The Ravens put everything together Sunday and took apart the Lions.
Scoring touchdowns on their first four possessions, the Ravens enjoyed their most impressive performance of the season and rolled to 38-6 victory. This game was billed as a measuring stick for the Ravens (5-2), and they measured up in every way. They dominated a Detroit team (5-2) that had won its previous four games by double-digit margins.
This is the kind of performance that gets the NFL's attention, as the Ravens stayed atop the AFC North and looked like an NFL heavyweight.
Here are my five thoughts on the game:
The Ravens carved up Detroit's highly regarded defense, scoring on their first five trips to the red zone after going1-for-6 the previous week against Tennessee. Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken would love to bottle this up and uncork it every week.
It was a prime example of Baltimore's potential to be dynamic and diverse offensively. Four different Ravens scored Baltimore's first four touchdowns – Lamar Jackson, Nelson Agholor, Mark Andrews and Gus Edwards. Jackson was dealing with accuracy from the pocket, receivers got open consistently, and the offensive line created huge running lanes and protected Jackson well in the pocket.
The Ravens played with an edge, acting like they were tired of hearing how good the Lions are. On Jackson's touchdown run that opened the scoring, left tackle Ronnie Stanley treatedLions safety Kirby Joseph like a blocking sled, manhandling him through the end zone to give Jackson a clear path to the end zone.
"My boy Marshal Yanda was here and I was like, 'What would Marshal Yanda do in this situation?'" Stanley said. "I channeled my inner Marshal Yanda."
The Ravens settled for a Justin Tucker field goal on their final red-zone trip, but the Ravens will take 5-for-6 in the red zone on any given Sunday.
Lamar Jackson Should Be in the Early MVP Conversation
Jackson has played well this season, but he took it to a different level Sunday (21-for-27, 357 yards, 155.8 quarterback rating) while accounting for four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing). Many of his completions were pinpoint, hitting receivers in stride so they could run after the catch, and he gave Lions defenders few chances to make plays on the ball.
Jackson's pocket presence was superb, and when he had to buy time, he kept his eyes downfield and kept probing for opportunities. On his touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor, Jackson had a ridiculous 9.24 seconds to throw before he spotted Agholor running free near the back of the end zone for the score.
Jackson has a career-high completion percentage, and he looks in total command in his first season running Monken's offense. Jackson was a unanimous MVP selection in 2019 when the Ravens went 14-2, and if they keep winning it will create even more buzz about his stellar play.
Baltimore's Defense Is Playing With a Chip on Its Shoulder
The Lions entered this game with the NFL's third-ranked offense, but Baltimore shut them out for three quarters.The Ravens entered the game tied with Buffalo for the NFL lead in sacks (24.0), and they added five more to their total, led by Kyle Van Noy, who had two.
The Lions had only given up 10 sacks in their first six games but there doesn't seem to be anything that Baltimore's opponents can do to keep their quarterback from getting hit. JaredGoff was under duress throughout the game, and there were several occasions when he was clearly throwing the ball away just to avoid taking another sack.
Justin Madubuike had another sack and is mauling whoever tries to block him. Not only are the Ravens playing fast and furious on defense, they're making few mental mistakes in Mike Macdonald's second season as defensive coordinator.
The Ravens have had trouble finishing games the past several years, but this wasn't one of those games. They dominated on both sides of the ball, and on a day that Terrell Suggs entered the Ravens Ring of Honor, the Ravens gave a defensive performance that Suggs could be proud of.
Inside linebacker Roquan Smith was annoyed the Ravens didn't pitch a shutout, but provided one of his Smith-isms after the game.
"It's our house at the end of the day," Smith said. "I talked to the team security. I told them, 'Lock the doors. We'll decide when we want to let them out.'"
Maybe the Ravens Should Be Grateful for the London Trip
Not only did the Ravens win in London against the Titans, but they played their best game of the season when they returned to face the Lions one week later without a bye.
There was a plenty of speculation about how well the Ravens would handle the impact of going abroad, but the trip may have served as a blessing. After a tough loss in Pittsburgh, the Ravens got away, bonded on a nice trip abroad and have responded with back-to-back wins. They showed no sign of jet lag or fatigue in against the Lions and if anything, it looks like the London trip may have allowed them to regroup and refocus with positive results.
"They were locked in," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "Everybody kept asking about not taking a bye (after the London trip). Well, there you go."
- Mark Andrews (4 catches, 63 yards, two touchdowns) has nine games with two touchdown receptions or more, tying him with Todd Heap for the most by any player in franchise history.
- Geno Stone, who entered the game tied for the league lead with three interceptions, got another one against the Lions. It was somewhat of a gift from Goff, who lofted a high desperation pass on fourth down that Stone camped under like a centerfielder. Starting in place of Marcus Williams (hamstring), Stone and Brandon Stephens continue to play a large role this season and is playing it well.
- Rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers kicked off the Ravens' big plays with a 46-yard catch deep down the middle and became just the second wide receiver since the 1970 merger to register at least 50 total yards in his first seven games, joining the Bengals' Ja'Marr Chase.
- Keaton Mitchell, who suffered a hamstring injury in the second half, got his first NFL touch with a 9-yard reception on a shuffle pass from Jackson. Unfortunately, he didn't get a chance for more reps late in the blowout.
- Amon-Ra St. Brown had 13 catches for 102 yards, did a lot of his damage with the game already decided. Marlon Humphrey,played a solid game despite showing up on Saturday's injury report with an illness, and the entire secondary kept St. Brown from making game-changing plays.
- The Ravens departed from their normal habit after the coin toss, taking the ball instead of deferring. Harbaugh said the wind played into that decision, but the Ravens marched 75 yards in seven plays on their opening drive to help set the tone for their offensive outburst.