We hear every week that Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have assistants and that’s why the Green Bay Packers aren’t doing very well this season. Rodgers plays on this by gesticulating wildly after each incomplete pass, which places the blame on his teammates or coaches. The TV cameras manage to find Rogers every time he does.
On Monday night, Lamar Jackson had less help than Rodgers had this season. Two of his best running backs, the best wide receiver and the best tight end – arguably the best TE in the NFL – were out. Jackson just made everyone around him better and led to victory.
The Baltimore Ravens may be the best team in the NFL that isn’t often called a contender. They are 6-3 after beating the New Orleans Saints 27-13. Were it not for three lost leads, we might be talking about the Ravens the same way we talk about the Buffalo Bills or the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC. The main reason for the success of the Ravens is Jackson, who was given the backbone of the team to work on offense, and he made him work.
There were no excuses. Just a great player who found a way to win.
Ravens received contributions from many players
Here’s a list of the Ravens who caught passes from Jackson on Monday night against the Saints defense that kept the Las Vegas Raiders out in Week 8: Isaiah Likely, Josh Oliver, DeSean Jackson, DeMarcus Robinson, James Proche II, Mike Davis, Kenyan. Drake, Devin DuVernay, Justice Hill, Patrick Ricard.
On it, the Packers, consisting of Robert Tonyana, Allen Lazard, AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones, look good.
No matter how much you study the NFL depth charts, there will probably be at least one or two questions “Who is this?” moments for everyone watching as Jackson ended the broadcast. Do you remember that the Ravens just picked up Jackson from the dump? That Davis was still at the very bottom of the list? Who was Oliver anyway (17 receptions in three seasons)?
The Ravens didn’t have running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, wide receiver Rashod Bateman, or tight end Mark Andrews. All of them were injured. They still have over 300 yards and 27 points.
The Ravens weren’t effective offensively, but they were good enough. Jackson hit Likely to score a touchdown to start the scoring. As usual, they played it effectively and Drake had two rushing touchdowns.
The Ravens have been very good almost every season that John Harbaugh has been their coach. There is a reason. They have a personality and they are happy with it.
Ravens D gains momentum
The Ravens’ defense played an even bigger role in the victory.
Baltimore added linebacker Roquan Smith in a trade after their last game, and they activated pass rusher Tyus Bowser, who was recovering from an Achilles rupture sustained in last season’s finale. Baltimore looked like an elite defensive team for most of the game. In the third quarter, the Saints began to gain momentum in the long game. But a well-timed third-down blitz sent defenseman Marlon Humphrey home and the Saints had to settle for a field goal.
Justin Houston had a huge night out for the Ravens. He had 2.5 sacks and then got an interception in the fourth quarter due to an interception. The score was 20-6 when he grabbed that interception and it almost ended the game. Drake scored shortly after to give the Ravens a 27–6 lead.
The pass rush was on top of Saints quarterback Andy Dalton all night. As a result, the Saints offense rarely moved the ball. The Saints hit a bizarre touchdown late when tight end Juwan Johnson somehow stayed within the touchline for 41 yards. By that time the game was well resolved.
In a league that is dying of consistent good teams, perhaps the Ravens could emerge. Their victory on Monday night was a statement. Even when they’re not close to completely healthy, they’re still pretty good.