(Image Credit: Tim Bielik/ Cleveland.com)
Written by: Connor Pelesh
This game was the definition of a team win. The Ravens absolutely dominated the Los Angeles Chargers in Baltimore. The Ravens jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead and never looked back. The Ravens defense played stellar compared to their subpar performance vs the Colts last week. The Chargers are considered one of the top teams in the NFL led by star second-year quarterback Justin Herbert. If the Ravens beat them by 28 points, what does that say about this Ravens team? The Ravens are now on a 5-game winning streak heading into their first divisional game of the year vs the Bengals. Although there were no flashy stats by any Ravens players in this game, Baltimore was still able to handle the Chargers and improve to a record of 5-1. Below I will go over some players/ position groups who were key in yet another Ravens victory.
The Ravens desperately needed the return of fourth-year safety Deshon Elliott for this game. The Ravens had struggled defensively since Elliott injured his quad 2 weeks prior. In his return from injury, Elliott had one of his best games as a Raven. He notched his first career interception and eliminated the opportunity for the Chargers to throw deep passes. Elliott and fellow safety Chuck Clark have great communication and a level of trust while on the field. DeShon also had a sack in this game, proving his value to rush the passer when the Ravens call for a safety blitz. He has the size, speed, and big-play ability to earn a second contract from the Ravens. It is evident that Elliott has a passion for the game as shown in his celebrations and when he hypes up his fellow teammates. Hopefully, Elliott can stay healthy for the rest of the season because the Ravens need him as shown in the last 2 weeks.
When the Ravens lost all of their running backs on their roster before the season started to season-ending injuries, they needed to completely rethink their offensive strategy. Baltimore went out and signed running backs that no one else in the NFL wanted. Latavious Murray, Devonta Freeman, and Le’Veon Bell were all former star players in the NFL who were looking for a chance to revive their professional careers. The Chargers had one of the worst run defenses in the NFL, but the Ravens were able to run the ball with extreme effectiveness nevertheless. All of the running backs scored a touchdown and had at least 8 rushing carries. The Ravens are able to keep their running backs fresh and mixed in throughout the game. When the Ravens are able to run the ball effectively, it sets up the pass for Lamar Jackson and gives him opportunities for a big play. Lamar Jackson has taken major strides this season so far throwing the football, but will always have his dangerous running ability. This additional running threat makes defenses have to follow him every play even if the Ravens call a simple running play. The Ravens offensive line has played better as of late and is improving in their run blocking as the season progresses. The Ravens, even after losing all of their star running backs before the season started, still have a prolific running game that will be crucial to putting games away when the Ravens have a 4th quarter lead.
The Ravens were not going to let the Chargers run the ball. If the Ravens could shut down the run, they could make the Chargers one-dimensional on offense and defend the pass better. Los Angeles only ran for 26 yards the entire game and held their star running back Austin Ekeler to 7 yards rushing. The Ravens defensive line, led by Calais Campbell, played their best game of the season. Not only were the Ravens defensive line able to stop the run, but they also created lots of pressure on Herbert. The Ravens second-year player Justin Madubuike has been playing great so far this season and contributed to the Ravens having a good run defense this season. Brandon Williams has been crucial as well to plug holes that running backs can go through for big gains. Baltimore will have Derek Wolfe return sometime in the coming weeks which will only make this unit stronger as the season progresses.
Penalties have been a big topic of discussion in the NFL this season and their impact on killing drives. The Ravens have done a good job overall not having their game plan ruined by the referees. The Ravens only had 2 penalties vs the Chargers and that contributed to them keeping LA from mounting a comeback as the game progressed. The Chargers were also 1 for 4 on 4th down, meaning that when a crucial play needed to be made, the Ravens had the right defensive call to shut it down. Offensively the Ravens stuck with their game plan of running the ball and converted over 50% on third down. John Harbaugh deserves lots of credit for keeping this Ravens team on task even after all the injuries they have suffered as well as the crazy finishes in games this year.
The Ravens have their first divisional game of the season next week when the Cincinnati Bengals come to Baltimore. Lamar Jackson is 5-0 vs the Bengals in his career and has had great success running the ball. The Ravens now sit at the top of the AFC North with a record of 5-1 and are the only team in the AFC with 5 wins. With one game remaining until their bye week, the Ravens will look for their 6th straight win and hope to get healthy heading into November.