Collecting victories is more important to Matthew Judon than collecting stats. However, Judon accomplished both during Sunday's victory over Washington by getting his first two sacks of the season.
Baltimore's pass rush kept consistent heat on quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. throughout the game, and Judon was the ringleader. Head Coach John Harbaugh said Judon's engine always runs at full speed, even when he's not reaching the quarterback.
"The thing I love about Matt is, it matters to him," Harbaugh said. "He really cares. He wants to be the difference-maker at all times. Sometimes it just works out for you. I felt like he was playing hard, he always plays very hard. He was in the right spot and of course he was able to get the quarterback down. He had a great game. I don't think it's a lot different than other games, it just kind of worked out a little bit better."
Sacks often come in bunches for pass rushers, and Judon figured his time was coming. After leading the team with a career-high 9 ½ sacks last year, Judon wasn't worried about getting into the sack column. His main concern was helping the Ravens (3-1) bounce back on a short week after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football.
"Coming off that last game, everybody was kind of looking themselves in the mirror here and there, and Judon was like, 'Man, I just have to do more. I just have to do more,' and he was very critical of himself to me," cornerback Marlon Humphrey said. "It was no surprise to see him come and look like his typical self. I think he's been playing decent all year, but this game, he took it up a notch, and he kind of told himself, 'This is how I have to play every game to get back to who I am.'"
With the mission of winning accomplished, Judon hopes to start another winning streak, trusting more sacks will come as well.
"The season is young. This was a good team win," Judon said. "We just have to peak at the right time. Whenever you can get a 'W' in the NFL, you'll take it. I've had a lot of good rushes if you go back and watch the film. Y'all really only care about stats, but it was a good team win."
Health Report Is Positive Following Washington Game
Not only did the Ravens defeat Washington, but they exited the game apparently no worse for the wear. Harbaugh said there were not injuries from the game that would linger, including tight end Nick Boyle, who appeared to be limping following Washington's onside kick late in the game.
"I haven't heard anything about Nick, any reports," Harbaugh said. "I haven't seen him today (Monday) personally, but he doesn't seem to be an issue."
All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley (shoulder) and defensive linemen Derek Wolfe (elbow) and Justin Madubuike (knee) were all inactive Sunday but Harbaugh sounded as if they could all be ready Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"Stanley, we're very hopeful for him," Harbaugh said. "Madubuike, looks like he's getting close. There's a good chance he could be ready this week. Wolfe, his elbow situation, he should be fine. I actually think we're in good shape going forward unless something jumps up."
Shuffled Offensive Line Earns Praise
With Stanley out, Orlando Brown Jr. switched from right tackle to left tackle and D.J. Fluker started at right tackle. The Ravens won the battle up front, and the offensive line played well as a whole.
Harbaugh said Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman and Offensive Line Coach Joe D'Alessandris concurred that the offensive line play was stellar against Washington, even though Stanley's injury forced the entire unit to adjust.
"Orlando, and put Fluker in there, both those guys did a great job," Harbaugh said. "I felt good about it during the game. After watching the tape, I probably felt even better about it.
"It's not easy. On Friday, all of a sudden we're flipping things around, making sure everybody knows what they're doing. It's a credit to them that they knew what to do. Really, flipping those techniques, is not as easy as you might think. Especially the defensive line we were going against in this last game. Those guys did a good job."
On Lamar Jackson's 50-yard touchdown run, left guard Bradley Bozeman threw a key block that provided Jackson with more room to accelerate into the open field.
"Boze, he's kind of a gamer almost," Harbaugh said. "He's a really solid player, very smart, very physical. Fits what we're doing really well. That was a really good block. Really, the whole offensive line did a really good job on that play as far as knocking that down. Boze, he'll have some plays he'll want back too, just like everybody. But I think Boze has established himself as a really legit starter in this league."
Anthony Averett Handles Increased Work Load
Anthony Averett played a career-high 62 snaps against Washington, only a few less than Pro Bowl corners Humphrey (71 snaps) and Marcus Peters (66).
After Tavon Young suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 2, Averett's role was expected to increase, and he has played well handling the responsibility. Averett finished Sunday's game with five tackles and one pass defensed.
"We've had a lot of confidence in Anthony," Harbaugh said. "He had a good year last year, he gets better all the time. He's (got) a really good man cover skillset, understands zone coverages. He's doing a real good job, yet he could still be a lot better as he continues to tighten up his technique and his eyes. I'm really happy with Anthony right now, he's playing well."