Much has been made of Lamar Jackson's 27 rushing attempts in his debut as a starting quarterback. Is it the Ravens' desire for Jackson to run that often every game? No.
"It's an obvious answer," Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "Three of those were taking a knee. You don't want your quarterback getting hit that much. It's not going to last that way."
However, the Ravens won the game and Harbaugh praised Jackson for "playing his behind off," at one point using more colorful language to describe how well Jackson played.
Harbaugh insisted the Ravens have confidence in Jackson's throwing ability and refuted those who have said Jackson is more like a running back playing quarterback. Jackson completed 13 of 19 passes for 150 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. Harbaugh recounted several pinpoint throws made by Jackson and praised the rookie for making accurate throws after buying time.
"He's a great thrower, the guy can pass," Harbaugh said. "He threw some great balls out there. How many plays did the kid make? He can do it. So all this veiled stuff, 'Is he really a thrower?' I got news for you. He's a thrower. The kid can throw. He's a quarterback. So all these little veiled questions … if anybody's out there, 'Oh I can't believe Harbs is getting so ticked,' I don't appreciate the insinuation."
Harbaugh Thinks It's Absurd to Accuse Yanda of Spitting on Vontaze Burfict
During the aftermath of a minor scuffle among several players Sunday, Yanda was standing over fallen Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict. A CBS video shows spit falling from Yanda's facemask that he tried to wipe away as it fell toward the ground. That has led some to ask if Yanda tried to intentionally spit on Burfict.
Burfict never reacted after the play, nor did he accuse Yanda after the game of spitting. Asked about the video Monday, Harbaugh said he had not seen it. But he found it absurd to ask if Yanda, one of the NFL's most respected players, would try to spit on Burfict or anyone else.
"Do I think Marshal Yanda spit at somebody during the game?" Harbaugh said. "Is that what you want me to comment on? Are you really serious to ask me that question? Here's my point on that. This guy's been playing for how many years now? Eleven years. Played at the University of Iowa. Have you ever heard of Marshal Yanda's character being attacked, doing something along those lines, ever during his whole career? Really? No way. There's no way.
"Now go back and look at the whole video. There's a lot of activity going on way after the whistle. Marshal's on the ground, his arm gets stepped on by No. 55 (Burfict). That's OK. I'm not going to stand up here and say 55 did it on purpose, because I'm not going to point the boney finger of blame, when I don't know what somebody's intentions are."
Offensive Line Has Held Firm Despite Injuries and Different Quarterbacks
The Ravens had their best rushing game of the season Sunday, with both Gus Edwards (117 yards) and Jackson (115) topping 100 yards. The offensive line deserves credit for that. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley played through the pain of an ankle sprain, leaving the game on several occasions but returning. Right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. continued his strong play making his fourth straight start with James Hurst (back) still out.
"I thought the offensive line played exceptionally well," Harbaugh said. "Very, very good job with the run blocking and the pass protection. Schemes just a little bit different than we've been working on.
"When you watch the game, Ronnie was really good. He played a really good game – very physical, finished blocks really as well as he's done, better than some of the [other] games. Yes, I was very impressed with Ronnie's game, and he has a pretty good high-ankle sprain. That's never easy, that's painful. He dealt with it. He had to come out a couple times, but he wanted to get right back in there and play. I was very proud of him."
Harbaugh said Sunday's game was won in the trenches and that the Ravens were the more physical team. Ravens guard Marshal Yanda said the line enjoyed run-blocking and winning battles at the line of scrimmage.
"It doesn't take a rocket scientist [to know] that if Lamar's in the game, we're going to be a different offense," Yanda said. "It's just the way it is. You guys saw it. The tape doesn't lie. Look at the tape. Obviously, it's a threat for the defense. If you can run like that, that creates that much pressure on the defense. We've all seen read-option quarterbacks that are like that. It puts pressure on the defense. They've got to guard the quarterback as well. It was fun. We got to run the ball and get after it."
Brown said it's different blocking for Jackson than Flacco, in large part because the Ravens used more run-pass option. That's something that Brown, who played with Browns top-overall pick Baker Mayfield at Oklahoma, is accustomed to. He said a lot of young offensive linemen coming out of college have experience with that kind of system.
"I think it's more easy flowing, and the game is eventually, at this level, going to get to it," Brown said.
Winning is Foremost on Harbaugh's Mind, Not Current Standings
After Sunday's victory, the Ravens would be the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoffs if the season ended today. There are five teams tied at 5-5: the Ravens, Bengals, Colts, Titans and Dolphins.
However, Harbaugh isn't studying tiebreakers or strength of schedules. Not with six games left and the Ravens in control of their destiny.
"It doesn't mean anything, I don't care what seed you are," Harbaugh said. "We've got a five-way tie at 5-5 for sixth place. It will be determined by the next six weeks. All of you guys who counted us out? We're not dead. Sorry. And anybody who thinks that we've got it clinched? No way. It's going to be the teams that play the best football this next six weeks. That's going to be our focus. All the critics? I'm dead to them. All the people that are going to pat you on the back and say you're in sixth place? That's meaningless. Let's go win a football game."