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  • Podcast: Agony at Arrowhead
    by Jacob Louque on September 23, 2019 at 5:58 pm

    Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images The Baltimore Beatdown Podcast is here for Monday, 9/23 in which the guys review the Ravens Week 3 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs: Jake and Spencer are back following the Ravens week 3 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The guys have an extra long one for you today, recapping all manner of things that took place in this game. What was up with Lamar? What was that decision making by John Harbaugh? What’s up with the defense? They answer all of that and much more, including a quick look around the AFC North as well as a Monday mailbag segment. Let’s try not to do this too often under these circumstances, eh? If you guys like the show, please be sure to subscribe, rate it and leave a review, wherever you get your podcasts. Also, let us know what you think in the comments below, and we’ll see you guys later in the week.

  • Monday Hangover, Week 3: Agony at Arrowhead
    by Jacob Louque on September 23, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports Welcome to the Monday Hangover, a weekly column where Jake is here to answer any lingering questions you may have about the Ravens (or the rest of the league) coming out of the weekend, and take a quick look around the division/league. Enjoy, and power through your Monday with some light Ravens reading, and leave a comment with your thoughts down below! So, that sucked. The Ravens went into their Week 3 matchup at Kansas City looking to make a statement against an elite team in the AFC, and in short, failed to do so. There’s more to it than that though, and there’s plenty to take away from this game which should give pause to people already giving up on the season. Since I doubt many of you are looking to dwell too much on this one, I’ll get right into it and keep things short and sweet: What the heck was the deal with Harbaugh’s decision-making? Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports Yeah, it was definitely too much. But think about it - a lot of teams go into Arrowhead and lose by playing too conservatively, including a certain 2018 team that did so by playing it safe on a certain 4th & 9 play that ... we don’t talk about around here. I know a lot you guys were probably left scratching your heads on this one, and as far as the play-calling and execution portion of things, I was as well. But as I said on Twitter (@PodcastBeatdown), I’d rather Harbs walk out of a game being criticized for being too aggressive than the other way around. I wouldn’t have pushed the pedal as much as he did, and would’ve ideally had better play calls ready for those situations, but from a philosophical standpoint, I like the overall idea. Ultimately, I expect they’ll learn from this and pick their spots more carefully while also still remaining aggressive and ready to go for it when necessary. Can we blame the officiating in this one at all? Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports In short, no. There were some pretty suspect calls, but it ultimately looks to balance out considering some of the bad decisions by Harbaugh and the luck that Lamar had on a few of his throw-it-up-and-pray plays. The fact of the matter is that bad officiating is just a part of the game now in the NFL. With the way that the rulebook has been altered, over litigation and legalese are going to hurt your team at one point or another pretty much every week. It’s up to the great teams to overcome it, and the Ravens weren’t able to do so today. They’ll certainly learn from it, and the coaching staff will get a better idea of how the PI challenges work as well. For now, try to take some solace in the fact that Baltimore was able to keep it close in spite of some tough calls. Is it time to start worrying about this defense? Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports Yes and no. The communication busts didn’t go anywhere after last week, and they seem a step slow on certain plays as well. It looks like they won’t be quite as elite as they were last year, but in their defense there are some positives as well. They’ve shown an ability to get a big stop when it’s needed (save for the end of the game, but they were pretty worn down at that point), and players such as Matt Judon and Brandon Carr have really stepped up when needed. Ultimately, they were playing the best offense in the league, and were going to show some chinks in the armor no matter what happened today. Jimmy Smith’s return may help a secondary that looks lost at times, so we’ll have to see what his status over the next few weeks. On that same token, are you at all worried about Lamar? Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports No. He had a rough first half, and looked a little rattled in what his first true test of the 2019 season, but there were encouraging things to take from this game - especially in the comeback effort. While he had his struggles throwing the ball at times, he showed that both facets of his game are equally effective and reliable when he needs them to be. His scrambling ability kept the Ravens offense going in the 2nd, and while he got a bit lucky on his two “prayer” tosses, they also show an innate playmaking ability that only he and a few others possess (the same was true of his touchdown run to draw it within one score). Skeptics will say that he was again exposed a-la the playoff loss to the Chargers, but if anything, I’m somewhat encourage walking away from this game. On a pretty mediocre to bad day for Lamar (especially as a passer), Baltimore’s offense put up 28 points and nearly rallied all the way back after facing a double digit deficit against a Super Bowl contender; put that in your pipe and smoke it, haters. How do we feel after the first loss of the season? Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports Well, it’s a loss so this one hurts, but the Ravens are exactly where I was expecting them to be through three weeks. A blowout win over Miami, a workmanlike victory versus the Cardinals, and a close loss to the Chiefs at Arrowhead follows the script I was imagining pretty much to a T. Cleaning up the coverage busts on defense will be crucial, as will better offensive game-planning early on, but ultimately I’m not at all panicked about this team, especially after they rallied back and made things respectable against one of the best teams the league has to offer. Bring on Cleveland and division play next week - the season is truly about to begin. AFC North whiparound: The Steelers went into San Francisco and put up a really competitive game, but still managed to lose. You never want to count a franchise like this out, but this may spell the end for their AFC North hopes and make their season more about hoping to see something from Mason Rudolph than anything else. Cincinnati went into Buffalo, and while competitive, they again lost to drop to 0-3. I wasn’t expecting much from them this season, and so far they’ve proved me right. The Browns dropped one at home to the Rams to fall to 1-2 and now face a critical matchup against the Ravens in Baltimore in week 4 - a win by the Ravens would be huge for the divisional outlook moving forward.

  • Ravens News 9/23: Aggressiveness, Week 3 refocused and more
    by Vasilis Lericos on September 23, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images What we learned from Sunday’s Week 3 NFL games - Kevin Patra Lamar Jackson couldn’t find the range deep throughout Sunday’s loss. The second-year quarterback missed a bevy of shots early and overthrew Marquise Brown multiple times as the Ravens got down big early. Credit Jackson and running back Mark Ingram (103 rushing yards, 3 TDs) with helping the Ravens (2-1) battle back to make it a game late, but the miscues in the passing game hurt Baltimore early. Jackson’s 51.2 completion percentage on 43 attempts was his lowest in a regular-season game in his young career -- only game lower was last season’s playoff loss (48.3). Outside one beautiful deep shot to Brown late in the game, Jackson’s wayward long balls zapped some of the dynamic play-making we’d seen from Baltimore’s offense through two games. The Chiefs’ D also did a great job bottling up Jackson’s run (8/46, long of 9 yards). Off the bat, Ravens coach John Harbaugh signaled that he knew he’d need to keep up with Mahomes. Harbaugh repeatedly went for fourth downs in the first half (converting two of three) and attempted three two-point tries, all of which failed. Some might question Harbaugh’s aggression, especially going for two, but the coach stuck to his game plan coming in against the most explosive offense in the league. NFL Week 3 ReFocused: Kansas City Chiefs 33, Baltimore Ravens 28 - PFF BALTIMORE RAVENS Lamar Jackson came back down to earth this week after two great starts. He struggled with accuracy and forced multiple dangerous throws. He did have a couple of nice throws, but overall it was not the best day for the young signal-caller. Marshal Yanda was very good today in both the run game and in pass protection. He was a huge reason why Mark Ingram broke the century mark and found the endzone three times. Matthew Judon got up close and personal with Mahomes on more than one occasion during Sunday’s game, forcing the Chiefs quarterback to avoid pressure or get rid of the ball sooner than he wanted. What the Ravens lacked in pass coverage, they certainly made up for with pressure, and Judon was a big reason for that. The speed on Kansas City’s offense was clearly an issue for the Ravens’ defense. Players like Hardman and LeSean McCoy were able to burn defenders in the open field on short completions that racked up a lot of yards after the catch. Baltimore also struggled with more than a few missed tackles. The Breakdown: Five Thoughts on Ravens vs. Chiefs - John Eisenberg The Ravens had little margin for error, as is true for any opponent of the Chiefs, especially in Kansas City. To pull off the upset, the Ravens needed a few things to go their way. Instead, a lot of little things didn’t. Cornerback Anthony Averett slid over a fumble instead of falling on the loose ball, allowing the Chiefs to extend a drive. A 52-yard run by Gus Edwards was nullified by a questionable holding call on Willie Snead IV. A Brandon Carr interception was nullified by a pass interference call on Tony Jefferson that the Ravens heatedly argued. Peanut Onwuasor put his fingertips on what would have been a leaping interception, only to see the pass become a big play for the Chiefs. A pass interference call on Miles Boykin nullified a big gain when, in fact, he was blocking on what looked like a lateral play, not a pass. Things did even out late, as the Ravens benefited from a couple of Hail Mary completions by Jackson, which fueled their comeback. But they could have used more of those variable elements going their way. (And yes, I’d certainly call the officiating a variable element.) The Ravens Are the Aggressive, Analytically Driven Team We’ve Been Waiting For - Riley McAtee This new approach was especially apparent in the fourth quarter, when the Ravens went for two again. After another Mark Ingram touchdown, the Ravens trailed 30-19 with 12:22 left on the clock. The straightforward decision would have been to kick the extra point, leading to a 10-point deficit for the Ravens: just a touchdown and a field goal away from tying it up. Instead, the Ravens went for two, and again they failed: Jackson could not find an open receiver and his pass attempt fell incomplete. The logic behind this decision is more complicated, but it’s very similar to why teams should go for two when they’re down eight. The idea is that if the Ravens had successfully completed the conversion, a touchdown and field goal would now win the game, rather than tie. Meanwhile, a miss isn’t the end of the world: The Ravens could still go for two again on their next touchdown to try to get that game-tying field goal back in play. In 2017, FiveThirtyEight looked at the circumstances under which it makes sense to go for two and found that doing so when down by 11 carries a slight advantage in win probability. All of this is to say: The Ravens’ decision to go for it was analytically sound. Analytics are about processes, not results. In this case, the Ravens did not get the result they wanted, but Harbaugh’s aggressive approach gave his squad the best chance to upset one of the best teams in the NFL. Despite the loss, Baltimore is 2-1 and has established itself as an AFC contender. After Sunday, we may need to think of them as the NFL’s smartest team, too.

  • Ravens vs. Chiefs final recap: A tough, hard-fought loss.
    by Dustin Cox on September 22, 2019 at 11:45 pm

    Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports After suffering his lone regular season loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last season as a rookie, quarterback Lamar Jackson and the 2-0 Baltimore Ravens traveled to Arrowhead Stadium once again to face the 2-0 Chiefs in the game of the week. Kansas City and the league reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes started the game on offense. After driving down the field, Baltimore’s defense tightened up and forced a punt following a sack by Matt Judon. Jackson and the offense had success early, finding the end zone on their first drive. It was running back Mark Ingram who punched the ball in. Instead of kicking the extra point, head coach John Harbaugh showed guts early, electing to go for two. The conversion was unsuccessful, making the score 6-0. BIG BOY. NO LITTLE BOY. TOUCHDOWN @markingram21.— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 22, 2019 Mahomes and the Chiefs would not be stopped on their next drive. Aided by a roughing the passer and a horse collar penalty, the drive ended with a LeSean McCoy touchdown, giving Kansas City the 7-6 lead. The Ravens offense was unable to respond, failing to convert a 4th & 2 on their own 47-yard line. Kansas City took advantage of the field position, scoring just five plays later on a pass to Demarcus Robinson. The Chiefs led 14-6. Jackson and the offense continued to struggle on their next drive as it resulted in a punt. Mahomes was quick to strike again when miscommunication on the defense allowed rookie receiver Mecole Hardman to get wide open for an 83-yard touchdown. The game was quickly slipping away with a score of 20-6 after the failed extra point. Following another punt from Baltimore, Kansas City was able to tack on another three points with a 42-yard field goal before the end of the half. Down by 14 points, the Ravens cut into the lead with another rushing touchdown from Ingram, this one for 19 yards. TOUCHDOWN @markingram21. We're on the board to start the second half.— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 22, 2019 After another failed two-point conversion, the score was 23-13. The defense responded with a strong statement as well, stopping the Chiefs on 4th & 1. The offense was unable to do anything after the defenses stop, however, as they were forced to punt the ball. The Chiefs extended their lead to 30-13 with a touchdown pass to McCoy. With a little over two minutes left in the third quarter, Baltimore needed a miracle to comeback. On 4th & 5 at the 27-yard line, Jackson made a miracle himself by scrambling and hitting Seth Roberts on a prayer of a throw, setting the offense up at the two-yard line. Keep fighting. QB @Lj_Era8 connects with @SethTRoberts on a fourth-down heave.— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 22, 2019 On 2nd & goal, Ingram found the end zone for the third time on the day. After yet another failed two-point conversion, the score was 30-19. Run angry. That's TD No. 3 for @markingram21.— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 22, 2019 After a strong stand from the defense, Jackson made magic again, this time on a prayer throw to Willie Snead IV on 3rd & 17. The drive ended in a field goal, making it just an eight-score game with six minutes remaining in regulation. THAT CATCH BY @Willie_Snead4G.— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 22, 2019 With the game on line and needing a stop, the Ravens defense wilted, giving up a 41-yard run on first down. Kansas City essentially put the game away with another field goal. The score was 33-22 with a little over four minutes left to play. Jackson would not be denied, however. After marching up the field, Jackson turned heads with an electrifying touchdown run, spinning and juking out defenders on his way to the end zone. Ridiculous TOUCHDOWN run by @Lj_Era8 ‼️— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 22, 2019 With a score of 33-28, the Ravens attempted an onside kick, but it was unsuccessful. With their loss to the Chiefs, Baltimore fell to 2-1. They begin division play next week when they face the Cleveland Browns.

  • Ravens vs. Chiefs final: MVP, stock-up & stock-down
    by Kyle P Barber on September 22, 2019 at 8:57 pm

    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports A hard-fought game ends in a loss The Ravens will once again exit Kansas City with a regular season loss as Chiefs head coach Andy Reid leads his team to victory once more. Now, the Ravens stand 2-1, just as we all expected with the schedule. MVP RB Mark Ingram — The first free agent pick up for the Ravens in the DeCosta era has producing great runs game after game. Through three games, Ingram has racked up over 250 yards on the ground and five rushing touchdowns. It’s unfortunate he didn’t receive many more goal-line carries during the two-point situations. Stock up Bradley Bozeman — He produced solid blocking for the Ingram carries on the left side. I’ve been impressed with the sophomore lineman. Nick Boyle — He’s not just a blocking tight end. He’s a consistent threat that defenses can’t disregard due to his receiving skills. Boyle ended the game with the most receiving yards among Ravens players (58). Matt Judon — The dominant pressure he provided all game out-weighed the horse-collar tackle which cost them four points, Tim Williams — This was the most I’ve seen Tim in the backfield. I like what I’m seeing from him right now. Kenny Young — He’s a solid linebacker and he’s earning the snaps right now. Gus Edwards — Happy to see the Bus rolling through and gashing defenses for first downs. Stock down Lamar Jackson — His first two matchups were on the easier side. He dominated. Against a formidable challenge, he regressed. This is all normal. That being said, the overthrows from his rookie season returned. I’ve preached it all year long, it’s about Jackson becoming more consistent in his throws. We’ve seen him hit his targets. Now, it’s about doing it throw-after-throw, day-after-day, week-after-week. He still does not have an interception. He has not fumbled the ball away. He’s still playing great and he’ll grow from this. Matt Skura — His blocking isn’t cutting it and the erratic snaps are an issue which needed solving last season. Earl Thomas III — Dude is an all-time great and hall of fame safety. Problem is, when you call your shot, saying you’re here to eliminate the big plays, you can’t have Mecole Hardman streak down the seam for an 80-yard touchdown. I believe that’s fair to say. Tony Jefferson — Jefferson took responsibility for the big touchdown but I’m not sure it was on him. He said communication needs to improve, which is true. But his biggest issue of the day was a pass interference call which wiped out Brandon Carr’s interception, which would have been the first thrown by Patrick Mahomes this season. Willie Snead IV — The heroic catch at the end does not tip the scale for me. Two critical drops earlier hurt the team. Drops are a part of the game but this is against the Chiefs at Arrowhead, where you can’t afford to make them.


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