half? I’m curious if changes are being considered. Not in the middle of the season, no, but it was shocking.
Pass catcher— Six drops? seven? Everyone seems to have a different opinion on this, but regardless, it’s inexcusable. When I asked tight end Mark Andrews these questions, he deserves credit for taking responsibility.
“We have too many good players — too many players, myself included. That stuff is not contagious,” Andrews said. “It happens, move on and get to the next play. We need to get better. Obviously, Lamar is getting the ball where it needs to be. We need to be around him and make plays. We did that and we won this game.”
RB Mount Justice— Set a new career single-season best for touchdowns with three touchdowns in Week 5 alone. But that’s long gone, as he will be remembered for a fumble in this game that, like Kenya Drake’s, seemed to put the team in trouble. A turnover two weeks ago against the Colts led to such a collapse.
ball security — At this point, controlling the football will be the Ravens’ fatal flaw. All the while, they were losing football and it was the death knell.
CB Marlon Humphrey— Last season, wide receiver George Pickens seemed to have Humphrey’s number. At least at Acrisure Stadium, Pickens had three catches for 41 yards, 25 yards and 11 yards. Pickens struggled with Humphrey for much of the game. Then, everything fell apart when Pickens beat him one-on-one for a 41-yard touchdown. Humphrey talked about the game after the game.
“When you raid a house, sometimes you’re going to get beat,” Humphrey said. “Obviously, you don’t want to be the winner of the game. Sometimes that happens in the corners.”