When Mark Andrews left the field Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, it was clear there wasn’t much more the third-year tight end could’ve done to ensure a Ravens win.
He hauled in six of his nine targets for 56 yards and a touchdown, despite being one of the players the Bengals’ defense honed in on from the start. The Ravens won by 24 points, which wasn’t even their largest margin of victory this season, due in part to Andrews’ ability in the receiving game as a crucial option for quarterback Lamar Jackson.
And yet, when Andrews stepped to the podium for his postgame press conference, he stressed the need for the Ravens’ offense to get better in nearly every phase. In fact, he did so seven times.
The Ravens beat the Bengals 27-3 to move to 4-1 on the season. But in a continuation this season, it felt like the Ravens have more to give offensively.
“We came out pretty fast the first half,” Andrews said. “I don’t know about schematically, I was just going out there and playing fast and doing what I can. I know today, it was good to see in the first half we were flying around and doing our jobs. I was happy with what we did. (But) we’ve got a lot to get better at. Look at the film, get better and be a better offense. I know our defense balled the heck out, man.”
For that reason, Sunday’s matchup about the Bengals and first overall pick Joe Burrow was never a hotly contested game.
The Ravens’ defense sacked Burrow seven times and hit him 14 in total, completely suffocating the rookie quarterback and the offense he led.
But on the other side of the ball, against a defense that allowed 401.5 yards per game through the first four weeks, the Ravens could’ve made the score much worse than it appeared.
“I feel the same way, we need to get back to how we was last year,” Jackson said. “Go out there and perform at a high level like we do. I say we fine though, we get at practice, we’re going to regroup, we’re going to watch film, we’ll be alright.”
Jackson didn’t have a good game, by an MVP’s standards, and threw for just 180 yards on 19-of-37 passing with two touchdowns and an interception. If he’d added more yards on the ground, like he’s one to do, the statline would be a lot kinder.
But instead, he ran for just three yards on two attempts. Both were career lows.
When asked if the knee, which kept Jackson out of practice on Wednesday, bothered him, coach John Harbaugh responded with a simple “no.”
The Ravens ran 23 run plays (excluding Robert Griffin III’s kneeldown) compared to 37 pass plays. While there were bright spots on those 60 plays, Jackson was visibly upset on multiple occasions. His interception was a poor decision and throw, and what’s worse is that he had a few more passes that could’ve been intercepted as well.
The Ravens got the win, which is what they needed against an inferior opponent. But the offense wasn’t up to par, or at least at the standard it set for itself a year ago.
“Every win is a blessing,” Andrews said. “Whenever you get one, you’ve got to take that and run with it. But there’s times where our offense isn’t clicking and we need to get better.”
Baltimore scored 17 points in the first half, but managed just a field goal and needed a Patrick Queen scoop-and-score to find the end zone in the second half. The Ravens managed just two net yards in the final quarter, due in part to a massive scoring drive by the Bengals to end the game.
The bright spots on the offense were apparent: Mark Ingram rushed for 57 yards on 11 carries, Andrews and Marquise Brown looked every part the weapons they are and Devin Duvernay appears to be growing into a bigger and bigger role each week.
But for a Ravens’ offense with Super Bowl expectations, Sunday’s 20 points day wasn’t, and isn’t, enough to get the job done against tougher defenses.
“The little things right now,” Jackson said. “With us on offense, keep getting first downs when we on third down. Converting, that’s probably I’d say our biggest downfall.”
When offered the potential excuse of Jackson missing Wednesday and Thursday practice as to why the Ravens struggled offensively, Andrews wasn’t having any of it.
The Ravens know they haven’t been as good or consistent enough as they need to be offensively. No matter how many times they have to say they need to get better, they know it’s true.
“None,” Andrews said. “Lamar is a professional, he’s a guy that’s going to get in his playbook, do his thing. All of us just got to go out there and play our game, do our jobs to the best of our ability. I don’t think that has anything to do with it. He’s an MVP. That’s the guy. That’s our guy.”