Ravens

Quick Links

Linemen: Subtle defensive adjustments work

arthur-jones.png

Linemen: Subtle defensive adjustments work

There were no bigger smiles than from the Ravens defense, who took pride in their improved performance at the Cleveland Browns coming off a bye week.

One of the NFL worst units held up five times in the red zone, forcing Cleveland to settle for five field goals when they moved the ball inside the Ravens' 20-yard line.

"We don't let guys in the end zone," lineman Terrence Cody said. "You can do what you want to do but we refuse to let you in the end zone."

Rookie running back Trent Richardson had his third 100-yard game of the season for Cleveland, but he wasn't effective in the second half when he was held to 29 yards.

Defensive end Arthur Jones, who replaced the injured Pernell McPhee in the starting lineup, pointed to the adjustments made by the coaching staff that shifted him inside while putting tackle Haloti Ngata on the outside. Also, linebacker Terrell Suggs was put opposite Ngata.

"It's a great mix up. We're just going to keep building it, keep getting better," Jones said. "It was a great game plan. Coaches switched us all up.

"It gives our defense a little bit more balance. Not having Haloti and Terrell on the same side, it was just a different look for this week."

Maintaining gap assignments helped as well. In the first half, the Ravens weren't as good at doing that which allowed Richardson to find space.

"It was more of people staying in their gap. Once you get out of your gap, he jump cuts and makes one cut and he's upfield," Cody said. "That's one thing that makes him really good. He has real good patience."

The Ravens had a similar performance against the Kansas City Chiefs for a 9-6 victory. They allowed Jamaal Charles to rush for 140 yards but they kept him out of the end zone and shut him down in the second half. They also forced turnovers on their half of the field, including in a goal-line situation, to help a struggling offense.

The Ravens also forced two turnovers while their offense didn't commit any Sunday.

Like the Chiefs with Matt Cassel, however, the Browns don't have a quarterback or receivers who are serious threats. Brandon Weeden threw for 320 yards in a 23-16 loss in Baltimore in the first meeting. He only had 176 Sunday. 

Adjusting the defense to contain power running teams, such as the Pittsburgh Steelers who the Ravens will play twice within the next month, could be on the menu for the rest of the season.

"It depends on who we're playing, what type of running team they are. Some teams, the zone (blocking) is their thing," Cody said. "(Cleveland) is more of a power team so we just did more of a leverage thing up front. That's what we have to do."

Jones looks forward to it.

"Absolutely, because we got so much talent on our defensive line," he said. "It doesn't show if you look at the yards and stuff like that. We're getting wins. That's the most important part. We're going to be the best that we can be."

Quick Links

Justin Tucker missed a game-tying PAT, but the Ravens aren't fazed at all

tucker-saints-usat.png
USA TODAY Sports

Justin Tucker missed a game-tying PAT, but the Ravens aren't fazed at all

Justin Tucker making an extra point for the Baltimore Ravens is a sure thing.

As sure as the sun will rise each morning, Tucker's dependability and success have been a constant for the team. But on an afternoon where winds of around 17 mph were a factor though 60 minutes, Tucker's success came to a shocking halt. 

After Joe Flacco and the offense made their way downfield, Flacco found wide receiver John Brown in the end zone to make the score 24-23 with 24 seconds left in regulation.

In walked the most accurate kicker in NFL history to do what he's done so many times before; keep the Ravens in the game. As the ball sailed off Tucker's foot, it took a right and became the first point-after-touchdown the kicker has ever missed.

"I felt like when the ball came off my foot, that I hit it just how I wanted to," Tucker said at the podium following the Ravens' Week 7 loss to the Saints. "Don't get me wrong, today was a challenging day to kick the ball in our stadium, to the right of our bench."

Two hundred and twenty two-straight PATs. 222 consecutive makes, including 112 consecutive since PATs were moved back to the 15-yard line in 2015. Tucker was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Month for September, marking the fifth time he's been awarded the honor.

From the field to the press box and all the way to the nosebleeds, M&T Bank Stadium was in shock. 

"A lot of things go through your mind, but I've been there plenty of time," Flacco said. "If you play football long enough, you're going to be there at some point. We're a very tight team here, and the first thing you think about is your brother and him dealing with it. Justin's the best in the world at what he does, and he's the most confident person that I know. It's not going to be an issue." 

"We're a tight group – we are light years better than we've been in the past," safety Eric Weddle said in the locker room after the loss. "Shoot, 'Tuck' is going to win us some games. We're not worried about that missed kick. Shoot, I think it's the first extra point ever that he's missed. Let's not get on him too hard. He's going to be hard on himself. That wasn't the only reason we lost." 

The support for Tucker, in what was a one-off for their teammate, was apparent throughout the entire locker room. When Tucker took to the podium to address the media, long snapper Morgan Cox and punter Sam Koch stood in the interview room while their kicker tried to explain what went wrong in a show of support.

"This one just happened to get away from me," Tucker added. "I'll have to look at it. I can't tell you exactly what happened, but at the end of the day, I feel like I cost us the game. Every single one of my teammates thus far has told me the opposite, and no one plays wins or loses a game, but that's a tough thing to grapple with when you're the guy in the situation at the end of the game."

Even members of the Saints were in disbelief. Almost everyone was mentally preparing for overtime as Tucker's accuracy is known around the league.

"When [Tucker] missed it, I thought, 'Let's get up and get out of here,'" running back Mark Ingram said. "I mean, that guy is good, so I was shocked."

"I automatically was thinking about overtime and what we were going to do," quarterback Drew Brees added. "I was very, very surprised when he missed it."

What the Ravens and fans alike can take solace in is that Tucker's stats speak for themselves showing more positive plays than negative. While it was probably the most heartbreaking loss they've had since Week 17 of the 2017 season, Tucker's point of emphasis when speaking with the media postgame was about more than a missed extra point.

"But, more than anything, I just wanted to be here [at the podium]," he said. "If I was going to ever teach my son or any young person about accountability, I felt like it was really important that I stand up here and answer whatever questions you guys may have."

MORE RAVENS NEWS:

Quick Links

What you need to know from the Ravens' 24-23 loss to the Saints

usatsi_11491512.jpg
AP Images

What you need to know from the Ravens' 24-23 loss to the Saints

The Baltimore Ravens' top-ranked scoring defense clashed with the New Orleans Saints' top-ranked scoring offense in a game fans will soon never forget.

After a constant back and forth and a chance to tie the game, Justin Tucker missed his first ever point-after-touchdown attempt with seconds to spare.

Here's what you need to know from the Ravens' 24-23 loss over the Saints.

— We knew this game was going to be interesting and the Saints didn't waste any time getting things rolling. Facing a fourth down, New Orleans faked a punt for a five-yard gain from third-string quarterback Taysom Hill. The 20 play, 69-yard drive was highlighted by four fourth-down attempts, two challenges from the Ravens and a fumble recovery by nose tackle Michael Pierce on the final fourth down attempt at the six-yard line.

Not only was the 9:58 drive the longest opening drive by a team this season, it was the longest opening drive to result in zero points since the Browns' 9:59 opening drive Week 1 of 2015, per NFL research.

— Drew Brees continues making history during the 2018 season. The QB threw his 500th career touchdown to former Raven Ben Watson in the second quarter joining Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the prestigious club. Then when the clock hit zero and the Saints came away with the win, Brees also joined Manning and Favre as the third QB to beat all 32 NFL teams.

Prior to Sunday, Brees was 0-4 against the Ravens. He also became the NFL's all-time leading passer back in Week 5.

— It only took seven weeks, but rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson scored his first NFL touchdown with four seconds left in the first half. While it was only from one-yard out, it was nice to see Jackson kick it into gear with the clock ticking. He wasn't the only guy from the Ravens' 2018 draft class to make an impact. Tight end Mark Andrews scored an eight-yard touchdown late in the third quarter to put the team up 17-7 and left guard Bradley Bozeman and right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. held down the O-line for much of the afternoon. 

— The Ravens' streak of not allowing a second-half touchdown in the 2018 season came to an end Sunday. Drew Brees gave the ball to running back Alvin Kamara at the top of the fourth quarter resulting in a two-yard touchdown. Kamara finished the day with 17 attempts for 64 yards and one touchdown. 

— Jimmy Smith's first start of 2018 didn't go quite as well as he'd like.

Smith was hit with two pass interference calls, with one of them coming in the end zone leading to a Saints touchdown and the other on one of many third downs. The cornerback had trouble covering wide receiver Michael Thomas, who heading into Week 7 was ranked fourth in the NFL,  all afternoon. One of their meetings resulted in a touchdown to put the Saints up 21-17.

— Then there was, of course, Justin Tuckers' first-ever PAT miss. After Joe Flacco hit John Brown in the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown with 0:24 left on the clock, the Ravens were preparing to go into overtime until that wasn't necessary. Tucker, who is the most accurate kicker in NFL history, was on the wrong side of history when his kick went wide right.

From the field to the nosebleeds, M&T Bank Stadium was in shock as the clock expired and the final score was 24-23.

Postgame, Tucker took responsibility for the team's loss while his head coach and teammates all reiterated that a game never comes down to just one play.