The Ravens' 38-point outburst against the Detroit Lions opened a lot of eyes to Baltimore's offensive potential. The Ravens' new passing attack under Todd Monken took off in Week 7.
Former NFL quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan breaks down quarterback play and was glowing about Lamar Jackson's play and the design of Baltimore's passing game under Monken.
"Put the league on notice when you start doing stuff like this," O'Sullivan said. "They might have something cooking in Baltimore with this. This is a real comprehensive, drop-back, NFL passing game. Love, love, love to see it."
There was a lot to like in the Ravens' offensive tape – misdirection, deception, big-time throws, stellar pass protection, decision-making, off-script playmaking, etc. Monken's play-calls hit time and time again and they were executed at a very high level.
Let's take a look at each of the Ravens' five touchdown drives to see what worked so well against the Lions:
First TD drive: 7 plays, 75 yards
The Ravens' first drive of the game set the tone. Monken used five different personnel groupings on seven plays, ending with a Jackson 7-yard touchdown run.
The Ravens got it started with a creative play-call that put Jackson on the move, appearing to be a runner, only to have him pass. Baltimore did this on a few occasions in the game with much success. The first was an 11-yard completion to Odell Beckham Jr. on the Ravens' second offensive play. It was a counter read-pass option, a twist on an old triple option concept.
Pass protection was spectacular on the drive, including the 46-yard pass to Zay Flowers that was the Ravens' first big play of the game. That gave Jackson time to find Flowers open in the second window of his deep route and Jackson made a nice throw over a deep dropping linebacker.
The Ravens fooled the Lions badly on the 4th-and-1 quarterback keeper touchdown run. It was the perfect call and Jackson sold the fake. On top of that, left tackle Ronnie Stanley made a statement by driving a Lions defender more than 10 yards through the end zone.
Second TD drive: 11 plays, 69 yards
Jackson hit Rashod Bateman for a couple good chunks thanks to some good play design. Jackson showed off his arm strength and patience going through his reads to find Bateman for a 20-yard gain on the second one.
"It was the fifth read in the progression," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "He A. had time to do it [and] B. he had the wherewithal [and] the understanding. He's good enough to get to his fifth read. That's pretty great."
Jackson had a window for a touchdown throw to Flowers at the end of this drive, but didn't like what he saw or came off it just as the pocket was closing in. That's when Jackson again adlibbed, extending the play for a whopping 9.24 seconds before finding Nelson Agholor open in the back of the end zone.
Even when the play didn't work out as planned, Jackson's unique ability to create took over and resulted in another touchdown.
Third TD drive: 8 plays, 92 yards
The Ravens' third touchdown drive started with a couple of the best pure throws Jackson made all game – a perfectly lobbed 20-yarder to Beckham over a linebacker's head and a 22-yard sideline rip to Flowers.
Scheme and decision-making aside, Jackson is throwing the ball very well. He's showing there isn't a throw he can't make.
While Pat Ricard's role in Monken's offense has shrunk somewhat compared to what it was in Greg Roman's offense, he's still been a hammer as a blocker. After seeing a lot of Ricard as a blocker on the end of the line, Monken dialed up a play where Ricard leaked out as a receiver and it hit for a wide open 28-yard gain – the longest reception of Ricard's career.
Monken got creative again, this time with misdirection and speedy rookie running back Keaton Mitchell. It was a fake jet sweep to Flowers and toss to Mitchell coming the other way.
Monken used more misdirection on the 11-yard touchdown to Andrews with play-action stretch run fake to the left and bootleg to the right with Andrews coming free across the formation.
Fourth TD drive: 6 plays, 80 yards
After a pair of long runs on the Ravens' next drive, Monken broke out another tricky play, bluffing Jackson as a runner only to have him throw.
The play is designed to look kind of like a toss crack with Jackson as the runner and Andrews as the crack blocker. The wrinkle is that Andrews leaked through the Lions defense and was all alone in the second level for a 22-yard gain to the Detroit 2-yard line.
On Gus Edwards' 2-yard touchdown plunge, Monken showed yet another unbalanced run formation. Stanley lined up all the way to the right almost in the slot. Tight end Isaiah Likely had one of his best days ever as a blocker.
Monken has done an excellent job blending some of the same concepts Roman and the Ravens used to much success the past several years, especially with pulling linemen and combo blocks, while adding his own twists, especially with unique formations.
On the next drive, Jackson made another spectacular throw and display of his arm talent, on a 22-yard toss to Andrews. That drive ended with the fumble on the hand-off exchange between Jackson and running back Justice Hill.
Fifth TD drive: 4 plays, 94 yards
The Ravens didn't take their foot off the gas pedal at the start of the second half, as they punched in another touchdown early in the third quarter.
Edwards kicked it off with an 80-yard catch and run. This one looked similar to the other two plays where Jackson started running only to pass, but it didn't seem to be draw up that way. It seems Jackson was supposed to run to the left but didn't like what he saw with a defender crashing down and adlibbed the other way, finding Edwards leaking out and wide open.
"That's just Lamar being Lamar," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "It's just some of his innate talents. How he sees the game is pretty special."
The final touchdown was another display of opponents showing Flowers a lot of respect. After the rookie wide receiver got his first touchdown last week in London, the Lions had three defenders with their eyes on him while Andrews was 1-on-1 over the top for an 8-yard score.
Andrews called Monken and Jackson "elite" in Sunday's game and he wasn't alone. It all came together.
"When a receiver is running wide open and making plays, and Lamar is getting us in the right protections, and Todd is calling a [heck] of a game, that's what it looks like," right tackle Morgan Moses said.
While the Ravens' offensive breakout performance was the story of the game, Baltimore's defense had another dominant day, this time against one of the best offenses in the league.
The pass rush once again got cranked up with five sacks, pushing the Ravens into the sole league lead in sacks (29). Kyle Van Noy had two sacks, and Justin Madubuike, Odafe Oweh, and Arthur Maulet each had one.
Baltimore's defense was annoyed to give up one late touchdown to spoil the shutout, but linebacker Roquan Smith also prevented a touchdown earlier in the game with excellent pass coverage.