Players-Only Meeting Fuels Fourth Quarter Close Out
As the fourth quarter of Sunday's game in New England began, all eyes turned toward the Ravens' defense clutching an 11-point lead over the New England Patriots. This is when the Ravens faltered against the Miami Dolphins one week ago when they allowed a 21-point comeback.
It's why, according to The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec, the team held a players-only meeting the day after the loss to go over the film and atone for their mistakes.
Players only meetings aren't unusual, but as Zrebiec wrote, "calling one a the day after at Week 2 loss is quite telling, particularly for a veteran-laden team like the Ravens."
"The players watched some film, and it predictably wasn't pretty," Zrebiec wrote. "Several veterans spoke and there was a clear effort made to ensure the young players understood that the Dolphins game was unacceptable and everybody needed to take accountability. The Ravens couldn't put the loss completely in the past, because they still had to watch game film with the coaches the next day. However, the meeting represented an important step forward."
One of the younger players referenced was safety Kyle Hamilton, who Zrebiec states was "forced to watch and hear about their defensive breakdowns during last week's players-only meeting." Hamilton responded with one of the biggest plays in the fourth quarter, punching out the football from wide receiver Nelson Agholor, which was recovered by cornerback Marcus Peters.
In the end, the Ravens' defense responded with three straight takeaways, with cornerback Marlon Humphrey intercepting Patriots quarterback Mac Jones in the end zone, the forced fumble and recovery by Hamilton and Peters, and Peters also picking off Jones' throw with 1:55 remaining.
Greg Roman Praised for Play Calling and Adjustments
The Ravens offense hummed Sunday with Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman "unlocking the vault" against the New England Patriots. Many took note of Roman's efforts as the Ravens left Foxboro with a 37-26 win despite another injury at left tackle.
The play calling was recognized by the masses, but some were also impressed with how Roman's offense adjusted once rookie tackle Daniel Faalele stepped in for injured Patrick Mekari at left tackle.
Lamar Jackson also took notice of Roman's play-calling today.
Simmons: "Probably the Scariest Version of the Baltimore Offense"
For the third straight week, Jackson and company have flat-out dominated, with Jackson throwing a league-leading 10 touchdowns to five different recipients and adding two more on the ground. This offense has The Ringer's Bill Simmons scared of the Ravens' offense.
"But, [Devin] Duvernay, [Mark] Andrews, [Rashod] Bateman and then Lamar doing Lamar stuff. It was probably the scariest version of the Baltimore offense that I can remember going against as a Pats fan. It felt like they had a lot of answers where it's like third & short [where] I felt like they were going to get it. Third and 12 and I felt like someone for them was going to get open. I don't remember feeling that way before."
Among the answers was Jackson continuing to defeat whatever defenses have thrown at him, including the "blitz him" blueprint defensive coordinators have clung to from last season.
Simmons isn't alone in being impressed with the offense and Jackson, with PressBox's Bo Smolka believing Jackson is proving no team can beat him when he's on this level.
"Opposing teams spend weeks trying to prepare for Lamar Jackson, but when he is playing at his best, he always seems to be one step ahead of whatever the defensive game plan is," Smolka wrote. "When he's going well, there is not another talent in the league quite like Jackson. Bill Belichick and the Patriots' chalk talks and film sessions and scout-team simulations didn't have a chance."
After carving up the Patriots defense, NBC Sports' Peter King believes Jackson is in line for this week's AFC Offensive Player of the Week.
"Jackson is playing at such a consistently high level in this vital personal season (the contract, you know) that it's tempting to look for other guys to highlight because he does such outstanding things so consistently," King wrote. "Four touchdown passes, one TD run in the midst of another 100-yard rushing day, putting up 37 points at Belichickland. Through three weeks, the Ravens are averaging 33 points a game and four Jackson touchdowns a game (passing or rushing)."
Calais Campbell 'Just Trying to Get Pressure' On Jones Tackle
As the Patriots tried to mount a last-minute comeback in the fourth quarter, Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell broke through the opposing offensive line to pressure Jones. Campbell hit the quarterback and as he finished the tackle he landed on the leg of Jones, injuring the Patriots signal caller, who hurriedly hopped off the field in visible pain. Campbell's pressure led to Peters' game-sealing interception.
After the game, Campbell spoke on the play and the unfortunate injury.
"The game's on the line, fourth quarter. They made a couple of plays to kind of move the ball, and it's just a full-court, pass-rush mentality," Campbell said. "I think I was just trying to get pressure on him, hit him, make him uncomfortable and make him throw an interception. And I think that was just a good football play. I hate to see him get hurt. That's the worst part of this game. You never want to see guys get hurt. I hope he's OK."
It's worth noting Campbell is one of the league's most respected players. He's also earned a Walter Payton Man of the Year award, which goes to players for their excellence on the field along with their philanthropic efforts.
According NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, "Jones is believed to have suffered a high-ankle sprain" and could head to injured reserve." If so, the Patriots will lean on veteran Brian Hoyer or rookie Bailey Zappe in the games ahead.