Pundits Eat Their Words After Ravens Dominate Lions
Last week, ESPN's Ryan Clark said he trusted Lions quarterback Jared Goff more than Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.
"I trust Jared Goff more on Sundays than pretty much every quarterback in the NFL and definitely every quarterback in the NFC," Clark said. "We are still trying to figure out who Lamar Jackson, this set of wide receivers and Todd Monken are. What we aren't trying to figure out is who Jared Goff is."
In the Ravens' 38-6 romping of the Lions Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, Clark saw exactly who Jackson and Monken are, and what they can do together.
Clark was far from alone in predicting a Lions win. Five ESPN panelists picked Detroit. So did five analysts from NFL Network and USA Today.
Over the course of the past few weeks, talking heads and the take artists have criticized Jackson, the offense, Monken and the team for not getting off to a faster start and struggling with inconsistency. They appeared to just see the box scores and the two poor performances against the Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers, or only see the red-zone issues in the Titans matchup.
After the Ravens put it all together against the Lions, there was little left to nitpick. Many fans tagged former Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe on Twitter, noting his positive comments on other quarterbacks but not Jackson, who replied.
The Baltimore Banner's Kyle Goon isn't putting too much stock into one explosive offensive game, however.
"The 'statement' the Ravens are looking for doesn't come from one good game against one opponent. It's about playing at this level — or at least close to it — every week," Goon wrote. "The Ravens expect to be here. They expect to do this every week. And when we measure progress for how this team is coming along, that should probably be our measuring stick, too."
Goon wasn't alone in such thinking, as The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker said much of the same.
"The point is that for now, we should not treat this as anything more than an exceptionally good week. We know the Ravens are good enough to run away from a quality opponent, but they'll have to show they can do it twice," Walker wrote. "They're well aware, hence the lack of euphoria from Jackson and his mates in the wake of their masterpiece."
Jackson Now Firmly in the MVP Discussion
The Ravens ran roughshod over the Lions, but in particular Jackson carved up the Lions with precision and "hammered us with his harm," said Lions Head Coach Dan Campbell. He was far from the only one to compliment Jackson after the game, who is deservedly earning MVP buzz.
NFL.com’s Kevin Patra: "Jackson toyed with the Lions' defense from the start with his arm and legs. The QB could do no wrong early, guiding the Ravens to four straight TD drives to blow the game open before the break. Jackson was incredibly patient in the pocket, taking his time to find open receivers. That part of his game -- not taking off at the first sign of trouble -- makes the QB ludicrously dangerous. The Ravens splashed big play after big play. In the first half alone, Baltimore generated nine plays of 20-plus yards, including seven Jackson completions. … When Jackson plays perfectly like he did on Sunday, the Ravens can demolish anyone."
NBC Sports’ Peter King (named Jackson an Offensive Player of the Week): "Sunday was classic Lamar, MVP Lamar, sprinting out of the gates against a very good team with four long touchdown drives on the first four Baltimore series. Accurate (21 of 27), mistake-free and productive (four total TDs, no picks, 357 passing yards), playing from ahead (built a 35-0 lead). The big contract seems well worth it this morning."
Next Gen Stats: "Lamar Jackson scrambled for 25.3 yards before throwing a 12-yard TD to Nelson Agholor 9.24 seconds after the snap. Jackson's 9.24 seconds time to throw on the TD is the longest on a touchdown pass since Week 14 of the 2018 season and the third-longest in the NGS era (since 2016)."
ESPN’s Jamison Hensley: "Lamar Jackson looked like an NFL MVP again, leading Baltimore to touchdowns on its first four drives."
Goon: "You'll be hard-pressed to find a better performance by a quarterback this season, rolling up 357 yards (on 21-for-27 passing) through the air, 36 yards on the ground and four total touchdowns (three passing)."
The Athletic's Ted Nguyen: "Anyone who has watched Lamar Jackson could see he was playing the best ball of his career even though the numbers didn't show it. Today, we saw the rest of the offense catch up to the level of its quarterback. Baltimore put a smack down on one of the best teams in the league today."
ESPN’s Dan Graziano: "Quarterback Lamar Jackson played like an MVP, in complete control of Todd Monken's offense as a passer and a runner. A brilliant player who has already won that award once, Jackson might have actually played his best all-around game as a pro Sunday."
Pressbox’s Bo Smolka: "The Lions were a step behind Jackson all day, whether that was when he was slipping away in in the pocket, racing left for a touchdown after all the pre-snap motion and movement suggested a play to the right, or making a last-second decision to float a ball to Edwards that turned into an 80-yard gain."
Ravens Considered Super Bowl Contenders After Week 7
An emphatic all-around win over a top-five team in DVOA on both offense and defense boasting a 5-1 record earns national buzz. And buzz there is, as the Ravens are now being talked about as Super Bowl contenders.
Hensley: "An emphatic yes. Baltimore destroyed an upstart Lions team that entered tied for the best record in the NFL and on a streak of four straight wins by double digits. The Ravens ran the Lions out of M&T Bank Stadium from the start, becoming only the second team in the NFL this season to hold a 28-point lead in the first half. … This was Baltimore's statement game -- one with an exclamation point. This was the third-largest margin of victory against a team with the NFL's best record entering Week 7 or later, according to research from the Elias Sports Bureau."
The Baltimore Sun’s Tim Schwartz: "That had to be one of the most complete performances in Ravens history. … This is the type of game the Ravens have shown glimpses of all season, and they finally put it all together. When Pat Ricard rumbling down the field and Edwards outrunning a defense down the sideline for an 80-yard catch are two of the lower-level highlights, you know it was a good day. The Ravens proved they are a Super Bowl contender."
Walker: "The Ravens rose to their greatest test of the season with their best performance, outclassing a team that came in playing as well as any in the league. … The Ravens had not delivered a complete performance over the first six weeks. On this day, they looked like a Super Bowl contender."
The Athletic's Nick Baumgardner: "Lamar Jackson was surgical in the first half and Baltimore's offensive line reset the line of scrimmage over and over again. If Baltimore plays like this on both sides of the ball it can beat anybody."
Defense Given Credit for Near-Shutout Performance
The Ravens' defense was overshadowed by the blistering offense, but Baltimore's D ended the Lions' 15-game streak of scoring 20 point or more and pummeled the Goff-led Lions. But some took the time to mention the Ravens' defensive performance, including NFL.com’s Kevin Patra.
"On defense, the Ravens swarmed, clogging the lanes and making life difficult on Goff with a smorgasbord of stunts and blitzes," Patra wrote. "Baltimore pressured Goff on 20 of 57 dropbacks and generated five sacks. When teams control the line of scrimmage like the Ravens did on Sunday, blowouts ensue."
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec, said Ravens fans may want to enjoy having Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald around while they can.
"Macdonald's group then went out and completely overwhelmed one of the league's hottest offenses," Zrebiec wrote. "Detroit had just 97 yards of total offense. It didn't have a first down until midway through the second quarter and it was a shutout until early in the fourth quarter. Macdonald's star is on the rise."