Another dominating performance by the Ravens on Sunday against the Houston Texans. I was able to “put the hay in the barn” early in the second half. (My wife hates for me to do that … but it is a game I play as to when to declare the game irrevocably won – trying to do it as early as possible without the hay ending up getting wet.) I think Harbs is being a little stubborn (and defensive when quizzed about it in his press conferences) about continuing to play Lamar and some of the other key starters when it might be more judicious to pull them late in the game for safety sake. But so far no issues there.
Here are my main takeaways:
– Shout out to Tavon Young who suffered his third season-ending injury in his short career. Young injured himself in the first quarter Sunday when he covered a short route and landed awkwardly while extending to defend a pass. [It reminded me of how our younger daughter tore her ACL in high school playing indoor soccer – just jumping for a ball and coming down awkwardly.] I feel very badly for the young man. He seems like he has a good perspective but it has to be devastating.
Tavon’s tweet is consistent with the character of faith in the Lord that I see with many of the Ravens’ players. Not that they all are saints, but the organization’s player procurement process has historically placed a high value on good character guys – which I appreciate.
Tavon’s positive attitude reminds me of the practical lesson of one of my earlier posts: a book review of “The Moon is Always Round.”
It also reminded me of the sermon by my brother C. J. Bennett this Sunday morning at Freedom Church Windsor Mill – the story about the man who was born blind from John 9 – bad things don’t always happen due to some connection with personal sin – but rather so that the works and glory of God can be manifested (vv. 2-3). “’Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.’” May the works and glory of God be manifested as Tavon works through the tedious and painful rehab process with the support of his teammates.
– My buddy Nick Boyle continues to struggle with scoring touchdowns. [He earned the “buddy” designation by renting a house across the street from us in Catonsville with his new bride until he got the big contract and bought a more dog-friendly house with a larger yard closer to the Ravens facility.] He seems to have the worst possible luck when it comes to scoring. As he tried to reach the ball that extra two yards for the score after he had already been tackled short of the goal line I could just feel him grimacing in disappointment. He has to be the most unselfish Raven – doing all of the dirty work for the offense without getting much glory.
– Lamar played well for the most part, but I thought he made a number of poor decisions scrambling and running the ball where he had the opportunity for some really big plays that he missed. I was surprised he was sacked four times but the offensive line struggles some in pass protection. He could improve also on just throwing the ball away in some situations. I like that he threw the ball to a wide range of targets (9 different receivers) instead of just focusing in on Mark Andrews (1 catch for 29 yards) and Hollywood Brown (5 catches for a team-high 42 yards). Hollywood is going to have a killer season if he stays healthy. His speed gets him separation – especially on any type of crossing route – and he catches everything he gets his hands on. Duvernay looks like a good draft choice and deserves some additional targets.
– I was surprised that we went with such a heavy dose of Mark Ingram in the first half instead of using our full complement of running backs. It seemed like the rookie Dobbins didn’t really play a role until deep into the second half when the game was already won. HIs performance in the first victory over the Browns should have earned him more significant playing time.
– The coaches deserve praise for the creativity of having Mark Ingram take the snap on the wildcat play that resulted in an easy 30 yard romp for a touchdown. The Texans did not look prepared to defend that innovation.
– Our defense has been excellent in their ball-hawking skills, with the 27 yard scoop-and-score by L. J. Fort being the turning point of the game. The interception by Marcus Peters was a thing of beauty. Patrick Queen and Marlon Humphrey (who forced the fumble mentioned above) seem like they consistently try to pry the ball loose.
– I love watching the precision of Justin Tucker’s field goals. This game he converted attempts from 32, 39, 47 and 20 yards with no kick even in doubt. As he swings his leg through the ball I always shout out “Money” in anticipation of another successful attempt. What a differentiator for the Ravens. He is worth every penny of the salary cap we have invested in him.