The Baltimore Ravens ended their three-game road trip on a good note. They shut out the Tennessee Titans and finished up their short stint on the road, 2-1. An outstanding performance from the defensive unit helped lead the team to victory. Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee offense compiled only 106 yards of total offense for the entire game. Through six games this season, the defense still has yet to give up a touchdown in the second half. According to Elias and Jamison Hensley, that is the longest streak since the 1970 merger. The 1934 Lions had a longer streak after not allowing a touchdown in the 2nd half for eight straight games.
The 21-0 blowout win against the Titans was a total team effort and everyone deserves credit for the victory. However, there are a few individuals who deserve special recognition for their roles in the shutout. The Ravens played tremendous defensively and very efficient on the offensive end, which led to a successful day on the road. Below are the players and coaches deserving of game balls for the Baltimore Ravens dominant win against the Tennessee Titans.
1. Don “Wink” Martindale, Defensive Coordinator
This choice pretty much goes without saying. The defensive gameplan that Don “Wink” Martindale put together for the Titans was outstanding. The Ravens harrassed Mariota all game by disguising their blitzes and playing tight coverage on the back end. Martindale understands he has a ton of talent on defense and he uses all of the weapons at his disposal very effectively. Through six games, the Ravens have only given up 77 total points. If this continues, this defense can go down as one of the best in their team’s history.
From the very beginning of the game against the Titans, the defensive unit came out inspired. Although Martindale downplayed it all week, this game seemed to have a special meaning to the team. The Ravens were playing against their former defensive coordinator Dean Pees so Martindale most likely wanted to make a statement. Martindale stressed to his defense that this was just another game but no one truly believed him. Just take a look at the celebration the defense had with Wink after the victory in the tweet down below.
The whole squad was fired up for Wink. pic.twitter.com/44QLWrg9wq
— RavenSSSSSSSSSSS (@Ravens) October 14, 2018
The Baltimore Ravens registered an unbelievable 11 total sacks against the Titans. That is the most sacks they’ve had in one game in team history. The defensive line was stout up front and only allowed Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis to rush for a combined 30 yards. Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr, Jimmy Smith, Tavon Young, etc. played fantastically on the outside as well. They limited the Titans wide receivers and tight ends to seven catches for 107 yards. Wink put his players in the best possible positions to succeed and they performed masterfully. He’s a big reason why the Ravens are currently the top-ranked defensive unit in the NFL this year.
2. Michael Crabtree, Wide Receiver
Michael Crabtree bounced back in a big way after his disappointing performance against the Cleveland Browns. Crabtree finished the game with six catches for 93 yards. In the Ravens first offensive drive, Crabtree had three catches for 52 yards. He sealed the drive with a five-yard, back-shoulder touchdown catch in front of defensive back Malcolm Butler. Crabtree proclaimed that all he had to do was get back in the lab after the Browns loss. His performance against the Titans was proof that he was indeed right. Crabtree was seen catching extra passes after practice last Wednesday to prepare for the matchup against Tennessee.
Time and time again, Joe Flacco found Crabtree for long receptions last Sunday. Crabtree averaged 15.5 yards per reception against the Titans. His longest catch went for 27 yards. He was able to get behind the secondary multiple times and this is a big reason why he was targeted nine times on the day. After the loss to the Browns, Flacco downplayed Crabtree’s drops and said, “I’m still going to go his way when it calls for it.” In another rainy game, Crabtree showed why Flacco was right not to be concerned and continue to trust in him to make plays. It’s just one game so it’s too early to say that Crabtree’s drop issue is completely fixed. But, he’s starting to trend in the right direction.
3. Za’Darius Smith, Outside Linebacker
The entire defensive line deserves a game ball for the way they terrorized Mariota all game. The Ravens have a deep group of pass rushers that they rotate regularly. This ensures that they always have a fresh, energized bunch hunting down the quarterback at all times. Seven different Ravens players recorded a sack against the Titans but two players had more than one. Patrick Onwuasor had two sacks and Za’Darius Smith finished with three sacks. Onwuasor had a great game but Smith’s performance was particularly impressive.
Smith finished the game against the Titans with five total tackles, three sacks, and one forced fumble. So far this season, Smith currently has 13 total tackles, six tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, and one forced fumble. He leads the Ravens in sacks and has been a disruptive force all season. Versus the Titans, Smith was constantly in the backfield causing havoc and disrupting plays. If he continues to play this way for the rest of the season then he will be in for a big payday this upcoming free agency.
4. Cyrus Jones, Punt Returner/Cornerback
This is an underrated recipient of a game ball. Cyrus Jones deserves a game ball because he played very well in his first action as Baltimore’s punt returner. The Ravens signed Jones last week after he was released by the New England Patriots. Jones is a Baltimore native so he feels he has something to prove. Against the Titans, Jones averaged 12.5 yards per punt return and had a long 26-yard return. That was the second longest punt return for the Ravens this season.
Even though the long return had to be great, John Harbaugh is probably more pleased with the fact that Jones didn’t fumble. Jones needs to continue to show that he can be a reliable and dangerous threat as Baltimore’s new punt returner. His versatility on both special teams and defense makes him a nice addition as well. Jones finished the game against the Titans with one tackle. The Ravens have already cut two returners so it would be nice to finally solidify this position.
5. Offensive Line
First and foremost, prayers go out to guard Alex Lewis who suffered a neck injury in the win. He was taken to the hospital but thankfully he was released and able to travel back with the team. Hopefully, the injury is not too serious because Lewis is a very instrumental piece to the Ravens offensive line. Him, Marshal Yanda, Ronnie Stanley, James Hurst, and Matt Skura played exceptionally against the Titans. For the majority of the game, they kept Flacco upright with ample time to throw the ball. That’s fairly evident considering the unit did not give up a sack all game.
The Ravens were great in the run game as well. The offensive line was able to create more running lanes for Alex Collins and rookie Gus Edwards in Week Six. Edwards, who was activated due to injuries, had an impressive 10 rushes for 42 yards. As a team, Baltimore rushed the ball 35 times for 123 total yards. Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson only played two snaps but he managed to gain 22 yards on a rushing attempt. The Ravens ran a quarterback option to the left and Stanley led the way for Jackson as he rumbled all the way to the one-yard line. Alex Collins punched it in from there. Baltimore’s offensive line needs to build off this strong performance in next weeks game against the Saints.
View the original article on Last Word On Pro Football: Game Balls After Dominant Baltimore Ravens Win Over Tennessee Titans