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Ravens-Lions instant analysis


Ravens-Lions instant analysis

BALTIMORE -- The Ravens' first unit looked crisp, particularly running the hurry-up offense, but they couldn't get the ball in the end zone and the secondary gave up too many big plays in dropping their preseason home debut to the Detroit Lions 27-12.

Unlike in the opener vs. the Atlanta Falcons last week when the Ravens had three consecutive three-and-outs, quarterback Joe Flacco was more comfortable with better protection from an offensive line that featured Michael Oher starting for the second game in a row at left tackle ahead of Bryant McKinnie. Veteran center Matt Birk started instead of rookie Gino Gradkowski.

Flacco ran the hurry-up offense almost exclusively in the first quarter as the Ravens posted nine first downs, which was nine more than they had during the same span against the Falcons. Receiver Jacoby Jones had a 35-yard gain on a reverse that set up a 50-yard field goal by Justin Tucker and spotted them a 6-0 lead.

That wasn't nearly enough, however, to hold off Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and receiver Calvin Johnson, probably the best big-play, pitch-and-catch combo in the game. Baltimore is a middling team when comes to red zone offense, and settling for field goals will prove problematic in the long run against high-powered offenses such as Detroit.

In two preseason games, the first unit has scored just one touchdown. In fairness to Flacco, he didn't have deep threat Torrey Smith who was a late scratch because of a sprained ankle and replaced by LaQuan Williams.

But for the second week in a row, the secondary didn't perform to the elite level that has been projected. Rookie Jimmy Smith, in his first preseason action since a back injury earlier this month, had good coverage on Johnson, who adjusted to a short throw by Stafford to haul in an 18-yard touchdown catch as the Lions took a 7-6 lead they'd never relinquish. Earlier in that drive, Cary Williams was beaten on a 57-yard catch by Johnson. Williams also was victimized by Falcons receiver Julio Jones.

Smith was hit with an illegal contact penalty after being beaten by Johnson, giving Detroit an automatic first down and leading to a 24-yard strike from Stafford to Titus Young to make it 14-6. Young appeared to be stopped inside the five-yard line but he broke the tackle by safety Emanuel Cook.

Stafford completed 12 of 17 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns for a passer rating of 145.2. Johnson had five catches for 111 yards and one score. The Ravens also sabotaged themselves with six first-half penalties.

There's still a lot of work to be done.

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Ravens pile up team-record 11 sacks, shut out Titans 21-0

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Ravens pile up team-record 11 sacks, shut out Titans 21-0

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Baltimore Ravens have finished up their longest road swing of the season with an absolutely dominating performance.

Try 11 sacks.

And now they head home for four of their next five games.

The Ravens piled up the franchise-record sacks as they shut out the Tennessee Titans 21-0 Sunday in the rain. Za'Darious Smith had three sacks and Patrick Onwuasor had two for the Ravens (4-2), who had six sacks by halftime. They finished a sack off the NFL record for a game shared by five teams.

Dean Pees and the Titans simply couldn't stop his old team as the Ravens outgained Tennessee 361-106 and punted only once against a defense led by their former defensive coordinator. Pees came out of a short retirement to join first-year head coach Mike Vrabel.

Joe Flacco threw for 238 yards and a touchdown for Baltimore. Alex Collins scored on TD runs of 13 and 2 yards.

The Titans (3-3) lost their second straight and were shut out at home for the first time since moving into Nissan Stadium in 1999. Tennessee has not scored a touchdown in eight straight quarters. The Ravens couldn't have looked much better handing Tennessee its first shutout since Nov. 28, 2010.

Marcus Mariota tried playing both with and without the partial glove covering his ring and pinkie fingers on his throwing hand. It didn't help as Mariota was sacked the most in his four-year NFL career and most allowed by the Titans since giving up seven in a loss at Houston on Nov. 1, 2015. Coach Ken Whisenhunt was fired two days later.

The Titans forced a turnover with All-Pro safety Kevin Byard getting his first interception this season. Tennessee did nothing with the ball late in the first half.

Baltimore executed nearly flawlessly from winning the coin toss. The Ravens converted 12 of 17 third downs, not counting another off a Titans penalty. They also held the ball for more than 37 minutes.

Flacco drove Baltimore 94 yards over 17 plays, eating up more than nine minutes of the first quarter before hitting Michael Crabtree on a 4-yard TD. Collins capped their next drive with a 13-yard run and a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter. After halftime, Collins finished off a 78-yard drive that ate up 7:20 of the third quarter.


Ravens left guard Alex Lewis was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center with a neck injury after being hurt within the first minute of the fourth quarter. Lewis had been blocking on a run by Gus Edwards when he turned away from the pile slowly and went down. Trainers strapped him to a backboard and carted him off the field.

Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan hurt a shoulder and did not return. Left guard Quinton Spain hurt his right shoulder with 6:51 left in the third quarter and did not return.



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What you need to know from the Ravens' 21-0 win over the Titans

What you need to know from the Ravens' 21-0 win over the Titans

The Baltimore Ravens came into Nashville and followed up an overtime loss with a 21-0 shutout win.

The defense dominated Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota all day long and Joe Flacco and the offense continued to show 2018 is a new year for this group. 

Here's what you need to know from the Week 6 win. 

Crabtree redeems himself

After dropping what would have been the game-winning touchdown against the Browns last Sunday, Michael Crabtree said his priority this week was to get back into the lab and correct his mistakes. Well, whatever he did this week worked as the receiver ended the Ravens' first drive of the game catching three passes for 52 yards and one touchdown.

The 94-yard opening drive took 17 plays and 9:04 off the clock as well as ending their drought of seven straight red zone trips without a touchdown. Crabtree finished the day 6-for-9 for 93 yards and one touchdown. 

Music City turned into Sack City

The Ravens defense would not allow Marcus Mariota and the Titans to get anything going all afternoon. The defense recorded six sacks in the first half alone, a franchise tie for the most sacks in a first half since December 26,1999 and November 26, 2006. Za'Darius Smith recorded two followed by Terrell Suggs, Patrick Onwuasor, Anthony Levine Sr. and Chris Wormley with one apiece. At the half, the Titans were limited to just 69 yards.

By the end of the game, the Ravens D put up a franchise-record 11 sacks with Tony Jefferson, Kenny Young and Matthew Judon adding to the mix. Oh, and holding an NFL team to zero points is impressive on its own. Marcus Mariota finished the day 10-for-15 for 117 yards. 

Ravens come out strong and stay strong

The Ravens offense was strong out of the gate putting up two touchdowns on their first two drives of the game. Flacco hit seven of his receivers and two of their touchdown drives took more than 16 minutes off the clock. Lamar Jackson even got in the mix recording a season-high 22-yard run to set up Alex Collins' two-yard touchdown run to put the Ravens up 21-0 in the third.

Joe Flacco finished the afternoon 25-for-37 for 238 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

News and notes:

—Offensive tackle Alex Lewis was carted off the field on a stretcher in the beginning of the fourth and placed immediately into an ambulance. CBS sideline reporter Steve Tasker reported it appeared to be a neck injury, and even though he had movement in his extremities, he was taken to Vanderbilt Hospital as precaution. 

—The Ravens are now 4-2 and head back to Baltimore to host the New Orleans Saints Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET.