Ravens

Ravens

As a way to predict the future, NBC Sports Washington is running a Madden simulation of the Ravens 2020 season. Each day, we'll release the recap and stats from a new game on their scheduled 2020 slate of opponents.

Disclaimer: We tried to replicate free agency and trades as much as possible, but no rookies have been added and not all NFL transactions are finalized yet. 

Previous Games:
Week 1 - vs NYG (7-3 win)
Week 2 - at HOU (21-20 win)
Week 3 - vs CIN (35-10 win)
Week 4 - at IND (34-21 win)
Week 5 - at CLE (30-24 OT win)
Week 6 - at PHI (17-14 win)

For the first time all season, the virtual Ravens lost. It was bound to happen eventually, but most fans would have preferred it not come at home, on Sunday Night Football, against their biggest rivals.

An unfortunate second quarter in which the Steelers outscored the home team 21-0 was more than enough to pull away on a night when the Ravens offense never got in a rhythm. The final score was 28-7 Pittsburgh, with the Steelers scoring the first four touchdowns of the day until a late score put the Ravens on the board

 

The prime time loss was a surprising blow, but thankfully for the Ravens, they are still in excellent position heading into their Week 8 bye at 6-1 overall. They are still fighting for a bye in the AFC playoffs and look like one of the strongest teams in the league for the second straight season.

Here's how it happened in Week 7.

Second straight poor day for Jackson

For the second consecutive week, Lamar Jackson had a forgettable afternoon. For the second consecutive week, the Ravens offense struggled as a result.

Jackson had one of his bigger yardage outputs of the season, but he failed to score a touchdown of any kind, while turning the ball over twice for the second straight week. The Ravens were close to being shut out entirely, until a last-minute Gus Edwards touchdown when the game was already out of hand at 28-0 Pittsburgh.

It was always likely that Jackson would regress after a unanimous MVP campaign, but after a hot start to the simulated 2020 season, he has crashed hard in the last two weeks. Knowing him, he'll spend his entire bye week getting ready to come back with a vengeance in the second half of the season.

Turnovers finally come back to haunt Ravens

The Ravens have had a turnover problem all virtual season long, but in the past six weeks they've managed to work around it every time. That streak of good fortune was abruptly halted in Week 7.

Not only did they give the ball away twice more while once again failing to turn over the other team even once, a troubling trend to say the last, but all the damage was done early. Both of Jackson's turnovers led to second quarter touchdowns for the Steelers, giving them a 14-0 lead they would never come close to relinquishing.

It's been said multiple times already, but the only thing to do is keep harping on it. If the Ravens don't find a way to fix their ball security, a promising season might be over before it ever really begins.

Mark Ingram: receiving back?

In his last four games, Mark Ingram has had 46, 94, 38 and 47 receiving yards out of the backfield, with at least three receptions in each contest. In his first real-life season in Baltimore, the most receiving yards he had in any single game was 37.

Out of nowhere, the veteran running back has become one of Jackson's top targets in the short passing game, and he's become very efficient. It's not usual to see a running back on the wrong side of 30 add such a dynamic element to his game, but in the modern NFL it's hard to survive if you can't contribute in the passing game.

Ingram's total volume of touches is still a little to high, but it can only help the offense to see him becoming a more versatile player.

 

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Responding to the first loss

The Ravens pulled out a few nailbiters in the first month and a half of the simulated season, but by and large they were riding high at 6-0 through the first six games. Now that the streak has been snapped - their first regular season loss since Week 4 of 2019 - how will the virtual players respond?

Lamar Jackson hasn't experience many struggles in his young career, but he's now coming off back-to-back games with multiple interceptions. He and the team now have two weeks to stew on this loss, as Week 8 is the team's bye.

How will they respond to their first setback of the season, especially when it came in such a dispiriting way? That will go a long way toward telling us what kind of season the Madden Ravens will eventually have.

Madden's Game MVP: James Conner (18 carries, 137 yards, 2 TD)

Final Stats

Passing
Lamar Jackson (BAL) -- 26/36, 286 yards, 2 INT, 72.2 rating
Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) -- 18/28, 182 yards, TD, 94.6 rating

Rushing
Mark Ingram (BAL) -- 21 carries, 85 yards
James Conner (PIT) -- 18 carries, 137 yards, 2 TD
Jaylen Samuels (PIT) -- 7 carries, 20 yards
Lamar Jackson (BAL) -- 4 carries, 13 yards
Gus Edwards (BAL) -- 4 carries, 13 yards, TD
Chris Boswell (PIT) -- 1 carry, 1 yard, TD

Receiving
Marquise Brown (BAL) -- 7 receptions, 84 yards
Willie Snead (BAL) -- 6 receptions, 71 yards
JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT) -- 6 receptions, 63 yards
Mark Andrews (BAL) -- 6 receptions, 49 yards
Eric Ebron (PIT) -- 4 receptions, 39 yards
Mark Ingram (BAL) -- 3 receptions, 46 yards
Diontae Johnson (PIT) -- 3 receptions, 23 yards
Jaylen Samuels (PIT) -- 3 receptions, 46 yards
Miles Boykin (BAL) -- 3 receptions, 29 yards
James Washington (PIT) -- 2 receptions, 11 yards, TD

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