One game does not make a season, not for the Ravens or their offensive tackles.
Week 1 did not go as planned for Alejandro Villanueva or Ronnie Stanley, as Las Vegas Raiders edge rushers Maxx Crosby, Carl Nassib and ex-Raven Yannick Ngakoue generated consistent pressure on Lamar Jackson. Crosby had a huge night with 13 pressures and four quarterback hits, using his speed and power to beat Villanueva off the edge.
It was a challenging situation for Baltimore's offensive tackles. Stanley was playing his first regular-season game since his season-ending ankle injury in November. Villanueva, a career left tackle with the Pittsburgh Steelers, was making his first start in Baltimore at right tackle and drew a difficult assignment in his debut.
While Villanueva's performance was being dissected on social media, Head Coach John Harbaugh said he was confident the veteran would shake off Monday night.
"I'm not really into that kind of conversation," Harbaugh said. "We come out, and we work to get better. He works his butt off to get better; he's going to play very well for us."
Villanueva is a two-time Pro Bowler with 91 career starts, and Stanley is an All-Pro left tackle who has protected Jackson's blindside superbly for three seasons. Jackson expressed his faith in the entire offensive line, a unit that has undergone major change. Stanley is the only returning starter playing the same position as last season, and new starting left guard Tyre Phillips suffered a knee injury Monday night that sent him to the injured list.
"I'm very confident in my guys," Jackson said. "Everyone makes mistakes. I had two fumbles. Stuff like that happens. Every game's not going to be perfect. It's Week 1, we lost, we didn't get blown out, it happened. Those guys will be good, for sure."
Ravens Are Fine With Running Backs Sharing Load
Ty'Son Williams came out the gate roaring in his debut as the Ravens' starting running back, finishing with 64 yards on nine carries, including a decisive 35-yard touchdown run that opened the game's scoring.
However, Latavius Murray also played well in the second half, scoring on an 8-yard run and finishing with one more carry (10 carries, 29 yards) than Williams, who only had two carries in the second half.
Harbaugh was pleased with how both backs performed, and said there was a chance Le'Veon Bell could be activated off the practice squad for Sunday night's game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Devonta Freeman is another proven back on the practice squad who could work his way into the rotation.
"We have four good guys in here, and those guys are all going to be a big part of what we're doing going forward," Harbaugh said when asked why Williams had so few second-half carries.
"I'm excited about having those four guys. I think we're very, very blessed, the fact that those guys were available when our guys got hurt. So, it's big. They're good players, and they're going to play well."
Jackson Says Mark Andrews Was Getting Triple-Covered
Mark Andrews was held to three catches for 20 yards in Week 1, and should have caught a well-thrown ball in overtime that was knocked out of his hands. However, Andrews was only targeted five times, largely because Jackson said the Raiders were often using heavy coverage to bracket Andrews.
Jackson said the Ravens would have to find more ways to free up one his favorite targets.
"There were three people guarding Mark Andrews," Jackson said. "Ever since they found out about the deal (Andrews' contract extension) huh?"
"We're going to get Mark that ball. We've got to get Mark that ball. He's a dynamic player, he makes my job a lot easier. Probably not with three people on him – I'm probably going to go to someone else – but we're going to try, because that's my guy."
Raiders Welcomed Jackson to Week 1 With Physical Hits
After playing just one series in the preseason, Jackson took several hard hits in Monday's game, despite being one of the league's most elusive players. Once he landed hard on his shoulder, and he also took a hit in the head from Nate Hobbs on a 28-yard run in the fourth quarter.
It's hard for Ravens fans not to hold their breath when Jackson takes a pounding, but he took the hits in stride.
"That was my real first game, and I needed that contact," Jackson said. "I needed to feel those hits - not exactly the hit to the head and stuff like that, or falling on my shoulder, but to get hit sometimes. It's over with. Hopefully, I don't end up like that anymore this season."
Jackson also said he would put renewed focus on ball security after his two fumbles.
"I was trying to make stuff happen," he said. "It's part of football – trying to make plays – but that's a main focus; not to have it happen again."
Marlon Humphrey Regrets One Hit Against Raiders
The Ravens pride themselves on playing clean, physical football, but the Raiders have reportedly filed a complaint about several hits made Monday night on wide receiver Hunter Renfrow.
Pro Bowl cornerback Marlon Humphrey owned up to one hit that he'd like to rewind, but the action moves fast in the heat of battle.
"I did hit Hunter Renfrow a little after the play," Humphrey said. "I thought Derek Carr was out of the pocket. I apologized to him on the field. But yes, that was a play I wish I could take back."
Vic Tafur of The Athletic reported that Renfrow wasn't complaining.
Humphrey Talks About His Potential Interception He Didn't Notice
Humphrey was directly involved in one of the strangest plays you'll ever see Monday night.
As he broke up a pass intended for Darren Waller, both players tumbled to the ground and the ball became lodged between the two players. It appeared the ball never hit the ground before Humphrey controlled it, but he wasn't aware that it was potential interception, and neither were the officials who ruled it an incomplete pass.
Humphrey got up celebrating breaking up the pass, and casually let the ball drop out of his hands onto the ground.
"I definitely did not know I had the football, but yes, that would have been nice," Humphrey said. "Probably would have been my easiest interception ever, so just I guess celebrate a little slower."