Ravens Endure, Overcome in "Thursday Night Football" Battle
In the span of 11 weeks, the Ravens have played five division games, soundly defeated with some of the NFC's best, and traveled immense distances.
Through it all, they've persisted. On Thursday night against the Cincinnati Bengals, that continued winning with a 34-20 victory.
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec gave credit for the Ravens' perseverance to overcome injury and fatigue against a division rival.
"The Ravens had the look at times Thursday of a tired team," Zrebiec wrote. "… Baltimore persevered to get a win it badly needed. Now, they won't play again until Sunday, Nov. 26 against the Los Angeles Chargers. Then comes their bye week. They badly need it."
ESPN’s Jamison Hensley also noted the Ravens' perseverance. More specifically, quarterback Lamar Jackson, who gritted through an ankle injury.
"It was a night of perseverance for Jackson, who injured his ankle at the end of the first quarter and had a pronounced limp at times," Hensley wrote. "Baltimore needed Jackson because the offense was without left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who was inactive because of a knee injury, and tight end Mark Andrews, who was ruled out after injuring his left ankle on the opening series."
Ravens "Have the Horses to Replace Andrews"
According to Head Coach John Harbaugh, tight end Mark Andrews suffered a likely season-ending ankle injury.
In any year, the loss of Andrews is significant; since entering the NFL in 2018, Andrews has scored the second most touchdowns of any tight end (40) and posted the third-most receiving yards (4,857). But the Ravens made a concerted effort to spread the ball out this year, adding three new wide receivers this offseason. Those additions, paired with others already on the roster, give NFL.com's Eric Edholm confidence in overcoming the absence of Andrews.
"The Ravens have seen their receivers blossom lately, however, and not just [Zay] Flowers," Edholm wrote. "Odell Beckham Jr. had a season-high 116 receiving yards, and Rashod Bateman and Nelson Agholor each caught TD passes. They have the horses to replace Andrews, but it changes how they'll have to attack opponents in a big way."
After the loss of Andrews on Thursday, all four of the Ravens' top wide receivers made plays.
Thursday was a reminder the Ravens have the receiving talent to break open defenses.
"… we We saw what necessity brought out of the receiving corps against Cincinnati," The Baltimore Banner's Kyle Goon wrote. "Jackson averaged 14.7 yards per target when looking for his wide receivers against the Bengals, an extremely impressive number. The Ravens rattled off receiving gains of 51, 37 and 31 yards to different receivers (Beckham, Agholor and Flowers)."
At the heart of it all, the talent is there for the offense to overcome the loss of Andrews.
"It's no small challenge to fill the shoes of a player who does as much as Mark Andrews. But, against the Bengals at least, the Ravens showed they have the pieces to do it," Goon wrote.
Joe Flacco to Work Out for Browns
According to multiple reports, former Ravens Super Bowl XLVII champion and Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco is working out for the Cleveland Browns after their starter, Deshaun Watson, suffered a season-ending injury against the Ravens.
Flacco is a 15-year NFL veteran who most recently was a backup quarterback for the New York Jets the past three seasons. Prior to that, he played one season with the Denver Broncos.
[break]Since leaving Baltimore, Flacco has played 17 games and posted a 3-14 record, though his numbers would indicate adequate production from him as a backup quarterback, throwing for 4,075 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions on a 60.7% completion rate.
Forget all that, though. If the Browns do add Flacco it'll garner quite a reaction from Ravens fans who know and love "January Joe" after 11 years as a Raven.
Odell Beckham Jr. Hold Deemed One of the Worst Calls in 2023
Late in the second quarter and on their second play of the drive, the Bengals sent their nickel cornerback in to blitz Jackson. The Ravens perfectly countered with a wide receiver screen to Flowers, who jetted up the field for the games' longest play, a 68-yard touchdown.
Unfortunately, the officials called offensive holding on Beckham. It was a cacophony of boos in the stadium when they showed the replay on the video boards at M&T Bank Stadium.
Social media became another place to display disappointment in what some were calling the worst holding call ever seen.
Five plays later, wide receiver Nelson Agholor caught a deflected ball by Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt for a 37-yard touchdown. Some could say that's yet another instance of "ball don't lie."
Pundits Talk "Hip Drop" Tackle After Andrews Suffers Serious Injury;
The way in which Andrews suffered a season-ending injury has come under the microscope as Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson's tackle was a "hip drop tackle."
According to ESPN's injury analyst Stephania Bell, the technique is one of the highest injury-causing ways to tackle compared to current legal forms of tackling.
Bell says the injury rate for the play is similar to horse collar tackling, which is now an illegal tackling form.
This was unfortunately not the only play Wilson was involved in that ended with a Raven dealing with injury. On the second drive, Wilson tackled a scrambling Jackson near the boundary, again with a hip-drop tackle. Jackson would leave to get checked out by medical staff before returning to the game.
In the fourth quarter, Beckham's 51-yard reception ended with Wilson making a hard tackle on Beckham. As a result, Beckham suffered a shoulder injury, but brushed off the severity when asked in the locker room following the game.
USA Today's Nate Davis went to ask Wilson about the plays in question, but he was not made available for questioning following the contest.