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Late for Work 10/28: Pundits React to a 'Monster Win' in Tampa Bay

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C Tyler Linderbaum

Ravens Win "Gut-Check Game" with Mark Andrews, Rashod Bateman Sidelined

Entering the second half, the Ravens faced a 10-3 deficit and both tight end Mark Andrews and wide receiver Rashod Bateman were done with injuries. Rather than faltering as they missed key guys and were coming off a short week, the Ravens put together one of their best halves of football this season as they dropped 200 rushing yards and 24 points in the second half to defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 27-22.

With such a hard-earned result, the media agrees it was a significant victory.

The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec: "Playing without their top two pass catchers in Mark Andrews (shoulder) and Rashod Bateman (foot) and losing their top running back Gus Edwards (hamstring) in the fourth quarter, the Ravens still found a way to close out the Buccaneers and get a big run win. The victory was short on style points, but long on grit and toughness. The Ravens had plenty of opportunities to wilt after an injury-filled and sloppy first half. Instead, they put together one of their best halves of the year."

ESPN's Jamison Hensley: "In a gut-check game, Lamar Jackson – without his top two targets – and the Ravens found a way to beat Tom Brady. With tight end Mark Andrews and wide receiver Rashod Bateman sidelined with injuries, Jackson led Baltimore to touchdowns on its first three drives of the second half. The Ravens leaned on the run after abandoning it in the first half, totaling 157 yards rushing on 20 attempts on those three series."

The Baltimore Sun's Tim Schwartz: "Considering everything … the lethargic first half, injuries to three of their top offensive weapons in tight end Mark Andrews, wide receiver Rashod Bateman and running back Gus Edwards, and playing against Tom Brady on the road on a short week, this is a monster win for the Ravens."

Baltimore Beatdown's Frank Platko: "This was an important victory for the Ravens to secure. …To do it on the road, on a short week and while missing the team's top two pass-catchers makes it all the more impressive. This has the potential to be a momentum-building victory and a turning point for the Ravens' season. Now two games over .500 with 10 days before their next game, plus the bye week soon approaching, the arrow is pointing up."

The Baltimore Sun's Jonas Shaffer: "In a strange half-season of soaring starts, wild finishes and everything imaginable in between, Thursday night offered maybe the strangest ending yet for the Ravens: an offense missing three of its top weapons rolling to maybe its best game — and biggest win — of the season."

Lamar Jackson Delivers Best All-Around Game

In the second half, the Ravens needed consistency and execution of plays. They got it in their quarterback, and Zrebiec believes Jackson may have delivered his best all-around game this season.

"It wasn't a huge game for Jackson statistically. But it was arguably his best game of the season with what he was able to do in the second half while surrounded by a less than elite supporting cast," Zrebiec wrote. "Yes, it was mostly the Ravens ground game that took the game over. Jackson, of course, was a big part of that as he always is. However, whenever he needed to make a throw, Jackson made it and he leaned heavily on receivers like Demarcus Robinson and Isaiah Likely who have barely been involved through the first seven weeks."

Zrebiec wasn't alone in praising Jackson, with The Baltimore Sun's Ryan McFadden saying Jackson "played at an MVP-level in the second half."

Isaiah Likely Shines Under the Lights

With Andrews exiting in the first half with a shoulder injury, the Ravens called on rookie Isaiah Likely to step up. The young tight end, according to his texts with Coastal Carolina's Coordinator of Player Personnel Colton Korn, has been ready for when his number is called.

The first sign of Likely's breakout came when he broke three tackles on a 3rd & 5, which caught the attention of those who had watched him dominate training camp and the preseason, including Press Box's Bo Smolka and NFL.com's Eric Edholm.

"…with All-Pro Mark Andrews leaving early with a shoulder injury, someone had to step forward, and Likely answered the call," Smolka wrote. "Likely finished with six catches for a team-high 77 yards and his first career touchdown, a 10-yard score that gave the Ravens the lead for good late in the third quarter. He also had a 17-yard catch earlier in that drive."

"Back in the preseason, Likely was a standout with 12 catches for 144 yards and a score, and the thinking was that the Ravens might have the kind of two-headed TE attack they've nearly cornered the market on for the better part of two decades," Edholm wrote. "Prior to Thursday, Likely hadn't even surpassed his preseason receiving totals through seven games. But in this game, he looked like a future star, catching six of his seven targets for 77 yards and a beautiful, back-of-the-end-zone TD. With Andrews out of the game early in the second quarter, Likely emerged. Once Andrews returns to the field, we would love to see more '12 personnel' packages with Likely and Andrews running routes together. It might someday be the next great Ravens duo at the position."

The Bucs didn't heed Sharp's advice, as five minutes later, Likely kept two feet in-bounds (and tapped down a third for good measure) to score his first NFL touchdown.

Though Likely's receiving was on display, he shared in the post-game that his run blocking will have Head Coach John Harbaugh "real impressed." PFF agrees.

"Notably, Likely also was a dominant run-blocker, generating an incredible 90.0-plus grade in the facet Thursday night," PFF wrote.

Linderbaum Bullies Bucs Linebackers*; Best Rookie Offensive Lineman This Year*

Likely wasn't the only offensive rookie shining on Thursday, as center Tyler Linderbaum put on a masterclass of getting to the second level and bullying the Buccaneers linebackers.

Quick Hits

  • NFL Research: Likely's 77 receiving yards against Tampa Bay were the most by a rookie tight end in a prime-time game since his teammate Mark Andrews in Week 16, 2018 had 83 receiving yards vs Chargers.

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