1. Ravens stay relevant- In their most important game of their season, the Baltimore Ravens were able to keep their playoff hopes alive with a dominating win over the New York Jets. Now, both teams sit at 5-6 and are right in the middle of a very deep race for the last wildcard spot in the AFC. After losing a tough game in Chicago last week, the Ravens were able to respond with one of their best defensive performances of the year. This Thursday’s game against the Steelers now has a lot more meaning to it, as both teams are 5-6. Whoever wins the game continues to put themselves in a good position for the last wildcard spot, while knocking off their rival, and putting them in a tougher situation. The Ravens also got help from around the league as the Dolphins and Browns both lost, and either the Titans or Raiders will be losing later today.
2. Run game regresses- I understand that the Jets boast the league’s best run defense, but the Ravens were unable to build off of their performance from last week in Chicago. It isn’t easy to run against that Jets front at all, but averaging only 2.2 yards a carry is unacceptable no matter who the team is playing. It hurt the team when they were unable to gain any yards trying to run the ball because it puts the team in third and long situations. The team gets a bit of break considering how well the Jets front played, but the Ravens are going to have to find a way to run the ball well in these coming weeks as the weather gets worse. Not only that, but when they have a lead and want to burn the clock, they have to be able to run the ball effectively to not only keep the clock running, but also pick up first downs. If they can’t do that, then they won’t be playing in January.
3. Jacoby shines- Since receiver Jacoby Jones returned from his week 1 injury we haven’t seen him make any big plays on offense or on special teams. Today, that changed. Jones finished the day with four receptions for 103 yards, including a 66 yard touchdown catch that put the game out of reach. He stepped up and made big plays for the team all day. On special teams he had several nice punt returns that put the offense in good field position. It was nice to see the Jones that we saw from last year’s playoff run, where he was always a threat when he had the ball in his hands. The team will need Jones to continue to make those types of plays if they are to return to the postseason this year.
4. Too much Tyrod- In an attempt to improve their running game, the Ravens decided to incorporate backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor into the game plan. They put him in shotgun running the read-option, and also lined him up in the slot as a receiver. A couple times the read-option worked well, and helped the team pick up first downs, but for the most part, the package was ineffective. It was actually frustrating at times to see the Ravens put the ball in Taylor’s hands instead of quarterback Joe Flacco’s, who played a pretty good game. At one point, Taylor was under center for a third and goal from the eight yard line. In this situation you aren’t realistically going to score a touchdown from eight yards out running the read option. Aren’t they paying their starting quarterback over a hundred million dollars to make big plays in big moments? That is why it was frustrating to see that at times. Using Taylor for about 4-7 plays a game is a good idea, but it shouldn’t be an integral part of the game plan.
5. Redzone struggles- It didn’t cost the Ravens the game today, but the Ravens won’t be lucky in the future if they are unable to score touchdowns when they enter the redzone. The Ravens first three scoring drives all ended in field goals in the redzone. That won’t cut it against teams that have functioning offenses. They fortunately played a team that’s offense couldn’t move the ball at all today. The Ravens defense played a great game as well, but they won’t always be able to be as dominant. The team is going to have to find a way to get the ball in the end zone. The return of Dennis Pitta can’t come any sooner, as he is the team’s best redzone option. They were able to get away with it today, but the offense is going to have to find ways to score in the redzone down the road.