Raiders

Raiders

BALTIMORE -- The Ravens played one confusing first half Sunday. They doubled passes to runs despite a clear advantage on the ground with speed-demon quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Baltimore came to its senses during the break, and whittled its game plan to one simple task: run right at the NFL’s second-worst rushing defense.

Over and over and over again.

It worked like a charm in a 34-17 victory over the Raiders at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Ravens had 242 rushing yards on 43 carries, 33 of which came in the second half. The third quarter’s opening drive set a new tone, as Baltimore ran 12 times on a 13-play touchdown drive that established a two-score lead.

“They didn’t make it complicated,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. “When you can establish the inside run, the perimeter offense, all the bells and whistles with Lamar Jackson, they’re very hard to defend. You’ve got to stop the inside run, or you have no chance to stop anything else. They took over the game. Credit to them.”

The Raiders knew what was coming most of the time, and failed to do anything about it. Oakland's interior defensive line has struggled against the run all season, with little depth to aid the effort when the running never stops.

The Raiders allowed their highest rushing total of the season. That can wear on a defender's psyche, and certainly hindered the Raiders’ ability to slow down the Ravens.

 

“They got back to what they do best in the second half,” defensive end Arden Key said, “and we couldn’t stop it.”

That kept the ball in the Ravens’ possession – they had the ball for 22 minutes in the second half(!!!) -- and put serious pressure on the Raiders' offense to score every time. The Ravens were scoring consistently, leaving no margin for error.

Oakland's offense had only one possession in the third quarter and just three in the fourth despite Baltimore scoring a defensive touchdown, killing any positive momentum built in the first half.

“That’s especially true with the way that they played,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “It’s like playing [option offenses] Georgia Tech or Air Force in college. They kill the clock, and you’re not going to get many possessions. In the back of your mind, you know it’s going to be a different game.”

[RELATED: Carr's finish in Raiders' loss imperative despite his injuries]

The Raiders scored on their only third-quarter possession, but the wheels came off in the fourth, and they failed to keep pace. They went 3 for 13 on third down and weren't able to stay on schedule with early down success.

"When you get behind the sticks and you get down against a good team,” tight end Jared Cook said, “it’s hard to come back.”