Ravens win by 14 points as offense ‘close’ to where it was last year originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey loves to sit next to quarterback Lamar Jackson on the Ravens’ bench. That’s because when the two are sitting next to one another, the outcome of a game has already been long decided.
The two were able to sit next to each other Sunday, as the Ravens beat the Washington Football Team 31-17 at FedExField to improve to 3-1. But while everyone cheered the win, the desire to play better was noticeable in the postgame press conferences.
On paper, the Ravens’ 31-point outburst and 14-point win is a result 32 teams in the NFL would take week-in and week-out. And while it’s true the Ravens showed flashes of what made them 14-2 a year ago, the whole thing hasn’t come together.
Jackson missed a few deep shots to wideout Marquise Brown that would’ve assuredly resulted in points. The Ravens let Washington running back Antonio Gibson get loose a handful of times, just not enough to take over the game entirely. There were just a few plays left on the field the Ravens would love to have back — a tough demand when you win by 14 points.
“We’re close, we’re close,” tight end Mark Andrews said. “It’s just the little things here and there that need to be tightened up. It’s hard to tell you. Every team plays you differently with us, everyone’s kind of got a bullseye on us.”
The Ravens never took over the game from the start like many expected and had as many drives resulting in punts or interceptions (five) as they did drives that ended in points. They even covered the two touchdown point spread. But the lack of consistency left something to be desired.
After the Ravens’ opening drive stalled out, Marlon Humphrey stripped Washington running back J.D. McKissic in Ravens’ territory which led to a 33-yard deep pass to Brown before running back Mark Ingram plunged ahead for a score to put the Ravens ahead for good in the first quarter.
The next Ravens’ drive ended in a punt, but Washington missed field goal gave way to Jackson’s electrifying 50-yard touchdown run that gave the Ravens a comfortable lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“That was the key, plays being made,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Really, if you look at most NFL games, that’s really what it boils down to. Four, five, six, seven or eight plays make the difference in the game.”
But even as the Ravens held the game firmly in their grip the entire time, missed opportunities to turn the game from a sizable win to a total boat race fell flat.
Jackson, who threw for 193 yards on 14-of-21 passing, missed Brown down the field twice, where one pass would’ve resulted in a touchdown. Jackson had Miles Boykin down the right sideline on the next play, but overthrew him as well.
A late interception of Jackson in the first half gave three Washington three free points, which could’ve been seven were it not for poor clock management at the end of the half.
The Ravens scored a touchdown on the first drive of the second half, eating up 6:18 of the game clock in the process, to essentially put the game out of reach for a Washington offense that seemed determined to keep throws underneath and limit potential mistakes.
Which is, in a way, the reason why the Ravens are so terrifying for other AFC opponents. They started sluggishly and turned a fumble and missed field goal into 14 points in five total plays in the first half. Even when they’re not at their best, they can still hang 30 points on the board.
“I’m not going to say we started slow, but they were having some success and they were kind of stopping our offense a little bit,” Humphrey said. “We were not playing great at the beginning. I was able to get a turnover early on there and was able to catch a little momentum and get a big play in that first quarter.”
Jackson admitted he’d like to have some deep throws to Brown back, as well as the throw to Boykin that led to his interception — his first of the season.
The expectation for the Ravens this year was, in a nutshell, the Washington game.
The Ravens won by 14 points, to add to wins of 32 and 17 points already this season. They’re 3-1 with the Bengals and, as of Sunday afternoon, winless Eagles next on the schedule. A 5-1 record headed into the bye week with a massive game against the Steelers upcoming is not only the hope, it’s the expectation.
But even with a 14-point win against the Washington Football Team, images of the 2019 Ravens and the blowouts they produced are hard to forget. Even through three wins, with an average margin of victory of 21 points, it feels like the Ravens have more to offer.
Sunday was their smallest margin of victory since Week 14 of last season, which was a seven-point win over the Bills. Since then, they’ve won six games with margins of victories of 21, 16, 18, 32, 17 and 14.
Those victories are certainly on the minds of the Ravens’ opponents, who each week have to come up with a new gameplan to stop the league’s reigning MVP. So far, the only gameplan that seems to work is to have Patrick Mahomes as the opposing quarterback.
“Teams are coming out, playing a bunch of different defenses,” Andrews said. “It’s a unique task because you never know what they’re going to be playing in. Everyone thinks they have the formula to stop us. So we see different things every week. That’s only going to make us battle harder.”
The Ravens hung 31 points and allowed what amounted to a garbage-time touchdown by Washington. Despite their two-touchdown win, there were a handful of deciding plays the Ravens know they’ve got to improve upon, plays they left on the field.
And depending on your point of view, that’s the scariest thing about the Ravens right now.
“You can never really doubt (Lamar),” Humphrey said. “It’s always great to be able to sit down on the bench next to Lamar, that usually means we’re up and RGIII is in. I watch some of the offense but I’m mainly sitting down resting. Really, I asked him, ‘How was it?’ He was like, ‘Man, we’ve got to do a lot better.’ I looked up at the score and was like, ‘I think we scored a decent amount of points!’”