The Ravens looked a bit off Sunday at FedEx Field, but still came away with a 31-17 win after big plays boosted them to opportunistic situations throughout the afternoon.
Baltimore struggled early as Washington kept the lead to manageable throughout the first half due to some self-inflicted wounds.
An interception near the end of the second quarter gave the Washington Football Team three points at the end of the half, but the Ravens took over after the break and dominated the rest of the way.
Now 3-1, the Ravens are set to face the Bengals and Eagles next with a very good chance to end up 5-1 at the bye week before a massive game against the Steelers.
Here are four takeaways from Sunday’s game against Washington:
1. Baltimore can win with big plays — at least against Washington
It wasn’t a shock the Ravens were two touchdown favorites on Sunday, and they’ll likely be double-digit favorites again next week against the Bengals and perhaps the following week against the Eagles.
Against those types of teams, the Ravens showed they’re more than talented to use big plays — and big plays only — if need be.
Quarterback Lamar Jackson struggled early in the game, missing a few deep shots to Marquise “Hollywood” Brown down the field on plays that would’ve been touchdowns. He finished 14-of-21 for 193 yards with two touchdown passes and an interception. He added 53 yards on the ground.
Still, his 50-yard electrifying touchdown in the second quarter, paired with a quick strike pass to Mark Andrews in the corner of the end zone, put the Ravens ahead by 11 at the break in a half where they didn’t play their best football.
2. Speed has hurt the Ravens over the last two weeks
Over the last two weeks, Baltimore suffered as big of a culture shock as big as any facing the Chiefs and then the Washington Football Team. Going from Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce to Dwayne Haskins, Terry McLaurin and Logan Thomas, the Ravens couldn't have faced a more different offense.
But a theme in the last two weeks has been speed, as the Chiefs threw all over the Ravens in Week 3. In Week 4, the Ravens cleaned up some of those issues but still allowed Washington running back Antonio Gibson to have his best game as a pro.
He ran 13 times for 46 yards and a score and was the most involved player on the offense. He caught four passes for 82 yards.
Gibson, who ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, flashed an exciting combination of speed and acceleration. The Ravens had trouble slowing him down all afternoon.
3. The pass rush comes alive...but how much is fool’s gold?
It was evident this week, with a bad Washington offensive line and a Ravens’ pass-rush seemingly due for a few sacks, the Ravens would get home. And they did.
Matthew Judon tallied his first, and second, sack of the season. Jaylon Ferguson also made his first sack of the year. In total, the Ravens hit Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins nine times in 45 dropbacks. As for how much is to be taken from that is, well, not much.
Washington entered Sunday’s game having allowed 10 sacks in three games,
4. Evaluating the next two weeks
The next three weeks, like the pass rush, is going to have to be taken with a grain of salt.
The Ravens are set to play the Bengals and Eagles in back-to-back weeks, both games they’ll be heavily favored in. Then comes the bye week before a massive showdown against the Steelers. But until then, the Ravens won’t have much to show the league as it relates to anything new. In fact, any lessons learned over inferior opponents in the next two weeks will likely be negative lessons.
The expectation for the Ravens, even after a blowout loss to the Chiefs, is to be the best team in the league. Meaning these stretches of season will happen, with extremely winnable games and victories expected.
The Ravens got through one-third of this stretch with a few bumps along the road. Now, they’ve got two more weeks to keep the ship off the rocks.