There is no replacing what Mark Andrews brings to the Ravens, but after the star tight end suffered a likely season-ending ankle injury Thursday night, the Ravens' wide receivers showed they can help offset the loss.
Odell Beckham Jr. topped 100 receiving yards for the first time as a Raven and Rashod Bateman and Nelson Agholor both scored touchdowns in Baltimore's 34-20 win at M&T Bank Stadium. Zay Flowers had a long touchdown called back on a questionable holding penalty.
The Ravens made major investments in wide receivers this offseason, and with Andrews sidelined the rest of the way, Baltimore will need to see the dividends.
"To replace a player like Mark Andrews, it's going to take everybody," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "It's going to take a team to do it, and our guys will be up for the challenge and up for the task, but those receivers are obviously going to be a big part of that. They played really well."
The Ravens offense stubbed its toe after Andrews went down, logging just one first down on its next three drives. But it eventually adjusted and caught fire with four straight scoring drives.
Agholor's 37-yard touchdown in the second quarter turned the game. The Ravens were trailing, 10-7, when Lamar Jackson's pass glanced off linebacker Germaine Pratt's hands and right to Agholor, who was streaking across the middle of the field.
The play came after a 68-yard touchdown to Flowers was nullified on a holding penalty by Beckham that didn't look like much of holding. The Ravens didn't let the flag sink them, and they never trailed after Agholor flipped into the end zone.
The Ravens opened up the game on the next drive, a seven-play, 80-yard march down the field at the end of the half capped with a brilliant 10-yard touchdown pass on an extended play from Jackson to Bateman with 23 seconds left.
"I feel like I'm happy but disappointed, because I know Zay was supposed to have one," Beckham said. "The guys in the receivers room, we were due for a big game, so I'm just happy for all of them. There is a lot of hard work that goes into it."
Beckham plunged the dagger into the Bengals with a 51-yard catch midway through the fourth quarter, ensuring there would not be another fourth-quarter comeback by the opponent. Beckham finished with four catches for 116 yards, but also left with a sore shoulder from a big collision at the end of that play.
Beckham and Harbaugh downplayed the severity of that injury and looked ahead to getting some extra time off to rest and heal.
Beckham dealt with an ankle injury earlier this season that he said sapped some of his explosiveness. In the past three games, he scored touchdowns in back-to-back weeks and now had his highest production yet. The Ravens are going to need more of that from him and others with Andrews out.
"I definitely think that there are guys in this receiver room who can make plays, but there is never any replacing," Beckham said. "It's not even [about] what Mark does [from] a stats standpoint; it's just who he is as a person for this team."
Jackson connected with nine different pass catches Thursday evening, and that trend will likely continue. Tight ends Charlie Kolar (one 13-yard reception) and Isaiah Likely saw a combined three targets, while Baltimore's wide receivers had 14 targets, led by Beckham's seven.
"It's definitely something we're going to have to fill in," Harbaugh said. "Maybe it's like sand or water [where] everybody's going to have to fill that hole in and just smooth it over, and that's what they'll do."