(Image Credit: Kevin Oestreicher/ Ravens Wire)
By: Connor Pelesh
"It feels good to get that monkey off of our back...We've got to move on to Detroit now. We didn't win the Super Bowl yet; it's just one game"(Lamar Jackson). This was the message given by the Ravens quarterback after he and the rest of the Ravens team beat the Kansas City Chiefs. I had the privilege to attend this game in person along with my Uncle Brent and cousin Andrew. The atmosphere in Baltimore was electric, and the highs and lows of this game will make it a classic in Ravens history. Baltimore finally beat their “kryptonite” as Lamar Jackson called KC after their third consecutive loss to the Chiefs last season. Hope seemed all but lost when the Ravens trailed 24-35 in the fourth quarter. A pair of defensive turnovers and Lamar Jackson taking the game in his own hands changed the outcome for the Ravens. The Ravens scored 12 points in the fourth quarter and shut out the Chiefs to seal the victory 36-35. A turnover with under a minute left in the game had M&T Bank Stadium shaking as the Ravens and their fans celebrated their first win of the season vs the best team in the AFC. I will discuss what players made the biggest impact for the Ravens and made the game-changing plays needed to win.
It wasn’t perfect, but when the Ravens needed him, number 8 showed up and led the team to victory. The first drive silenced the crowd as Jackson threw a pick-6 to the Chiefs to quickly trail 0-7 only seconds into the game. In the next series, the Ravens had a good drive to trail 7-14 and to get back into the game. However, on the third drive, Jackson threw a ball into triple coverage that was picked off by Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu. From that point on, Lamar Jackson played fantastically and was the dangerous dual-threat quarterback opposing defenses fear. Jackson threw the ball for 239 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran the ball for another 107 yards and a pair of touchdowns. As the game progressed, when the Ravens needed a first down, he got it for them. His passes were accurate and he was able to lead receivers to gain yards after the catch. He made a jump pass to Hollywood Brown that showed just why he is so hard to defend. Down in the red zone near the goal line, Jackson is nearly an unstoppable threat. His ability to either throw or run makes him impossible to defend. Lamar beat Mahomes for the first time in his career and the Ravens gained much-needed confidence after last week's disappointing loss.
When the Ravens traded offensive tackle Orlando Brown for the 31st pick in the draft, I thought it was a bad move by the Ravens initially. It was actually that selection for the Ravens that was the missing piece for Baltimore to beat KC. The Ravens selected Odafe Oweh with the 31st pick in the 2021 draft, and he made two of the biggest plays in the game and was crucial in the Ravens victory. The first big play turned the tide of the game for Baltimore. Mahomes stepped up in the pocket when Oweh grabbed his legs and dragged him down. Mahomes then threw his first interception in September ever to Ravens CB Tavon Young because of the pressure by Oweh. This play was huge for Baltimore but not even his best play of the game. The Ravens held the lead 36-35 and needed a game-changing play after the Chiefs were driving with only a minute left to play. Oweh made the play of the game punching the ball out of Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s hands and then recovering the fumble. Without this play occurring, the Ravens most likely would have lost to a game-winning field goal and fallen to 0-2. Oweh has the size and speed to be a great player for the Ravens. After seeing him in person for the first time, I can confirm that this was a great draft pick by Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta.
Marquise (Hollywood) Brown
There is a lot of pressure being a first-round draft pick, especially if you are a WR who plays for the Ravens. Brown has had a rocky start to his career, now in year three, with injuries and dropped passes. But since December of last season, he has become the receiver the Ravens had hoped he would be. Running quick intermediate routes and having the ability to pick up lots of yards after the catch has been great for Lamar Jackson to develop as a passer. Brown had 6 catches for 113 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 18.8 yards per reception and also had a successful two-point conversion called back by the refs. He is putting up all-pro numbers if he can sustain this pace for the rest of the season. With Brown elevating his play and Sammy Watkins being that veteran presence when Rashod Bateman returns to the lineup this passing game will take a great leap forward. The Ravens led by a strong running game will now have a fearful passing attack that defenses will have to figure out how to defend.
Playing against the Chiefs is probably the least favorite thing for opposing defenses. Between Mahomes and all of the offensive weapons, teams can usually only hope to outscore KC. The Ravens by no means were perfect in the secondary but I must give them credit. Holding Tyreek Hill to 3 catches and 14 yards is almost unheard of. Marlon Humphrey is really the leader of this defense with the loss of Marcus Peters and Anthony Averett has stepped in nicely to assist Humphrey in coverage. On a critical 3rd and 9, Averett blanketed Hill and broke up the pass forcing a rare KC punt. The Ravens committed to double-teaming Hill every play of the game and it worked. I can say that the tackling was suspect for pretty much the entire Ravens defense, however. They took some really bad angles on the long touchdown plays by Kelce and Pringle. This is clearly an area where the defense will need to focus on in upcoming games.
Greg Roman and Ravens Coaching Staff
I was very impressed by the game Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman called. Even when the Ravens were down a touchdown or more, he did not abandon the running game as in years past vs KC. He mixed in a variety of deep shots to stretch the defense and called great plays especially down in the red zone. Credit to John Harbaugh who had the guts to send the offense out there on 4th and 1 to win the game. The Ravens defense likely would not have held if they gave Mahomes another chance with the ball, so being aggressive was a key for Baltimore to be victorious. The offensive line played much better this week and I give the coaches props for correcting many of the mistakes from Week 1.
The Ravens, now sitting at 1-1, head to Detroit to play the Lions. It will be important for the Ravens not to get too caught up on last week and focus on the task ahead. As Lamar said, the team just won a game and has a long way to go this season. I expect the Ravens to ride the momentum of the last game into this upcoming one and continue to prove doubters wrong who wrote them off this season.