By Chris Schisler
The Baltimore Ravens lost to the Las Vegas Raiders. That’s what happened. Now let’s take a look at how and why it happened. Here is the good, the bad, and the ugly from a very heartbreaking opener for the Baltimore Ravens.
The Good for the Baltimore Ravens
With a game like this, we almost don’t want to see the good. It’s easier to just be tied up in a ball of rage and frustration. There were surely some positives though, so let’s touch on them. First, the wide receivers had a strong showing in this game. Sammy Watkins and Marquise Brown both played well. Watkins got a deep shot from Jackson. Watkins had four grabs for 96 yards while Brown had six receptions for 69 yards. Would it have been nice to get others involved a bit more? Yes. But this was a tandem that looked much better than anyone gave them credit for.
Jackson’s touchdown pass to Brown was a thing of beauty. He rolled out of the pocket, escaped pressure, and threw a dart right on the money. The negative plays really ding Jackson’s grade here, but the good aspects of his game were fantastic. In many ways, it was a typical Action Jackson showing with 235 yards in the air and 86 on the ground.
Odafe Oweh got his first sack in the NFL. It was more of a coverage sack than anything, yet it was an impressive showing of his athleticism. Derek Carr couldn’t get away from Oweh, who migrated from the other side of the field. Justin Houston also had a sack in his first game with the Baltimore Ravens. The outside linebackers had a respectable outing overall and they had a couple of big plays.
Other than a questionable penalty, Patrick Queen played a great game. Queen led the team in tackles and had a sack. He looked the part of a first-round pick going into his second season.
The Bad for the Baltimore Ravens:
The Ravens’ problems at running back played a larger factor than they may have thought it would. Ty’Son Williams got the most done on the ground and had the big touchdown run. The Ravens shifted to Latavius Murray. Looking back at it, Williams did struggle heavily in pass protection and there were problems with the exchange of the football in the backfield. Murray didn’t get anything going.
Before halftime, the Ravens went for it on fourth and one. They ran the most predictable play ever, and Murray got stuffed at the line of scrimmage. Instead of adding to a 14-7 lead, it allowed the Raiders to score a field goal before halftime. Going for it is understandable – at this point, that’s the Ravens sticking to their identity. The play call was limiting. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to roll Jackson out and give him the option to run or pass?
The Ravens were awful on third down. They only had three third-down conversions in the whole game and had 13 fewer plays run by their offense than Las Vegas did. The Ravens had 20 first downs, but when it got to third down they went 3-12.
Don Martindale had no answers for the Raiders passing game or at least none that would stick. Carr had over 400 yards. It would have been one thing if Darren Waller was the only Raiders pass-catcher to burn the Ravens (and he really did blaze the defense for 10 receptions, 105 yards, and a touchdown).
Fine Waller is a matchup problem for most teams. It’s quite a different story that in addition to Waller, Hunter Renfrow and Bryan Edwards had good games. Is life harder without Marcus Peters? Sure. Martindale better figure some things out quickly though, because a lot of that was on him.
As a whole, the Raiders crushed the Ravens’ offensive line. In particular, Maxx Crosby did the lion’s share of the damage. Alejandro Villanueva played awful at right tackle. It was actually hard to find a lineman who had a great game for the Ravens, yet it was clear who the weakest link was. Villanueva looked slow footed and lost. It’s only one game but maybe this is why Pittsburgh let him slip away to a division rival?
Pass protection was atrocious in this game. It may have been worse than atrocious. Jackson was doing his Houdini act all night and running for his life. While Jackson deserves a lot of credit for most of the positives for the offense, his fumbles were unacceptable. Jackson lost one fumble as a runner. Jackson lost one fumble in overtime, in the pocket. The weight of these fumbles was unbearable for the Ravens’ chances, especially given the timing in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Tavon Young got his first regular-season action since getting hurt in week 2 against the Houston Texans a year ago. He struggled in this game. The good news here is that you knew there would be some rust. Still, it wasn’t sharp.
The worst thing here is how the Ravens lost. They were up 14-0 and they fell apart. They found a way to lose a game they really couldn’t afford and L in. The demoralizing loss leaves the Ravens with no time to whine and lick their wounds. The Kansas City Chiefs got next.