OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Matt Skura had no idea the third quarter was over until he checked the clock for himself.
Against the Patriots two weeks ago, the Ravens took over on offense up just a touchdown with eight minutes and three seconds left in the quarter. They ran out the entire quarter, including six seconds of the fourth quarter, and ended the drive with a touchdown.
The next drive took nine minutes and 35 seconds off the clock, as the two Ravens drives of the half that didn’t end the game took 17 minutes and 44 seconds off the clock.
In a league of big plays and passing, the Ravens are bucking the trend with long, sustained drives to take the life out of defenses.
“You can definitely tell in the second half when they start to get worn down, especially those extended drives that are like, seven or eight minutes long,” Skura said. “By the end of it, the pass rush slows down, the run stopping slows down as well. We know it’s giving our defense rest to come out and feel fresh.”
But the Ravens not only can score with long, soul-killing drives, they can score at will, too.
Against the Bengals last Sunday, the Ravens had the ball for just 23 minutes and 49 seconds. They also scored more points (49) than they ran offensive plays (46).
“At the end of the day, if they can’t have the ball and score, they can’t win,” Willie Snead said. “It’s all about ball control and how fast we can get in the end zone. Last week, the time of possession was flipped. But we were scoring, the defense was playing great and we were just moving the ball at will.”
Baltimore is currently second in the NFL in possession at 34:24, trailing only San Francisco by eight seconds on average. Before the Cincinnati game, Baltimore was first in the NFL in time of possession. Scoring quickly, and on defense, tends to skew those numbers.
The most impressive drives, though, are the ones that control the clock and involve double-digit plays.
“It’s just incredible what we’re doing right now, with these 14, 15-play drives,” Hayden Hurst said. “Teams are having a tough time matching up against us. We’re just kind of grinding out drives and marching down the field on teams. It’s really fun right now, what G-Ro has schemed up.”
The opponent also plays a factor in how the Ravens game plan, as giving the ball back to a talented offense could end up biting them later in the game.
“Like a game in New England, we know who’s on the other side of it,” Snead continued. “We’ve got to take that into consideration. 12-play, 18-play drives, that just means less time for him. It’s all into the game plan. When we run the ball and get going it’s hard for anybody to stop.”
While there’s different ways score on offense, the Ravens have shown that they’ve got the speed and talent to score quickly over-the-top of defenses with Lamar Jackson and Hollywood Brown, amongst others.
And even though those are the prettiest plays, the drives that truly take the life out of the defense are the ones that take significant time of the clock, slowly bleeding the game until the offense doesn’t even know they’ve ran down an entire quarter.
“You’ve got to get the first first down,” Bradley Bozeman said. “Once you get the first first down, you start marching, start pacing. It just depends how they’re playing us, determines what we do. It’s not rocket science.”
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