The Baltimore Ravens almost fell into the trap this past Sunday. Baltimore was expected to easily defeat the 2-8 Oakland Raiders, but in typical Ravens fashion, Baltimore gave the Raiders every chance to compete. The 34-17 final was not reflective of the actual struggle between the two teams. One may look at the score and assume it was a blowout, but in reality, it was a close game until the end. Entering the fourth quarter, the Ravens only led the Raiders by a three-point margin, as the score was 20-17. The Ravens were able to pull ahead in the fourth quarter to clinch a victory, but the competition between the two teams was too close for comfort.
The Baltimore Ravens struggled offensively for most of the game. The rushing attack that dominated Cincinnati’s defense was replaced by a passing attack that hurt more than it helped. The Ravens’ insistence to prove that Lamar Jackson is a throwing quarterback almost cost the team the game. Jackson was unable to stay consistent, and each good play was met with a bad one. Two touchdowns were met with two interceptions. Bad reads were met with great throws. It was a difficult day for the young quarterback, but he was aided by Gus Edwards on the ground. For a second straight week, Gus Edwards rushed for over 100 yards on the ground. This gave the offense an engine to ride on throughout the game.
The defense was ill-prepared to start the game. On the first drive of the game, the Oakland Raiders marched downfield and scored. The defense could not stop the combination of runs and passes that Jon Gruden scripted. The defense, already disappointing, was not helped by the constant offensive issues of the first half. The Ravens insisted on a pass-heavy approach that kept the time of possession in the favor of the Raiders. This kept Baltimore’s defense on too long and gave the unit little time to rest. When the Ravens moved to a run-heavy approach in the second half, the time of possession bent in favor of the Ravens, and the defense suddenly performed at a higher level. The third quarter was marked by Baltimore’s first turnover in forever and a three-sack hat trick. Outside linebacker Matt Judon strip-sacked Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and the football was picked up by Terrell Suggs who returned the turnover for a 43-yard touchdown. After the Raiders regained possession, Judon sacked Carr two more times in a row.
The Baltimore Ravens started slowly against the Raiders in a potential trap game. Everyone expected the Ravens to win, but Baltimore failed to put Oakland away. Instead of a dominant victory, the Ravens escaped with a hard fought win. With that win, the Ravens improved their record to 6-5, in a week where the division rival Bengals and Steelers both lost. With the loss, the Ravens not only remain in control of the sixth seed wild card but also have the opportunity to reemerge as division contenders. If the Ravens want to advance to the postseason, in any capacity, they will need to perform better, and win more games.